You and Your Foster Child is a publication of the University of Pittsburgh Ofﬁce of Child Development made
possible with help from the Frank and Theresa Caplan Fund for Early Childhood Development and Parenting
Education. Additional topics in the You and Your Foster Child series are available on the Internet at
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youth, and families from the University of Pittsburgh Ofﬁce of Child Development are also available online at
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You and Your
Birth to 12 Months
Infants go through many changes during their ﬁrst 12 months, and no two
infants develop at the same pace. One infant may reach a milestone early,
another later. Infants born prematurely tend to reach milestones a little later.
It is also not unusual for infants to regress in one skill or another from time
to time. Many infants, for example, develop sleep problems when their teeth
begin to come in.
Use these milestones as a general guide. What matters most is that your infant
progresses from one stage to another at a fairly steady pace. Reaching a
milestone earlier or later generally does not indicate whether an infant will be
advanced or delayed later in life.
Milestones during an infant’s ﬁrst
The following is a general guide to some
basic milestones for physical, cognitive,
language, and social and emotional devel-
opment from birth to 12 months.
Newborn to 1 month
Physical development milestones:
Infants develop basic reﬂexes needed
to survive, such as sucking, swallowing,
coughing, gagging, elimination, grasping,
blinking, and startling.
Infants keep their hands clenched in ﬁsts
most of the time.
Their eyes are not coordinated and may
appear to cross.
They cannot organize their hands and
eyes to work together.
Cognitive development milestones:
Infants will watch an object about
12–15 inches away, especially if it is
moving slowly from one side of their
ﬁeld of vision to the other.
Infants investigate their own hands
Infants show a preference for their
They can distinguish smells and taste.
They may prefer sweet-tasting liquids
and will recoil from unpleasant smells.
Language development milestones:
Infants communicate mostly by crying
but sometimes by making other noises.
They develop preferences for certain
sounds. For example, they may settle
or become still when they hear music
or familiar voices.
They will turn in the direction of a
Social and emotional development
Infants will sleep, on average, between
17 and 19 hours a day. But they do it in
a series of short sleeping periods.
They enjoy being held and rocked.