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Developmental Milestones to Watch for in the First Six Months

The first six months of life are full of developmental milestones that indicate if a baby is growing, learning, and developing properly. From smiling and rolling to recognizing caregivers, such milestones guide parents and medical professionals in determining if a child is developing as they should or if there are indicators of developmental issues.

The First Month

The first month is mostly spent sleeping, eating, filling diapers, and crying as your newborn acclimates to life. By the end of the month, your infant is more alert and responsive. Your baby will listen when you speak, watch your face as you hold them, and may move their body in response to you.

Below are a few milestones to watch for:

  • Focuses sight on objects 8 to 12 inches away.
  • Keeps hands in tight fists, has strong reflexive movements,and movements are jerky.
  • Hearing is fully mature, and baby recognizes some sounds such as parent’s voices.

During the first four weeks, there are signs to watch for that may be of concern such as:

  • Failure to blink at bright light or unresponsive to loud sounds.
  • Can’t focus or follow a nearby object by moving head side to side.
  • Seems stiff, rarely moving arms and legs, or arms and legs seem floppy or loose.

The Second Month

This month, your infant will experience greater social-emotional development as they begin to smile at people, calm themselves for short periods, and try to look for their parents. They begin to develop language and communication skills by cooing and gurgling. They can turn their head toward sounds as well.

Below are some developmental milestones for month two:

  • Follows objects with eyes and recognizes people at a distance.
  • Cries or fusses when bored.
  • Holds head up when on tummy.

Signs of concern:

  • Doesn’t follow objects or people as they move or fails to bring hands to mouth.
  • Fails to smile at people.
  • Doesn’t hold up head when on tummy.

The Third Month

By the end of the third month, reports babies should be able to follow moving objects with their eyes. They recognize familiar faces and show an interest in shapes and patterns. An infant’s color vision is developing, so bright, colorful toys and decor help with distinguishing colors.

Baby may be started at loud noises such as an alarm or dog barking and soothed by gentle sounds such as a vacuum cleaner or dryer. Babies enjoy familiar voices and like to “talk” by cooing, gurgling, and babbling.

Milestones to watch for this month include:

  • Purposeful cries differing based on fatigue, hunger, or other needs.
  • Looks at, opens, and closes hands, and brings objects to mouth.
  • When on tummy, raises head and chest and turns head side to side.

By the end of the third month, contact your pediatrician if your baby:

  • Doesn’t follow moving objects with eyes or doesn’t smile at people.
  • Doesn’t grasp and hold objects or bring objects to mouth.
  • Cannot support head well.

The Fourth Month

The fourth month, your baby smiles spontaneously at people, babbles, and responds to affection. Your baby should be able to hold their head steady, push down with their legs when their feet are on a firm surface, and may be able to roll over from tummy to back.

Below are some milestones to watch for:

  • Enjoys playing with people and may cry when play ends.
  • Babbles with expression and copies sounds.
  • Improved hand-eye coordination.

By the end of the month, be concerned if baby:

  • Fails to watch objects or people as they move.
  • Doesn’t hold head steady, coo, or smile at people.
  • Doesn’t push down with legs when feet are on a firm surface.

The Fifth Month

In the fifth month, babies begin to realize they are separate from their parents, and begin to determine the differences between parents, caregivers, and strangers as well as children and adults. This is a beautiful time where your baby has attached to you but may also mean a fear of strangers.

Baby is expressing emotion from laughing and squealing with joy to frowning, grunting, and crying if they are sad, angry, or afraid. By the end of the month, baby should be able to:

  • Roll, wriggle, and reach to get an object.
  • Bang and shake toys to learn how they work.
  • May sit with support, using hands for balance.

Be concerned if the following present at the end of five months:

  • Poor head control or isn’t rolling.
  • Fails to make eye contact.
  • Doesn’t babble, smile, or follow a moving object with their eyes.

The Sixth Month

This is a great time to introduce solid foods. It’s best to introduce one food at a time to ensure food allergies are found early. Avoid feeding honey, nuts, and nut products such as peanut butter as these are high-allergen foods and should be given only after the child turns one.

A fear of strangers and preference for parents may continue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Babies enjoy looking at themselves in a mirror and respond to other people’s emotions. This month, baby will respond to their own name, string vowel sounds together, and is beginning to make consonant sounds such as “B” and “M.”

Other milestones for this month include:

  • Taking turns “talking” with parents by making sounds.
  • Demonstrates curiosity about the world and tries to reach for things.
  • Rolls over in both directions and begins to sit without support.

Signs of concern include:

  • Doesn’t try to reach for items or roll over in both directions.
  • Fails to show affection or attachment to parents or doesn’t laugh.
  • Trouble getting things to mouth, or body seems very stiff with tight muscles,or body seems very floppy.

Each child is different and needs to be evaluated on their own merit. Of course, should you ever have questions or concerns about your child’s development, consult with your pediatrician or contact the team of pediatricians and developmental experts at Jiguar.

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