Muscle development starts with the head and neck, and moves down the torso, through the legs to the feet. As your baby’s neck muscles become strong enough to hold up her head, she’ll try to roll over and then sit up. From there, she’s ready to start cruising along furniture and, eventually, walk. What can take mere minutes in the animal kingdom—a foal often stands within an hour of being born—can require between 10 and 14 months (or longer) to develop in humans.
What to watch for
Controlling head and neck (three to eight months): After weeks and weeks of supporting your baby’s neck while holding him, around the three-month mark you’ll notice that he’s able to do it himself, as well as raise his head and chest when lying on his stomach.
And while we gush about walking, the skill of rolling over is a crucial one to tune in to. Just as I was loving the momentary freedom of being able to put my son down in the middle of a bed or couch to fetch something (like those socks!), he was working on rolling over. No parent wants that first roll to include a plop to the floor, so keep an eye out. While most babies can roll over from front to back and vice versa by eight months, this skill can develop sooner. By the age of six or seven months, he’ll also likely be sitting up by himself and even supporting his weight on his legs with a little help from you.
A version of this article appeared in our March 2016 issue with the headline, “A really big year,” p. 55.