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How your baby grows

Your baby develops at a wondrous rate, particularly in the first 12 months while learning loads of skills and experiencing many physical changes. These growth and developmental achievements are called 'milestones'.

Milestones provide parents with guidance on some typical skills and abilities their baby may acquire by a certain age such as rolling over, smiling or sitting up. It's important to know that each baby is unique and will develop at a different rate. Some babies will miss certain milestones all together, such as crawling. Resist the urge to compare your child to others as this will only put unnecessary pressure on you both.

Developmental milestones are grouped by the body parts they refer to:

  • Gross motor skills are the coordination and control of large muscles and refer to skills such as sitting, walking and running.
  • Fine motor skills are the coordination and control of small muscles in the hand, fingers and arm and refer to skills such as picking up blocks, holding and shaking a rattle or transferring objects from one hand to another.
  • Vision is your baby's ability to see near and far and interpret what she or he sees.
  • Hearing is the ability to hear, listen to and interpret sounds and language.
  • Speech is the ability to produce sounds that will later form words.
  • Social and emotional behaviour and understanding is the ability to learn and interact with others and includes the skills needed for playing, connecting and communicating.

Recognising development problems

If your baby is eating and sleeping well and seems mostly happy when awake, she or he is likely to be developing well. You know your baby best, and your gut instinct will tell you more than any parenting book or milestone list ever will.

However, if you see any of the following signs in your baby, talk to your GP or child and family health nurse.

Seek help if your baby:

  • doesn’t look at you
  • has white or cloudy pupils, doesn’t seem to see objects or there’s something about his eyes that bothers you
  • doesn’t consistently respond to noises and sounds
  • doesn’t move or use both arms and/or legs
  • doesn’t show any interest in what’s going on around her
  • cannot hold his head up after he’s reached 3 to 4-months-old
  • after 3-4 months is persistently crying for more than 3 hours a day
  • by 9 months isn’t babbling
  • by 18 months isn't using up to 5 words
  • isn’t sitting well by 10 months
  • resists bearing his own weight by 12 months.

From birth to teenagers

Development continues well beyond the baby and toddler years. This checklist gives an overview of the major developmental areas from newborn to teenagers and is a great tool you can adapt to your own circumstances.

It's important, however, to remember that just like babies, children and teens are individuals who will develop at different rates depending on a range of factors.

Are you concerned about your child?
Parent Line NSW provides free support, information, referral and counselling for parents and carers of children aged 0-18 years in New South Wales.

Parent Line NSW
1300 1300 52
Available on weekdays 9am to 9pm, weekends 4pm to 9pm (cost of a local call from any landline in NSW)

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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019