How will my baby grow and change during this first year

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The first year of a baby's life is a time of amazing growth and learning. At birth, your baby is a helpless infant, able to nurse and cry when he's uncomfortable, but not capable of much more than that. Twelve months later, he'll be able to hold and throw a ball, feed himself with a spoon, make noise by banging on a pot, and crawl or scoot to get a toy across the room. He may be walking and saying his first words. Anticipating your baby's development can help you know how to satisfy and stimulate him, and how to keep him healthy and safe.

Remember that every baby develops at his own pace. There is no "normal" baby. The word pediatricians use is "average," which is a statistical measure right in the middle of a wide range of differences. Just as babies start out bigger or smaller, so different babies grow more quickly or more slowly and develop different behaviors and skills at different times.

The left column in the chart below is a general guide to what's "typical" for baby development through the first year. The right column is a guide for you—things you can do to help your baby thrive at different stages during the first year.

What your baby might do What you can do

What your baby might do What you can do

3-6 months Lift head and push up with arms when lying on stomach

Hold head steady when held upright

Smile, laugh, and squeal with delight

Roll over

Sit up with support

Make babbling noises

Reach for, touch, and grab objects

Show emotions such as joy, fear, anger, contentment

Coo and talk with baby

Show excitement and pleasure at baby's new skills

Move baby around to provide different people and objects to look at

Prop baby up safely to sit

Introduce rattles, dangling crib toys for grabbing, musical and squeaky toys, small blocks, stuffed animals

6-9 months Sit without support

Feed self a cracker

Put objects in mouth

Hold own bottle

Enjoy making noises like "ba ba ba," "ga ga ga," and razzing sound

Roll over

Pull self up to standing position

Crawl, scoot, and move around

Sleep through the night

Grab, shake, and chew on toys; pass from one hand to the other

Object if you take a toy away

Fear strangers and even family members if they wear something different (dark glasses, large hat, etc.)

"Baby-proof" home (cover sockets; remove breakable objects, electric cords, poisonous items; block stairways, etc.)

Keep small, chokeable objects out of baby's reach

Answer baby's sounds, sing children's songs, and talk to baby

"Read" picture books, cloth books, board books

Play games like "peek-a-boo" and "pat-a-cake"

Let baby play with safe kitchen utensils (measuring cups, wooden spoons, pans), teething toys, rattles, bath toys, soft blocks, musical toys, toys with wheels, shape sorting toys, etc.

Introduce new people slowly

9-12 months Pull self up to standing position and sit down from standing position

Stand unsupported

Walk with help (at about 12 to 14 months)

Throw toys out of crib or playpen and cry until they are retrieved

Feed self finger foods, drink from cup

Say one or two words (by 12 months)

Understand "no" and other commands and gestures but not always obey them

React to separation from parents

Continue to "baby proof" home and provide safe space for baby to roam and explore

Let baby play with safe kitchen utensils (containers, lids, pans, wooden spoons), shape sorters, dolls, pull toys, boxes with objects to put in and take out, blocks, take-apart/put-together toys, balls

Let baby chew on teething toys

Play games like "peek-a-boo" and "pat-a-cake"

Use simple words and short sentences; talk to baby about names of things, colors, parts of the body, animal names, and animal sounds

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