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Is My Baby Developing Normally? Advice for New Parents

By Geri Fox, M.D.

Along with the delight of seeing your baby grow and develop new skills, every parent experiences anxiety. You watch and wonder, “Is my baby developing normally?” You may be looking at a list of developmental milestones, and worrying whether or not your baby is coming along okay.

In order to think about this question, it will help to consider the four different commonly accepted definitions of “normality”.

DEFINITIONS OF NORMALITY

Normality as Health:
This is the traditional medical perspective. Your baby is normal if he is “not sick”; if he has no signs or symptoms of illness or medical syndromes.

 In order to monitor effectively, here is a general list of milestones. Please remember that all milestones below have been simplified to provide easy “mental markers;” however, there is a wide variation of normal range that is not indicated below, but must be taken into account.

In the first month, your baby is likely to:

Language: have different vocalizations for pain, hunger, and pleasure.
Motor: lift her head while prone. Her hands are mostly in fists.
Social: focus on an object and follow it for a bit with her eyes.

At 3 months, your baby is likely to:

Language: respond differentially to his caretaker's voice; babble; respond to singing
Motor: hold his head up 90 degrees (from prone position). He is beginning to put his hands together, and to bat at objects. He is just beginning to bring objects to his mouth, but he does not yet have a refined grasp.
Social: spontaneously smile at you.

At 6 months, your baby is likely to:

Language: start saying nonspecific “bababa” and “dadada”, and produce one or more vowel sounds.
Motor: roll over from stomach to back. She can bear some weight on her legs, push up on extended arms in a prone position, pull to sit without head lag, and sit with support. She easily reaches for objects. She should be actively using her thumb rather than having it tucked into her palm. She can rake a Cheerio with her fingers and get it into her mouth, but doesn’t have a pincer grasp yet. She enjoys exploring objects in her environment with her eyes, hands, and mouth.