Major Developmental Milestones (and red flags) to look out for during baby's first year
They say that each and every snowflake is different. So are children and the way they grow, adapt and touch the milestones expected of them. If there is one piece of advice that you should follow as a new parent, it is to never compare your child's development with another. Accomplishing milestones early can make you proud, but there is nothing to worry if your little one takes their own time. Babies learn a lot of things in a very short time, and it is not necessarily an indication of your child's future development. All you have to do is check for the major milestones.
1. 0-3 months
During the first month, your baby should be startled by loud sounds. By three months, they can focus on faces close to them and some recognise familiar faces or voices by turning to them. And last but not the least, most children smile by three months. A couple of months delay in recognising voices is normal, but do get an expert opinion if your baby is not easily startled by loud noises or doesn't respond to voices easily.
2. 3-6 months
Within six months babies recognise familiar voices. They reach out for toys and other bright things and should be able to focus and track with both eyes any object that catches their attention within six feet. Most babies start by babbling- that nonsensical yet beautiful sound they make as if they are talking. You have cause for worry if your child doesn't start babbling by four months.
3. 6-9 months
You may hear stories of nine-month-old children talking in full sentences, urban myths about children reciting poems by the time they are one. Most children imitate and try to speak only at seven months. By nine months the babbling should give way to the first mama or dada. Contact your doctor, if by seven months, the baby has stiff or very floppy muscles (flops head when pulled into a sitting position) or does not roll over by 6 months. A baby usually can sit up by six months and develops fine motor skills like putting objects into the mouth to chew on - to many parents dismay! When it comes to social or emotional interactions, babies giggle and laugh when prompted by six months. By eight months your child should be enjoying a good game of peek a boo and occasional cuddles. Early intervention is the key in cognitive delays. If your baby does not interact with you when you try playing or doesn't use gestures such as waving or pointing to objects by 9 months, it is advisable to get an expert opinion.
4. 9-12 months
Within a year they should recognise the word "no" and the people who usually say it the most: the parents or guardians! Most one year olds also say one or two words. Speech is one of most common developmental delays. Make sure you speak to your child often and not in baby talk but in clear simple sentences. Sing to them, repeat common words and encourage them to respond. Children in multiple language households also take a little more time to reach their speech milestones. As far as motor skills are concerned you should be worried if your child does not crawl within 12 months. Within a year, you should also be able to have a back and forth sharing of sounds, smiles and facial expressions.
Most children catch up with their peers within a few months or years. Delays are usually not a cause for concern and most doctors can recommend excellent treatments or therapies to overcome the delays. Enjoy the first year as much as possible and have fun celebrating the milestones as and when they come.
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