When it comes to child development parents can get a little jittery about where their child falls on the development scale. And it almost always seems like a competition to see whose child will walk first, speak first, and meet all their hight markers at every doctor's visit. But child development is so much more than that. There are hundreds of milestones infants go through during their transition to becoming a toddler, many of which Moms don't even know about.
Most doctors and child development specialists categorize infant development into four categories: language, large motor development, small motor development, and social skills, according to TAPA. And the really interesting thing is that different development milestones and development periods can make little humans act and sleep differently–with some development periods lasting up to one month. So if it seems that little bundle of happiness is a little less happy than usual or that amazing sleeper has been waking up around the clock for the past week, a development phase may be to blame. To find out more about the major development stages almost every child goes through and to see where that newest addition to the family falls on the scale, read on.
20 Understanding Hours - 5 weeks
When babies are 5 weeks old many of them will finally start sleeping through the night. Around 6 weeks babies go through a growth spurt which can lead to a fussier time. But generally speaking, at 5 weeks of age newborns generally begin to realize more about the world around them and become more alert during the day. A more alert baby will mean a sleepier baby as well.
The Baby Sleep Site advises parents to define and follow sleep patterns so babies will begin to develop healthy sleep habits early. The site also advises new parents to consider babywearing to help calm fussiness during this time.
19 Startlingly New – Birth To 2 Months
Have you noticed your little one jerk and startle at the literal drop of a hat? If it seems that it does not take much to startle your little one, try not to worry. If your baby is easily startled at the sound of loud noises, that's a good thing! It's just his or her 'Moro reflex,' as it is known by doctors.
According to emedicine health, "the startle reflex occurs when a baby hears a loud noise or when he falls backward, his arms and legs extend away from his body." The reflex means your little one is developing right on track. The reflex usually disappears by about 4 months of age.
18 Smooth Move – 12 Weeks
If your little one hasn't already got you and everyone else wrapped around his or her adorable little finger, chances are he or she will by this development stage. By 12 weeks your little one starts to become one smooth operator, his or her movements become less jerky and more coordinated.
By this time your baby will also begin to recognize things that he or she never noticed before, such as patterns (like every time the phone rings and mom says 'hello'). Since babies are starting to move about a bit more by this stage their sleep patterns will most likely be affected, too. If you were swaddling before, chances are baby is starting to break out of that now.
17 Fun And Games – 4 Months
I will never forget the first time I made my little one laugh, like really, really laugh. It was one of those moments that filled my entire being with so much joy. By about 4 months most parents can witness the sound of their child's first real laugh.
According to What To Expect, a baby's first laugh can be inspired by something as simple as seeing their favorite toy, pet or person. My little one laughed because I laughed. It was pretty cool. Parents will also probably notice a lot of drool by now, too. This is normal as well. Drooling helps get those gums nice and ready for when those teeth start popping through.
16 Sleep Regression – 4 Months
Frustrated? Tired? Is your little one 4 months old or close to it? It must be that 4 month sleep regression. For some reason, parents rarely tell new mothers that the 4-month sleep regression is a thing, and for some babies, hitting the 4-month mark will not actually affect that much for parents, sleep-wise. According to the Wonder Weeks baby sleep site, the 4-month sleep regression can start any time after 8 weeks old or as late as 5 months. The 4-month sleep regression marks a permanent change to your baby's sleep habits that may need a lot of work to break later on.
15 Mirror Image – 4-5 months
If your little one loves being attached to mom and gets the occasional glimpse of his or herself in the mirror while you two are walking around the house, chances are that around this time you will see a smile from that mirror reflection. From birth, babies love staring at the human face, even more than they might love their favorite toy. But at 4 or 5 months, when your little one gets older and begins recognizing his own reflection next to mommy, mirrors become an entirely new fascinating fun way to play and learn.
At this age their vision is developing at rapid speed, says emedicine health. You will notice them concentrating on objects and reflections.
14 Cause And Effect – 19 weeks
Do you remember those cause and effect exercises you had to learn in school? Did you know your ability to understand cause and effect actually started around 5 months of age? One very important developmental milestone for little babies. You may see babies testing out new things, like dropping toys or making certain sounds to see Mom or Dad's reaction. Repetition during this stage is also key, according to the baby sleep site. Your little one will begin to understand that if they cry you will come at this stage as well. Be sure to enforce good sleep habits around this time.
13 On A Roll – 5 Months
By the time your child is about 5 months old, he or she should be able to roll from every direction. You may have witnessed your little one rolling a bit before perhaps from his or her tummy to his back but it may be a bit harder from the back to the front. By 5 months of age, your little one's arm, neck, and leg muscles are getting strong enough to be able to support his or her movements. There are a lot of things Moms and Dads can do to help their little ones roll over, like doing active tummy time and baby massage to give your little ones that extra push toward physical deftness.
12 Time For Solids – 6 Months
One of the most amusing times in your baby's first year on Earth is when they finally start eating solid foods. The faces that your little one is bound to make are enough to put a smile on your face no matter what sort of day you've had. The APA enrages parents to start introducing solids when babies begin showing interest in food and have good head and neck control, most of these things occur around 6 months. Starting solids is a really fun time for any parent and child and it establishes the kind of eater your little one will be for life.
11 Tooth Fairy – 6 Months
If you have fallen head over heels for your little one's gummy smile, be prepared for a few slight modifications that start around 6 months, but can be visible much much later. Your little one's mouth is preparing for teething! Just wait for it, Mom, your little one’s teeth will start popping up around this time. Chewing and biting start around this time, even if your little one doesn't have any teeth yet. Chewing is just another part of a baby's development, and it's a great thing; it just means that your baby's muscles are developing and it's a great time for food.
10 From Here To There - 23 Weeks
If you are anxiously awaiting the crawling stage you are almost there! Many babies start crawling by around 23 weeks. This is because babies begin to understand and determine distance. On the downside, many parents may realize that their little ones are starting to develop a bit of separation anxiety. If you notice that your little one starts to lose it a little bit when you leave the room or around nap time this may be the reason why. During this time babies are now able to understand that when you are no longer visible you may be far away. According to the sleep site, this may be a great time for parents to start sleep training their little ones.
9 Let’s Talk – 7-9 Months
Between 7 and 9 months you may hear your baby's first little babble. Your baby will have said his or her first vowel sounds by now, no doubt, but now is the time that they really start communicating, whether non verbally or through actions. Your little one will start doing the most adorable waves and less adorable fussing, but more desirable cries and words for mom and dad.
This is a truly amazing time for parents and their little ones, babies will start illustrating what they want so you can stop scratching your head wondering what it is that they want or need.
8 Talk To The Hand – 9 Months
Wondering if your little one will be more artsy or scientific? They say the truth behind character preference lies in the dominant hand, and the dominant hand is determined by the right or left side of the brain. And by 9 months your baby will start developing a hand preference. You will start to see which hand your little one prefers to reach with or crawl with first; even which hand he or she can more easily grab things with. Using the index and thumb fingers to pick up things is called the pincer grasp. During this month your little one will begin to perfect this.
7 Sleep Regression – 8 to 10 Months
Like we said before, all babies are different, but for many babies, sleep will be seriously disrupted around this time, says The Wonder Weeks. Thanks to your little one's new-found mobility he or she will be anxious about learning how to walk or getting crawling down just right, and it will affect his or her sleeping hours. The sleep site advises parents to be careful not to introduce any more sleep associations at this stage. Although it may be difficult to do when all you want is for your little one to go to sleep. There will also be yet another growth spurt happening around this time.
6 Getting Mobile – 33 to 37 Weeks
Have you childproofed? If not you should consider starting immediately. By 33 weeks babies are really on the move and beginning to master crawling and the art of mobility. According to the Wonder Weeks, by this time your little one should be able to get in and out of the sitting position independently and can pull to stand. By this time little ones are getting into pretty much whatever you've left at their height level so take that into consideration for things like outlets, cabinets, jewelry, and other valuable or breakable items.
Your baby may also be able to take assisted steps by this time. Those first steps are right around the corner, mom!
5 Showing Affection – 11-12 Months
If you've noticed your little one wanting a bit more affection around his or her 11 month mark, he or she is right on schedule. This development stage will have your little one wanting a few more hugs from Mom. This is because of his or her constant development and understanding of object permanence. When Mom or Dad isn't visible anymore, it does not mean they are forgotten, but rather they are missed. So even if you leave the room for a little it will seem like forever and all the snuggles in the world will be needed to make things all better.
4 The Routine – 12 Months
Around the one year age and development mark babies start understanding what steps precede certain events. 'So it's bathtime, that must mean bedtime is next,' your little one may think. Getting a routine down earlier on will really help with this association, encourages What To Expect. "Most babies love knowing what comes next," says The Wonder Weeks baby sleep site, "so work to continue strengthening your sleep routines." You may find that your baby goes through the brief 12-month sleep regression. Just stick with the naps and try to be consistent with bedtimes, the sleep site says.
Limiting sleep can be dangerous for developing babies since most of their development takes place during sleep hours.
3 First Words – 12 Months
Remember that babble we spoke about earlier and that indiscernible action and sounds are ways of communicating? Well, it was all building up to this point. If your little one hasn’t already said his first word, chances are it may be coming now or in the very near future. Web MD suggests that parents use language building tools like books and learning toys to encourage speech. Turning babble into words can also encourage great speech. Going from 'ba' to 'book' isn't that much of a leap, so keep your eye out for new words, Mom.
2 Preferences – 52 Weeks
Just as your baby enters the toddler phase in his or her development you may notice that they get a little picky when it comes to well... almost everything. This is because at this developmental stage toddlers are beginning to understand and develop preferences. They are able to determine and express what they feel is good and what is not. Not all toddlers will demonstrate strong preferences but for those who do, it can be particularly trying for parents. 'Green shirts are good but red shirts are not' is bound to make getting dressed in the morning a somewhat difficult activity. Hang in there, Mom, this stage won't last forever.
1 Real Understanding – 12 Months
Even if your little one is only offering up a few words in addition to Mom or Dad by this stage, it will become overly evident that your little one understands the meaning of words by this point. This can make it much easier for you, Mom, to get your point across and know that your little one understands you. Because this is also the time when toddlers generally begin asserting their independence, even though things like 'put that down' or 'it is time for a nap' will be understood, they will not always be respected, The Wonder Weeks warns.
Just remember, mom this is just one more stage that will get you and your little one closer to open communication. Thanks for reading!
References: wonder weeks, pathways, American pregnancy association, What to expect when you're expecting,