Is your baby developing normally?

Written by Dr John Pillinger, GP

Month one
After the birth your baby exhibits a number of primitive reflexes. Parents will soon be familiar with the rooting reflex, when the infant will turn its cheek toward touch. Their child will display a tendency to suck objects placed near their mouth and to grasp hold of things. abies are able to respond to sound and can locate a face close in front of them and follow it around. They start to recognise those around them and begin to show a preference for their mother. They are able to move their head to the side when placed down on their stomach and, by three wee!s, are able to shoot forwards and so shouldn"t be left alone on a bed or settee.

Month two
The moment every doting parent has been waiting for # the first smile$ The grasp reflex gives way to more purposeful reaching and slapping at ob%ects passing within vision.

Month three
y this stage babies are now becoming &uite sociable and smile when spo!en to. Their eyes will follow moving ob%ects and search for sounds. 'oos and chuc!les resound and they will actively hold ob%ects placed in their hand. Great entertainment can be achieved with the help of a mirror. They are able to roll from front to bac!, and when lying on their stomach they can lift their heads up and !eep it there for a short time.

Month four
(nitially, babies can hold ob%ects, but will be reluctant to let go. )verything goes to the mouth and is chewed mercilessly. They will laugh and !ic! their legs. Their vision may have developed sufficiently to see across the room. (f you support them in an upright position, they will be able to see around more easily.

Month five
Tic!ling brings s&ueals of delight, and there"s no lag of the head, when your baby is pulled up gently to a sitting position from lying down. They have discovered their hands and play with their fingers. abies are now able to roll front to bac! and bac! to front.

Month six
abies can now sit with assistance, and by nine months should be able to sit unsupported. They will "chat" away to their toys spontaneously and learn to pass ob%ects from hand to hand.

Month seven
*ne of the more irritating behaviours develops # banging the table repeatedly with a toy or spoon. +hen placed on their stomach, babies can pivot right around in a circle. They recognise their mother as important and others as strangers. (f a stranger approaches, they may cry out and mum can misinterpret this, unless aware of the possibility. ,erbally, vowel sounds are produced in abundance.

Month eight
-ow it"s the turn of consonant sounds .da, ba, !a/ to flow, much to dad"s delight$

Month nine
A number of important things are going to happen around this time, all relating to mobility and ability. 0our baby will be starting to crawl or may bottom shuffle. The latter group literally shuffle around on their bottoms to get from place to place and tend to wal! later than the crawlers. They can pull themselves up to standing and can maintain this position supported. 1oon they will be off and re&uire a good deal more in the way of supervision than previously. They learn the all2important human ability to oppose the thumb and index finger, increasing their dexterity. -ow more than ever, home safety is paramount. 3ather than saying no to them the whole time, you"ll find they are easily distracted by an acceptable alternative activity. 1eparation anxiety may occur, with baby crying when you leave the room at night. edtime can subse&uently become a problem, though games of hide and see! can help them to ad%ust to being separated from mum.

10 to 1 months
0our baby will have usually progressed to being able to wal! without the help of furniture, holding onto to an adult, both hands at first and then one.

Playing "pat2a2ca!e" and waving "bye2bye" becomes the norm. They can explore their environment with the aid of a pedal car and develop the annoying habit of holding out a toy without releasing it, despite understanding "give it to me". They respond to their name and can stand on their own two feet for the first time. Despite this new2found independence, they are &uite clingy and still wary of strangers. 4sually babies says two words by now, most often mama and dada. "5inger foods" are self2administered, so stand well bac! and don"t forget to ta!e the clip2on seat out when you go shopping. -ow could be the time to offer the feeder cup and wean them off the bottle.

1! to 1" months
6ave your stair2gate in place because your baby is able to climb the wooden hill. Their vocabulary is growing slowly and words are readily imitated, so watch your language$ y now they can show a whole range of human emotions and attract your attention by s&uealing. 5eeding progresses messily. 0ou"ll need a ready supply of clean spoons. They can build a tower of two bloc!s.

1# to 1$ months
0our baby is in training for a future *lympics and runs rather stiffly. 3eins are essential. Their vocabulary is now into double figures. The tower bloc! is growing to three or even four storeys and teddy gets an affectionate hug, if he"s luc!y. +atch out # temper tantrums about. 0our baby often wants things their own way and may not ta!e !indly to a change of agenda. They will exert their independence and become possessive of their toys. 0ou will need to control your baby"s environment, if only to avoid redecorating the house, and your favourite chair is no longer sacred. The stairs can now be managed wal!ing holding onto your hand.

1% to & months
5alling over becomes less fre&uent, and your baby becomes even more adventurous # being able to wal! up and down stairs, one at a time.

ut they are beginning to appreciate how relatively small they are compared to everything else, and this may become associated with certain fears. 3outines and clear boundaries are very reassuring. Play may include throwing and !ic!ing a ball. 0our baby may follow you around imitating household tas!s because they love to mimic others at this age. Turning a door!nob is now within their grasp # so you may wish to put a loc! on rooms you rather they didn"t venture into unsupervised. 7eal times become a little more orderly as finer control of muscle movement occurs. Despite this, art is %ust one large circular scribble and the tower bloc! is now six storeys high. At last they can help you to undress them at bedtime and can turn the pages in their storyboo!, following the pictures. 0our baby is !een to relate immediate experiences to you and their vocabulary is now as large as 89 words and is expanding rapidly. They can say at least two words together and can often use three words to form a phrase, eg "( love Daddy".

'o when should you go to your doctor?
0ou should be concerned at any age if:
• • • •

you suspect your child is not seeing or hearing well your child responds inconsistently to loud sounds or conversational speech or appears to hear sounds only if they come from one side or the other your child seems to lose his or her ability to babble or to say words over time your child doesn"t follow moving ob%ects with their eyes within the first few months of life, if you notice an eye that consistently crosses or turns out, or if you notice persistent s&uinting, head2tilting, eye2rubbing or tripping over or wal!ing into ob%ects you notice that baby feels especially stiff or floppy, or if baby often arches his or her bac!, completely resists lying on his or her stomach or seems not to cuddle.

0ou should see! advice from your doctor or health visitor if your child:
• • • •

does not sit by age one or wal! by ;< months does not say several single words by age one or combine words by age two mostly bangs or mouths toys instead of playing in other ways by age two cannot sustain attention to a toy for five minutes by age two.

(he review programme
0our health visitor and=or doctor will usually carry out developmental reviews of your child. The aim is to spot any problem as early as possible, so that any necessary action can be ta!en. Therefore, even if you feel all is well, it"s worthwhile attending when invited.

The reviews usually ta!e place when your child is six to eight wee!s old and then at ;< to >? months old.