Bub’s development from 4 to 12 months old

Bub has developed so much across this year and will be on the move soon.

Bub’s language also takes off as they start to babble and repeat sounds in response to parents/carers talking and responding.

The growing bond with parents/carers is so important for bub’s development, as they start to learn about affection and empathy.

Through being accepted and respected, bub is secure to learn and grow in all areas.


Language (talking and listening)

At 4 to 12 months, bub might:

  • respond to their own name
  • look to where an adult is looking
  • point to show something
  • babble and repeat sounds
  • say their first words in home language
  • follow simple instructions
  • point to things you name
  • use gestures to communicate
  • use home language sounds
  • use one word to communicate.

To support bub’s language, we can:

  • use bub’s name when playing
  • have fun, name things and talk about what is going on
  • yarn with bub – they make a sound, you copy, and so forth
  • look at the same thing bub is looking at
  • learn what bub’s gestures mean
  • respond in clear and simple words and actions
  • add more words to what bub is saying.

Learn more ways you can support their language development at this age.


 Social-emotional (behaviour and emotions)

At this age, bub could:

  • want to be close to mum, dad or main carer, and fret if they leave
  • give and take objects
  • be happy to see familiar faces
  • recognise mob and stretch arms to be picked up
  • be clingy and scared of strangers
  • laugh
  • get more settled with eating and sleeping routines
  • suck thumb or dummy when tired or upset.

To support bub, we can:

  • smile back at bub
  • pick bub up
  • use touch to comfort bub when upset
  • use words to describe bub’s feelings.

Learn more ways you can support their social-emotional development at this age.


Cognitive (thinking and making connections)

From 4 to 12 months, bub might:

  • swipe at dangling objects
  • start to prefer some foods
  • fill and empty containers
  • search for toys that move out of sight
  • use their body to explore space by crawling in, next to and through various objects
  • get a picture in mind of an object or past event
  • point to photos and pictures in books
  • remember faces.

To support bub, we can:

  • play hide and seek games with objects
  • name pictures in books
  • match the pictures to real objects
  • give objects for bub to hold and drop.

Learn more ways you can support their cognitive development at this age.


Physical (growth and health)

Bub could:

  • move objects from hand to hand
  • poke small objects with thumb and forefinger
  • drop objects
  • play with their own feet and toes
  • raise their head and chest and make crawling movements when on their tummy
  • roll from their back to stomach
  • reach for and grasp objects
  • turn their head to the sound of voices
  • sit up
  • crawl
  • take weight on their feet when standing, and may stand alone for a moment.

We can:

  • hold out objects for bub to reach for, hold and drop
  • hold things above bub to encourage tracking, reaching and rolling
  • gently bounce bub on your knee or leg to help them balance and grow strong muscles
  • sit at opposite ends of a tunnel and encourage bub to crawl to you
  • support bub with your arm when they stand
  • sing and clap while bub dances
  • give bub pushing toys
  • offer bub toys they can hold with their whole palm
  • pass toys of different weights back and forth, so bub learns about weight, size and shape.

Learn more ways you can support their physical development at this age.

Babies reach milestones at different times. If you are ever worried about their development you can visit an Early Years Place or health service to safely talk about your concerns.

Published — 22 March 2019 Last updated — 22 March 2019

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