This post describes some of the milestones that typically developing children achieve between birth and six months of age.
The language and motor milestones a child should achieve in their first six months of life are subtle, and can be easily overlooked. The child is building the foundation they will need for communication and movement, and many of the milestones are social and functional, rather than being used in isolation.
While most children will achieve these milestones effortlessly, without us realising it, it is important to be aware of them. Many children who are diagnosed with developmental delays or impairments later in life, did show delays in these very early skills. This post will discuss each of these steps, and what to expect within your child’s earliest months.
0-3 Months of Age
You child should be:
Responding to sounds. Hearing is essential to your child’s verbal communication development. Babies involuntarily know to listen for language, and will demonstrate that they recognise language over other background noises.
Giving eye contact. Babies will show interest in looking at faces, which will develop into them giving eye contact. As they grow, they will show signs of enjoyment when sharing eye contact such as cooing and smiling.
Smiling. When babies smile, it lets their family know that they are noticing the outside world and enjoying social interaction.
Cooing and gurgling. Babies should begin making some sounds around 8 weeks of age. These sounds are your baby’s first attempt at verbal communication by experimenting with their oral coordination and voice.
Head control. Babies should be able to move their head from side to side and should be able to extend their neck and push themselves up to look around when placed on their tummy.
Visual tracking. Babies will be able to follow movement of your face, hands and toys, at birth this is only at close range (less than 30 cm and for very short periods). This will increase in range and duration as the child grows and by 3 months of age, your baby will be able to watch you move around the room.
Early play. In the first 3 months, babies will demonstrate early actions of play including batting, swiping, grasping, kicking, and mouthing.
4-6 Months of Age
Your child should be:
Identifying basic emotions. Your baby will begin to identify and respond to other’s emotions. They will mimic and mirror your emotions.
Identifying people. Your baby will begin to recognise familiar faces, including those outside their immediate family. By 6 months, your baby will develop stranger anxiety – where they will be upset when they do not recognise who is holding them.
Following faces. Your baby will begin to look at their family’s faces. This is important, as communication involves non-verbal cues such as facial expression.
Babbling. Babbling is different from cooing, in that it contains consonant sounds and is purposeful, for example “ma-ma-ma”.
Oral motor exploration. Your baby will begin to play with their mouth – for example, clicking their tongue and blowing raspberries.
Memory and attachment. Babies start to develop attachment to objects, for example a favourite rattle, and can be upset when it is taken away. This also means that they are highly engaged by games such as peek a boo.
Deliberate movements. Babies begin to make deliberate actions such as kicking a mat that makes noise, or stretching arms out to be picked up by a parent.
Bilateral coordination. Babies are able to bring hands to their mouth and manipulate objects with both hands, grasping and releasing objects that they want to play with.
Rolling. Babies will begin to roll from tummy to back before they roll from back to tummy, as it is harder to position arms when rolling to tummy. Rolling consistently can take a while to perfect, but it is the basis for further movement milestones. Parents should encourage rolling to both sides.
Please note that each child is different, and will achieve these milestones at different ages. The above information is based on the average age that typically developing children will achieve these milestones.
If you have any concerns about your baby achieving these milestones, please contact your GP or our friendly Speech Pathologists and Occupational Therapists on (02) 6583 4063.