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Motor & Cognitive Skills Development Of A Baby 0-12 Months

5 min read

“The path of development is a journey of discovery that is clear only in retrospect, and it’s rarely a straight line” – Eileen Kennedy-Moore
2 month old baby
As you happily bring your bundle of joy home, his growth starts ticking. Particularly, the first year will literally fly. Till the time you start understanding how to take care, communicate and play with your baby, he must be already blabbing and trying to walk! These are series of development, but are sometimes taken for granted. Find out everything about the Motor & Cognitive Skills Development Of A Baby 0-12 Months
A baby’s development is a complex procedure and manifests in reflexes, motor skills, sensations, perceptions, and learning skills. Your baby is not just growing physically, his brain is developing and he starts grasping complex thinking and reasoning capabilities too. Find out developmental milestones of motor skills.


Physical Development
Gross and Fine Motor Skills
Cognitive Skills Development
Child Aged Between 0-3 Months

  • Motor skills
  • Cognitive skills

Child Aged Between 4-6 Months

  • Motor skills
  • Cognitive skills

Child Aged Between 7-9 Months

  • Motor skills
  • Cognitive skills

Child Aged Between 9-12 Months

  • Motor skills
  • Cognitive skills

Physical Development

Your baby’s weight will usually be the double by the sixth month and triple by the time he has his first birthday. In addition to the growth in physical appearance, such as weight, height and heat, he acquires physical skills (gross and fine motor skills) and cognitive skills.

Gross and Fine Motor Skills

Gross motor skills involve the use of larger and stronger muscles, such as for movements of arms and legs or whole body.
Fine motor skills denote small movements of the muscles along with eye coordination. The actions include picking things or movement of the toes.

The Cognitive Skills Development

Cognitive development is not easily observed during the initial year, but may be apparent in the child’s behavior. Cognitive skills include the ability to process information, reason, remember and relate. These are gained by exposure to new stimuli – new experiences which in turn stimulate brain. Cognitive skills aid the sensory development and strengthen the baby’s interaction with his surroundings and people.
Understanding the Motor & Cognitive Skills Development Of A Baby 0-12 Months is important. Being aware of these developmental milestones will help you track your child’s progress and identify any development delays. The point to be noted here is that every child grows differently and the below mentioned milestones are an indication, not a parameter. The age at which a child hits a particular milestone can be different from another.

Child Aged Between 0-3 Months

Motor skills

  • Displays reflexes, such as the startle reflex, where a baby throws out his arms and spreads fingers if he hears a loud noise or gets surprised
  • Focuses eyes on objects up to 12 inches
  • Turns head to both sides when on his back
  • Smiles back when you smile at him
  • Watches his own hands move (yay!! these are mine!!)
  • Tries to hold the rattle
  • Lifts head when held at the shoulder
  • Lifts head up to 45 degree while on the belly
  • Brings hands to the middle of the body while on his back when presented with a toy
  • Holds other’s fingers

Cognitive skills

  • Starts developing interest in objects and people around
  • Starts anticipating familiar objects and responds to them
  • Makes eye contact with the mother and move the arms
  • Starts following things with eyes
  • Starts acting bored (cries) if the activity doesn’t change

Baby holding fingers

Child Aged Between 4-6 Months

Motor skills

  • Kicks feet and waves arms when he sees or hears someone familiar
  • Reaches for toys or people
  • Turns towards a familiar voice
  • Holds head steady
  • Notices small objects
  • Stands up on your lap and bounces
  • Plays with his hands and feet; he loves to observe them
  • Holds head up when being held in a sitting position
  • Pushes himself up with arms when on belly
  • Pivots body when on belly
  • Sits momentarily with support

Cognitive skills

  • Vision improves; now he can focus up to three feet
  • Able to identify whether objects are far or near to him – depth perception
  • Uses hands and eyes together, such as seeing a toy and reaching for it
  • Follows moving things with eyes from side to side
  • Watches faces closely
  • Recognizes familiar people and things from a distance
  • Expresses if he is happy or sad; displays facial expressions
  • Responds to affection
  • Able to link the sight, touch, taste and sound of a person and form his identity – sensory integration

growing baby

Child Aged Between 7-9 Months

Motor skills

  • Sits without your help
  • Pushes himself against the floor or uses forearms and elbows; he’s trying to crawl
  • Tries to stand by supporting hands and knees
  • Tries to chase toys
  • Attempts to grasp things and observe them
  • Tries to hold bottle
  • Can roll on stomach to back and vice versa

Cognitive skills

  • Object permanence: able to identify the sight, touch and sound of person and differentiate them from others
  • Able to identify absence: cries in the absence of mother. He is further able to identify a missing object and rejoice or point at it when found
  • Form memories
  • Show expressions for preference such as by crying or averting face when trying to wipe
  • Experiences separation anxiety, i.e. cry when separated from parents or become uneasy in the presence of strangers
  • Able to attract attention by making sounds
  • Tries to explore things with mouth
  • Enjoys repeating the same action over and over

baby on tummy

Child Aged Between 9-12 Months

Motor skills

  • Walks alone or with your support
  • Able to use thumb and index finger, such as for lifting objects or turning pages. Often tries eating himself by picking food
  • Stands without support
  • Explores objects by waving, shaking, twisting, turning, squeezing, poking and even put them in his mouth
  • Crawls while holding a toy
  • Holds two toys at the same time; maybe hit them together
  • Crawls up stairs
  • Walks with holding something in hand

Cognitive skills

  • Observes people and surroundings
  • Explores objects
  • Displays curiosity and emotions
  • Displays affection towards caregiver
  • Becomes more independent by crawling or walking
  • Follows a fast moving object
  • Responds to his name
  • Can babble mamma, papa and similar words
  • Understands simple commands such as ‘no’, ‘come’, ‘stop’
  • Tries to imitate animal sounds
  • Connects names with objects
  • Understands that objects continue to exist, even when they are not present in the scenario
  • Participates in getting dressed, such as by raising arms
  • Plays simple back and forth games (ball game)
  • Points to objects with index finger
  • May develop attachment to a toy or object
  • Fetish to open drawers and take out things; put them back in
  • Imitates you by waving bye, drinking from cup rather than bottle or talking on phone
  • Dropping toys to hear different sounds
  • Enjoy rhymes and children songs

Baby trying to walk
Hope the informaion about the Motor & Cognitive Skills Development Of A Baby 0-12 Months helps you. Understand that if your child feels secure, treasured, loved and then his own energy and curiosity will develop new skills.
As your baby progresses from one milestone to the next, remember that he doesn’t really leave any of them behind. In order to grow and develop to his full potential he must continually build on and strengthen all of the steps that have gone before.
During this rapid year of change and growth do not forget to immunize your child, by vaccination!

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