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Development 0-12 Months


Throughout the first year, infants grow at a tremendously fast rate. In fact, by the end of the first year they will have tripled in birth weight.

Length can be expected to double. By their first birthday, most infants will be crawling and even may be taking a timid first step!
The most essential ingredient in infant care is a warm, responsive, and dependable adult caregiver. Try to spend lots of time holding, cuddling, and playing with the infants in your care. You will be richly rewarded with babbles, smiles, and squeals of laughter.



By 4 Months


Physical Development:

  • weight: 10-18 pounds
  • length: 23-27 inches
  • sleeps about 6 hours before waking during the night
  • averages 14-17 hours of sleep daily
  • lifts head and chest when lying on stomach
  • holds both eyes in a fixed position
  • follows a moving object or person with eyes
  • grasps rattle or finger
  • wiggles and kicks with arms and legs
  • rolls over (stomach to back)
  • sits with support


Social and Emotional Development:


  • cries (with tears) to communicate pain, fear, discomfort, or loneliness
  • babbles or coos
  • loves to be touched and held close
  • responds to a shaking rattle or bell
  • returns a smile
  • responds to peak-a-boo games

Intellectual Development:


  • explores objects with mouth
  • plays with fingers, hands, toes
  • reacts to sound of voice, rattle, bell
  • turns head toward bright colours and lights
  • recognise bottle or breast

By 8 Months


Physical Development:


  • weight: 14-23 pounds
  • length: 25-30 inches
  • first teeth begin to appear
  • drools, mouths and chews on objects
  • needs at least 3-4 feedings per day
  • reaches for cup or spoon when being fed
  • drinks from a cup with help
  • enjoys some finely-chopped solid foods
  • closes mouth firmly or turns head when no longer hungry
  • may sleep 11-13 hours at night although this varies greatly
  • needs 2-3 naps during the day
  • develops a rhythm for feeding, eliminating, sleeping, and being awake
  • true eye colour is established
  • rolls from back to stomach and stomach to back
  • sits alone without support and holds head erect
  • raises up on arms and knees into crawling position; rocks back and forth, but may not move forward
  • uses finger and thumb to pick up an object
  • transfers objects from one hand to the other
  • hair growth begins to cover head

Social and Emotional Development:


  • responds to own name
  • shows fear of falling off high places such as table or stairs
  • spends a great deal of time watching and observing
  • responds differently to strangers and family members
  • imitates sounds, actions, and facial expressions made by others
  • shows distress if toy is taken away
  • squeals, laughs, babbles, smiles in response
  • likes to be tickled and touched
  • smiles at own reflection in mirror
  • raises arms as a sign to be held
  • recognise family member names
  • responds to distress of others by showing distress or crying
  • shows mild to severe anxiety at separation from parent

Intellectual Development:


  • cries in different ways to say he is hurt, wet, hungry, or lonely
  • makes noises to voice displeasure or satisfaction
  • recognise and looks for familiar voices and sounds
  • learns by using senses like smell, taste, touch, sight, hearing
  • focuses eyes on small objects and reaches for them
  • Looks for ball rolled out of sight
  • searches for toys hidden under a blanket, basket, or container
  • explores objects by touching, shaking, banging, and mouthing
  • babbles expressively as if talking
  • enjoys dropping objects over edge of chair or crib

By 12 Months


Physical Development:


  • weight: 17-27 pounds
  • length: 27-32 inches
  • sleeps 11-13 hours at night
  • some babies will stop taking a morning nap; others will continue both morning and afternoon naps
  • begins to refuse bottle or weans self from breast during day
  • needs 3 meals a day with 2 snacks in between
  • enjoys drinking from a cup
  • begins to eat finger foods
  • continues to explore everything by mouth
  • enjoys opening and closing cabinet doors
  • crawls well
  • pulls self to a standing position
  • stands alone holding onto furniture for support
  • walks holding onto furniture or with adult help

Social and Emotional Development:


  • imitates adult actions such as drinking from a cup, talking on phone
  • responds to name
  • likes to watch self in mirror
  • expresses fear or anxiety toward strangers
  • wants caregiver or parent to be in constant sight
  • offers toys or objects to others but expects them to be returned
  • may become attached to a favourite toy or blanket
  • pushes away something he does not want

Intellectual Development:


  • says first word
  • says da-da and ma-ma or equivalent
  • "dances" or bounces to music
  • interested in picture books
  • pays attention to conversations
  • claps hands, waves bye, if prompted
  • likes to place objects inside one another

Ideas for Caregivers


  • Help infants develop a sense of trust and security by responding to their cries. Feeling secure encourages infants to try new things. Be consistent so that they will know what to expect.

  • Place babies in new places and new positions so that they can see you and others from different angles.

  • Hold and cuddle infants when feeding them. Even infants who hold their own bottle need to be held. Being held and cuddled frequently is extremely important in the development of baby's sense of self-worth and security. Holding and cuddling a baby is also a great stress releaser for an adult. Do not prop infants drinking from a bottle as it may cause choking.

  • Respect a baby's natural schedule. Most babies will settle into a regular routine for eating, sleeping, and soiling their diapers, but the schedule will vary depending on the baby. Some babies need to eat more frequently than some others. Some will sleep more and take longer naps.

  • Baby-proof everything! Store toxic substances such as dishwasher detergent, make-up, paint, or medicine up high. Put safety latches on cabinets and covers on electrical outlets. Lower
    crib mattresses so that older infants can't fall over the rail. Cover sharp corners of tables or shelves that infants might bump into.

  • Expose babies to bright colours and a variety of objects to look at. Pictures, moving objects, brightly coloured or contrasting colour toys attract infants.

  • Provide an environment rich with sound. Help infants learn to recognise common household sounds such as a vacuum cleaner, a radio, a clock, a whistling tea kettle, or a doorbell.
    Provide interesting objects for infants to feel, touch, mouth, and explore. Square nylon scarves, cold metal bowls, plastic measuring cups, large wooden spoons, and wet washcloths are favourite household toys. Keep easy-to-swallow objects out of infant's reach. Babies should not be allowed to play with anything smaller than a half dollar (about 1-1/4 inch).
    Provide opportunities for infants to smell different smells. Lemon, vanilla, and apple juice are wonderful kitchen smells. Babies also enjoy smelling tree bark, dirt, grass, and other natural things.
    Expose older babies to a variety of tastes and temperatures in food. Offer cold sherbet, warm oatmeal, mashed peaches, and chopped cooked carrots.

  • Help babies develop a sense of movement and balance by gently bouncing, swaying, swooping, and swinging with them.
    Talk to infants. Face infants when talking to them so they can see you and smile with you. Talk about what you are doing, familiar objects, or people. You may even want to babble back or echo sounds your baby makes much as you would in a regular conversation. Even though an infant cannot understand everything you say, he will be learning many words that will form the basis for language later on.

  • Read to infants. Babies enjoy cuddling on a caregiver's lap, looking at colourful picture books, and hearing the rhythm of their voice. With time they begin to understand that words have meaning and can be used to identify objects.
    Encourage older infants to feed themselves by offering pieces of banana and soft bread sticks. Give babies a spoon with some mashed potatoes or other sticky food, and let them practice eating with a spoon. Yes, it will be messy! Be patient. Learning this skill takes lots of practice.

  • Play peek-a-boo. Hide your face behind a blanket and then peek out at the baby. Older babies will learn to do this themselves and will enjoy this game for a long time.

  • Give babies the freedom to move around. Young infants enjoy being on their backs so that they can kick, wiggle, and look around. Older infants need space and time to practice crawling, creeping, pulling up, and walking. Spending too much time in a walker, playpen, or infant swing may inhibit the development of these important skills.

  • Stay with infants when someone new is around. Encourage strangers to approach slowly. Introduce an infant by name, and let him explore someone new in the safety of your presence.

Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC. Powell, J. and Smith, C.A. (1994). The 1st year.
In *Developmental milestones: A guide for parents*. Manhattan, KS: Kansas State


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