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In the first 12 months of your child’s life, your baby is learning and developing every day. During this time, they will reach many different milestones.

There are important times that you need to see a Child and Family Health Nurse to check that your child is developing well:  

  • 1-4 weeks 

  • 6-8 weeks 

  • 4 month immunisations 

  • 6 months 

  • 12 months 

  • 18 months 

  • 2 years, 3 years and 4 years 

Click here to find your local Child and Family Health Nurse.  

These milestones are reflected in how they play, learn, speak, behave and move. Your baby’s development can be looked at through five categories.  

  • Physical Development 

  • Social Development 

  • Emotional Development 

  • Cognitive Development 

  • Language Development 


It is important to remember that not every child will reach the same milestone at the same time.

Birth to 4 months

Developmental Area What most babies do at this age:
  • are startled by loud noises or when they are unwrapped. 

  • make sucking motions with their mouths when hungry and are seeking milk 

  • can hold their head up and begins to push up when lying on their tummy.  

  • can hold onto objects placed in their hand 

  • begins making smoother movements with their arms and leg  

  • responds to gentle touching, cuddling and rocking. 
  • begin to smile and laugh 

  • are alert and preoccupied with faces. Your baby can make eye contact with an

    adult approximately 20cm from their face.  

  • can move their head toward the sound of voices 

  • may sleep most of the day. 
  • cry when hungry or uncomfortable, and usually calms down when held 

  • shows excitement when a parent prepares to feed. 
  • their eyes can follow slow moving objects for a short length of time 

  • looks toward the direction of sound 

  • learn using their different senses (touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight). 
  • cries 

  • is soothed by sound of voice or low rhythmic sounds 

  • coos and makes gurgling sounds 

  • may begin copying sounds. 

Please seek advice from your GP, Paediatrician or

Child and Family Health Nurse if your child: 

  • is floppy (like a rag doll) or stiff with tight muscles 

  • arches their back or cries a lot 

  • doesn’t respond to sounds, familiar faces or when being played with 

  • doesn’t start making sounds. 

 4 - 8 months

Developmental Area What most babies do at this age:
  • try to sit alone, but needs support 

  • raises their head and chest when lying on stomach 
  • rolls from their back to their stomach 

  • reaches for and grasps objects 

  • can take weight on feet while standing (with support) 

  • makes crawling movements while lying on their stomach 

  • turn their head to the sound of voices  

  • watches activities from across the room and their eyes move together. 

  • reacts with excitement or attention when around other babies or young children 

  • respond to their own name 

  • recognises familiar people and stretches arms out to be picked up. 

  • may become more settled in eating and sleeping patterns 

  • begin laughing in social interactions 

  • may self sooth with a dummy or thumb when they are tired or upset 

  • may become distressed when a parent leaves the room 

  • shows excitement at familiar faces. 

  • swipes at hanging objects 

  • can shake and stare at toys in their hands 

  • begins to pass things from one hand to the other 

  • becomes bored if left alone for too long 

  • enjoy games such as peek-a-boo  

  • begin to develop preferences for foods 

  • explores objects with their mouth. 

  • babbles and repeats sound 

  • makes talking sounds in response to others talking 

  • smiles and babbles at themselves in a mirror. 

Please seek advice from your GP, Paediatrician or

Child and Family Health Nurse if your child: 

  • doesn’t respond to carers or familiar faces 

  • doesn’t roll in either direction 

  • doesn’t play with their feet or swap objects between hands 

  • doesn’t babble or make squealing sounds.

8-12 months

Developmental Area What most babies do at this age:
  • pull themselves into a standing position when hands are held or holding onto furniture 

  • successfully reaches and grasps toys/objects 

  • can pick up and throw small objects 

  • can hold food or a bottle 

  • uses their hands to feed self 

  • are crawling. 

  • show anxiety or wariness of strangers 

  • hands you a book when they want to hear a story 

  • repeats sounds and actions to get attention. 

  • show anxiety or stress if a parent leaves the room 

  • may offer a toy to an adult, but they do not release it 

  • actively looks to be next to parent or caregiver. 

  • can move an obstacle to get to a desired toy 

  • responds to their own name 

  • points to something they want 

  • shows interest in picture books 

  • can clap hands or bang two things together 

  • enjoy sound making toys and music 

  • notice when things change and shows surprise. 

  • says words like ‘dada’ or ‘mama’- uses simple gestures, like shaking head “no” or waving “bye bye” 

  • shouts to attract attention 

  • responds to simple spoken requests 

  • makes sounds with changes in tone (sounds like speech). 

Please seek advice from your GP, Paediatrician or

Child and Family Health Nurse if your child: 

  • doesn’t respond to carers 

  • doesn’t crawl 

  • can’t stand when supported- doesn’t say single words like “mama” or dada” 

  • doesn’t learn gestures like waving or shaking head 

  • doesn’t point to things 

  • loses skills he/she once had.

For more detailed information on the developmental milestones in your child’s first 12 months, see Pregnancy, Birth & Baby. You can also refer to your “Blue Book”, which has valuable information about your child’s health and development. There is also translated versions of this book available here.  

Blue Book

Related Articles: 

Baby's First Steps (8-12 months) 

Play Ideas

Tummy Time and Starting to Move (0-8 months)

[Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 2021; Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority, 2011; Pregnancy, Birth and Baby, 2020.]