Milestones in a baby's life are events showing progression as measured against peers and recording them can objectively indicate accelerated or delayed development. Major milestones usually belong to one of four categories: physical development, social and emotional development, thinking skills and communication skills. Milestones are not hard and fast rules for a baby's development but they should be recorded in case parents need to approach their doctor about faster or slower development than normal. A common method of recording is filling out a chart with ages and stages already listed on it.
1. Major Physical Milestones
Within the first year of a baby's life, parents can expect to see their infant developing skills needed for holding objects and hand-to-mouth coordination. The first major milestone occurs shortly after birth when the newborn is able to raise its head. Other major milestones include rolling over at three to six months, crawling at six to nine months and walking alone from one to two years of age. Parents can keep a notebook with dates that mark the baby's first step and other physical milestones.
2. Major Social and Emotional Milestones
The types of achievements that occur in the social and emotional category are more subjectively measured than those in the physical category. Some of the milestones parents can video record include the baby looking at his hands and sucking his fingers from birth to three months; smiling and laughing at three to six months; identifying friends and strangers at six to nine months; and beginning to feed himself solids and liquids at nine months to one year of age.
3. Major Thinking Skills Milestones
As babies progress in their development, they begin to acquire aptitudes in perception and organization that can be recorded in a keepsake book or on video. Up to three months of age, one of the skills babies accomplish is being able to differentiate between the four main tastes: sour, sweet, salty and bitter. As they grow, skills like facial recognition at three to six months, showing understanding of pictures containing different numbers of objects from six to nine months and gestural imitation at nine months to one year of age are added to their repertoire.
4. Major Communication Milestones
Babies begin by repeating vowel and consonant sounds from three to six months. Their language skills develop into babbling until about nine months, when they begin speaking a few meaningful units of language, like dada and mama. Parents can audio or video record these communication milestones as they occur, to keep permanent and objective sources of their child's achievements. If a baby is not developing at the same rate as their peers, bringing in these timestamped recordings to a doctor can help in identifying anything out of the ordinary that may be occurring.
- PBS The Whole Child: ABCs of Child Development
- PBS The Whole Child: Physical Development
- PBS The Whole Child: Social Development
- PBS The Whole Child: Cognitive Development
- PBS The Whole Child: Communication Development
- Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services: Your Baby's Speech and Language Skills from Birth to 30 Months
- Better Health Channel: Child Development -- Newborn to Three Months
- Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images