What to Expect From Baby’s First Year | Development Baby

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We recently wrote about the reality behind what raising a baby is really like. Spoiler alert: They’re not. They’re equal parts wonderful, astounding, terrifying, maddening, and gross. It’s important to know what you’re getting into when bringing a new baby home from the hospital. If you think every day will be a Disney movie, you’re in for a shock — Boss Baby mixed with Titanic is probably closer to the truth.

In the spirit of that article, we thought we’d also familiarize you with the steps of development like when baby will walk and when the significant milestones are likely to occur. We promise there will be less talk about poop and puke in this article, but it’s always a non-zero number with a baby.

They May Be Immobile Now, But That Will Change. Be Ready!

The early months of your child’s life will lull you into a false sense of security. That’s because your baby’s motor development is slow. They have little control over their muscles for the first month, relying almost entirely on baby reflexes. These begin to fade at six weeks, replaced by more intentional movements.

By three months, they’ll gain control of their head movements and will be able to balance it reasonably well a month later. They begin to make quantum leaps over the next two months, developing control over larger muscles. By four to six months, they may start to roll over on their bellies and grasp for toys. But for the most part, they’ll stay right where you put them, and that includes sitting up by themselves at six to 7 months.

That begins to change around nine months. Some may start to scoot or crawl. It’s also possible you may see them pulling themselves up into a standing position. If you haven’t already baby-proofed your house, now is the time to urgently do it (we suggest starting to baby proof at 6 months). By twelve months, nearly half of kids are walking, though not particularly well. But they’re on the move!

They May Not Walk Anytime Soon, But They Can Communicate Almost Immediately

Yes, crying is a form of communication. It says, “Something is wrong with me, and I need your help, STAT!” It even has a vocabulary. As your child gets older, they often develop distinct cries for their most frequent needs. You can quickly rule out a dirty diaper if your baby’s belting out their “I’m hungry” wail in the middle of the night.

You’ll begin to receive other cues as well. At two months, social smiles begin. Two months later, you’ll enjoy cooing, babbling, and…laughter! There’s almost nothing better than the first time your baby belly laughs.

Your baby’s babbling will take shape over the next six months, transforming from simple “ga ga, ba ba” sounds into more language-like constructions. Over this period, they may start copying gestures like clapping or pointing. This all comes to a head near the end of their first year when the first words appear. They may say “mama” or “dada” earlier, but they may know what those words mean around a year old.

Sleep Patterns Develop Slowly and Can Be Challenging Early On

Your child will sleep sporadically throughout the day and night for the first few months, as much as 16 hours total for every 24-hour period. But while your baby is asleep most of the time, you won’t enjoy the same comfort.

You and your child will wake up frequently at night for feedings, diaper changes at night, and periods of unrepentant crying. Parents should try to fit in naps when they can. Thankfully, your baby’s restful periods will increase in length over time. By four months, roughly half of parents report five-hour blocks of uninterrupted sleep. This is true for nearly all parents by six months, with half reporting solid ten-hour blocks.

Your baby should be sleeping straight through the night by nine to ten months, hitting twelve hours of continuous sleep. Talk to your doctor if they’re still having sleep issues at this age.

From Breast Milk or Formula to Purees, Finger Foods, and Beyond

There’s considerable culinary development baby will undergo, but that’s not hard to do when your starting point is a one-liquid diet. Children should remain on breast milk or formula until six months of age. There is some nuance to the previous statemt but we will let you discuss that with your friendly pediatrician. At that point, if they can sit up well and hold their heads straight, and they’re showing interest in food, you can begin introducing solids.

As the months tick between six and nine, you’ll slowly “chunk up” your purees, starting with stage one, a very fine grind, gradually transiting to stage three. As your baby masters one, introduce the next level. Concurrently, you can introduce finger foods as early as seven months.

In case you were wondering we suggest starting a sippy cup with handles at 6 months of age so your baby can toss that bottle by 1 year of age.

Favor soft, almost mushy foods, like well-cooked carrots or zucchini, pea-sized bits of chicken, diced pasta, and cereal rounds are all smart choices. Avoid choking hazards like grapes, nuts, and sliced hot dogs.

By their first year, you can expect your little one to be…a functional eater? That’s probably sugar coating things a bit. They’re starting to get the hang of eating by themselves, but it’s not going to be pretty.

What your child can eat should not be hampered by their dental development. But while talking about teeth it is interesting to note that that 1% of four-month-olds have teeth, 50% of six-month-olds have some teeth, yet some twelve-month-olds still have none. Don’t sweat the details. You shouldn’t worry unless you haven’t seen any teeth by 18 months.

All That Food They’re Eating? It Eventually Comes Out the Other End

Here it is, the poop section. No talk about the development baby is undergoing is complete without a thorough discussion about what comes out of them.

In the first few months, it’s a good idea to track your baby’s poops and pees. This will help you establish what’s normal for them. That way, when things get out of whack, you’ll know.

Early on, poop is pretty innocuous. Your baby’s liquid diet digests thoroughly, leaving very little solid waste. Breast milk poops are usually a seedy yellow consistency. With whey protein predominant formulas, you’ll get a creamy green.

Once you switch to solid food, your safe world of only mildly funky diapers comes to an end. Solid food converts to real poop, the stinky stuff. At this point, there’s no need to continue your…deposit ledger. Your child’s bathroom habits should be fairly well established. But it is good to keep an eye out for diarrhea, as that can indicate illness.

Your kid will still be in diapers by the end of the year. Potty training is still six months in their future, bare minimum. Many kids don’t get there until three years. A lot of skills are required to nail that one.

But your baby will get there because they’re an absolute freaking miracle. Baby’s development during their first year is nothing short of astounding. Just wait, you’ll see.

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Dr. Eddie Valenzuela is an award winning pediatrician and the founder and CEO of Pediatric Solutions, LLC.

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