Development Stages of Infants

During the first year of life, babies go from being helpless newborns to fledgling toddlers. According to the National Network for Child Care, the majority of babies double in length and triple in weight during this time. While every baby develops at his own pace, most babies go through the same stages of development.

Physical Development

Newborn babies are wholly dependent on their caregivers to meet all of their needs. They are not able to control their bodies or temperatures on their own. Very young babies need to eat every few hours, and sleep for about 20 hours per day.

As babies grow, they gradually gain control of their muscles. Most three-month-old babies can hold their own heads up, for example. By five-months old, most babies can roll over. After babies learn to crawl, a milestone that takes place somewhere around nine months of age, they begin to pull up on tables and other objects, and then to cruise, or walk while holding stationary objects. Finally, they begin to walk.

By one year of age, many babies are taking their first steps. They usually eat three meals per day, plus snacks. Most children of this age sleep through the night without needing to be fed, and also take one or two regular naps during the day.

Social and Emotional Development

Newborn babies can only cry to make their discomforts and needs known. By two months of age, infants smile in response to pleasure. When a baby is about four-months old, she will begin making cooing sounds and smile and laugh, especially when around her parents and other familiar people. Six-month-olds usually begin babbling, and repeating the same consonant-vowel sounds over and over again, such as “ba ba ba ba,” or “da da da da.” At this stage, many babies happily submit to being held by anyone with a friendly face. At around eight-months old, however, babies experience separation anxiety and often cry when their mothers are out of sight, or when being held by a stranger. As a baby nears one year of age, she may recognize her own name, will wave goodbye and start saying simple words, such as “mama” and “dada.”

Intellectual Development

Young babies often fix their gazes on faces and photographs or pictures of faces. Once they are past the newborn stage, they can follow an object with their eyes. Babies learn by touching and mouthing items and often place anything they can grab into their mouths. Even young babies turn their heads to see where a sound is coming from. As babies grow, their sense of curiosity becomes stronger, and they look under and behind furniture and other large objects to explore what might be hidden. Older babies begin to learn what “no” means. They are still learning object permanence at this stage, and enjoy games such as peek-a-boo, states the Child Development Institute. If a ball rolls away from their line of vision, they will look for it. Babies close to one year of age can follow simple directions, such as “clap your hands,” or “give me a kiss.”

About this Author

Michelle Kulas is a freelance writer specializing in SEO, Web content, and blogging. She has worked as a certified nurses’ assistant, a dental assistant, and a dental insurance billing coordinator. Her areas of expertise include health and dental topics, parenting, homeschooling, education, homekeeping, natural family planning and decorating.