Input the phrase “When will my baby…” on Google, and it’ll throw up a range of common questions – spanning speech, motion, recognition, food and more – being posed by concerned parents.
Here Jo Holt, a toddler specialist from Malaak Mama & Baby Care, and Kirsten Fairfield, founder of BabySouk, have put together an outline for behaviours you can expect at different stages, as well as guidance on actions you can take to encourage your child’s progress.
As you learn what milestones your little one is likely to achieve, keep in mind that this is only a general guide and that children develop at their own pace.
Your baby is absolutely unique – but, of course, you already knew that.
What will my baby do between 3 and 6 months?
At this age, babies are smiling and laughing, holding their head steady and imitating some movements and facial expressions. They also discover how fascinating their hands are, and begin reaching for objects, using both arms simultaneously to grasp and release toys, while also bringing their hand to their mouth and bringing their hands together.
They commence cooing and making noises when spoken to. They develop the ability to react and turn themselves towards sounds and voices.
They also start to roll over from tummy to back, then master rolling in both directions, from around 6 months. They grasp smaller objects and play with their hands and feet. They also begin “creeping” whilst on their tummy, and supporting their body weight on their legs when held.
Some actions parents can take at this stage are practising yoga together with lots of talking, touch, tummy time and movement. Sit them in your lap and read stories with books or puppets. Engage them by repeating animal sounds, nursery rhymes and sing lots of simple songs.
Ensure you use expressive facial and verbal communication, telling them what they are going to do throughout the day. “Are you hungry my love? I think it might be your lunch time; let’s change your nappy first” – and so on.
What will my baby do between 6 and 9 months?
At this stage, your baby may be able to sit without support and start teething. They are able to sit in a highchair and begin trying and tasting solid foods. They drink from sippy cups, eat with their fingers and also know to turn away when they are done eating.
They can imitate more complex sounds, enjoy hearing their own voice and vocalise to mirrors and toys. They respond to their name, start to jabber (baby talk) or even say “mama” and “dada”, and use their voice to express joy in finding objects that are partially hidden.
They enjoy banging objects together, start to pick up objects they drop or often find it amusing for you to do.
Some babies may start crawling, cruising along furniture and standing with support or while holding on to something. Babies often display separation and stranger anxiety at this age.
Some actions parents can take to encourage this stage are promote gross motor skills by rolling balls down a hallway or in the garden to encourage babies to crawl.
Provide them with cups, cutlery and plates to promote their fine motor skills and enhance grasping reflexes.
Also ensure you provide a safe environment as your baby starts to explore their surroundings: baby-proof your home and eliminate sharp corners on coffee tables and so on.
What will my baby do between 9 and 12 months?
By 9 months of age, your baby is eating well with their fingers, picking up objects with a pincer grasp and removing their own socks.
They are learning to wave goodbye and can begin understanding the word “no”, as well as attribute “mama” and “papa” to the correct parent.
Some can stand alone momentarily, play peek-a-boo while imitating others and can clap their hands. They are also capable of placing toys into a container, indicate wants with gestures other than crying and understand simple instructions. Some may even begin to walk, use exclamations such as “uh-oh” and begin to use objects correctly.
Some actions parents can take to encourage this stage is sing songs with simple musical instruments and more complex actions featuring head, shoulders, knees and toes, and engage in games like peek-a-boo.
Provide your child with opportunities for independent eating and fostering their pincer grasp by offering blueberries or raisins, and foods cut into small cubes. Offer a fork or spoon to promote hand-eye co-ordination.
Talk about shapes and numbers, focus on the ABCs and counting one to 10 when climbing up or down stairs.
When reading stories, point out and count the similar objects on the page for them to copy.