From grabbing objects to crawling, your baby’s first year is a miraculous journey of developmental progress
Like all new mums, while you’re wide-eyed with wonder at all the amazing things your baby is achieving as he grows, you’re bound to start wondering about what he’s not. After all, little Maisie in your NCT group is already rolling – so why isn’t your baby?
The most important thing to remember when it comes to your child’s development, is that one size doesn’t fit all, says Dr Brenda Todd, a child development expert at babycademy.co.uk: ‘The speed at which a baby learns to roll, crawl and walk doesn’t determine how bright he’ll be when he gets older.’
However, it can be comforting to have expert benchmarks about what he might be doing as he grows, so you can help him and enjoy each stage.
Four to seven months
By now your baby will be showing increasing coordination between his hands and eye. ‘He’s learning to give and take objects and will be able to hold a blankie or soft rattle,’ says Dr Brewer. ‘He’ll also be tracking objects and people with his eyes.’
He should have fairly good head control by now, and may be able to roll over and lift his head and shoulders off the floor when he’s lying on his tummy or back. Some time around this period your baby will be able to sit up unaided. He’ll start to babble and coo as well.
'Your baby’s motor skills are gearing up by now'
Your baby’s motor skills are gearing up at this age. ‘Babies start to realise that they can grab things and move them around, from one hand to the next,’ says Dr Todd. ‘Whereas a newborn instinctively grasps his mother’s finger, by this age your baby is consciously grabbing things.’
What You Can Do
If he’s slow to roll, have more ‘tummy time’. It’s been found that, as babies now sleep on their back (this reduces the risk of cot death), it slightly delays motor skills like rolling. So counter this by ensuring plenty of tummy time in the day.
‘Give your baby lots of clean and safe things to play with and explore to help develop his motor skills,’ says Dr Todd. ‘He loves things like books, toys, spoons and objects with lots of different colours and textures.’ Choose hard-backed books like the That’s Not My… range (£5.99 each, Usborne), as he’ll tear at paper or pop-up books at this age.
Eight to 12 months
Around now your baby will start to develop a pincer grip. ‘This is where he’ll pick up small objects with his thumb and forefinger,’ says Dr Dixit. ‘He may start to wave hello and bye-bye, say “Mama” or “Dada” and he may begin to “cruise” around furniture.’ This is where he’ll hold himself up and using his hands for support, move around a bit.
He will probably be crawling or bum shuffling by now, although some babies don’t crawl until after their first birthday. And some don’t do it at all – your little one may go straight to walking. ‘Coming up to age one, he also loves to look at picture books,’ says Dr Brewer. ‘And he can begin to feed himself, too.’
'His stomach, shoulder, neck and arm muscles are getting stronger'
His legs are getting stronger because he’s getting ready to take his first few steps. His stomach, shoulder, neck and arm muscles are also getting stronger by the day as he crawls, rolls, reaches and grabs for things.
What You Can Do
Offering your baby different finger foods can help develop his pincer grip – providing he’s age appropriate and you’re close to hand to avoid any potential choking hazards. Cooked peas, carrot sticks and raisins are good choices.
Read to him, if you haven’t started already. Choose brightly-coloured picture books and encourage him to turn the page himself.
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