Understand the different stages of development - physical, emotional, social, hearing and language.
Over the first two years, your baby will grow and change quickly. This page aims to answer questions you might have around topics relevant to your baby’s first six months, including routines, safety, screen time, speech, hearing and more.
Older baby? Read about your toddler’s development from six to 24 months.
Remember, every child is unique and will grow and develop at their own pace.
Keeping track of your baby's development
The first two years is a busy time for you and your baby. Early childhood health assessments are online checklists designed to help you keep track of how your baby is doing. They are completely anonymous.
The short checklists contain tips and links to practical information on feeding, safety, and how to support healthy physical, social and emotional development. Consider bookmarking the checklists and setting a reminder to complete them at each stage:
Complete the checklists and share the information and any questions or concerns with your family doctor at your child’s next routine checkup or baby visit.
How to be a great parent
What can you do to help your baby grow and develop? As you provide a caring, nurturing and safe environment, your baby will feel secure and connected to you. This is the best place for your baby’s healthy growth and development. Learn more about emotional attachment for your baby's development. Read more parenting tips.
Social and emotional development
Each month will bring new things: the first smile, crying, coos and gurgles (their early speech), focusing on your face, and turning their heads to follow your voice. Enjoy this special time as your baby discovers the world around them. Learn what to expect from month to month as your baby develops socially and emotionally.
Spend time skin-to-skin with your baby. Read, talk, sing and respond right away to their cries.
This is not a time to worry about spoiling your baby, but rather a time to create a safe, warm and loving environment to foster the best growth for your child. Learn more about listening to your baby to understand what they are trying to tell you.
Check out ABC's for New Parents, a family-friendly resource on how you can help your child grow to be socially and emotionally healthy.
Routines let babies know what to expect. Patterns and predictability help a baby feel safe and confident. This enables them to learn more.
In the first six months babies start to develop a pattern of eating and sleeping. You can start with small routines at bath or bed time. The main thing is to respond to your baby’s cues to develop a sense of trust and safety.
As your baby gets older, add more daily routines like family meal time or getting dressed in the morning. Learn more about cues and routines.
Babies will gain weight quickly over the first six months, often doubling their birth weight.
You may wonder if your baby is gaining enough weight. To ensure your child is on track with their growth, have your child’s growth checked regularly at six, nine, 12, 18 and 24 months with your family doctor.
To learn more about what is recommended for your child’s growth check out: Is my child growing well?
When will my baby roll over, lift their head up, crawl, or sit up? It seems that every day your baby can do more. Learn what to expect for your baby's physical development from birth to six months.
Children want and need to be active. They need to explore to learn and grow. Once babies become mobile, they can find themselves in situations where they can get hurt.
Watching your baby is the best way to prevent injuries. You can also create a safer environment and keep harmful items out of your baby’s reach. Learn how to prevent the most common causes of injuries.
Babies need to have supervised time on their stomachs several times throughout the day.
- Tummy time helps baby’s necks, arms and backs to be stronger
- Prevents a flat head
- Encourages babies to learn to roll over and crawl
- Build it into your daily routine, when your baby is alert and happy
- Start with seconds and gradually work up to minutes
- Some babies may not like it much at first and will need your help to learn and get used to it
Learn more tummy time tips.
Safety tip: It’s important to only place babies on their stomachs on a firm surface when they are awake and when they can be under constant supervision.
Knowing that your baby has good hearing is important. Babies start to learn to talk from the moment they are born. If your baby can’t hear well, he or she may have problems learning to talk.
Early detection is important. A lot can be done if hearing loss is caught when your baby is young. That’s why your baby will have a simple hearing screening test in the hospital after they are born.
Hearing can change over time. Repeated ear infections, serious illness, certain medications and head trauma can all affect hearing. It’s important to look out for signs of hearing loss. Learn more about your baby's hearing.
Babies can distinguish light and dark, and shapes and patterns, from birth. It's normal for babies’ eyes to wander or cross in the first three months until your baby develops proper eye coordination, but by six months of age, your child's eyes should appear "straight" and work together. Learn more about healthy baby vision.
Babies communicate their needs to you in their own way. Crying is the first way your baby "talks." Over time your baby will start to make noises, smile and focus your attention. Like any relationship, talk to your baby. Allow them time to respond back to you.
Babies love it when you talk, sing and even read to them. Learn songs to sing with your baby from around the world.
Learn more about how language skills develop from birth, visit babies' language development.
Learn more about our speech and language services.
Singing, talking, playing and engaging with your baby is important for growing their brains. Learn more about how playing builds brains.
Having fun with your baby is key to becoming a great parent. It doesn't matter how you sound or how silly you feel, but rather the time you take to devote your attention to your baby.
Screen time means time with TVs, computers, smartphones or other digital devices. Parents hear conflicting messages about how much screen time is ok for a child.
The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends:
- Children less then two years of age do not have any screen time.
- Children age two to five have less than one hour per day.
Too much screen time at a young age increases the risk of:
- Sleep problems
- Delayed language
- Aggressive behaviour
- Overweight and obesity
When parents have lots of screen time, children often do too. You can set a good example by turning off the tablet, TV or computer and playing with your baby. Infants and toddlers learn best through face-to-face interactions with adults.
Learn more about screen time and young children, including how to limit screen time and choosing child-friendly apps and videos.