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Growth spurts, smiles and tummy time – the milestones of a baby’s first year

There are lots of exciting milestones in the first year of your baby’s life. That said, it’s worth bearing in mind that every single baby, just like their parents, are unique and develop at their own pace. Some babies just do their own thing – and take their time about it! Of course, if you have any questions about your baby’s progress, contact your GP for their advice.

The first smile – 6 weeks to 2 months

While they smile at gas from almost the beginning, at about 6 weeks or 2 months your baby will start to smile in recognition of your voice or your face. This is called “a social smile”. Your baby’s brain is developing, leading to the realisation that smiling gets your attention or feels good. Which could make the sleepless nights worth it!

The first laugh – 3 or 4 months

Many babies start laughing at about 3 or 4 months, but some may start a little later. Babies laugh at anything – from their favourite person (that’s you), their mobile, a noise, or even just a slight movement. Though they can’t directly communicate with you yet, don’t forget infants take in emotional tone. Encouraging their new developments is key – look at them when they laugh, smile often and give them eye contact.

Tummy time – 3 or 4 months

You should introduce tummy time with your baby at about 3 or 4 months old. Tummy time is when your baby is placed on their stomach, while supervised, for about 20 to 30 minutes. This helps their neck and shoulder muscles to grow strong and promotes motor skills… Which we’ll come to next.

Rolling over – 4 to 6 months

Depending on your baby, they may be able to move from tummy to back from 4 months. However, moving from the back to the tummy is a slightly trickier manoeuvre, and your little one may not master this until about 6 months. One way to encourage this is by moving an enticing toy above your baby’s head and encouraging them to roll to follow it.

Crawling – between 6 and 10 months

A baby’s first attempt at crawling is a momentous occasion for many parents, as it’s a sign towards them becoming that little bit more independent. This is the reason that the age crawling starts varies widely – it’s a big step and everyone experiences it differently. In fact, some babies may skip crawling altogether and go straight to walking. 

The reason for this? Well, babies have distinct personalities just like adults and some may just simply be more laid back about moving around – literally! Another possible factor in the time babies take to move around is their weight. 

Growth spurts 

Growth spurts can happen at any point during your baby’s first year. Growth spurts are common during infancy and puberty, when bodies need to go through a big change in height and weight quickly. 

Signs your baby is going through a spurt include a marked increase in hunger levels and waking at night for feeds but more overall hours of sleep. They might be a little crankier than normal too. Your routine for feeding and sleeping may get a little out of whack during a growth spurt to adapt to their needs.

Many parents report growth spurts at around a week old, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months and 9 months. Of course, it’s worth repeating that every baby really is different! 

Looking for further information? For more articles on maternity and family issues, click here.