Taking your little one to the pool for the first time isn’t the only important event that you’ve got to look forward to; in their first year, your baby will reach many significant points in their development. Whether starting to smile, trying to walk on their own or saying their first words, your baby’s early milestones are precious moments to cherish forever.
Baby milestone markers are wonderful things, equal parts adorable and emotional, but they’re also important developmental indicators, giving an idea of when and how your child will gain certain skills and learn new things. Naturally, some firsts for your baby aren’t directly linked to their development – the first time you bring them home from the hospital, for instance – but making the distinction is key. Our guide will help you to recognise some of the most significant baby milestones, letting you know what to expect and when. Becoming familiar with your baby’s first milestones will also put to bed any queries or lingering concerns you may have about their overall early development.
In our opinion, a baby’s smile is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. So, when can you expect your little one to start smiling? Babies usually begin to smile and respond to the sounds around them at 4-6 weeks. Making faces and noises at your baby is an excellent way to encourage them to smile, as is talking about things that are going on around you. Asking simple questions such as ‘Are you hungry?’ or ‘Do you want some milk?’ is also a great way to get your baby grinning.
Lifting their head
At 4-12 weeks, your baby will start doing the cutest gym-goer impressions as they try lifting their head while lying on their front. It’ll almost look like they’re doing a mini press-up. It’s also around this time that they’ll start wriggling and kicking, which means it won’t be long before your precious little angel decides it’s time to start rolling over. As sweet as this may seem, it does mean that your baby rolling off beds or changing tables is now a very real possibility, so make sure you don’t leave them alone when they reach this milestone.
Although it may seem like a big leap from smiling and lifting their head to splashing about in a pool, recent studies suggest that baby swimming is a beneficial physical activity and should be recommended for newborns. You don’t need to wait to get your little one is vaccinated; if you’re keen to introduce your baby to swimming, and feel they’re ready, go right ahead. For babies younger than six weeks, taking them to a warm baby pool is advised, as it’s a safe way to get them acquainted with the water. Incorporating toys into these early swims is also a great way to keep your baby entertained and get them to associate swim time with playtime.
One of your baby’s biggest milestones is their first steps. Normally babies start trying to walk on their own when they get to 10-18 months. You should always keep an eye on them when this starts happening, as babies are unsteady on their feet but can move fast, meaning they can trip and fall easily. This may also be a good time to teach your baby how to climb stairs – another significant milestone – but be sure to watch them closely and do not let them go up and down by themselves.
A good way to boost your baby’s walking confidence is to let them walk with you; there’s no better way to bond with your little one and share in one of their most important milestones. But remember, you should only do this if you feel they are able to; use baby walking reins for safety if you’re out and about.
As soon as they get to around one year old, your baby will begin saying words like ‘mama’ and ‘dada.’ It’s also during this magical time that they’ll start responding to their own name. Your baby will learn their first words from you, so be sure to repeat simple phrases like ‘Where’s it gone?’ during playtime to help embed meanings in their mind. Repetitive games such as peekaboo or hiding something and bringing it out again will also encourage this playful kind of learning babies so often love.
Bear in mind that infant development is unique, and your baby’s first milestones may occur sooner or later than you might expect; it’s important not to let averages and statistics stop you from enjoying some of the most incredible moments in your baby’s life.