Your baby's first year

Here's what's happening developmentally from birth to your baby's first birthday ― featuring photographer Kathleen Finlay's baby Matias and quotes from our readers

Month 1

Newborn babies curl up, recreating their position in the womb. The close confinement of the last month of pregnancy actually tightens up their ligaments, so lying stretched out does not come easily at first. While still “unfinished” and utterly helpless, a baby is born with some powerful survival skills: the rooting and sucking reflex, the ability to turn his head away from an object blocking his airways, a fascination with faces (despite his blurry vision) that helps cement the bond with his special people and, above all, a powerful, galvanizing cry.

“I loved the very first sigh. It was like she knew she was safe in my arms.”  Kurin Riopel

Month 2

A two-month-old is more aware of  uncomfortable sensations, so he cries more. Most babies’ crying peaks between six and eight weeks. But you’ll also see his first true smile: not the fleeting, accidental smile of a newborn, but a beaming smile of pleasure.

“My eldest was a very solemn baby and broke into her first smile on my first Mother’s Day at exactly two months old.” – Tracy Chappell

Month 3

A three-month-old baby is already so different from her newborn self. Her body has relaxed and her hands have opened — the better to swipe at toys, my dear! She kicks and reaches vigorously and can hold her head up when on her stomach.

“Her first laugh was at some silly sounds my husband would make. There is no better
sound than her laugh.” – Andrée Raymond

Month 4

Being able to hang onto a toy brings wonderful new possibilities. Now he can explore objects with his hands and mouth, as well as eyes. This is one of babyhood’s “golden ages” — most four-month-olds are passionately in love with you but not yet standoffish with strangers, and eager to explore the world but not yet mobile enough to “get into everything.”

Month 5

She can reach out and grab something with one hand now, with pretty good aim, and if she’s had plenty of tummy time, can probably do a baby “pushup,” holding the front half of her body off the ground. If you haven’t already, it’s time
to babyproof!

“At five months, my daughter started to roll over. My eyes were full of tears — I was such a proud mommy.” – Sara Stewart

Month 6

Once a baby learns to pull his knees under his body, mobility has arrived! He may not master a true crawl for a few more months, but you can never again count on him being just where you left him. Another big milestone: solid food. Most babies are showing a lot of interest in their family’s food, watching intently as it moves from plate to mouth and even smacking their lips in imitation.

“When I go in after nap time, my son goes up on his hands and knees, and looks at me with the biggest smile on his face. It melts my heart every time.” – Allison Sewell

Month 7

Are there two little teeth under that sucked-in lip? By now, most babies have their two bottom front teeth, followed by two on top. Many seven-month-olds can transfer a toy from one hand to the other, pick up a second, and bang them together. And — how cool is this? — they know their own name and look up when you call.

“I love watching my twin’s reactions when they try new foods. Introducing solids has been so much fun!” – Barbara Prud’homme

Month 8

Where are you going? I’m coming with you! Two key things have happened: She can now get herself where she wants to go; and she’s grasped the concept of object permanence. Now she realizes that when Mom or Dad disappear from sight, they are still somewhere. But here’s the rub: separation anxiety. It can be a bit stifling, but it just means that your baby really, really loves you! In time, she’ll learn that you always come back and saying goodbye will be easier.

“He had a real determination about him. When he wanted to crawl, he started that rocking back and forth and then took off.” – Kathleen Finlay

Month 9

Once he can stand (with help), sometimes that’s all he wants to do! (Some babies wake themselves up at night pulling themselves up on the crib rails.) He will understand a few words now and his  babbling sounds more like true language. He may have developed the oh-so-useful “pincer grip,” and can pick up tiny objects between thumb and forefinger. Watch also for an emerging ability to voluntarily let go of things. Once he discovers this, you can expect to spend lots of time retrieving dropped (and then thrown) objects!

“The first year — are you even supposed to remember that time?” – Monique Ganon

Month 10

Some babies are hard at work on getting vertical, while others won’t stand unsupported until well past their first birthday. There’s no particular advantage to being “early” and no reason to try to push your child ahead. Just enjoy and encourage your baby where he is right now.

“My 10-month old has started blowing kisses — a little drool-covered hand flapping in front of a big open mouthed kiss — it makes me give her a bunch of smooches every time!” – Heather Pope

Month 11

On the verge of walking, on the verge of talking, on the verge of eating “big people” food — the world is opening up for the nearly one-year-old. She may already say “Mama,” “Dada” or a sibling’s name. She has probably made the fascinating discovery that small things can fit inside bigger things: filling, dumping and pouring will be a favourite activity for months to come.

“I knew the first year of colic and chronic ear infections was almost over and there was hope of better sleep on the horizon.” – Mary Nersessian Sagharian

Happy Birthday!

In 12 short months, a tiny, helpless newborn has tranformed into this busy, bright toddler. Look at all he can do: He can pull himself to a stand (and sit back down without crashing) crawl up stairs (or up onto the kitchen table if you’re not careful), feed himself, stack and throw and drop his toys, imitate sounds and gestures, understand several words (and maybe say a couple). He’s come a long way. And just wait till you see what he gets up to next year!

“For my first son I made this elaborate birthday cake. But with Matias, we just had carrot
cupcakes and left it at that. He loved it!” – Kathleen Finlay