What your baby will learn in his first year

In your baby’s first year you’ll see huge advances in his development. Here’s your guide to what should happen when and how you can help…

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  • Starting with holding his head up and moving onto rolling, sitting, crawling and standing, there are so many milestones to look forward to in your baby’s first year. But remember  that all babies are unique and progress at a different pace, so use these indications as a guide only. And bear in mind that premature babies may reach milestones later than full-term babies. If you’re ever worried that your little one might not be progressing at the right speed speak to your health visitor.

  • From Month 1

    “Whether your newborn baby’s lying on his back or his tummy, you’ll notice him turn his head to the side in his first month,” says Sheila O’Brien, health visitor, currently working as associate delivery manager for the Department of Health.

    “Try talking to him from the side as he’ll love to look at your face close up and you may notice he’ll turn his head towards the sound of your voice too.”

    Try this…

    A baby bouncer will give your little one something to focus on other than the floor and the ceiling.

  • From Month 2

    “Your baby may be able to roll part-way onto his side by now,” says Sheila. “And support the weight of his head when you hold him upright or when he’s on his tummy. He’s still wobbly though, so always be ready to support his head if he needs it.”

    Try this…

    “Leaving your little one lying on his changing mat on the floor after change time means he has the opportunity to wriggle around and try to roll over,” says Sheila. “But never leave him lying on the bed alone. And to help with lifting his head, place him on his tummy for a little while every day and attract his attention with a toy.”

    Mum’s tip…

    “We laid Henry on his tummy, put his arms on a pillow and his legs on the ground so he was at an angle. It encouraged his inquisitiveness and meant that when he did lift his head he could see a lot more than if he was flat.”

    Celine Philibert, 25, from Surrey, mum to Henry, 5 months

  • From Month 4

    “Your baby will have really good control of his head by now,” says Sheila. “If you hold him on your lap, he’ll keep his own head up, though sudden movements may make his head wobbly again. You’ll also notice that he may be able to roll from his front to his back too.”

    Try this…

    Hold his hands and pull him up gently from a lying to a sitting position, and he’ll try to hold his head up in line with his body.

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  • From Month 6

    Loads happens around now. As well as being able to roll from front to back, your baby is usually able to do it in reverse too. “If he can hold his head up confidently, you’ll find he should also be able to sit for a short while too,” says Sheila. “But he’ll need supporting. Make a secure tower of cushions or pillows for him to lean against and gradually reduce the amount as he gets more confident. But don’t leave him in the room alone. By around 8 months he should be able to sit without support.”

    Try this:

     If you don’t want the faff of pillows sit him up with this Blossom Farm Sit Me Up Cosy, from £40, from Early Learning Centre. Suitable from birth.

    Mum’s tip…

    “I found the best thing for teaching my little one to roll over was a mirror! He was so interested in his own reflection that as I gradually pulled the mirror away from him, he naturally rolled over to follow it!”

    Kate Fever, 25, from Devon, mum to Gemma, 3, and Jacob, 1

  • From Month 7

    Once your baby can sit up and change position it’s not long before he’ll start flinging his body forward onto his hands. “Once in the crawling position he may well spend a few days rocking back and forth, or shuffling backwards before he manages to coordinate his hands and feet for forward momentum,” says Sheila. Remember some babies never actually crawl and instead go straight onto walking.

    Try this…

    Create crawling confidence, agility and speed by making obstacles to negotiate using cushions or pillows. Don’t leave your baby alone though, if he gets stuck it could undo all his confidence.

  • From Month 8

    Your baby’s now a confident sitter and a dab hand at leaning forward and sideways. He may also have a go at getting himself up into a sitting position from his tummy.

    Try this…

    Reaching from a seated position is the next step, so help your little one with his balance by playing a clapping game, showing him a toy, or rolling a soft ball toward him.

    Mum’s tip…

    “I found the Bumbo Baby Sitter, £34.99, really gave Isla confidence to sit with support before sitting on her own.”

    Anna Hargreaves, 33, from London, mum to Isla, 19 months

  • From Month 9

    Crawling gets your curious baby to where he wants to be but those interesting things he’s had his eye on for the last few months are still out of reach.

    “This is just the incentive he needs to start pulling himself up onto the furniture into a standing position, between around 8-10 months,” says Sheila.

    Try this…

    Help him make his first step with this classic First Steps Baby Walker, £29.99, from Vtech. Suitable from 6 months.

    Mum’s tip…

    “I’m sure that Jamie learnt to crawl by copying my friend’s little boy. We spent a few days in Scotland with her and her son, who’s the same age as Jamie, when he had just started crawling. As soon we got home Jamie started to crawl too! It probably wasn’t the only thing that helped him to crawl but I’m sure it pushed him into action!”

    Claire Pomfret, 34, from Manchester, mum to Jamie, 1V, and step-mum to Vicky, 15

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  • At-a glance-guide to your baby’s first year

    0-3 mths:

    • Physical: Head control develops. Arm and leg coordination improves by 3 months and he’ll grab and bat at objects.
    • Emotional: Shows displeasure by crying and smiles from around 4-6 weeks.
    • Social: Recognises your face, responds to sounds, kicks and waves his arms and legs when you engage in play or conversation with him.

    4-6 mths:

    • Physical: Can hold his head up for long periods without bobbing, rolls over, grabs at objects near his hands, switches objects from hand to hand (by 6 months), and can sit with support (by 6 months).
    • Emotional: Laughs out loud and responds to your voice by smiling and cooing. He also finds funny faces and sounds amusing.
    • Social: Makes cooing sounds as part of a ‘conversation’ with you.

    7-9 mths:

    • Physical: May crawl.
    • Emotional: Could display stranger anxiety and clinginess.
    • Social: Responds to people he knows by babbling.

    10-12 mths:

    • Physical: Might take his first steps while you support him. Can also pick up objects using his thumb and finger.
    • Emotional: Demonstrates loving gestures like cuddling and kissing.
    • Social: Likes to wave goodbye. May say two or three words. Imitates simple hand gestures and indicates what he wants by signing.


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