During their first three months as a newborn, a baby’s body and brain are getting acquainted to life outside their mother’s womb. “This is a time of adjustment for babies and getting used to a brand new world,” MHP Family Practice with Obstetrics Physician Dr. Lisa Ruckman said. “They are working on developing strength and adjusting to all the new sights and sounds around them.”
Usually within the first three months, babies will start to smile, track objects with their eyes, grip things, open and shut their hands and lift their heads while on their tummies. Babies may also start reaching for items like toys dangling near them, but their lack of coordination may not allow them to grab anything yet.
“Between four and six months, babies are starting to interact more with their world,” Dr. Ruckman explained. “They may begin to start rolling from their front to their backs, as well as sitting up straight with support. Their ability to grip and manipulate objects with their hands improves too. They are able to control their heads much better by this time. Babies often discover their voices at this age, which leads to lots of giggles and babbles!”
By seven to nine months of age, babies become very active. “Your child may start to crawl at this age, which can include scooting around on their bottoms, dragging themselves around on their tummies or regular crawling,” Dr. Ruckman shared. “Some babies may go straight from scooting to walking without ever crawling. They can also sit without support and may begin to pull themselves up into a standing position. Babies will also respond to familiar words like their name as well as clap and play games such as peek-a-boo.”
From nine to 12 months, drastic changes may occur. “Babies are not infants anymore once they get to this stage, but they are instead transitioning into toddlers,” Dr. Ruckman said. “However, they are still learning many different things about themselves and their world so still require the same love, attention and nurturing they always have.”
During this stage of development, Dr. Ruckman said, "Children between the ages of ten and twelve months may start feeding themselves small foods like cereal. Speech and walking may occur during this time, but each child varies greatly with these milestones, so don’t be alarmed if they aren’t quite ready for them yet.”
While these milestones are typical for most children, Dr. Ruckman urges parents to watch for progress, not deadlines. “Each child grows at their own pace, so don’t worry if your child isn’t at the same level as others their age. If you have concerns regarding their development, I encourage you to talk with your primary care provider during regular well-child check-ups.”
Dr. Lisa Ruckman is a Family Practice Physician also delivering babies at Mahaska Health Partnership in Oskaloosa. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Ruckman, call 641.672.3360.