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Growth development milestones for baby: 2021 update

Parents are the biggest cheerleaders for children through the circle of life. Every achievement by a child is a matter of pride, whether it is a small step of potty training or graduating from a top college. The development milestones for baby are curiously tracked soon after their birth. 

The first year of a child’s life is extraordinarily important. They go through a massive transformation in terms of growth during this time. Although, no two children are the same, there is a common set of baby development milestones. 

Child healthcare experts all over the world have approved of some common guidelines to track a baby’s growth. In this article, Dr Shreya Dubey, one of the best paediatric and neonatologists at the CK Birla Hospital, explores the baby first year milestones. 

What is meant by development milestones for baby?

Growth and development milestones are basic physical and physiological checkpoints that a child acquires as they grow. These milestones can be regarded as basic life skills that help baby progress. 

Child development milestones are categorised into four key areas:

  • Motor development milestones
  • Sensory development milestones
  • Language development milestones
  • Feeding milestones

What are the baby development milestones in the first year?

A baby’s first year is a time for utmost joy and growth. It is a necessary life event for the child and an interesting time for the parents. 
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0-3 months 

Welcome to the journey called parenting! At 0-3 months, the newborn has just started his/her life. Your baby will go through tremendous changes in the first few months. This is also the time when your baby will require most of your attention and love. Major growth and development milestones in the first 3 months are listed below.

Motor development milestones – Your newborn will be able to move her hands. She would open and close a fist and place her hands in the mouth by 3 months. If your baby is placed on her stomach, she will be able to pull her head up. During the first 3 months, your infant will gain slight control over her body. She would be able to life her head very briefly. If your baby is happy and playful, she will also throw her hands and legs in joy. 

Sensory development milestones – Your baby will be able to latch her attention to specific things like some toys. If you move her favorite toy from side-to-side, she would be able to track its directions. She would also possibly respond to lullabies, gentle playful and calming music. 

Language development milestones – The communication aspect starts early for infants. Your little one would start to respond by smiling. She would revert to specific sounds and also make eye contact with parents. You would also be able to notice a difference in her cries depending upon her need. 

Feeding milestones – Your baby would be enthusiastic about feeding by 3 months old. You can expect her to gorge at the nipple or bottle. You can expect her to be fed atleast 6 times during a day. 

4-6 months

Motor development milestones By 6 months, your baby’s motor skills will develop largely. She would be able to accept most of her body weight. She would start sitting or standing with the help of additional support. You can see that she will also playfully begin to roll on tummy and roll back. She would start to bend her legs and reach for her toes during this period. 

Sensory development milestones – Your baby will become more familiar with her surroundings. She will understand specific sounds and you would be able to calm her through rocking or moving gently. You can see her explore her toys and other objects with her hands at 6 months. 

Language development milestones – Your baby will start communicating with you through the baby noises. She would babble and giggle while expressing. She would also pay additional attention to toys that make sounds. 

Feeding milestones – Your baby will be able to notice food by now. She would start eating baby foods like cereals, purees and fruits. 

7-9 months

Motor development milestones – Your baby will be able to sit by this time. She would not require any extra support to sit. She would move forward to reach out for toys. She would be quick to respond to certain noises. You can expect your baby to pick up things. 

Sensory development milestones – This is an experimental time for the baby. Your little one would be very keen to explore different objects. She would curiously examine her toys with both hands. You can analyse which playful movement does she enjoy. The sensory sight of your baby will also expand and she would also be able to place her attention at faraway objects. 

Language development milestones – Your baby’s babbling will be more expressive. You can recognise the repetition of certain syllables in her babbles. Her recognition of particular people and objects will enhance. She will grow familiar with who her parents her, which toys are her favorite and more. She may also nod or react to a familiar name or act using simple gestures. 

Feeding milestones – By 9 months, your baby will start holding her own milk bottle. She will start to enjoy chewing on teethers. She will also begin to react to certain smells and foods. 

9-12 months (1 year)

Congratulations! Your newborn has transformed into an infant by the first year. She has accomplished most of her child development milestones. There is, still, much to watch out for. 

Motor development milestones – Your baby will begin to move around furniture with the support of hands. Her balance would considerably improve. You can teach your baby to clap her hands at this time. She would start to throw objects in places with a large opening like containers. Her movement would be more flexible and independent. 

Sensory development milestones – Your baby will become more curious about her toys. She will also, probably, have her favorite songs and sounds. She will react more extensively to objects that she likes or dislikes. 

Language development milestones – By 12 months, your baby will not only identify but begin to call you ‘mama’ or ‘dada’. She would also understand meaningful instructions. She can babble at a longer extent and possibly use a couple of understandable words. Her communication will be more clear. 

Feeding milestones – Your baby will begin to discover a variety of food. She would be able to digest more softly cooked foods by now. She can drink through an open-mouthed cup. She may start self-feeding using her fingers. 

What if my baby does not reach these growth and development milestones?

Every child is unique in his/her own way. Child development milestones should be looked at as guidelines for parents to track the baby’s growth. These developments are not necessarily followed in each child’s case. If you have had a pre-term baby, you should consider these guidelines differently. 

If your child is not able to reach these baby development milestones, you should avoid panic and speak to an expert. A verified paediatrician would be able to help you in case your baby is growing differently. 

The concluding note

Recording these growth development milestones in the first year is a fascinating approach. You can support your child in a better manner if you are aware of this aspect. 

If you need clinical assistance to track baby milestones the first year, you can visit CK Birla Hospital in Gurgaon

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Author: Dr Shreya Dubey
Dr Shreya Dubey is one of the Best Child Doctor in Gurgaon. She completed her post-graduation from King George Medical University. With 10 years of experience, she is a high-risk newborn specialist and ELBW babies’ care, neonatal intensive care, infant nutrition, and child and adolescent health.
 
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