Developmental milestones from birth to age 1

By Amanda Morin

Developmental milestones from birth to age 1, milestones, baby with parent

At a glance

  • Babies gain many new skills in the first year.

  • They reach different milestones every few months.

  • Some infants have delays in their development.

Babies gain skills quickly during the first year. They develop new ways to think, communicate, and solve problems. (These are called cognitive skills.) And they develop physically and learn to interact with people.

You may not be sure what skills are typical for infants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a list of milestones, which it updated with many changes in 2022. The CDC moved some of the milestones to different age ranges, which some experts question.

The CDC milestones below can help you know what to expect at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months.

If your child isn’t meeting these milestones, it can point to possible developmental delays. Be sure to talk to your child’s health care provider if you have concerns.

You can also learn more about: 

By 2 months

Social/emotional milestones

  • Smiles when spoken to or smiled at
  • Becomes calm when spoken to or held
  • Looks at people’s faces
  • Seems happy when approached by a familiar person

Language/communication milestones

  • Makes sounds other than crying
  • Reacts to loud sounds

Movement/physical development milestones

  • Holds head up when lying on tummy
  • Moves both arms and legs
  • Opens hands briefly

Cognitive milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Can focus on and track faces and objects as they move from side to side
  • Watches people as they move
  • Looks at a toy for several seconds

By 4 months

Social/emotional milestones

  • Smiles spontaneously
  • Chuckles or giggles when you try to make them laugh
  • Looks at you, moves, or makes sounds to get or keep your attention

Language/communication milestones

  • Makes sounds like “ooh” and “aah” (cooing)
  • Makes sounds in response to someone talking to them
  • Turns head toward the sound of your voice

Movement/physical development milestones

  • Reaches for and grabs objects
  • May be able to roll from tummy to back
  • Holds head up without support when held
  • Holds a toy when you put it in their hand
  • Uses arm to swing at a toy or other object
  • Props up on elbows or forearms when lying on their tummy

Cognitive milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Explores things by putting them in mouth
  • If hungry, opens mouth when they see breast or bottle
  • Looks at hands with interest

By 6 months

Social/emotional milestones 

  • Recognizes familiar people
  • Enjoys looking in the mirror
  • Laughs 

Language/communication milestones

  • Takes turns making sounds with you
  • Blows “raspberries” (sticks tongue out and blows)
  • Makes squealing noises

Cognitive milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Puts things in mouth to explore them
  • Reaches for toys
  • Closes mouth to show that they’re finished eating

Movement/physical development milestones

  • Rolls from back to tummy and tummy to back
  • Sits with support
  • Does straight-armed “push-ups” with palms on the floor
  • Leans on hands for support when sitting

By 9 months

Social/emotional milestones

  • Begins having stranger anxiety
  • May be upset when separated from caregivers
  • Makes several facial expressions, like happy, sad, angry, and surprised
  • Turns when name is called
  • Smiles or laughs when playing “peekaboo”

Language/communication milestones

  • Lifts arms to ask for parent to pick them up
  • Makes a lot of different sounds like “mamamama” and “bababa”

Cognitive milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Looks for objects that leave their sight
  • Enjoys interactive games like “peekaboo” and “so big”
  • Bangs two objects together

Physical milestones

  • Gets into a sitting position without help
  • Moves things from one hand to the other
  • Uses fingers to “rake” food closer
  • Sits without support

By 12 months

Social/emotional milestones

  • Plays games with you, like patty-cake
  • Enjoys being read to and looking at picture books
  • Cries when you leave the room

Language milestones

  • Waves “bye-bye”
  • Calls parent “Mama,” “Dada,” or another name
  • Understands “no” (pauses or stops when you say it)

Cognitive milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Looks for things they see you hide (such as a toy under a blanket)
  • Puts things into a container, like a block in a cup

Movement/physical development milestones

  • Walks holding on to furniture (“cruising”)
  • Can pull themself up to a standing position
  • Drinks from a cup without a lid while someone else holds it
  • Uses thumb and pointer finger to pick things up

Keep in mind that babies develop at different rates. If your baby isn’t reaching some of these milestones, don’t panic. But be sure to bring it up with your child’s health care provider. You can talk together about whether it’s a good idea to have an early intervention evaluation

And take a look forward at developmental milestones for 1-year-olds and 2-year-olds.

Key takeaways

  • Infants develop quickly in the first year, and at different rates.

  • Most can say “Mama” and “Dada” and understand "no” by the end of their first year.

  • If you have concerns, talk to your baby’s health care provider about what you’re seeing.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.