Babies : Development

Babies : Development

All babies will develop at their own rate, generally in the same sequence but at completely different times. Your baby’s development depends on their everyday life and environment. Hence why plenty of love, care and interesting experiences will do wonders for their brain development. Some babies are crawling at 7 months while other babies are still lying still on their play mat – your baby will develop at whatever rate is right for them.

You may see your baby developing in leaps and bounds and then you may notice no changes, or in fact their development may seem to go in reverse. This is quite normal but if you have any queries or concerns, as always consult your healthcare professional.

Motor Skills

Between 3 & 6 Months:

  • Around 4 months your baby may be starting to lift their head up whilst laying on their stomach (called ‘Tummy Time.').
  • Around 6 months your baby may be learning to roll from their tummy to their side, or from their back to their side, and may begin to push themselves up using their hands when laying on their stomachs.

Between 6 & 9 Months:

  • From around 6 months your baby may be able to keep his head up when pulled into a sitting position.
  • Your baby may begin to roll from their stomach to their back and back again without your assistance.
  • Your baby may be making the beginning movements of crawling - by pulling themselves along whilst on their stomachs.
  • At around 9 months your baby may be pulling themselves to standing by using supports like a table or chair.

Between 9 & 12 Months:

  • Your baby may now be learning to sit without support and may be crawling.
  • By 12 months your baby may be pulling themselves into a standing position without any support.
  • By 12 months your baby may walk a few steps with two hands held.
  • Your baby may be standing independently for a few seconds.


Between 3 & 6 Months:

  • Your baby’s eyesight is steadily improving. They are developing depth perception, and their eyes may be now able to focus on specific things and people’s faces. Your baby is beginning to connect what he sees, with what he tastes, feels, hears etc. Your baby will be watching your reactions to his emotions, and he is developing the ability to recognise his own emotions, when he is sad, happy, fearful etc.
  • Your baby may be able to follow an object moved in an arc 180 degrees (side to side) with the object held approximately 20 cms from her face.
  • Around 5 months your baby may be getting better at spotting very small objects and may begin to recognise objects which are only partly visible. This is evidence of their developing understanding of object permanence, understanding something is there without seeing it. Your baby may also be developing an understanding of the differences between bright colours, and softer pastels and light tones.
  • From around 5 months your baby may begin to track their personal movement - watching their hands in front of their faces etc.
  • Your baby will may to recognise and smile at their own reflection.
  • By around 6 months your baby may use their vision to reach for and grasp an object accurately.

Between 6 & 9 Months:

  • Your baby may be developing his ability to tell the difference between people and faces.
  • Your baby may begin to follow movement with very little head movement.
  • During this time, you may notice your baby is beginning to watch activities for longer periods of time.
  • By around 8 months your baby’s vision may almost be at adult level with regards to clarity and depth perception. Their vision may still be focused predominately on closer objects, but their eyes could be strong enough to focus on people and objects across the room.
  • By around 9 months your babies eye colour will form. They may also start to look/work to get to objects which are just offhand or look for objects he/she has dropped.

Between 9 & 12 Months:

  • Your baby’s ability to shift their vision from near to far spaces may be vastly improving.
  • By 10 months your baby may be able to locate people and objects to be avoided when moving towards a goal.
  • By this stage, their memory is fast developing. They may be able to watch an adult do something a few times, for only about 20 seconds, and remember how to do this up to a month later.
  • Your baby may be mimicking a variety of your body movements.
  • By 12 months your baby may be accurately placing and removing objects from a container or can locate objects pointed to by another person.


Between 3 & 6 Months:

  • Around 3 months your baby’s temporal lobe (which assists with hearing, smell, and speech), will become more active and she may begin to make noises in response to your voice.
  • Your baby may look away or become fussy at the sound of your voice, but just may be overstimulated and need some quiet time.

Between 6 & 9 Months:

  • Your baby may now be discriminating between different voices.
  • Some words may be beginning to have meaning and may be listening more accurately to familiar sounds and words.

Between 9 & 12 Months:

  • Your baby may now be associating meaning to sound and recognising their own name.
  • Your baby may be discriminating more accurately between the meaning of sounds.
  • Your baby may be developing a better understanding of tone, pitch and intensity of sounds and words.
  • Babies of this age (or earlier) may also be showing interest in music.
  • As babies may be developing their speech around this time you may notice they are less distracted show increasing attention when you speak to them.


Between 3 & 6 Months:

  • Your baby may be making her own sounds in response to what he/she hears.
  • Your baby may be experimenting with her babbling.
  • From around 3 months your baby may be beginning to laugh out loud.

Between 6 & 9 Months:

  • Your baby may be making cooing or babbling sounds, usually with vowel/consonant combinations such as “ahhh” or “goooo”.
  • Your baby will still communicate their needs and wants by crying, but may use other means of communication like making frustrated sounds or using their body language.
  • Your baby may start to express his positive and negative emotions and he has expectations as to how you react to them. He will also let you know when those expectations are not met! Your baby may be able to let you know when he wants help. Babies generally have a growth spurt in their brain development at around 9 months which means he can make associations about what he hears, feels, sees, or tastes.

Between 9 & 12 Months:

  • Your baby may be communicating with you more clearly using their body language – by pointing, nodding, or shaking their head.
  • Your baby my show you their needs and wants without crying.
  • Your baby may be saying basic words like “Mumma” “dadda”.
  • By 12 months your baby may be able to follow simple instructions i.e. “wave goodbye!” or “give me a kiss”.

Speech and Language Development

In their first 12 months babies are learning speech and language development which will lay the foundations for their life of communication. Babies develop speech patterns and language at vastly different rates, and although the stages of development are quite predictable, the rate at which your baby develops will be unique to them. The most effective way to develop your baby’s Speech and Language – is by talking to them! Lots of verbal contact will model the sounds and coordination your baby will need to develop to communicate using his/her voice.

Talking to baby

Even before becoming a parent yourself, you’ve probably noticed when adults speak to Babies, they put on a sing-song voice, usually up to an octave higher than their normal speaking voice, and often paired with overly exaggerated facial expressions. Researchers have named this ‘Parentese’.

Studies have shown that babies react to high-pitched sounds and exaggerated speech patterns more positively than they do to more ‘adult’ tones and monotony. This could be because it grabs a baby’s attention, or because adults tend to repeat their statements i.e.: “Whose a beautiful baby, you’re a beautiful baby, yes you are, you’re a beautiful baby”. In addition, the words are usually exaggerated. Hearing these drawn out sounds could assist your baby with their own language development.

Researchers have tested babies from differing language and cultural backgrounds, and time and time again the babies responded more favourably towards the ‘Parentese’ voice inflictions over adult-to-adult discussions. Incredibly these results didn’t change when the babies were subject to ‘Parentese’ in different languages to their native home dialect.

Speech and Language – What to Expect

Between the ages of 3 & 12 Months, your babies speech and language skills will grow dramatically.

Here are some things your baby may be doing:

  • Cooing, babbling, and laughing.
  • Responding when you talk, by babbling, gesturing, or growing quiet.
  • Make and hold eye contact with you while you are talking.
  • At around 3 months: Start to form discernible sounds such as “ahhh” “gooo” “neh” “wah” etc.
  • At around 4 months: Start to repeat consonant/vowel combinations such as “ba ba ba ba” “ma ma ma ma” “da da da da”.
  • Laugh out loud when you play or laugh with him/her.
  • Imitate some sounds and gestures you make such as coughing, laughing, clicking, or making “raspberry” noises.
  • Play with making sounds – making sounds at varying pitch and volume.
  • At around 5 months: Start to respond to their name.
  • At around 8 months: Start to make longer sequences of sounds, which are beginning to sound more in the tone of regular speech.
  • At around 9 months: Start to say “mumma” and “dadda” but may not be talking about his mum or dad.
  • At around 10 months: Start to understand the word “No” – but won’t always follow your instruction!
  • Initiating communication with sounds or gestures, and communicating with purpose, mainly to request, refuse, reject or greet someone.
  • Ask for things by pointing, or by looking at someone and then at the item he wants.
  • At around 12 months: say a few words with clear meaning i.e. asking the baby who someone is, and the baby responds correctly “Mumma or dadda” etc.
  • Understand quite simple verbal clues i.e. holding out your hand and saying “ta” and your baby hands you the item.

Sometimes, delays in communication can indicate developmental disorders or delays.

Play & its role in development

During their first early years, your child’s main way to learn and develop, is through Play.

Children are playful by nature. It is the best way for them to develop and understand the world around them. From play alone, your baby develops communication, interaction, taking turns, humour, sharing, cause and effect, emotions, object permanence, eye contact, expressions etc.

Think of the game Peekaboo. Almost everyone knows how to play peekaboo – hide behind your hands and then open them with an animated expression and declare – “PEEKABOO! I see You!”. This game alone, teaches everything listed above.

Playing with your child is far simpler and more natural than you might think. You may find you will buy them a toy – only to have them fascinated by the string or wrapping. This should act as a reminder to keep it simple … babies don’t need extraordinary or expensive items to keep them stimulated and inspire their development. Often it is the simplest resources which offer the most beneficial play experiences.

Studies reveal that children’s brains develops more rapidly in their first 5 years than at any other time in their life. A baby who has played and had her family engage with her in fun and learning during this time, is going to learn more easily as she ages compared to a child who has had little play, attention or stimulation. Babies need to interact with people, toys, books, material, and sensory items to develop their capacity to learn. (2020, August 13). About baby developments and developmental milestones. Retrieved from (2017, November 27). Language development: 3-12 months. Retrieved from


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