First smile, first step, first word: Is your baby’s development on track? - TrueID

First smile, first step, first word: Is your baby’s development on track?

LionhearTVSeptember 2, 2022

There is nothing a baby cannot do that will not bring a smile to Mom and Dad’s face. From their adorable babbling to clutching at your finger with their tiny hand, breaking into a gummy smile, and speaking their very first word, a baby’s simple actions always succeed in melting their parents’ hearts.

“In Pediatrics, such actions are known as developmental milestones, or the things most children can do at a certain age,” says Dr. Bernadette Benitez, MD, a Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics specialist from the Center of Pediatric Development and Rehabilitation of top hospital in the Philippines, Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed) “In the years that a newborn becomes an infant then a toddler, developmental milestones happen month after month, and it is exciting to witness a baby grow up and develop right before our eyes.”

While certain developmental milestones are expected once a baby hits a particular month, parents must remember that each baby is unique and develops at his own pace. “Just because your friend’s child achieved a developmental milestone at the predicted month, and yours did not, does not necessarily mean there is already a problem with your baby.”, the pediatrician assures. Developmental milestones are achieved across a given age range, with some children achieving them later than others yet still falling within the acceptable range.

What then can parents look forward to with their newborn in the next 12 months? Dr. Benitez offers the following guidelines:

First 3 months. The first smile happens sometime between their first and third month. “Initially, it will be just to themselves,” she points out. “But within three months, a baby will smile in response to you.”

In this first quarter, babies are also expected to raise their head and chest transiently when lying on their stomach; recognize sounds like their parents’ voices and turn their head from side to side; focus on and follow faces and objects with their eyes; and make jerky arm and leg movements.

“You will also observe them to start using their hands,” adds Dr. Benitez. “In these first three months, from the basic grasping reflex, babies will be able to open and close their hands more often, grasp objects, and bring their hands to their mouth.”

4-6 months. A baby’s first laugh can be heard between the fourth and sixth months. This is usually in response to social overtures by adults. “They will also try to ‘speak’ to you by cooing or imitating sounds like ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’,” the doctor states. “They will also start squealing and “blowing raspberries” by sticking their tongue out and blowing”.

These are also the months when babies have better control of their hands: note them grabbing objects like toys or your hair and bringing them to their mouth. and try to reach for dangling objects.

Other developmental milestones at this stage include rolling over from stomach to their back and vice versa; sitting up with support and having great head control; bouncing up and down with their legs when held upright; and responding to their name and different emotions by the tone of a speaker’s voice.

7-9 months. According to Dr. Benitez the first crawl occurs sometime between a baby’s seventh and ninth month. “Having figured out how to roll over, babies will now start trying to move forward. They do this by scooting (using their bottom to propel themselves forward) and arm crawling (using their arms and legs to drag themselves forward on their stomach) and then to a full crawl on all fours.” Pulling themselves up to an unsupported sitting position along with raking at small objects are other developmental milestones in this quarter.

By now, your baby would be familiar with certain names and words, too: Watch them react when you call their name or say an emphatic “No!” And while they still babble, the sounds that come out of their mouth will indicate emotions like glee, sadness, or displeasure.

10-12 months. A baby’s first word—usually “Mama” or “Dada”—will be uttered around the tenth to twelfth months. “By their first birthday, they would know how to say at least three words, including expressions like ‘Uh-oh,’ and try to imitate what adults are saying,” says Dr. Benitez. Communicating through gestures like pointing at objects they want by using their index or forefinger, waving goodbye or blowing a kiss, and responding to simple verbal requests are also observed at this stage. He/she will also be able to play simple action games, transfer objects from one hand to the other and put them in receptacles. Your baby’s growing social awareness may make him wary of strangers but also begin to enjoy interacting with familiar people.

1 year. The first steps happen around the first birthday when they succeed in pulling themselves up and moving around on their feet while holding on to furniture for support. “They also would have better use of their hands, using their thumb and forefinger (the pincer grasp) to feed themselves or hold objects like a spoon to bring it to their mouth while feeding,” she explains. “They are now able to find things that you hide (object permanence) and will enjoy a game of hide-and-seek. Socially, they will begin to engage in imitative play with a parent or sibling and follow simple commands.”

“Again, every baby is unique and grows at their own pace. More often than not, minor developmental delays may be temporary and can be overcome through adequate developmental stimulation,” Dr. Benitez emphasizes.

“Ultimately, you know your baby best. If you are concerned or observe no progress or change in crucial milestones—for instance, your baby cannot hold up their head in 3-4 months, cannot sit up on their own in 10 months, or does not babble or say a single word at 12 months—inform your pediatrician immediately. Trust a qualified health professional to assess if your concerns are founded and take the appropriate measures to address any delays.”

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