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Babies' Physical Development from 0-6 Months

August 6, 2013 by HealthyFamilies BC

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baby laying on grass, hands held by parent

 

 

Babies go through incredible physical changes in a short time.  Here's what you can expect in terms of growth and development during the first six months. 


Starting from birth, your healthcare provider should measure your baby’s weight, length and head size on a regular basis.

These measurements are important for determining your baby’s growth. Your healthcare provider will use a chart to track your baby’s growth pattern.

Physical Milestones

 

Here are some of the physical development milestones
you can expect in the first six months:

First month:

  • weight may drop after birth but will be regained quickly
  • hand, arm, leg, and rooting movements are all reflex motions
  • head flops if not supported
  • focuses eyes at 18 to 45 cm
  • stares at high contrast patterns and objects but does not reach
  • recognizes mother’s voice
  • startles at noise

Second month:

  • muscles relax and twitch less
  • lifts head about 45 degrees while lying on tummy
  • hands start to unfold
  • may reach and grasp an object for a short time
  • eyes move in unison and can track close moving objects
  • may roll over one way

Third month:

  • stretches out arms and legs
  • rolls over from back to side
  • holds head up to search for sounds and movement
  • discovers feet and hands
  • holds objects longer
  • swipes with arms
  • briefly bears weight on legs
  • responds to detailed, high contrast objects
  • cuts first tooth (third to sixth month or later)

Fourth month:

  • stands up and holds weight with help
  • rolls from front to side
  • lifts head about 90 degrees
  • sits with arms propped
  • reaches for objects
  • holds hands together

Fifth month:

  • rolls over from front to back
  • grabs toes and feet
  • wiggles forward on floor
  • reaches with a good aim
  • transfers objects from hand to hand
Sixth month:
  • holds head steady
  • sits with back straight when propped
  • grasps small objects and studies them
  • rolls in both directions
  • understands that objects may be hiding behind one another

Did You Know?

From about two to three weeks of age, your baby will probably gain about 120-240 grams (four to eight ounces) per week until his or her birth weight doubles, usually by four to six months.

Play and Activity

Babies love to play - there's so much you can do to foster your baby's physical growth and development through play and activity:

  • Always supervise your baby to prevent falling.
  • Hold the things you want your baby to see close to her eyes so she can focus clearly.
  • Have lots of supervised tummy time on a mat so your baby can kick and move. Offer clean rattles and toys that your baby can feel and mouth.
  • Provide a variety of noisemaking toys and objects and place them within batting range.
  • Play in front of a mirror with your baby.
  • Create safe play spaces on the floor.
  • Take lots of walks with your baby in the fresh air.
  • Provide safe, clean, chewable toys.
  • Everything will go in your baby’s mouth - make sure objects are big enough that they cannot be swallowed.
  • Extend bath time so your baby can kick and squeal while you supervise. Never leave your baby alone in the bath.
  • Baby proof your home so that everything harmful is out of the way.

Growth

For more information about your baby’s growth and the growth charts, see the resource Is My Child Growing Well?

Tummy Time

Tummy time helps your baby learn to roll and crawl. It also helps prevent your baby from getting flat spots on the head. Read more about tummy time.

Physical Play and Activity

For more suggestions, see Leap BC’s guide Move with Me from Birth to Three. This trusted guide contains 40 fun filled activities to support your child’s development from birth to age three.


Resources & Links:
HealthLink BC: Physical Development, Ages 1 to 12 Months

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Topic

  1. Activity & Lifestyles
  2. Aging Well
  3. Pregnancy & Parenting
    1. Pregnancy & Birth
    2. Babies (0-12 months)
    3. Toddlers (12-36 months)
    4. Preschool (3-5 years)
    5. Children (6-11 years)
    6. Teens (12-18 years)
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