“All infants grow, develop and thrive while in relationship with you; nurture that relationship and the rest of development will follow”
— Lina Acosta Sandaal, MA, LMFT


Primary Markers in Baby’s 1st Year

  •  Attachment
  • Mobility
  • Building Foundations of Sleep Patterns

Ways to Connect to Baby

  • Voice
  • Touch
  • Hold

Cognitive Development:

  • Infants learn and develop in relationships.
  • If an infant has a loving, safe and reliable caregiver; they can focus their energy on developing new skills and making connections in their brain.
  • Infants at this stage coo and gurgle, they are great communicators.  From the time they are born they learn to draw the parent in to a reciprocal relationship necessary for a strong emotional attachment.
  • At this stage infants can turn to locate the source of a sound, they explore things with their mouth.
  • They cry to express their needs; hunger, pain, discomfort.
  • They can follow an object with their eyes.
  • After 6 months infants play pat-a-cake and wave bye-bye.
  • They look for things that are out of sight and make words such as “mama” and “dada.”
  • They begin to imitate parents’ actions such as talking on the phone or cooking.

Social Emotional Development:

  • Infants at this stage are building a relationship of safety and trust with their primary caregiver.
  • Infants have an unsophisticated nervous system and need their parent to help them settle and provide comfort.
  • The process of developing trust happens as parents reliably change their infants’ diapers, feed them when they are hungry, and hold them close when they are upset.
  • Infants older than 4 months smile, laugh and can recognize the face and voice of their parents.
  • At 12 months, an infant can respond when you call their name. They begin to fear strangers and become emotional when their parent leaves them in the care of another.
  • At 12 months infants will use their parents as a secure base.  They often crawl away from their parents for short amounts of time, quickly returning to them when they begin to feel unsafe.

Gross and Fine Motor Development:

0-6 Months

  • Lift head while lying on their stomach
  • Roll over from stomach to back
  • Kick legs and move arms

6-12 Months

  • Move around on my stomach and crawl
  • Roll over from back to stomach
  • Reach for objects in front of me
  • Keep my head up and sit without support
  • Hold objects with my hands
  • Sit without support
  • Pull up to stand*

Sleep and Brain Development:

Sleep statistics (primary source Dr. Marc Weissbluth’s research and zerotothree.org):

0-4 months

  • Most newborns 0-4months will sleep a total of 16-17 hrs in a 24 hour period with the longest sleep period being 4-5 hrs.  If your under-4-month-old has a consolidated night time sleep of 4-5 hours, they are sleeping through the night.
  • Do not expect predictable sleep patterns before 4 months

4-11 months

  • Sleep a total of 14-15 hours in a 24 hour period
  • Take 2-3 naps, lose 3rd nap around 9 months, daytime sleep totals 3-4hours
  • Sleep approximately 11 hours a night
  • Most wake up at night to feed 2 times. No need for feeding after 9 months.  This is different if breastfed and in the family bed, as those babies eat, sometimes without waking, at night indiscriminately

Sleep and Brain Development:

  • Sleeping well increases brainpower, just like lifting weights increases strength in muscles
  • As the infants brain matures so does the pattern and rhythm of sleep. There are five turning points for sleep and brain development:

6 weeks – night sleep lengthens(no more than 5 consecutive hours)

3-4 months daytime sleep regularizes

9 months disappearance of more than 2 night wakings; no need for feeding

12-21 months disappearance of morning nap

3-4 y.o. afternoon nap becomes less common.

  • REM sleep in infants is full body movement, not just eye movement
  • The first task of brain development is to regulate the mind and body. 
  • The primary marker for brain health is deep restorative sleep and alert awakeness.
  • Babies up to 12 months have two sleep cycles: light and heavy


How to feed and nurture your child: 0-6 months

Respond to their signals:

  • Feed your child when she shows signs of being hungry.
  • Help her calm down so she can focus on eating.
  • Hold your baby during feedings and make eye contact.
  • Stop feeding when she shows she is full.
  • Try to avoid feeding your child every time she cries, she may not be hungry. She may just need comfort.


How to feed and nurture your child: 6-12 months

  • Start using a high chair if you choose.
  • Create family mealtimes.
  • Start with semi-solid food from the spoon. Move to thicker/lumpier foods finally to soft pieces of food.
  • Offer safe finger foods so he can practice feeding himself.
  • Turn off the TV during mealtimes whenever possible in order to allow for interacting and sharing.


Remember, be kind to yourselves, you are developing as a parent alongside your child.  If your baby is 9 months old, you are a 9 month old parent.  Enjoy the relationship you are building with your child.  Always remember, children don’t need perfection, they need affection.


Congratulations on your new baby!