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First year: Is your baby on the right Track?

Check out these major first-year milestones
by: Nancy Ripton
Baby Development
• A newborn can only see things between nine and 14 inches away.

• Between four and six months is a huge time of social growth for your child

 • By six months, your baby shouldn't be sedentary for more than an hour at a time when awake.

• Talking to your baby is one of the best ways to encourage development.

• By one year, your baby will understand simple words, including his name. oes your baby blow you away with how fast he’s learning to do cool stuff, like hold his head up by himself?

Milestones are developmental stages that (usually) happen naturally. Here are the main ones to watch for – and what you can do to help your baby master them.
1. Developmental Milestone: Sight At birth, your baby can only see things between nine and 14 inches away. By one month, vision increases to one to two feet and, by three months, a baby can see objects between six and eight feet away. To test his vision, see if he gazes at you and seems interested in your face. And check if he can track an object from side-to-side. You can help your baby with the tracking skill by holding a bright object eight to 10 inches in front of his face. Slowly move it back and forth to encourage him to follow it with his eyes.

2. Developmental Milestone: Neck strength Is your baby strong enough to hold his head high? Tummy time can help build neck strength in the early months. Aim for two or more short sessions a day until he gets comfortable with the idea. They don’t have to be too long–even two or three minutes will help. Getting down on the floor and distracting him can make it more fun, or try laying him on your tummy so you can be face-to-face. Once your child is pushing up on his hands while on his tummy and sitting with support, crawling isn't far off, says Dr. Carol Cooper, author of Baby Milestones.

3. Developmental Milestone: Coordination Bringing both hands together at chest height happens around three to four months and is a prerequisite for being able to pass an object back and forth. To help him along, try repetitive nursery rhymes that engage hand movement, such as pat-a-cake.

4. Developmental Milestone: Crawling "By six months your child shouldn't be sedentary for more than an hour at a time when awake," says Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg, author of Good Kids Bad Habits. Do things to help him crawl or bum shuffle, such as rolling toys away from him or placing interesting objects just out of reach. By nine months, your child should be able to look for a hidden or dropped object. You can help build his memory and large motor skills by letting him play with an object first, then hiding it to see if he can find it.
5. Developmental Milestone: First words By one year, your baby will start to understand simple words, including his name. "From the very beginning, use eye contact when talking with your baby and leave pauses for his response," says Dr. Cooper. Any noises he makes when you talk to him mean he’s talking back to you (but in a good way). Sign language can also be a great way to help infants communicate early on. Babies know what they want before they can verbalize it. "It may make your child less frustrated if he can sign for something," says Dr. Trachtenberg. Why tracking milestones is important Achieving a milestone a few weeks late is completely normal, but if your child misses a milestone by a month, you should see a pediatrician. Sometimes missed milestones can help you recognize developmental problems that benefit from early diagnosis.