Physical Milestones Can Show Healthy Brain Development
Here's how to help your baby reach them at every age.
Smiling. Sitting up. Rolling over. These are some of the physical milestones that show your little one's mind and body are growing properly.
"However, every child is unique, and the actual age when a normally developing child reaches that milestone may vary quite a bit," says Kimberly Parker, R.N., clinical program manager in early childhood wellness for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
Key Benchmarks for Baby
Keeping individual variations in mind, here are some age-specific goals and ways you can help your baby achieve them:
Rolling over. Using the abdominal, neck and back muscles readies him for sitting up.
Get down on the floor with your baby and encourage him to practice moving.
6 months: Sitting independently. This builds the balance and confidence she'll need for crawling.
You can: Provide a padded surface so when she topples, she'll be more comfortable and perhaps not as frustrated.
9–12 months: Crawling and pulling up to a standing position. The movement of his arms and legs will prepare him to walk.
You can: Put toys just out of reach to encourage him to crawl toward them. Once he's crawling well, he'll likely pull himself to a standing position, from which he'll practice the balance he needs to be able to walk.
12–15 months: Walking.
You can: Give her support as she practices walking while she gains confidence to go it alone.
When to See Your Doctor
All babies reach their milestones at different times, but pay close attention to the following ones, says Parker:
- Babbling by 6 months
- Grabbing and reaching by 9 months
- Pulling up to a standing position by 12 months
- Saying a first word by 12 months
- Walking by 18 months
"If you are concerned that your child may not be able to do skills listed for his age group, consult your physician," Parker advises. "As a parent, you are the most important observer of your child's development, and early help can make a difference."