Baby's First Year

Baby trying to walk

Developmental milestones 

It’s important to remember that babies develop at their own pace. There’s a fairly wide “window” for when it is normal for a baby to reach a particular developmental stage. If you have concerns about your baby’s development, talk to his doctor. If there is a problem, addressing it early is the best way to decrease the effects on his future. For a complete month-by-month description of developmental milestones, go to The American Pregnancy Association website at www.americanpregnancy.org/.

Birth to two months

Development

During this first development stage, babies’ bodies and brains are learning to live in the outside world.

  • Most babies gain about 2 pounds each month during the first few months.
  • They will sleep most of the time. 

Parenting 

Take your baby to the doctor within the first two weeks and at two months for a well-baby checkup and shots. 

  • Touch, hold and talk to your baby to help you bond with each other. 
  • Babies learn to depend on and trust those who care for them. 
  • Always place your baby on his back to sleep, even for naps.
  • When you take your baby out, protect his skin from strong sunlight and keep a blanket handy to prevent him from getting chilled. Babies need their heads covered in cool weather because they lose a lot of heat through their heads. Woman holding young infant

Feeding 

  • Feed your baby only breast milk or iron-fortified formula at this age, and burp him frequently. 
  • Do not give your baby any juices, sugar water, honey or solid foods at this age. 
  • Do not heat your baby’s bottle in the microwave.
  • Always hold your baby when feeding him, and do not prop the bottle up for feeding. 

Two to four months

Development

  • Your baby will begin to smile and make some squealing, cooing noises now. 
  • Your baby might begin to hold his head up while on his stomach and will soon roll over. 
  • Your baby might begin to move around and will put things in his mouth. Watch your baby closely so that he does not choke on small objects.

Parenting 

Baby sitting in a lapTake your baby to the doctor at 4 months for a well-baby checkup and shots. 

  • Your baby will begin to stay awake for longer periods of time and will be interested in the things around him. 
  • He will discover his hands with wonder. 
  • Your baby will like to be carried and will enjoy cuddling and playing with you. 
  • Your baby should always be secured in a baby seat with safety straps.

Feeding 

  • Continue to breastfeed or bottle-feed. No solid foods are needed yet. 
  • At your baby’s four-month checkup, ask the doctor for advice on starting your baby on solid foods. 
  • Wipe your baby’s gums with a soft, wet cloth after feeding. 

Four to six months

Development

  • Most babies gain about 1 pound per month for the next six months.
  • Your baby will enjoy people and begin to show emotions such as laughing or fussing. 
  • Your baby also will begin to play with rattles and other small toys. 
  • He also will stretch his arms out to be picked up. 
  • He may begin teething. 

Parenting 

  • Take your baby to the doctor at 6 months for a well-baby checkup and shots. 
  • Use a stroller or infant seat to take your baby with you. 
  • Your baby will enjoy seeing you, being in different rooms, hearing you talk and seeing you smile. 
  • If you haven’t made your home safer yet, you’d better get started.

Child surrounded with toys

Feeding 

  • You may begin feeding your baby solid foods. Start solid foods by reducing the amount of breast milk and introducing cereals (rice first, then barley and oatmeal). 
  • You should feed cereal only with a spoon and never in a bottle or infant feeder. If your baby is teething, he might not be hungry. If he has a fever of 101°F or higher, contact your doctor. 

Six to nine months

Development

  • Your baby will be able to play peek-a-boo and patty-cake soon. 
  • He may reach out to loved ones and show shyness to strangers. 
  • He can hold or pick up toys by himself. 
  • He should be crawling soon. 
  • He may begin stringing sounds together like “Mama” and “Dada.”

Parenting 

Take your baby to the doctor at 9 months for a well-baby checkup and shots. 

  • Talk with your baby and tell him simple words for the objects and actions in his life. 
  • Read him simple and short bedtime stories. 
  • Let your baby move around on the floor and explore his abilities. 
  • Use safety locks on all cabinets and drawers within his reach to protect him from small objects and dangerous chemicals. Child with sippy cup

Feeding 

  • You can feed your baby strained fruits and cooked vegetables and also strained meats. Continue to provide breast milk or formula to your baby as well. 
  • Begin cup feeding slowly with juice and water, but do not leave a bottle in the crib with your baby to help him sleep. The sugars in juices can cause tooth decay. If you choose to give juice, limit to no more than four ounces per day.

Nine to 12 months

Development

  • Your baby will be moving around the room and later walking. This usually happens right around one year, but it can vary greatly.
  • Your baby will begin to drink from a cup and eat small pieces of food with his fingers. 
  • He understands “no” and will show many emotions. 
  • You should talk to your baby’s doctor about switching to cow’s milk at 12 months.

Parenting 

Take your baby to the doctor at 12 months for a well-baby checkup and shots. 

  • Your baby will learn much through play. Provide some balls, dolls, bathtub toys and a jack-in-the-box for your baby. 
  • Keep his world safe by putting small objects, breakable items and dangerous liquids out of your baby’s reach. 
  • Baby in bath tubPlay with your baby as often as possible. Share his excitement and help or comfort him when needed. 

Feeding 

  • Feed your baby small finger foods and some table foods. 
  • Avoid hot dogs, raisins, peanuts, popcorn, peanut butter, whole grapes or other food that will be hard to chew or could cause your baby to choke. 
  • Replace your baby’s bottle with a drinking cup. 
  • Continue wiping your baby’s gums with a soft, damp cloth or soft brush after eating.
  • Continue to breastfeed if you and your baby both desire.
 
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