Developmental Milestones In Your Baby’s First Six Months

The first six months of your baby’s life is crucial for their development, as they embark on their journey from newborn to toddler. It’s a joyful and fascinating time for new parents as their little one discovers their senses and begins to explore the world around them. There’s a lot to take in, both for you and your baby. Here’s a guide to what you can expect.

Of course, all babies are different and some may take longer than others to reach these milestones. Usually this is nothing to worry about, but if you have any concerns you should discuss them with your health visitor or GP. You can support your baby by noticing these stages and encouraging their progress.

The first three months

During this stage, your baby’s senses such as sight, sound, touch and taste are developing. Your baby will crave skin to skin contact, which helps them to bond with you as they feel safe and secure, and also supports regular breathing and heart rate. 

They can only see short distances in the first few months of life, but by four weeks old your baby should be able to make eye contact with you and is likely to stare at faces, and should also be able to smile in response to your smile. 

Your baby will also be exploring the world through movement and touch, and will be able to grab or take swipes at dangling objects, although they may not manage to hold on to them. All babies are born with a grip reflex and should be capable of grasping your finger. 

During their first few months, they should be able to lift their head when lying on their tummy and kick their legs while lying on their back. You can support your baby with ‘tummy time’ by lying them on the floor or a mat for a short period of time each day. They will probably naturally lift their head and look this way and that in response to sights and sounds. 

You should always supervise your baby during this time, and encourage them to move by helping them to track an object such as a colourful rattle. This will help them to build up strength in their shoulders and neck. Some parents may also like to let their baby work out with a ‘baby gym’, which has overhead objects for them to reach and grab.

Three to six months

During this time, your baby will be growing in strength and coordination, and most babies will be able to reach out and grab for objects and hold on to them. They will usually learn to roll from front to back and back to front, and sit up with support and control their head movements. 

You will probably also notice that your baby becomes more vocal beyond crying, and begins to laugh and babble as they try to imitate the sound of speech. 

Your baby will probably begin to develop their first teeth during this stage, which will allow you to wean them onto solid foods. The teething process can be uncomfortable for some babies. If they seem to be in a lot of discomfort, you may want to consider giving them a mild painkiller such as paracetamol.

Some parents prefer to use more natural and traditional methods to soothe their child. Teething necklaces have been growing in popularity over the last few years as part of a holistic approach. These items are made from raw unpolished amber, which is formed from fossilised tree resin, and has natural analgesic properties.

The necklace is worn when the baby is under supervision at all times, and as the beads become warmed by the baby’s skin, a small amount of the active substance, known as succinic acid, is absorbed into the bloodstream. 

Don’t forget to take care of yourself

The first few months with a baby can be exhausting for new parents, particularly mums who may be experiencing hormonal changes and changes to their body and sleeping patterns. These feelings are normal and you should give yourself plenty of time to recover physically and emotionally from giving birth. 

If you have strong feelings of sadness, apathy or despair that don’t go away after the first few weeks, you may be suffering from postnatal depression. This is thought to affect about one in ten women after giving birth, and it can sometimes also affect fathers. If your symptoms last for more than two weeks, you should speak to your doctor.