Infant
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0 - 6 Months

Developmental Milestones for Infants (0-6 months)

Discover the critical developmental milestones for infants aged between 0 to 6 months. Includes month-by-month breakdown and potential red flags to watch out for.

author
Jessica Guht

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Many people are surprised by how much an infant accomplishes in their first 6 months of life. They’re learning to manipulate their body, respond to the world around them, and begin caring for themselves, but even more exciting is the foundation they’re creating for other lifelong skills like walking and writing, even if they’re not there quite yet.

Your baby starts learning the moment they are born, and knowing what to watch for in their development can help you encourage their progress. To help, we’ve broken everything down, month-by-month, to give you as much guidance as we can on your baby’s growth from 0 to 6 months. 

1-Month-Old Infant Milestones

During this first month of life, your infant is acclimating to the world and learning how to handle feelings of hunger, something entirely new to them. It’s a time filled with sleeplessness for you and a whole lot of eating, sleeping, and cuddling for your baby, but your baby is also learning a lot with all the time you spend together.  

To promote your baby’s development during this time, speak freely, maintain eye contact, hold them close, introduce your baby to new textures, and allow them to play on their tummy.

Here are the 1-month-old baby milestones, broken down into separate areas of development:

Speech and Language

  • Experiments with facial expression (e.g., pursing their lips, widening or squinting their eyes, raising or furrowing their eyebrows)
  • Cries
  • Yawns and arches when overstimulated

Movement

  • Moves head from side to side while lying on their stomach
  • Thrusts their arms in jerky, quivering movements
  • Holds hands in tight fists
  • Brings hands within range of mouth and eyes

Sensory

  • Eyes wander and may cross
  • Can focus on something 8 to 12 inches away
  • Prefers the human face to other patterns
  • Recognizes some sounds—may turn toward familiar voices and sounds
  • Startles or cries when hearing a loud noise
  • Prefers soft textures and sweet smells
  • Recognizes the scent of mother’s breast milk
  • Dislikes rough or abrupt handling

Feeding

  • Eats every two to three hours for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time when breastfeeding
  • Eats about 4 ounces every three to four hours if drinking from a bottle
  • Gives hunger cues (e.g., sucking on hands, smacking their lips, rooting for a breast)

Strength

  • May be able to hold head up for brief moments
  • Strong reflex movements
  • Head flops backward if it is unsupported

Independence and Self-Help

  • May stop crying to hear a parent speak
  • Quiets in response to a parent’s touch
  • Comforts self by sucking on fingers or fist

Play and Behavior

  • Enjoys looking at black-and-white patterns
  • Shows interest in watching your face

1-Month-Old Developmental Red Flags 

All babies grow at their own rate, but if you notice any of the following, speak to a pediatrician:

  • Your baby is crying a lot more than you expect, and it’s worrying you
  • They aren’t feeding well
  • They are sleeping a lot (or seem very tired)
  • They aren’t making sounds (e.g., gurgling)
  • They aren’t responding to bright lights or loud sounds
  • They don’t move their arms and legs 

2-Month-Old Infant Milestones

During the one to two month stage, your baby will start to react more to the world around them. They’ll start to attach themselves to you, and it’ll warm your heart when they smile when they see you! A 2-month-old will also begin to make some cooing sounds, so keep talking around your infant to encourage their language abilities. 

The milestones characteristic of a 2-month-old baby include:

Speech and Language

  • Makes sounds other than crying
  • Looks at your face
  • Makes cooing sounds
  • Starts to smile

Movement

  • Moves both arms and legs
  • Opens hands briefly
  • Movements are less jerky and more deliberate
  • Purposefully brings their hands to their mouth

Sensory

  • Can see more colors
  • Reacts to loud sounds

Feeding

  • Still eats according to cues
  • Breastfeeding babies eat at least 8 times in 24 hours
  • Bottle-fed babies can eat every 4 hours or so and about 5-6 ounces per feeding. 
  • They easily suck and swallow during feeding

Strength

  • Can push up while on their belly and hold their head up

Independence and Self-Help

  • Watches you as you move
  • Calms down when picked up or spoken to
  • Can self-soothe by sucking on fingers or hands

Play and Behavior

  • Looks at a toy for several seconds
  • Is happy to see you when you walk up to them
  • Smiles when talked to or smiled at
  • Swipes at objects
  • Attempts to hold small objects
  • May get fussy when bored

2-Month-Old Developmental Red Flags

Some things to watch for at 2 months include:

  • Loss of breastmilk or formula out of the side of the mouth while feeding
  • Difficulty latching while bottle feeding or nursing
  • No response to loud noises
  • Won’t smile at people
  • Cannot hold head up while on tummy
  • Doesn’t bring hands to mouth
  • Doesn’t track people and objects when they move

3-Month-Old Infant Milestones

By the time your baby is 3 months old, they’ve officially graduated from “the fourth trimester,” a term used to describe their first 3 months of life.

At three months, your baby is continuing to strengthen the muscles they need to accomplish some upcoming big milestones, such as sitting unassisted and crawling. All this is alongside further social development with you, including their ability to recognize you when you walk into the same room. They’ll even smile just from hearing your voice!

The developmental milestones for a 3-month-old include:

Speech and Language

  • Begins to babble
  • Imitates some sounds
  • Is more communicative and expressive with their face and body

Movement

  • Stretches out legs and kicks when lying on back or stomach
  • Opens and shuts hands
  • Brings hands to mouth

Sensory

  • Smiles at the sound of a parent’s voice
  • Follows moving objects
  • Starts using eyes and hands in coordination
  • Turns head toward a sound

Feeding

  • More settled into a feeding routine
  • Breastfeeding babies still feed at least 8 times in a 24-hour period
  • Bottle-fed babies can stretch the time between feedings to up to four hours and take about 6 ounces per feeding. 

Strength

  • Supports upper body with arms when lying on stomach
  • Can raise head and chest when lying on stomach

Independence and Self-Help

  • Recognizes familiar objects and people at a distance
  • Watches faces intently

Play and Behavior

  • Grasps and shakes hand toys
  • Swats at dangling objects with hands
  • Begins developing a social smile
  • Enjoys playing with others and may cry when playing stops
  • Imitates some facial expressions and movements

3-Month-Old Developmental Red Flags

All infants develop at their own rate, but if you notice any of the following warning signs, discuss them with your child’s pediatrician.

  • Doesn’t notice their hands
  • Doesn’t respond to loud sounds
  • Cannot support their head well
  • Doesn’t follow moving objects with their eyes
  • Crosses their eyes most of the time
  • Doesn’t grasp and hold objects
  • Doesn’t smile at people
  • Ignores new faces
  • Is frightened by new surroundings or faces

4-Month-Old Infant Milestones

Now that your baby is entering the 4–6-month stage, their milestones will shift to encompass more independence and movement. Not only that, but this is when your baby really starts to come out of their shell, with their personality building alongside their physical abilities. Your baby’s brain is developing rapidly from 4 to 6 months, and you’ll see that in the milestones they can now hit (hello, better hand-eye coordination!)

Here are the developmental milestones of a 4-month-old infant:

Speech and Language

  • Chuckles (not quite a full laugh yet) when you try to make them laugh
  • Makes cooing sounds
  • Makes sounds back at you when you talk to them
  • Has different cries depending on if they are hungry, tired, or in pain

Movement

  • Brings hand to mouth
  • Pushes down on legs when feet are on a hard surface
  • Shakes toys they are holding

Sensory

  • Turns their head toward the sound of your voice
  • Recognizes you and other familiar faces at a distance
  • Follows moving objects with eyes
  • Favors shades of red and blue

Feeding

  • If hungry, will open mouth when they see a bottle or breast
  • Will signal hunger by putting hands near their mouth
  • Can start being introduced to solid foods between 4 to 6 months, with the go-ahead from a pediatrician

Strength

  • Can hold their head steady without support when being held
  • Pushes up onto forearms/elbows when on tummy

Independence and Self-Help

  • Looks at hands with interest
  • Smiles on their own to get your attention
  • Moves, makes sounds, or looks at you to get your attention

Play and Behavior

  • Holds a toy when it is put in their hand
  • Uses arm to swing at toys
  • Likes to play with others and may become upset when playtime is over

4-Month-Old Developmental Red Flags

Reach out to a pediatrician if you notice any of the following in your infant:

  • Doesn’t reach for and grasp toys
  • Doesn’t coo
  • Doesn’t push down with their legs
  • Doesn’t bring objects to their mouth
  • Doesn’t respond to or show interest in your face
  • Does not smile
  • Cannot hold up their head or sit with support
  • Doesn’t watch people or items as they move

5-Month-Old Infant Milestones

Developmental milestones continue to expand at 5 months old. Your baby can now tell the difference between colors, and intellectual development at 5 months will help your baby understand object permanence. Now, they’ll know you’re still there when you cover your face during peek-a-boo! 

Here’s the milestones chart for a 5-month-old:

Speech and Language

  • Responds to sounds with their own sounds
  • Squeals
  • Tries to copy the up-and-down tone you use when you talk
  • Coos at self in mirror

Movement

  • Rolls from tummy-to-back and from back-to-tummy
  • Holds out arms to be picked up
  • Can sit up when propped by pillows
  • Blows “raspberries” (sticks out tongue and blows)

Sensory

  • Looks at things nearby
  • Recognizes your voice and will turn to you when you speak
  • Three-dimensional view has improved (can control eye movements and eye-body coordination)

Feeding

  • Shows interest in solid foods, although breast milk or formula is still their main diet

Strength

  • Straightens back when held or propped in a sitting position
  • When on their tummy, they will extend their arms and legs and arch their back
  • Can lift head and shoulders when on their back

Independence and Self-Help

  • Recognizes cause and effect (e.g., purposefully throwing a toy and laughing at the sound it makes)
  • Will become bored if left alone for too long
  • Shows emotions like anger, irritation, and frustration

Play and Behavior

  • Likes to play with others
  • Enjoys looking at books with brightly colored pictures
  • Can pick up larger, easy-to-grasp objects like blocks and soft balls
  • May bang objects on a table or hard surface
  • Puts fingers in mouth
  • Is interested in what you’re eating

5-Month-Old Developmental Red Flags

Talk to your pediatrician if you notice any of the following in your 5-month-old:

  • Still has the tonic neck reflex
  • Isn’t interested in things around them
  • Doesn’t make any voice sounds
  • Doesn’t seem to know you
  • Doesn’t follow objects with their eyes
  • Doesn’t make eye contact
  • Doesn’t open their fingers or kick their legs
  • Legs are bent most of the time
  • Isn’t startled by loud noises
  • Doesn’t turn when you speak to them
  • Is unsettled or unhappy most of the time

6-Month-Old Infant Milestones

By 6 months, your baby is really starting to get strong, which allows for some significant motor skills. They can now sit up unassisted, and they’re also starting to rock back and forth. 

A 6-month-old baby’s intellectual development is also growing as their curiosity increases. They’ll try reaching out for objects that interest them, and most of these objects will end up in their mouth so that they can explore them further.

Here’s the checklist of developmental milestones for a 6-month-old:

Speech and Language

  • Laughs
  • Takes turns making sounds with you
  • Blows “raspberries” (sticks out tongue and blows)
  • Makes squealing noises
  • Starts to babble and mimic “da,” “ma,” “oh,” “ah,” and “no”, along with other sounds they hear
  • Makes sounds to show positive and negative emotions

Movement

  • Rocks back and forth on their hands and knees
  • Can sit up without support

Sensory

  • Responds to name
  • Responds to the emotions of others

Feeding

  • Closes lips to show that they don’t want more food
  • Opens mouth when spoon-fed
  • Moves food from the front to the back of the mouth when chewing
  • Can self-feed solid foods if interested

Strength

  • Pushes up with straight arms when on tummy
  • Leans on hands to support self when sitting

Independence and Self-Help

  • Knows familiar people
  • Tries to grab things that are out of reach
  • Differentiates between familiar faces and strangers

Play and Behavior

  • Likes to look at self in a mirror
  • Reaches to grab a toy they want
  • Puts things in their mouth to explore them
  • Passes objects from hand to hand

6-Month-Old Developmental Red Flags

Since babies develop at different rates, don’t worry if your child hasn’t hit all the above milestones yet. But, it’s recommended to see a pediatrician if your child exhibits any of the following qualities:

  • Shows a hand preference when holding and picking up objects
  • Doesn’t respond to nearby sounds
  • Doesn’t show affection to parents or caregivers
  • Seems too floppy or too stiff
  • Doesn’t laugh
  • Struggles to get things into their mouth
  • Can’t roll over, whether starting from tummy or back
  • Doesn’t try to grab nearby objects
  • Doesn’t make vowel sounds

Find the Best Care for Your 0–6-Month-Old Infant

No matter what month or stage you’re monitoring for in terms of your child’s milestones, we know that you want them to have the best possible care. 

At Coral Care, we will help connect you with the specialized pediatric care your infant deserves, whether that is an occupational therapist, speech language pathologist, or a physical therapist. Find the best care for your 0 to 6-month-old now.

Find effective support for developmental delays, quickly.

Self-pay or insurance
In-person and at-home appointments
No waitlist
Find Care