Milestones form the basis of many parents' conversations during the first year of baby's life, from discussions with family members to check-ups at the pediatrician to casual chats in the checkout line. Rolling over, sitting up, eating solids, crawling -- there is so much for a baby to learn. Should the expectations be different for boys and girls?
The Short Answer
While the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests assessing preemie milestones differently than full-term baby milestones, it has no such provisions for girls vs. boys. In other words, both your daughter and your son should smile at 8 weeks or stand alone by 12 months. There are no official milestone checklists that separate expectations by gender.
Studies show that there are no differences in infant boys' and girls' motor and language abilities. While infant boys may tend to be more active, they are not inherently more skilled. The differences in abilities, with girls picking up language faster and boys picking up physical skills faster, do not happen until after children are 12 months old.
Physical Milestones in the First Year
So what milestones should you expect to see from children in the first year? Physically, little ones go from not being able to hold their heads up to standing by themselves. At around 2 months, babies can hold objects in their hands and hold their heads up when they're on their tummies. At 4 months, they can bring their hands together and bring them to their mouths, push themselves up with their arms when they're on their tummies, and reach for objects. Just two months later, they'll be able to sit up by themselves, roll over, and transfer objects from one hand to another. A 9-month-old will pull up to a standing position, crawl, and pick up things with a thumb and forefinger. Around the first birthday, babies will stand on their own, feed themselves and possibly even take a few steps.
Communication Milestones in the First Year
Language is another area in which there are many milestones during the first year. A 2-month-old, for example, should respond to sounds, cry to express wants, and make cooing noises. In the next two months, babies will turn their heads to listen to voices and be able to laugh. When they're 6 months old, they'll babble by putting two sounds together, like "ba" or "da," and respond to their names. Your expectations at 9 months should include imitating sounds and movements, responding to short phrases, and babbling in a way that sounds more like words. By 1 year old, newly minted toddlers should be able to say a few words, hand you an object when you ask for it and combine sounds with movements.
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