I remember the day that my son Timothy rolled from his back to his tummy for the very first time. To me, it was a complete mom fail. I was at the lab for my glucose tolerance test; a follow up for gestational diabetes. I received a text message from my husband, who was at home watching our boys. The text explained that Timothy had rolled from his back to his tummy, all by himself. I felt deflated. I hardly ever left the boys, and the one time that I did, I missed a huge milestone. Milestones become a huge part of our days and weeks when we have babies. It’s exciting to watch our little ones achieve important milestones. It can cause us lots of worry to overthink them and if our babies are achieving them. Milestones can also cause problems with sleep.
One to Two Months
Up to this point your baby will have been doing very little aside from eating, sleeping, pooping, and peeing. By one to two months your baby may be able to lift and hold their head up, making tummy time a bit more exciting. They might be able to follow moving objects and become more alert to verbal response. They also may be able to recognize their parents, engage in vocalizations and spontaneously smile.
Three to Five Months
This is such a fun phase when your baby will become more interactive (hence the 4 month sleep regression). By three to five months your baby may be able to grasp small objects, reach and bring objects towards themselves, and make more sounds. They may be able to sit with support, roll from back to side, and giggle. They become more engaging during this stage.
Six to Eight Months
During this stage your baby may get moving more (hence the 8 month sleep regression). They may be able to sit alone for short periods and roll back and forth from back to tummy. They may also be able to babble and initiate bye-bye. They also may be able to pass objects from one hand to another. In this stage your baby may begin crawling; time to baby proof!
Nine to Eleven Months
During this stage, your baby may keep you very busy! They may be moving around a lot more, standing while holding onto furniture, and walking while holding onto furniture. They may be able to initiate fun games like pat-a-cake or peek-a-boo. They may also be able to pick up small objects, like cereal and berries during meals and snacks. During this stage, think safety. They can be fast and tend to put lots of objects into their mouths.
During this stage, your little one will be busy and learning lots every day. Around one year, your little one may be walking independently. They may also be saying 1-2 words, pointing to desired objects, and saying Mama and Dada. They may also be quite good at picking up small objects and putting one object into another object. By one year of age, your little one will really be developing their own little personality, likes and dislikes, and expressing themselves more.
Milestones can help parents build confidence that their child is developing “normally”; however, milestones are a general and broad measurement. As parents we should be excited as our little ones master new skills! As a health care professional, we do not just look at one or two milestones, we look at the big picture; measurements, eating, sleeping, and development. Milestones are only a small part of our assessment of you little one.
As a parent, try not to compare your baby to other babies. Every baby is different, some will excel at the fine motor skills, while others will master the gross motor skills. Your friend’s baby may be walking before yours, but your baby may be able to pick up all the Cheerios on their tray. Comparing can lead to lots of unnecessary worry. Your child’s physician may track their development; if you’re worried, ask lots of questions to gain some reassurance.
Sleep disturbances are common while your little one is mastering milestones. Babies who are learning new skills tend to have more night wakings and may struggle with being overtired. If your baby is experiencing a sleep disturbance, ask yourself if they are learning a new skill. Rolling, crawling, verbalization, walking? If that is the culprit, practice, practice, practice during daytime hours.
Most sleep regressions are due to a developmental milestone and most only last a week or two. If you ever need help getting sleep back on track, reach out to a Mama Coach in your area.