Physical development milestones

From the day your baby is born, he or she will be learning constantly. Development will take place naturally − all you need to do is provide a good environment and point baby in the right direction.

Three things to keep in mind

Three things influence your baby’s development: genotype, personality and environment. While you can’t change your baby’s genetic potential or personality, you can provide a nurturing and stimulating environment to help your child reach their full potential.

All babies are different

It is important to remember that babies all develop differently. It is also very normal for them to learn a new skill and then appear to have lost it for a while. Don’t feel tempted to compare your baby to others since they all move at their own pace and – unless there is an underlying problem – by the age of two they will all catch up with each other. The speed they develop at is not a sign of giftedness or a problem.

Although you don’t need to worry about keeping up with others, it is a good idea to stimulate your baby. A good routine and plenty of sleep are also very important to development. The best time to stimulate your baby is when they are calm and alert –once they’ve woken up, had their nappy changed or been fed. Play with your baby at this time but stop if they get tired or irritable. The ‘calm alert’ phase may only last for 15-20 minutes in a newborn, but will increase to around 45 minutes by about three months of age.

It all happens in time

Your baby’s physical development will be very quick for the first two years. When your baby is born their movement will only be based on reflexes. Their hands will be fisted and their legs and arms will be in a curled position. But, as the muscles strengthen and the limbs straighten over the first six weeks, you should notice a big change. The first physical challenge that your baby will face is to increase the strength in the head and neck.

The parts of the brain that control movement develop in a sequence from head to toe. This is the reason that babies develop skills in a certain order. The easiest way to know how to stimulate your baby, what games to play and what toys may be best, is to have an understanding of the order of these milestones. If you know what baby should be achieving next, the rest is easy.

your baby's milestones

  • At three months, your baby's head will lag less when held sitting up
  • At four months your baby should be able to roll from front to back
  • Between four and five months your baby should be able to control their head
  • At six months your baby should be able to sit while being supported
  • At eight months your baby should be able to sit unsupported
  • Between seven and eight months your baby should start to crawl
  • At 13 months your baby should be able to stand alone for brief moments
  • Between 13 and 15 months most babies start walking independently.

Remember, these are only approximate timings. Your baby may do some things slightly earlier and some later. They may also miss out certain milestones, such as rolling and crawling. This isn’t a problem, but these big steps are achieved by practising, so it’s great for parents to encourage their babies to reach them. However, if your baby is not sitting by 10 months or walking by 18 months it is worth speaking to your GP.

Please be aware that the information given in these articles is only intended as general advice and should in no way be taken as a substitute for professional medical advice. If you or your family or your child is suffering from symptoms or conditions which are severe or persistent or you need specific medical advice, please seek professional medical assistance. Philips AVENT cannot be held responsible for any damages that result from the use of the information provided on this website.

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