First Year Milestones

What to expect in your baby’s first year.

First Year Milestones




The first year is full of exciting changes. Your baby will begin to eat new foods and develop new skills. The way you respond will shape his understanding of how things work. “He learns that when he’s hungry, someone feeds him. When he’s uncomfortable, someone changes his diaper, and when he’s crying, someone picks him up,” says Veronica Hendrix, LVN, IBCLC, nurse and lactation consultant.

As a parent, you play the MOST important role in the way your child develops. Here are some milestones you can look for and things you can do to make sure your baby has the healthiest start in life. If you’re ever concerned about your child’s development or feeding habits, talk to your health care provider or a WIC nutritionist. We’re here to help!

The ways that you respond to your baby shape his first understanding of how things work.

Great Job, Mom!

First year parenting tips:

  1. Breastfeed your baby for as long as you can.
  2. Give your baby breastmilk or formula until he is at least a year old.
  3. Touch and cuddle your baby.
  4. Talk, sing and read to your baby every day.
  5. Get regular medical checkups for your baby.
  6. Take your child for their routine immunizations at ages 2, 4, 6 and 12 months.


  • Every baby grows in their own way.
  • If your baby was born early, it may take him a little longer to develop than other infants his age. 
  • Ask your baby’s health care provider if you have any questions or concerns.
Touch and cuddle your baby.

0-3 Months

Welcome little one! At 0-3 months old, your baby will:

  1. Drink only breastmilk or formula.
  2. Show he is hungry by:

    - Moving his head from side to side and opening his mouth toward your breast or the bottle.
    - Sucking on his hands and fingers.
    - Clenching his fists.
    - Crying; it’s a late sign of hunger so try not to wait till your baby starts crying. Feed your baby as soon as he shows you he’s hungry.

  3. Eat and sleep A LOT without really having any kind of schedule.
  4. Have 6-10 wet or dirty diapers in a 24-hour period. Change dirty diapers as soon as you can to keep him from getting a rash or being uncomfortable.
  5. Cry often — sometimes crying is the only way that your baby can communicate. Be patient and ask for help if you find yourself getting frustrated. Never shake your baby.
Drink only breastmilk or formula.

Expect your baby to:

  1. At 1 month, follow moving objects with his eyes.
  2. By 2 months, smile at people and respond to loud sounds.
  3. By 3 months, move his arms and legs, especially when excited.
  4. By 3 months, hold his head up when on his tummy.

Positive parenting tips:

  1. Pick your baby up when he cries. Hold him and snuggle often — you CANNOT spoil a baby.
  2. Your baby likes hearing your voice - read and sing to him every day.
  3. When he’s outside the crib, put toys near your baby so he reaches for them.
  4. Act excited and smile when your baby makes sounds.
  5. Begin to introduce a routine, such as daily walks or a bath at the same time every day.
  6. Feed your baby on demand. Watch for his hunger and fullness signs.
  7. To learn more about baby behavior during those early days, take our online lesson “How Do I Know What My Baby Is Trying to Tell Me?
  8. If you would like more information on feeding your newborn, check out our online lessons “How Should I Feed My New Baby?” and “Feeding Your Baby Birth to 6 Months.” 

4-6 Months

Your baby will:

  1. Continue to drink only breastmilk or formula until about 6 months old.
  2. Sit with support and have good neck and head control.
  3. Be ready to try pureed foods at around 6 months. It is a good idea to talk with your health care provider or WIC nutritionist before starting solid foods. Choose foods with only one ingredient and wait 3 to 5 days after introducing each new food to be sure there are no food allergies.
  4. Turn his head, push the spoon away or hold his mouth shut to tell you he’s done.
  5. Be ready to start learning to drink from a cup.
  6. Still need breastmilk or formula until 1 year old.
  7. By 6 months old, he will weigh at least twice as much as he did at birth.
Expect your baby to recognize familiar faces, voices and objects.

Expect your baby to:

  1. Grab things and put them in his mouth.
  2. Love to shake things and listen to the sounds they make.
  3. Recognize familiar faces, voices and objects.
  4. Get distracted by the world around him when he is feeding.
  5. Start making sounds by the age of 4 months.
  6. By 6 months of age, babble a lot and try to imitate sounds.
  7. Roll over from his tummy to his back by 6 months old.
  8. Start to recognize his own name.

Positive parenting tips:

  1. Cuddle your baby often.
  2. Continue to breastfeed! Nurse in a dimly lit room or private area if your baby is easily distracted.
  3. When your baby looks at something, point to it and talk about it. 
  4. Read colorful picture books to your baby.
  5. Play on the floor with your baby every day.
  6. To learn more about introducing solid foods to your baby, take our online lesson “Baby’s First Bites.

7-9 Months

Mealtime is getting more exciting! Your baby will:

  1. Bring his head toward the spoon.
  2. Take many tries before liking some foods.
  3. Like to play with a spoon, but not be ready to use it very well.
  4. Slowly get better at drinking from a cup.
  5. Be ready to try foods that are strained or mashed with a fork.
  6. Learn to move food to the sides of his mouth and chew.
  7. Still need breastmilk or formula until he’s 1 year old.
  8. Need his gums and teeth cleaned twice a day.
  9. Start teething! Getting teeth doesn’t mean that your baby is too old to breastfeed. Sometimes, when a baby is teething, they may try to comfort their gums by biting down. There are many ways to help avoid this. If you are concerned about teething while breastfeeding, ask your WIC peer counselor or lactation consultant for help.
Be ready to try plain foods that are strained or mashed with a fork.

Expect your baby to:

  1. Copy sounds — your baby is starting to learn language.
  2. Sit without help, then crawl or move forward by scooting.
  3. Move toys from one hand to the other.
  4. Look for things you hide. Your baby will want to explore the world with his hands and mouth. It’s important to keep an eye on your active baby.
  5. Get upset and cry when you leave, then be so happy when you come back.
  6. By 9 months of age, use his fingers to point at things, and look where you point.

Positive parenting tips:

  1. Continue with routines. They are important at this age.
  2. Your baby enjoys showing off and getting praise. Ask for the behaviors you want to see. For example, instead of saying “don’t stand” say “time to sit” and congratulate behavior.
  3. Play lots of games involving back-and-forth play, like rolling balls to each other, pushing toy cars, and moving blocks into and out of a container.
  4. Play peek-a-boo and hide-and-seek.
  5. Be sure to talk and read to your baby often. Explain to baby what you are doing and how much you love him!

10-12 Months

Your baby will get into everything! Your baby will:

  1. Learn by making a mess! Be patient — your baby is just curious.
  2. Hold a spoon but need your help using it.
  3. Drink from a cup most of the time.
  4. Pick up small things like green peas between his thumb and index finger.
  5. Still need breastmilk or formula.
By 12 months, your baby will pull up to a standing position.

Expect your baby to:

  1. Shake, bang, throw and drop objects.
  2. Be afraid of some things that used to be okay, such as taking a bath or certain toys.
  3. By 12 months old, say single words like “mama” or “dada.”
  4. Say one or two words and repeat them over and over.
  5. Copy what you do with your hands, like wave hello and goodbye and even blow kisses!
  6. By 12 months old, he will be crawling and pulling up to stand.

Positive parenting tips:

  1. Give your baby time to get to know a new caregiver. Bring a favorite toy or blanket to help comfort your baby.
  2. Add words or phrases onto what your baby tries to say or what he points to.
  3. Help your baby play with blocks and toys that encourage him to use his hands. Pushing toys like a wagon will also help with his development.
  4. Hide small, baby-safe toys and have your baby find them.
  5. Provide lots of safe space for him to explore.
  6. Talk to your health care provider if you are concerned about your baby’s growth and development.

If you are still concerned about your baby’s growth and development after discussing it with your health care provider, you can contact an Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) provider at 1-877-787-8999 . You do not need a medical diagnosis or referral to have your baby evaluated.

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