Baby Milestones: Year 1

Having a newborn is an adventure. You often hear that your first trimester is the most crucial for a baby’s growth and development, which is similar when thinking of your baby’s first year. Many of the 1 year baby milestones form the basis for your child’s intellectual and physical development.

The CDC created a handy “Your Child at 1 Year” checklist that you can download here. Their guide is a good overall framework of what to look for in this magical first year.

Here are all of the milestones you can expect from when you bring your new baby home from the hospital until their first birthday.

Types of Infant Development

Once you understand how infants develop, you can begin to look for the milestones they are reaching.

Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills are those that involve our larger muscles like our arms, legs, and torso. Everything from your baby kicking their legs to throwing food on the floor depends on gross motor skill development.

Gross motor development also relates to body awareness, like balancing, reaction speed, and strength. This general timeline of gross motor milestones shows 1 year baby milestones.

The First 6 Months

During the first 6 months, babies should be able to:

  • Support their head from the sitting position
  • Begin to roll from side to side and back to front
  • Start to raise their chest and upper abdomen when resting on their stomach

Next 6 Months to 1 Year Baby Milestones

During the next 6 months to a year, your baby should be able to: 

  • Hold weight with one arm while exploring with the other when resting on their stomach
  • Begin to sit by themselves
  • Start to crawl
  • Reach for toys when in sitting position
  • Begin to pull themself to a standing position
  • Start to walk (could be closer to 14 months old)

How You Can Help

Teach your baby gross motor skills by gently helping them use the muscles needed. Once your baby reaches 4-7 months old, lightly lift them to a standing position. Your baby will learn to understand how this feels by bouncing up and down. They will also begin to use their feet with your help.

Fine Motor Skills

Reaching, grasping, and manipulating objects with their hands are examples of fine motor skills that your baby will develop in their first year. You can help your baby develop these fine motor skills by laying your baby on their stomach so they must push themself up to their elbows and eventually, their hands. This exercise is usually called “tummy time.”

Many baby’s hate tummy time at first (here are some tips to overcome this!), but these are 5 techniques you can use to ease your child into it:

Over your child’s first year, they will learn and develop their fine motor skills that will help them continue to explore and play as they get older.

The First 6 Months

During the first 6 months, babies should be able to:

  • Begin to hold an object in their hand
  • Transition to reaching and holding an object or toy
  • Follow an object with their eyes

Next 6 Months to 1 Year

During the next 6 months to a year, your baby should be able to: 

  • Transfer a toy from one hand to the other
  • Keep their hands open and relaxed most of the day
  • Begin to pick up small foods, like baby puff snacks or Cheerios
  • Understand and gives you a toy when asked
  • Release toys and other objects voluntarily

How You Can Help

In the first few months of your baby’s infancy, their hands will involuntarily close into fists. You can help them begin to understand holding but lightly brushing their knuckles with a toy until their fingers open and then placing the toy in their hands. While they will not keep hold of it for very long, the motion of holding and throwing becomes practice for later play.

As your baby reaches their first birthday, begin showing them how to poke holes. Poking holes in things like Play-Doh teaches them how to use their fingers independently.

Social Development

Your baby’s first year is an exciting one. You will see them bond with you and other caregivers, and these interactions gradually become more personal and engaging as your baby grows and learns social cues.

Like adults, babies have different personalities and will react to social situations differently and at their own pace. However, there are some 1 year baby milestones that will grow your baby’s social development.

First 6 Months

During the first 6 months, babies should be able to:

  • Bond with you and express their feelings through a rounded month and alert eyes
  • Begin smiling as a way to engage with you
  • Become increasingly social and want to laugh and cuddle with you
  • Develop facial expressions to show anger, surprise, fear, and disgust

Next 6 Months to 1 Year

During the next 6 months to a year, your baby should be able to: 

  • Bond with caregivers continues to grow as memory develops
  • Develop a preference for people who show them affection

How You Can Help

The best thing you can do for your baby’s social development is to be affectionate and nurturing. By holding, comforting, talking, and singing to your baby, you help them feel special and loved. This nurturing fosters a bond between the two of you that helps them develop emotionally.

Help your baby reach milestones, so they can learn without becoming overly frustrated. If they are struggling with rolling over, show them a toy on one side of their body. By reaching over to grab the toy, they can learn the movements needed to roll over.

Language Development

One of the most exciting milestones of your baby’s early years is when they speak their first word. Much like social development, your baby will develop language at their own pace. However, most will follow these general milestones as part of their year one development.

First 6 Months

During the first 6 months, babies should be able to:

  • Begin to make cooing sounds
  • Start to learn and recognize your voice
  • Develop a different cry for different needs
  • Make gurgling noises when playing
  • Begin to babble and make different sounds
  • Look in the direction of various noises
  • Take notice when objects like toys make different sounds

Next 6 Months to 1 Year

During the next 6 months to a year, your baby should be able to: 

  • Begin to imitate speech sounds
  • Understand a few simple instructions you give
  • Start to recognize commonly used words, like out or car
  • Begin to say some small words, like “uh-oh” or “da-da”

How You Can Help

Children learn to speak from listening to you, so talk to them throughout the day. You can maintain a dialogue by telling them what you’re doing by saying, “You are eating potatoes,” or “Potatoes are good.” Regularly reading to your baby also helps them to learn your voice and start to recognize words.

If you find that your baby is falling behind on these milestones because they are unresponsive or not turning to notice different sounds, reach out to your pediatrician. You may need to treat an ear infection or schedule a hearing test.

Month-by-Month Milestones

In their first year, your baby will be taking in a lot of information, trying to process it, and then growing and learning from it. They will experience many intellectual milestones as well as physical ones. Your baby’s weight will double by the end of their first 6 months and triple by their first birthday.

By the End of the Third Month

In your baby’s first 3 months, they will go from being an entirely dependent newborn to becoming an active and responsive infant. Voluntary movements will replace your baby’s newborn reflexes as they begin to grow and develop.

Your baby will begin to interact with their world by grasping your fingers or car keys and taking swipes at mobiles or hanging toys. They will start to use their hands and eyes in coordination and become more expressive with their facial expressions and body movements.

It’s essential to watch your baby and make sure they reach some of these basic developmental milestones. If they are not responsive to loud noises, having difficulty moving one or both of their eyes in all directions, or unable to support their head on their own after 3 months, you should consult with your pediatrician. 

Milestones by the 7th Month

By your baby’s seventh month, they will reach physical milestones like teething. You can help soothe their discomfort by giving them a teething toy or a cold washcloth to chew. The FDA now advises against using topical medications because the benzocaine in them can lead to a sometimes fatal condition called methemoglobinemia, which reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells.

Your baby will begin to develop their gross motor skills like sitting up and possibly crawling. You can help them start crawling by gently lifting them to practice the motion of walking and strengthen their legs.

Baby’s First Birthday

So much development happens between your baby’s newborn stage up through their first birthday. By the time they reach 12 months, they have better-developed fine and gross motor skills. Your baby will begin to pick up toys, bang them together, and put them down without throwing them. Your baby will start to understand language and will start to shake their head “no.”

The bond you develop will help them understand who is a friendly caregiver and cause them to be wary of strangers. Your baby will begin to self-identify in the mirror and start walking with your help.


Becoming a new parent is exciting. Your new baby is growing each day, and you get to teach them and be a part of their new experiences. Watching them become more aware of their surroundings, begin to move, and develop their personality are fun experiences for you both.

While not all babies will develop at the same time, being there to experience their 1 year baby milestones are priceless moments that you can look back on forever.

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