Growth and Development during the First Year of Life


During this very important first year babies grow dramatically, not only physically in weight and height, but developmentally. By the end of the first year of life, your helpless and dependent infant will have developed into a little person eagerly demonstrating their independence through a number of skills.



From Birth to Six Months

Your infant should:

Social Skills:

  • be starting to smile
  • imitate facial expressions
  • mimic sounds
  • babble, coo, gurgle


Emotional Development:

  • begin to self soothe after crying
  • be able to express various emotions eg. anger, sadness, happiness
  • be developing a sense of  love and trust with caregiver(s)


Fine Motor Skills:

  • put toys in their mouth
  • reach for objects
  • hold toys
  • bat at toys/mobiles
  • bang toys together
  • throw toys


Gross Motor Skills:

  • lift head
  • kick their legs
  • roll over
  • sit with support
  • begin to crawl
  • likes to bounce with support


Sensory Skills:

  • like to examine and feel different textures/toys
  • look for dropped toy
  • love to hear music, listen to voices and different sounds
  • like to look at faces, pictures and bright colours
  • enjoy being cuddled, stroked and massaged


Activities to Try

Lay baby on their side and practice rolling over onto their back

Show baby their image in a mirror

Put brightly coloured socks on baby's feet

Talk to baby and imitate the sounds that they make

Move baby's legs in a gently bicycle motion

Give baby rattles and toys that they can hold onto

Sing to baby

Hide toys under a blanket and have baby look for them

Read to baby

Play peek-a-boo

Place baby on tummy and work for toy slightly out of reach

Practice sitting for short periods of time


Toys for the First 6 Months


Squeaky toys

Rattles, Bells

Brightly coloured blankets

Hand puppets

Cradle gym

Bath toys


Plastic measuring spoons

Building blocks





From Six Months to One Year

Your infant should:


Social Skills:

  • be learning to finger feed
  • drink from a cup
  • imitate others actions
  • say "mama" "dada"
  • indicate needs using gestures
  • understand simple commands
  • play along side another child


Emotional Development:

  • be very curious about their environment
  • start to have mood swings and temper tantrums
  • object when can not have their own way
  • loving but tend to be self centered in their view of the world
  • show separation anxiety when caregiver leaves


Fine Motor Skills:

  • grasp objects with thumb and fore finger
  • hold two objects at the same time
  • drop and pick up objects
  • can push  pull and throw objects


Gross Motor Skills:

  • sit unassisted
  • pull to standing position
  • walk holding onto furniture
  • move from lying to sitting position
  • crawls well

Activities to Try

Read to baby

Give appropriate finger foods to eat

Play peek-a-boo and patty-cake

Dance with baby to different kinds of music

Encourage floor play

Sing, play music and do nursery rhymes with your baby

Let baby hold a spoon while feeding him

Play hiding games

Roll a ball back and forth with baby

Play piggyback game


Toys for 6-12 months old

empty boxes and plastic containers of different sizes

pounding boards and pegs

stacking toys


textured books

pull and push toys


pots and pans

unbreakable mirror

bath toys

simple puzzles




For more information visit the following websites:


Also, if you receive the Let’s Grow packages in the mail, refer them for more information.  To subscribe, visit the Let’s Grow section of our website.





Invest in Kids "A Resource Kit for a Child's First Five Years, Invest in Kids Foundation.

What to Expect in the First Year,  Eisenberg, Murkoff and Hathaway, Workman Publishing, New York, 1991

"Nobody's Perfect" Health & Welfare Canada.




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