How Children Develop: The First Year

By Jason B Teitelman

Having a new baby is a joy and a wonder. It can also be a headache and quite sleep-depriving. You'll have many ups and downs during the first year of your child's development, but knowing what to expect will smooth over any problems that might arise.
The more time you can spend with you baby at this point the better they'll be. Talk to them constantly and tell as many stories as you can. A life-long enjoyment of reading will develop if you get into a regular bedtime story routine. They might not understand everything, but they'll enjoy it nonetheless.
Nutrition is also important for a growing child, so make sure you're feeding your baby the healthiest foods possible. The better they're eating, the better they'll grow. And don't neglect sleep: babies need a lot of it and you'll need it as well with all the waking up they'll do at night, usually every three hours.
Here are some of the major milestones you'll experience during the first year of your child's development:
3 Months
During the first 3 months of your child's life you'll see a lot. It's an exciting time for you and your child, but also an exhausting one as well. Make sure everyone's getting plenty of sleep.
  1. Babies will begin smiling within the first few days or weeks of being born;
  2. They'll begin to recognize your voice before they recognize your face;
  3. The ability to push themselves up with their arms will come;
  4. Babies can begin to lift and even hold their heads up during this time;
  5. Trust begins to form for you or anyone else caring for your baby.
6 Months
Your baby is coming into their own and the world around them is becoming much more clear. Talk as much as you can with your baby at this point so language skills begin to take hold early.
  1. Your baby's eyes will be able to focus in on things more clearly at this point;
  2. Hand-eye coordination begins to develop at a faster pace and babies become more coordinated;
  3. More sounds will be uttered and the first form of talking will develop through babbling;
  4. Babies can begin to sit up during this time and they'll be able to support themselves;
  5. Rolling over will become more common, so make sure that bed or crib is safe;
  6. Smiling and laughing will all happen with more frequency;
  7. You'll see your baby calm down more often after getting fussy or upset.
9 Months
Your baby is moving about a lot more. While they're not quite able to walk just yet you'll see them pushing themselves up into sitting positions and crawling about a lot more.
  1. Babies will begin to rely more on eye contact to let their needs be known, down from the more physical contact that was needed before;
  2. More sounds will be heard and you'll start to notice distinct syllables as communication heads to a higher-level;
  3. Babies at this age can sit on their own and they'll be able to reach around themselves for toys or objects without falling over;
  4. Trust goes to a higher level, and new and unknown people may startle them or cause them to become uneasy;
  5. Frustration also goes to the next stage, and you'll see your child become more agitated when things don't go their way or when they don't get what they want.
12 Months
Get ready to start running about; your child will start to take their first steps at this point, although it'll be earlier for girls than for boys. Enjoy these last few months; after this you'll be racing to catch up!
  1. Words like 'mom' and 'dad' come about in some variation or other;
  2. Distances can be judged better as spatial skills develop further;
  3. Your child will begin to push themselves up to stand, although more falls will occur than stands;
  4. The first steps will start to happen at this time;
  5. Emotions come into a much fuller range, and you'll see things like anger and fear develop, but also happiness as well.