Know and meet your baby’s milestones


By Lea Brink

Your baby’s development in the first 100 days is of the utmost importance. This is decisive for later growth and development and that is why it is so important that they reach their necessary milestones.

Let’s take a quick look at how your baby should develop in the first year of his/her life. Note, it is not a foregone conclusion that all children will reach all these milestones on time because each child is unique. This is therefore just a short guide to give an indication of what can be more or less expected.

In the first three months, your baby will start to identify smells, hold their head up for short periods of time, smile at others, try to look at you when you talk, babble and suck their thumbs to soothe themselves.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) says that in the fourth month children will begin to smile spontaneously, try to imitate your facial expression and movements and start to like playing with others. Their hands and eyes will begin to work together, they respond to love and petting, they also bring their hands to their mouths, roll onto their backs from their stomachs, and shake a toy they are holding.

However, parents should pay attention if at this stage their children cannot move one or both of their eyes in any direction, do not smile, do not bring their hands to their mouth, cannot hold their head firmly and do not make sounds.

The baby expert Colleen de Bellefonds writes on the BabyCenter website that babies start to sit upright at five months if they are supported by pillows. They also begin to pick up and move objects with their hands and understand cause and effect such as the sound something makes when it falls to the ground.

“At five months, your baby probably likes to play a lot. And the great thing is that it helps them learn, boosts their senses and builds their skills,” says parenting author Chaunie Brusie.

At six months, your baby will enjoy playing with you and others, distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar faces, and enjoy looking at themselves in the mirror. They will also verbally imitate sounds, recognize and respond to their name, and make sounds to show positive and negative emotions. Very important is that they now start to get curious and want to look at toys up close. They will also exchange objects between their hands. They also then begin to sit unsupported, roll over in both directions, and rock back and forth.

Unicef ​​says parents should pay attention if their baby does not laugh at this stage, does not respond to nearby sounds, has difficulty putting something in their mouth, appears too mushy or stiff, does not want to grab nearby objects or roll over in any direction.

According to De Bellefonds, at seven months babies should be able to reach for something with one hand, detect objects from far away, respond to emotion in your voice, and use a “rake” movement to move small objects. At eight months, they begin to become more dexterous in passing objects between their hands, can begin to crawl and learn to stand up, and chatter very briskly.

Nine-month-old babies will begin to pick up objects with their thumb and index finger, put things in their mouths, and watch objects as they fall. However, parents should watch if their babies do not look where you point, do not respond to their names, do not babble, do not recognize familiar faces or can pass toys between their hands.

At 10 and 11 months, babies will begin to experiment with toys, point to things they want, understand more words, and use basic gestures such as waving when saying goodbye.

After a year, your baby should start to imitate gestures and movements, banging objects together, looking at the right object when you name it, and putting and taking out objects in containers. They can also typically now take a few steps without support, take a sitting position without support, and walk while holding on to furniture.

Parents should pay attention at this stage if their babies can’t crawl, can’t point to things, can’t say simple words, or can’t stand without support.

A place like Pinkvoet Pret helps your baby to reach and even surpass his or her milestones in a comfortable and safe African environment through various types of exercises and play. It’s much more cost-effective and less stressful than trying to catch up later through therapy or other means.

  • Lea Brink is the owner of Pienkvoet Pret Paarl.