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Baby development milestones

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Baby development milestones

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First thing’s first; babies go at their own pace. There’s no set formula of crawl, walk, talk. They'll reach those baby development milestones in their own good time.

From sleeping, walking and weaning, to when do babies start teething, when do babies crawl, and when do babies start talking?

Here you’ll find the supportive and non-judgemental guidance you need on a number of baby milestones so that you can follow your instincts and enjoy every minute.


0-3 months baby milestones



During their first month, your baby is adjusting to the world around them. They may lift their head during tummy time, and grasp your finger or other objects as they practice the reflexes they were born with1. Other 0 - 3 month baby milestones include reacting to loud noises and sounds, recognising your voice and starting to make their own noises and sounds in response. If you’re lucky, you might even get a beautiful smile2.

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4 - 6 month baby milestones

From 4 months, your baby’s muscles are getting stronger by the day. They’ll learn new physical skills like pushing themselves up using their arms. Some babies start sitting up anywhere between 4 and 6 months as their bones and upper body muscles become stronger. There’s no telling exactly when this will happen though, so just provide them with the encouragement they need and watch in wonder!

Feel free to relax and put the focus on play when helping your baby to reach their 4 - 6 month baby milestones. Their brain development is in full swing, so interacting with your baby and having fun is the name of the game here.

As your baby reaches 6 months, you might be getting ready to introduce them to new tastes and textures as they embark on their weaning adventure. It’s as fun as it is messy. Just relax, follow their lead and go with it!

7 - 9 month baby milestones

Around now, your baby is really starting to develop their own unique personality. They may recognise their own name, and their general babbling might sound like actual words. This is your baby’s way of getting used to their newfound voice and a way to showcase vowels they have learnt so far.

It’s possible that your baby will be on the move as they start to crawl. Remember that all babies develop differently. If your baby isn’t crawling yet, try not to worry, they’ll get there in their own time.

Other 7 - 9 month baby milestones include a possible change in your baby’s eye colour and a new stage of weaning as their diet becomes more varied.

10 - 12 month baby milestones

Time flies! It’s been almost a whole year since your baby entered the world. Now you’re experiencing your baby’s 10 - 12  month baby milestones Look out for your baby picking up and putting down objects, holding finger foods and perhaps being able to follow a simple instruction.

Your baby may also take their first steps during this time. If not, give it time. Your baby will be putting one foot in front of the other before you know it. Soon, you won’t be able to stop them.

When should babies crawl?

Babies generally start crawling anywhere between 7 - 10 months3, but as with all baby milestones, this isn’t set in stone. Some babies don’t start to crawl until after their first birthday, and others don’t bother to crawl at all. Some prefer to skip straight to walking.

Crawling is no mean feat for your baby. Let them go at their own pace and provide lots of cuddles and encouragement. 

How to encourage your baby to crawl

There are so many ways you can encourage your baby to get on the move. Leave them plenty of room in a safe space and a bit of independence to encourage them to get started.

Give them plenty of tummy time, and time to lay on their back to kick their legs and try to roll over4.  You could also give them appropriate toys and other safe objects to pull and push at. These are all things that will encourage your baby to practice different kinds of movement and build the muscle strength required for crawling.

Do some babies walk before they crawl?

Yes. If your baby isn’t crawling yet, there’s no reason for you to be concerned. It’s possible that your little one will bypass the crawling stage entirely as they get straight on with the serious business of walking on their own two feet.

When do babies start talking?

From around 12 months, babies usually have around three words in their vocabulary. By the age of 18 months, it’s possible that your baby will have a word bank of between 10 and 20 words5.

Keep in mind that babies understand a lot more than they can say. Between the ages of 12 - 24 months, it's thought that your soon-to-be-talking tot can understand five times more words than they’re able to say5. Rest assured that whether your baby is talking yet or not, they’re soaking everything up for when they’re ready to talk.

When do babies say their first word?

There’s no way to pinpoint this baby milestone with accuracy. If you’re concerned, your health visitor or midwife will be able to provide you with any support or guidance that you might need.

How to encourage your baby to talk?

Here are a few things you can do to help your baby learn to chitter and chatter:

  • Look at your baby when you talk. They’ll learn lots from the way your mouth is shaping the words.
  • Read to them regularly.
  • Talk to your little one all the time. Whether you’re doing the washing, working from home or decorating the house, tell your baby about it, they’ll learn a lot.

When do babies start walking?

Before they start to walk independently, your baby will probably start to pull themselves up into a standing position. This is usually followed by what’s known as ‘cruising’, which involves your baby using whatever furniture they can find to help them get around on their feet.

Many babies start walking unsupported between the ages of 9 - 18 months6, but there’s no way to tell exactly when this will happen.

My baby is 1 and still isn’t crawling or walking, should I be worried?

We can’t stress this enough; babies develop in their own time and on their own terms. Whilst some babies walk before their first year, others don’t start until they’re 18 months old.

If your baby’s motor skills are easy to spot, for example, rolling over, pulling themselves up or trying to grasp at things, chances are that your baby’s just taking their own sweet time. But if you’re concerned, there’s no harm in seeking advice from your doctor to put your mind at ease.

When do babies sleep through the night?

When it comes to catching 40 winks under those twinkle twinkle little stars, every baby is different. It’s all about finding the methods and routines that work for you and your little one.

A certified sleep consultant Leanne Fraser notes that if what you are doing is working, then there is no need to change it. Each baby’s sleeping routine is unique as the baby itself.

When do you start weaning a baby?

Your baby’s weaning adventure usually begins at around 6 months, as recommended by the Department of Health.

There are a few different ways to start weaning your baby, with one of those being a baby-led weaning – an approach in which you allow your baby to feed themselves from the beginning of their solid food journey.

I’m worried my baby isn’t developing

Once your baby is born, you’ll be offered a number of health and developmental checks to ensure that everything’s on track7. These provide the perfect opportunity for you to ask any questions and talk about any worries you may have.

However, worrying is a natural part of parenthood. And if you’re concerned about your baby’s development at any point, talk to your doctor or midwife.

Common baby development questions

When do babies start teething?

Some babies start teething as early as 4 months, whilst others won’t cut their first tooth until after 12 months. In general, you can expect your baby to start teething at around the 6-month mark8.

When do babies lift their heads?

Your baby may start to need less support to hold their head up anywhere between 4 - 6 months as their muscles strengthen9. Remember that your baby's neck muscles are weak at birth, so lifting their heavy head can be tricky.

When do babies start making sounds?

From crying and cooing to snoring and sniffling, babies make a range of noises from the moment they’re born. Between 6 and 12 months, your baby might progress from ‘babbling’ to first words10

When do babies recognise their name?

Babies are able to recognise their own name between 4 and 6 months11.

When do babies start reaching for things?

Babies will start to reach for objects from around 3 months12. Be sure to have some baby friendly objects at the ready for when they start to explore the world around them.

When should babies follow objects?

Following people and objects with their eyes is something babies can do from around 2 months13.

When should babies push up on their arms?

As their neck muscles become stronger, babies may start pushing themselves up on their arms from around 4 months.

When do babies recognise voices?

Recognising voices is a skill babies learn in the womb. After birth, your baby will continue to recognise your voice as you get to know each other14.

When do babies smile?

Babies can smile from the moment they’re born, although that could be down to reflexes in the very early days. Your baby may well flash you a beautiful social smile between 2 and 3 months.

My baby doesn’t mimic facial expressions

Whilst babies can mimic facial expressions anywhere between 6 and 9 months15, don’t be too concerned if it isn't happening within these timescales. If you’ve got any concerns about your baby’s development, speak to your midwife or GP.

When do babies roll over?

As a result of their strengthening muscles, babies discover the different ways in which their body can move.  Anywhere between 4 - 6 months, babies can roll from their back to their tummy and back again6.

When do babies sit up?

Babies tend to be able to sit up anywhere between 6 - 8 months16.

When to worry if my baby is not sitting up

Sitting up on their own is a baby milestone requiring some strong muscles and some control over how their body moves. If your baby isn’t sitting up yet, they may just need a little more time. Give them plenty of tummy time to help build their neck muscles and try holding your baby’s arms and pulling them into a sitting position, your baby will soon get the hang of it.

If you’re concerned, speak to your midwife or health visitor if you’re concerned about your baby’s development.

  1. https://kingstonhospital.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Postnatal-information-for-your-baby.pdf
  2. https://frimley-healthiertogether.nhs.uk/parentscarers/your-childs-development/communicating-talking-skills
  3. https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/baby/baby-moves/#:~:text=Crawling,chance%20to%20 explore%20their%20 surroundings
  4. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/babys-development/play-and-learning/keep-baby-or-toddler-active/
  5. https://www.gosh.nhs.uk/conditions-and-treatments/procedures-and-treatments/speech-and-language-development-12-24-months/
  6. https://www.justonenorfolk.nhs.uk/childhood-development-additional-needs/developmental-stages/development-milestones
  7. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/babys-development/height-weight-and-reviews/baby-reviews/
  8. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/babys-development/teething/baby-teething-symptoms/#:~:text=Some%20babies%20are%20born%20with,teething%20at%20around%206%20months.
  9. https://www.nhsinform.scot/ready-steady-baby/early-parenthood/your-baby-s-development-from-2-to-12-months#:~:text=They%20can%20now%20move%20about,needed%20and%20keep%20them%20safe.
  10. https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/baby/learning-to-talk/6-to-12-months/#anchor-tabs
  11. https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/baby/learning-to-talk/0-to-6-months/#:~:text=By%204%20to%206%20months,recognise%20their%20own%20name
  12. https://www.justonenorfolk.nhs.uk/childhood-development-additional-needs/developmental-stages/development-milestones
  13. https://www.cambscommunityservices.nhs.uk/advice/staying-safe/childhood-development/milestones
  14. https://frimley-healthiertogether.nhs.uk/parentscarers/your-childs-development/communicating-talking-skills
  15. https://www.nhsinform.scot/ready-steady-baby/early-parenthood/getting-to-know-your-baby/your-baby-in-the-first-2-months#:~:text=At%202%20months%20old%20your,see%20if%20they%20copy%20you
  16. https://www.uhd.nhs.uk/uploads/about/docs/our_publications/patient_information_leaflets/Childrens_therapy/Childrens_physiotherapy/Normal_Development_2019-11.pdf

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