Baby Milestones:
The First Six Months

by Ann Douglas, Author of The Mother of All Baby Books


Learning about infant development provides you with a roadmap to guide you as you journey with your child. It’s not a journey with a fixed itinerary, of course. That’s what makes human development so fascinating to observe: There are millions of variations on the same theme played out each year.

By Age Two Months

Physical and Cognitive Development

  • Baby is starting to seem more like a baby and less like a newborn. The stepping reflex (baby “walks” when supported in an upright position on a solid surface) and the grasping reflex (baby grabs your finger when you place it in his hand) have started to fade.
  • Baby can lift his head to an almost 45-degree angle when paced on his stomach.
  • Baby has developed a fascination with his hands. They’re just the right distance away for him to play with and examine.

Social and Emotional Development

  • Baby has developed an entire repertoire of sounds and cries to express various emotions.
  • Baby spends an increasing amount of time cooing and making other sounds (vocalizations).
  • Baby has developed a winning smile.

By Age Four Months

Physical and Cognitive Development

  • Baby is able to sit up straight, if propped.
  • Baby is able to rise his head to a 90-degree angle if placed on his stomach. He may even be able to push part of his chest off the floor.
  • Baby will bat at objects that are held out in front of him.
  • Baby can roll from front to back.
  • Baby will play with a toy if it is placed in his hand, but he won’t be able to pick it up if he drops it.
  • Baby can anticipate and remember important events (the cues that indicate he’s about to be fed).
  • Baby’s hand-eye coordination is starting to develop.
  • Baby likes to put objects in his mouth so he can explore them further. He wants the full-sensory data on everything in his world.
  • Baby starts to make sense of the information his senses are providing.
  • Baby starts to become aware of the patterns and routines that provide structure to his day.

Social and Emotional Development

  • Baby is beginning to tune in more to the world of people, with particular attention being focused on the people he knows best.
  • Baby has learned to tell the difference between familiar people and unfamiliar people and may protest when a stranger tries to pick her up — or comes too close.
  • Baby is beginning to express emotional reactions spontaneously, like smiling and frowning and fussing. He can even laugh out loud.
  • Baby is starting to use facial expressions, gestures, and sounds to communicate with others and to respond to others’ communications.
  • Baby is becoming aware of the impact that her communications have on others (how a two-way “conversation” works).

By Age Six Months

Physical and Cognitive Development

  • Baby’s legs are strong enough to support most of her own weight when she is held in a standing position.
  • Baby can pick up an object that’s been dropped (provided it’s within her reach).
  • Baby can roll from back to front.
  • Baby is drooling a lot — a sign that teething is now underway.
  • Baby has doubled her birth-weight.
  • Baby is mastering the concept of object permanence (the idea that objects still exist even when we can’t see them).

Social and Emotional Development

  • Baby is becoming quite the conversationalist. She is fascinated by the sound of her own voice.
  • The sounds she makes sound like single-syllable words (ma, ba, da).

Note: Use your baby’s developmental age rather than her chronological age if she was born prematurely.

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