Baby Milestones: Red Flags in a Child's Development or Bragging Rights for Competitive Moms?

Nicole Fabian-Weber | Apr 4, 2013 Baby

baby crawling to mother
Whoever's daughter crawls first is the coolest! Whoever's son gets teeth earliest is destined to have an Einstein on their hands! Whoever's child drinks out of the sippy cup quickest wins a prize!

Or not.


Although often treated as a competition, baby milestones are more intended to serve as red flags. For instance, baby not sitting up by a year? Red flag. Baby crawling at 6 months? That's great, but ... doesn't necessarily mean you have a genius on your hands.

Here's a quick rundown of what you need to know about four big milestones -- and when it's okay to stop worrying!


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  • Sitting Up


    Babies typically start sitting up on their own anywhere between 4-7 months, and usually, at around 8 months, babies will be able to sit on their own without help for long stretches. But if your child doesn't sit up within this exact age range, it's okay! Babies all develop at their own pace.

    However, it's certainly worth mentioning to your doctor if, by 8-months, baby isn't sitting up, rolling over, or seems to have stiff or floppy muscle tone.

  • Crawling


    The average age for crawling is around 8-months, but again, if your little one isn't scooting around on all fours by this time, no need to immediately go into panic mode. Parents can generally tell if and when a baby is close to crawling (creeping, shuffling, and rocking back and forth are a few signs), and hey, guess what? Some babies skip crawling altogether and go straight to walking.

    If your child has had no developmental issues thus far (she's sitting, she grabs objects on her own, etc.) it's really not cause for concern. But if peace of mind is what you're after, by all means, speak to your pediatrician.



  • 'Talking'


    Some babies say "mama" by 5-months, others "dad" by 9-months. Again, your baby is an individual, and there's no need to freak out if all the babies in your play group are chatting it up, and yours isn't.

    However, that said, if by baby's first birthday, he's not babbling or saying a few "words" that only Mom and Dad can understand (they may make no sense to others), it's worth bringing up to the pediatrician.

  • Walking


    Once your baby starts walking it's "bye-bye, baby; hello toddler". Babies traditionally start walking anywhere from 10-18 months, but again, if your child doesn't fall into this exact range, it's okay. Talk to your doctor, but as long as your little one has the ability to pull themselves up on their own and cruise around while holding on to furniture (and has had no other developmental issues), there's likely no cause for concern.

    Encourage your baby to let go of furniture by putting your hands out, or by holding a toy they love. It takes a lot of confidence to walk on your own, so be sure to give lots of positive reinforcement at any attempts they make!

baby first year milestones slideshow