By the time your baby is 1 month old, she will likely be able to lift her head briefly to look around, but it may take until she is 3 to 4 months to have control of her head and neck for longer periods.
Though you will see improvements along the way, don’t expect the apple of your eye to have full head control until around the 6-month mark.
[tip:] Help your baby gain the head control she will soon need to sit up by laying her on her stomach and making a noise or shining a light to cause her to try to look up.
Your baby may be able to flip from his back to his stomach as early as 2 to 3 months, but flipping back to his tummy may take a little longer—usually about 5 to 6 months. Your tiny bodybuilder will start strengthening the muscles needed to perform a full 360-degree flip by lifting his head while on his stomach to look up when he’s around 3 months old. By 5 months, this skill will progress to pushing up on his arms and lifting his head and chest off the ground while arching his back. Before you know it, he will be flipping like a pancake!
[tip:] Try wiggling a toy by his side just out of reach to encourage your little guy to try and roll over to get to it.
Your baby may become interested in sitting independently anywhere between 4 and 7 months. First, she will need to learn head control, followed by propping herself up by using her arms. Then, once baby can balance with the help of just one arm while in a sitting position, it will only be a matter of time before she will be sitting pretty all on her own!
[tip:] Distract your baby from losing her balance by holding her attention with intriguing toys while she’s sitting. And make sure to always stay close in case she topples over!
Most babies start crawling between 6 and 10 months, though some opt to skip this step altogether! Once your tiny tot can sit well on his own, he will gradually learn to switch from a sitting to an all-fours position (this may happen around the 6-month mark). Then, after realizing he can rock back and forth in this position, your little critter will learn that by pushing off his knees, he can move forward. At this point, doublecheck your baby-proofing skills because there’s no telling where your speed demon could end up!
[tip:] To help your baby become a master crawler, begin by placing toys just out of his reach. Then step up the difficulty level by creating a mini obstacle course out of soft objects like pillows and cushions.
Almost right away, if you hold your baby under her arms so she’s upright, she will dangle her legs down and push against the floor, mimicking walking. By the time she’s about 5 months old, she will discover the joy of “bouncing” while you balance her on the tops of your thighs. These activities will help her strengthen the leg muscles needed to stand and eventually walk on her own.
Around 8 months, your little gal will probably start attempting to pull herself up into a standing position using furniture. She will eventually experiment with letting go for several seconds at a time until she can stand completely unassisted.
[tip:] Make sure you give baby plenty of help finding her land legs by supporting her while she learns how to balance. Always stay close by, but don’t make a big deal if she falls to the ground—after all, she doesn’t have a long way to fall!
Ah, the first steps. Many consider it the mother of all milestones. Once your baby can stand for a few seconds without support, he can start “cruising” from one piece of furniture to the next. Once he learns to bend his knees to squat and return to a seated position (usually somewhere around the 9- or 10-month mark), he will be well on his way to walking all by himself. Some babies will be teetering along by the end of the first year, while it is completely normal for others to wait much longer to take those first unassisted steps.
[tip:] Help your baby gain confidence in his mobility by letting him grip your hand while cruising around the living room. If he gets stuck while standing, resist the urge to pick up or sit him down.
During the first three months, your little one will learn to communicate through crying. As you bond, you will be able to distinguish between different types of cries to figure out what she is trying to tell you. Over the next three months, you will start hearing your baby “babble,” or try out forming different syllables and sounds.
In this stage, the occasional “mama” or “papa” will make you melt (as it should!), but your baby probably doesn’t know what those “words” really mean during the first year of life. By the end of the first year, your smooth-talker will mimic the different tones of your voice while babbling—becoming one step closer to using real words!
[tip:] The best way to help your baby develop linguistic skills is by talking (and listening) a lot. Read to her whenever you get the chance and give her a good ear to babble into when she tries her hand at speaking. The more you can engage your baby in a “real conversation,” the better.