Your Quick Guide To How Your Baby Should Develop

All children develop at different rates and there is really no such thing as a `normal' rate of development. Some geniuses started out in life rather slowly!

However, there are some fairly well-established stages and you should see your doctor for reassurance if your child hasn't reached the appropriate milestones at the ages listed below.

By the time he's 6 months old your baby should be able to:

* roll over by himself
* stand on his own legs if you support him and hold his hands or arms
* sit up (with a little help)
* hold up his head and look around
* stare at things and follow people with his eyes
* reach out for toys with one or both hands
* put things in his mouth
* move things from one hand to the other
* shake, bang and rattle (and destroy) things he's picked up
* look at himself in a mirror
* play (and enjoy) simple games such as peek-a-boo
* turn his head in the direction of a noise
* laugh, gurgle and make a variety of noises
* recognise when his mother is pleased or cross with him

By the time he is 9 months old your baby should be able to:

* sit without support
* try to crawl around
* pull himself up to a standing position
* walk if supported
* hold tightly onto objects (sometimes having difficulty in letting go)
* hunt for toys that are hidden
* wave goodbye
* clap his hands together
* appreciate what `no' means (though he won't necessarily obey)
* make sounds such as mama and dada which are comprehensible only to a select circle of adults
* make specific noises when he wants something
* try to feed himself

By the time he is 12 months old your baby should be able to:

* crawl around on his hands and knees
* walk (possibly rather hesitantly and uncertainly)
* bang two objects together (and enjoy the noise)
* pick up and put down small objects quite easily
* throw things (though probably not accurately)
* demonstrate affection to people he knows and likes
* play simple games
* respond when he hears his own name
* say two or three words
* talk cheerily to himself
* know what common household objects are used for

By the time he is 18 months old your baby should be able to:

* walk quite well, maybe even run
* walk upstairs with one hand held
* stoop to pick things up
* crawl backwards downstairs
* turn the pages of a book
* scribble with crayons
* build a tower of three building blocks
* say between 6 and 20 words
* occasionally understand things that are said to him
* explore his surroundings
* look at a picture book
* put things into boxes (and take them out again)
* take off his shoes and socks
* use a spoon
* use a cup
* have a tantrum and exhibit the first signs of bad temper


1. All newborn babies have a pug nose. The bridge of the nose isn't there at birth - it grows later - so babies have a small `button' nose.

2. Nearly all babies are born with blue or blue-grey eyes. Permanent eye colouration develops during the following months.

3. Newborn babies may cry a lot but they don't produce any tears. There is moisture to lubricate and clean the eyes but proper tears don't start to appear until the baby is between three and twelve weeks of age.

4. Any hair that is on your newborn baby's head will soon fall out - to be replaced by permanent hair (which may be of an entirely different colour) at about six months.

5. All newborn babies - even black ones - have a ruddy complexion. This is because their blood contains a high number of red blood cells.

6. Four out of ten babies are born with at least one birthmark.

7. The commonest day of the week for babies to be born is Tuesday. Fewer babies are born on Saturday or Sunday than on any other day of the week (though this may simply be because doctors and midwives don't like working weekends).

8. Babies have a strongly developed sense of smell. By the time he is one week old a baby can identify his mother by her smell.

9. Newborn babies are genetically programmed to respond to human voices - especially female voices. Babies learn to distinguish between different sounds very quickly.

10. Few babies have much of a sense of taste - though most prefer sweet tasting liquids.

11. Babies have very poor eyesight. Their eyes are focused on a spot about eight inches away - so you need to get really close if your baby is to see you clearly. Babies prefer looking at curved lines rather than straight lines.

12. Contrary to the old wives' tale, babies are not colour blind. They prefer strong primary colours - particularly red and blue.

13. The heart of a newborn baby beats between 130 and 160 times a minute (about twice that of a normal adult).

14. Babies breathe much faster than adults - 30 to 50 times a minute compared to an adult's 15 to 20 times a minute.

15. Babies often sneeze and snort in their sleep to clear their nasal passages. Only later on can babies breathe through their mouth if their nose is blocked. To minimise the problem keep the air in the home as clear and as smoke and dust free as possible.

16. Although babies get some immunity - and protection from infection - from their mothers, they are still very vulnerable to colds. Keep anyone with a cold away from your baby.

17. Babies have very small stomachs. An 8lb baby can get 3 ounces of milk into its stomach. It is the small size of its stomach that may explain why many babies will occasionally vomit. (But always get medical advice if a baby vomits.) Because they have small stomachs - the average stomach in the average baby is no bigger than the size of his fist! - babies need small feeds regularly (every three or four hours) rather than large feeds occasionally.

18. Nearly every newborn baby gets wind - and colic - that lasts for the first three months of its life.

19. Newborn babies spend between 15 and 20 hours a day sleeping - in bouts of sleep lasting 20 minutes to 5 hours.

20. In the first year of his life your baby will triple his weight, increase his length by 50%, double the size of his brain and create every nerve cell he will ever have.

21. Babies respond well to touch - which stimulates the production of growth-promoting hormones and helps the body become more responsive to these hormones. In one survey it was shown that premature babies who were touched regularly showed 47% more weight gain.

22. Babies are often nervous - even fearful - of new foods. To enable your baby to overcome his fears allow him to play with the food a little before eating it. You may be able to encourage a baby to try a new food by putting a small amount of food on his index finger and then gently guiding his index finger into his mouth.

23. If a baby suddenly starts to refuse a once favourite food it probably means that he is bored with it and would appreciate a little variation in his diet.

24. Teething can start when your baby is just three months old. 25. Babies sometimes need background noise to help them get to sleep (the womb is not the quietest place in the world). Some sounds that are known to relax and soothe babies include: a recording of their mother's heartbeat; the sound of a clock ticking; a recording of a stream, waterfall or sea; a vacuum cleaner; air bubbling through a fish tank; running water from a tap.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2003