Baby boy (3-6 months) lying on stomach, grinning
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Great Expectations: Baby's First Year

Caring for an infant can be exhausting, but there's so much to look forward to. Take a tour of first-year "firsts" with WebMD's guide to the most anticipated baby milestones.

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Baby smiling and looking up
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Smiles

After two months of sleepless nights and round-the-clock soothing, you've seen plenty of your baby's tears. Maybe you've spotted a fleeting smile, but then again, it could have been gas. Now it's time for the real reward. By around 2 months of age, your baby will smile in response to you!  The sound of your voice or the sight of your face is often all it takes to trigger your baby's irresistible grin.

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Mother and baby laughing
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Laughs

If the frequent sound of your baby's crying has you on edge, take heart. By 4 months, you can look forward to another sound, possibly the sweetest you'll ever hear -- your baby's laughter. The best part is how easily a baby laughs. Silly faces, tickling, and peek-a-boo are usually more than enough to set off lots of squeals and giggles.

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Baby sleeping on side
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Sleeps All Night

Like no other baby milestone, a full night of sleep becomes the Holy Grail for new parents. While it is unrealistic and unhealthy to expect a newborn to sleep all night, parents can rest assured that relief will come soon. By 4-6 months, most babies are capable of sleeping through the night.

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Two chubby babies sitting up
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Sits Up

How different the world looks when you're not stuck on your belly! Around 5 or 6 months, most babies can sit up with support -- either by resting on their hands in front of them or by leaning on pillows or furniture. Babies can usually sit alone steadily by 7-9 months.

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9-month old baby crawling
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Crawls

If you have an 8-month-old, you may want to put your gym membership on hold. You're about to get plenty of exercise chasing your suddenly mobile baby around the house. By 9 months, most babies crawl using both hands and feet, though some babies never crawl, preferring to creep or wriggle instead. Crawling is not an essential baby milestone, and infants who choose to scoot or creep still tend to reach other milestones on schedule.

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Mother looking at baby waving bye-bye
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Waves 'Bye-Bye'

Waving "bye-bye" is not just a cute trick -- it is an actual expression of language. By 9 months most babies begin to make the link between sounds, gestures, and meaning. They understand that waving is connected to the phrase "bye-bye."

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Baby boy eating cereal, fingers in mouth
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Eats Finger Food

Just when spoon-feeding begins to lose its luster, babies are ready to feed themselves. Between 9-12 months, babies develop better control over their hands and fingers, making it easier to grab small objects -- like finger foods! Unfortunately, babies this age love to explore taste and texture, so food is not the only thing they'll try to pop into their mouths. Environmental safety should, therefore, become a big parental concern at this age.

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Baby about to climb stairs
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Stands

By 12 months, most babies begin to stand briefly without support. They also take small steps while holding onto furniture or other objects, an activity called "cruising." In the weeks or months before they walk independently, babies may spend hours cruising to practice for the real thing.

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Baby walking casting shadow on wall
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Takes a Step

You might call it the crown jewel of baby milestones. Perhaps no other moment is met with more anticipation (or camera clicks) than a baby's first step on his or her own. But not all babies walk by their first birthday. The normal range is anywhere from 9 to 17 months, with most babies taking at least a few steps by about 13 months.

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Baby talking on toy telephone
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Says a Word

"Mama! Dada!" There's nothing like hearing your baby call your name, and it usually happens right around the one-year mark. By this time, most babies can say at least one real word and actively try to imitate others. It won't be long before you finally get to hear what's on your little one's mind.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 11/21/2016 Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 21, 2016

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REFERENCES: 

American Academy of Pediatrics.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

DrGreene.com.

Marat Zeltsman, DO, pediatrician, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital.

Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, MD, medical epidemiologist, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, CDC.

Michelle Bailey, MD, medical director, Duke Health Center at Southpoint.

Parker S, Zuckerman B and Augustyn M (eds.). Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics: A Handbook for Primary Care, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2005.

The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 21, 2016

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.