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Babies change more in the first year of life than at any other time. From 1 to 12 months of age, most babies grow and develop in these main areas:
Each baby grows and gains skills at his or her own pace. It is common for a baby to be ahead in one area, such as language, but a little behind in another.
Babies who were born early or have health problems may grow and develop at a slower pace.
Doctors recommend that babies have routine checkups (well-child visits) every 2 to 3 months from age 1 month to 12 months. These visits are important to check for problems and to make sure that your baby is growing and developing as expected.
During these visits, the doctor will:
This is a good time to talk to your doctor about any concerns you have. Between visits, write down any questions you want to ask the doctor next time.
Call your doctor anytime you have a concern about your baby. Be sure to call if your baby:
Your own health is also important in helping your baby grow and develop. Talk to your doctor if you think you might be depressed or if you feel like you cannot care for your baby.
The best things for your baby are often the most basic. Loving, holding, changing diapers for, talking to, and feeding your baby are the first things to focus on.
During the first year, other ways that you can help your baby grow and learn are to:
The first year of your baby's life is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful. Some days you may feel overwhelmed. Learning what is normal for babies at this age can help you spot problems early or feel better about how your baby is doing.
Ask for help when you need it. Call a family member or friend to watch your baby. If you need a break or don't feel well, ask your doctor or local hospital for some suggestions.
Learning about growth and development:
Seeing a doctor:
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Babies usually grow in natural, predictable steps, moving from one milestone to the next. During the first year you will see gains in five major areas:
Each baby grows and gains skills at his or her own pace. It's common for a baby to be ahead in one area, such as language, but a little behind in another.
By around 2 months, most babies:
By 4 months, most babies:
By 6 months, most babies:
By 9 months, most babies:
By 12 months, most babies:
Premature infants typically reach milestones later than others of the same age. But they are usually on schedule for their expected time of birth. For example, a baby born 2 months early might reach milestones 2 months later than a full-term baby born at the same time.
Healthy babies who were born prematurely usually reach normal developmental levels for their age by the time they are about 24 months of age. Learning and thinking skills usually are first to catch up. Motor skills are often the last to catch up.
During the first 12 months of a baby's life, it's very common for parents to have concerns about their baby's general well-being. Know that you likely don't have anything to worry about. But it is good to be aware of health, development, and safety issues to help prevent or respond to problems.
SIDS is the death, without a known cause, of a baby who is younger than 1 year old. Typically, a parent or other caregiver puts the baby—who seems healthy—down to sleep and returns later to find the baby has died.
SIDS is very rare, and it cannot always be prevented. But you can help prevent SIDS by taking certain steps. For instance, always put your baby to sleep on his or her back. For more information, see the topic Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
You may just start bragging to your friends and family how your baby is sleeping through the night when—suddenly—that's no longer true. The fact is, sleeping patterns change.
Your baby may suddenly start to cry when it's nap time or bedtime or may wake up during the night. Sometimes a baby gets too excited for sleep after he or she has mastered some new skill, such as jabbering or shaking the crib. Other times, hunger from a growth spurt, a change in routine, or not feeling well may interrupt a good sleep pattern.
Try to keep a nap and bedtime routine. Your baby will adjust if you stay consistent. And remember, napping can be good for tired parents too.
You may notice your baby's feeding patterns change during this time. Parents often wonder whether their baby is getting enough nourishment. The quality and quantity of a baby's feedings probably are sufficient if the baby is gaining weight steadily, is content most of the time, and is becoming increasingly alert and active. For more information about feeding your baby, see the topics Breast-Feeding and Bottle-Feeding.
Babies cry a lot, especially in the first 2 months. Crying is your child's first way of communicating.
The amount of time your baby spends crying usually increases from birth until your baby is about 6 to 8 weeks old. After that, your baby will gradually cry less as he or she finds other ways of communicating or consoling himself or herself.
If your child is crying, try to identify the type of cry. It helps to go through a mental checklist of what might be wrong and make sure your child is safe and cared for.
As you respond to the young child's other signals (such as whimpering, facial expressions, and wiggling), the child will usually cry less. For more information, see the topic Crying, Age 3 and Younger.
Babies love to put objects into their mouths. To keep your baby from choking:
Diaper rash occurs most often in babies who are 9 to 12 months old. Even though a diaper rash is uncomfortable, normally it isn't serious. Usually the rash clears up when you:
For more information, see the topic Diaper Rash.
Your baby is teething when his or her first teeth break through the gums. Teething usually begins around 6 months of age. But it can start at any time between 3 months and 12 months of age. Your baby may show signs of discomfort from sore and sensitive gums, be cranky, drool, and have other mild symptoms for a few days before a tooth breaks through the gum.
For more information, see the topic Teething.
It may take a few months before an older child shows signs of jealousy of a new baby. When your child realizes that the baby is there to stay, strong emotions and behavior problems may soon follow.
You can take steps to prepare for sibling rivalry. For example, you can:
Beginning around 6 months of age, your baby begins to feel uneasy when you go away. This is called separation anxiety, or separation protest. You can help your baby manage these emotions by making sure your child is well-rested and well-fed before you leave. It may also help to distract your baby, such as with a favorite toy.
A baby goes through so many changes that it can be hard for you to keep up with all the things experts say you "should be" doing to promote healthy growth and development.
Remember that the best things for your baby are usually the simplest. Loving, holding, changing diapers for, talking to, and feeding your baby are the things to focus on. The rest will fall into place.
But you can always learn more about how to help your baby grow and develop in healthy ways.
For more information about health and safety, see the topic Health and Safety, Birth to Age 2.
Taking care of your baby is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful. Some days you may simply feel overwhelmed. Ask for help when you need it:
Also, parents may find that they have a harder time communicating with each other. Feeling tired can make you more sensitive and lose patience more easily than normal. Learn coping skills to help you deal with anger and frustration. For more information, see the topic Stress Management.
Talk to your doctor anytime you have concerns about your baby's:
Also see your doctor if your child has lost a skill that he or she had previously mastered.
Your physical and mental health are also important in helping your baby reach his or her potential. Talk to your doctor if think you might be depressed or if you feel detached or unable to care for your baby in any way.
Doctors recommend that babies have routine well-child visits every 2 to 3 months from age 1 month to 12 months. During these visits, your doctor checks your baby's growth and development to see if your baby is reaching the milestones for each specific age. During these visits, you also can discuss any concerns you have. When your baby is age 9 months, the doctor may do a developmental screening test.
At every checkup, the doctor:
The doctor will be especially interested in certain developments at specific ages. For example:
Routine checkups are a good time for parents to ask about what to expect in the weeks to come. You may find it helpful to keep a list of questions(What is a PDF document?) to ask the doctor.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers a variety of educational materials about parenting, general growth and development, immunizations, safety, disease prevention, and more. AAP guidelines for various conditions and links to other organizations are also available.
The Bright Futures Web site offers current information about health promotion and health care needs of infants, children, teens, families, and communities. Bright Futures is sponsored by the National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health at Georgetown University.
This website has information about chemicals in toys, clothing, and other products. The Ecology Center created this resource because product makers aren't required to disclose what chemicals are in many consumer products.
This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It has a wide range of information about children's health—from allergies and diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The NICHD conducts and supports research related to the health of children, adults, and families. NICHD has information on its Web site about many health topics. And you can send specific requests to information specialists.
Zero to Three is a national nonprofit organization whose aim is to strengthen and support families and promote the healthy development of babies and toddlers. The organization provides information about growth and development and about health professional training. It also works to promote public awareness about the importance of giving children a healthy start and solid developmental foundation in the first three years of life.
Other Works ConsultedAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Age eight months through twelve months. In SP Shelov et al., eds., Caring For Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 5th ed., pp. 249–284. New York: Bantam.American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Age four months through seven months. In SP Shelov et al., eds., Caring For Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 5th ed., pp. 217–247. New York: Bantam.American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Age one month through three months. In SP Shelov et al., eds., Caring For Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 5th ed., pp. 193–216. New York: Bantam.Augustyn M, et al. (2009). Infancy and toddler years. In WB Carey et al., eds., Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, 4th ed., pp. 24–38. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.Blasco PA (2011). Motor delays. In M Augustyn et al., eds., The Zuckerman Parker Handbook of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics for Primary Care, 3rd ed., pp. 271–276. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Brazelton TB (2006). Touchpoints, Birth to Three: Your Child's Emotional and Behavioral Development, 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.Ertem IO (2011). Child development. In CD Rudolph et al., eds., Rudolph’s Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 34–42. New York: McGraw-Hill.Goldson E, Reynolds A (2011). Child development and behavior. In WW Hay Jr et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics, 20th ed., pp. 64–103 New York: McGraw-Hill.Mayes LC, et al. (2007). The infant and toddler. In A Martin, FR Volkmar, eds., Lewis's Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: A Comprehensive Textbook, 4th ed., pp. 252–261. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Richter SB, et al. (2006). Normal infant and childhood development. In JA McMillan et al., eds., Oski's Pediatrics: Principles and Practice, 4th ed., chap. 96, pp. 593–601. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Last Revised: October 7, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
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