For the first several years of its life, your baby will undergo rapid growth and development. Baby milestones are things your baby will achieve during its development that indicate it’s on track for growing up to be healthy, happy and capable. Reaching baby milestones is an important part of child development.
Knowing what to expect at each stage of your child’s development helps you understand what’s happening in your baby’s life so you can better navigate and enjoy parenting… without worrying about the uncertainty that often accompanies raising a child.
What are “baby milestones”?
A newborn is in a relatively helpless state where it can’t even control its own body to any great extent. For the first several years of its life, your baby will be focused on learning how to move its body around, how to think and solve problems, and how to interact with others socially and emotionally. These are skills required for survival and leading a successful life.
A milestone is an action or event that marks a significant point in development. Baby milestones are achievements you observe in your baby that let you know they have successfully reached the next stage of physical and mental development.
In other words, baby milestones are the markers that indicate your baby is progressing successfully through the process of learning important skills and developing abilities that put it on the path to growing up into a capable and fully functioning adult.
Which milestones are important?
There are many milestones your baby will achieve in its first few years. The most common ones that healthcare professionals pay attention to fall into these categories:
1. Large Motor Skills
These are typically the first to develop in young children. They include things like sitting, turning over, crawling, standing, and walking.
2. Fine Motor Skills
These tend to develop a little later and require greater precision. They include things like using an eating utensil or picking up small or delicate objects.
3. Cognitive or Mental Milestones
These are milestones related to a child’s abilities to think, learn, and solve problems.
4. Social and Emotional Milestones
These pertain to a child’s ability to express their own emotions and respond to social interactions with you as a parent or others. For example, a six-month-old child should begin to recognize familiar faces.
5. Communication and Language Milestones
These are the child’s developing verbal and non-verbal communication skills. For example, a one-year-old child is typically learning to say single words, while an older child can speak in complete sentences.
Do all babies develop at the same rate?
A concern many parents have is whether their child is developing at the “proper” rate. While it is true that most babies reach certain milestones at around the same age, it’s important to understand that every child grows and develops differently. Each child goes at his or her own pace.
It’s understandable for parents to worry if their baby is lagging on reaching milestones. If you’re one of those parents and are worried about your child being late on a few milestones, don’t be. They’re probably just taking their own sweet time.
What if my baby is late on hitting milestones?
If you are concerned about your baby being late in reaching milestones, there are things you can do to proactively assist them with their learning and development.
Experts agree that giving your baby adequate time to practice new skills and build body strength can help them progress faster. Activities like those provided on the Watch Me Grow™ program provide many benefits that can assist your baby in reaching milestones sooner.
And as always, it’s a good idea to discuss any concerns you have with your healthcare provider. They can help reassure you when you’re worrying about nothing… and let you know in the rare cases when there is actually something to be concerned about.
Baby Milestones by Age
Knowing what milestones babies tend to reach by certain ages can be useful in helping you gauge whether your baby is developing normally or needs some assistance. It’s a good idea to track when your baby hits each milestone and discuss these milestones with your baby’s doctor during checkup visits.
Below you will find specifics about what to expect at each age during your child’s growth and development.
Average height and length values are from the World Health Organization Growth Charts. Keep in mind that every baby grows at its own rate. Rather than comparing your baby’s height and weight to others, it’s more important to ensure your baby is growing at a proper pace on its own growth curve (compared to its own previous height and weight).
Baby Milestones: 0-3 Months
First Month (Newborn)
- Holds head up briefly while on tummy
- Turns head from side to side
- Keeps hands in right fists
- Brings hands toward face
- Periods of intently watching what is happening (“quiet alert mode”)
- Can see objects between 8 and 12 inches away
- Starts to recognize mother’s voice, smell and appearance
- Grunts, sneezes and hiccups
- Will start to give cues when hungry — crying, lip smacking and rooting (turning head in search of nipple)
Babies are born with several native reflexes that will slowly fade away as they get older. Most of these reflexes will disappear by the time your baby is one year old.
These are some of the reflexes your baby is born with:
Walking/Stepping: If you support your baby and let its feet touch a surface, it will start putting one foot in front of the other as if walking. This reflex generally goes away by the time your baby reaches 2 months.
Moro Reflex (Startle Reflex): When your baby’s head suddenly falls back, or if you startle it, it will extend its arms and then retract them toward their body. This reflex starts to fade at about 2-6 months.
Rooting/Sucking: Stroking the side of your baby’s mouth or it’s cheek will cause it to turn it’s head in that direction. This reflex helps babies find a nipple to suck on. As a reflex this tends to go away by the age of 4 months. It is replaced with a voluntary action of feeding.
Swimming: If you lower a baby into water, it will reflexively move its arms and legs as if swimming. This reflex fades away by the 4-6 months.
Palmar Grasp: Pressing your finger against your baby’s palm will cause your baby to reflexively grasp your finger tightly. This reflex goes away in 3-6 months.
Tonic Neck Reflex (Fencing Posture): When your baby’s face is turned to one side, the arm and leg on that side extend and the arm and leg on the other side flex. This causes the baby to assume a posture resembling a classical fencing stance. This reflex normally vanishes in 4-7 months.
Plantar Grasp (Babinski): Similar to the Palmar Grasp, but with the feet instead of the hands. This reflex fades later than the Palmar Grasp, typically by 8-12 months.
Your baby will be feeding on breast milk or formula, at least once every 2-4 hours. It will consume roughly 2-4 ounces per feeding.
Expect your baby to be sleeping about 15-20 hours per day, spread out throughout the day and night. Typically babies at this age sleep 2-4 hours at a time.
Average height/weight for boys at birth:
19.6″ (49.9 cm) / 7.4 lbs (3.3 kg)
Average height/weight for girls at birth:
19.3″ (49.1 cm) / 7.1 lbs (3.2 kg)
Second Month (1 month old)
- Raises chest and shoulders when in prone position
- Has discovered own hands, fingers and toes
- Starts reaching for dangling objects
- Eyes follow object past midline
- Responds to singing and music
- Responds to loud noise by getting startled, crying or quieting
- Learns to self-soothe by putting hands and fingers in mouth
- Smiles socially
- Recognizes mother’s voice
- Different types of crying to communicate different conditions (hunger, discomfort, boredom, etc.)
- Coos and ahhs and some gurgles. Your baby is experimenting with its mouth and tongue to see what sounds it can make
All the reflexes present at birth are typically still present at this age.
Your baby will continue feeding on breast milk or formula, at least once every 2-4 hours. The amount has likely increased to about 4 ounces every 4 hours.
By now you’re probably noticing cues from your baby on when it’s hungry, possibly including a distinct “I’m hungry” cry.
A one-month-old baby generally sleeps about 15-16 hours per day. It’s common for this to happen as three daily naps plus an 8½-hour sleep at night (with interruptions).
Average height/weight for 1-month-old boys:
21.5″ (54.7 cm) / 9.9 lbs (4.5 kg)
Average height/weight for 1-month-old girls:
21.1″ (53.7 cm) / 9.2 lbs (4.2 kg)
Third Month (2 months old)
- Lifts shoulders during tummy time
- Holds head up for short periods of time
- Kicks are stronger
- Movements becoming less jerky and more fluid
- Sees black and white and high contrast patterns
- Tracks moving object with eyes a full 180 degrees
- Staying awake longer and playing
- Fascinated by own reflection in mirror (but doesn’t yet recognize self)
- Recognizes your face and is comforted by your touch
- Responds to you with gurgles, coos, ahhs and smiles
- Actively listens while you’re talking
- Starting to put together rudimentary consonant and vowel sounds
The Walking/Stepping reflex typically fades away at this age.
The Moro (Startle) Reflex also starts fading at this age in some babies, although some babies exhibit this reflex until 6 months.
All other reflexes are still present.
If you’re breast feeding, continue feeding every 2-3 hours.
If you’re feeding your baby formula, you’re likely feeding every 3-4 hours — about 4-5 ounces per feeding.
Your baby will let you know when it’s hungry, so follow its cues.
2-month-old babies generally sleep about 15½ hours per day. This will typically be three naps during the day on one longer sleep at night for about 8½ hours.
Nighttime sleep will likely still be interrupted, but babies at this age tend to start being able to sleep five- to six-hour stretches at night.
As your baby is starting to get more social, it may have a natural desire to stay awake for longer periods of time. This is normal and OK, but be aware of letting your baby stay awake too long and getting overtired, which leads to crankiness and makes it harder to get it to fall asleep.
Average height/weight for 2-month-old boys:
23.0″ (58.4 cm) / 12.3 lbs (5.6 kg)
Average height/weight for 2-month-old girls:
22.5″ (57.1 cm) / 11.3 lbs (5.1 kg)
Fourth Month (3 months old)
- Rolls over from front to back
- Props self up on wrists from prone position
- Can lift head up to 90 degrees when on tummy
- Head does not lag when pulled into a sitting position
- Holds head steady
- Bats at toys hanging above
- Pushes down with feet when held upright and placed on flat surface
- Opens and closes hands
- Shakes a rattle when placed into its palm
- Reaches for objects persistently
- Anticipates being lifted when you reach out to pick it up
- Enjoys playing with toys, especially sensory toys that make sounds
- Enjoys being read to and looking at pictures in books
- Smiles at pleasurable sights and sounds
- Laughs out loud
- Turns head toward sound
- Makes eye contact with you
- Mimics some sounds, movements and expressions — starting to babble
- Able to string together vowels and consonant sounds
The Walking/Stepping reflex is typically fully gone by this age.
The Moro (Startle) Reflex is continuing to fade.
All other reflexes are still present.
You’ve probably noticed that you baby’s appetite has been increasing during the past couple months.
If you’re breastfeeding, it’s typical to feed every 3-4 hours when your baby is at this age. Every baby is unique, so if you’re on a slightly different schedule, that’s OK. The important thing is for your baby to be gaining weight at a healthy rate and that it seems content with the amount of feeding its getting.
If you’re using formula, it’s normal to be feeding about 5 ounces of formula six to eight times per day.
Babies at this age tend to sleep about 15 hours each day. And they’re shifting toward sleeping more of those hours at night and fewer during the day.
It’s common for 3-month-old babies to sleep a total of 10 hours per night, and they’re likely to be sleeping in five- to six-hour stretches.
Three naps during the day is still typical at this age.
Average height/weight for 3-month-old boys:
24.2″ (61.4 cm) / 14.1 lbs (6.4 kg)
Average height/weight for 3-month-old girls:
23.5″ (59.8 cm) / 12.9 lbs (5.8 kg)