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Growth and Development, Ages 1 to 12 Months - Topic Overview

How do babies grow and develop in the first year?

Babies change more in the first year of life than at any other time. From 1 to 12 months of age, most babies grow and develop in these main areas:

  • Physical development. A baby's growth is dramatic during this first year. Babies grow taller, and their heads get bigger.
  • Cognitive development. Babies make great advances in being able to learn and remember.
  • Emotional and social development. Babies start to show their emotions and how they feel about other people.
  • Language development. Babies quickly learn language by what is spoken around them.
  • Sensory and motor development. Babies become strong enough to sit. Some will stand, and others will begin to take their first steps.

Each baby grows and gains skills at his or her own pace. It is common for a baby to be ahead in one area, such as language, but a little behind in another.

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will provide free children’s preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests. Learn more.

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Babies who were born early or have health problems may grow and develop at a slower pace.

Why are routine medical visits needed?

Doctors recommend that babies have routine checkups (well-child visits) every 2 to 3 months from age 1 month to 12 months. These visits are important to check for problems and to make sure that your baby is growing and developing as expected.

During these visits, the doctor will:

  • Do a physical exam.
  • Review your child's immunization record. Needed immunizations are given or scheduled.
  • Weigh and measure your baby to see how your baby compares to other babies of the same age.
  • Likely ask you questions about how your family and the baby are doing.

This is a good time to talk to your doctor about any concerns you have. Between visits, write down any questions you want to ask the doctor next time.

When should you call the doctor?

Call your doctor anytime you have a concern about your baby. Be sure to call if your baby:

  • Hasn't grown as expected or hasn't been eating well for some time.
  • Has lost skills he or she used to have, such as crawling.
  • Shows signs of hearing problems, such as not responding to your voice or to loud noises.

Your own health is also important in helping your baby grow and develop. Talk to your doctor if you think you might be depressed or if you feel like you cannot care for your baby.

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