Developmental milestones are not fixed points that all kids hit. They’re more like waypoints marking the course of typical development. Some babies may reach certain milestones early while reaching other milestones late. Some babies may skip certain milestones altogether. Taking time to understand milestones will help ease tensions around them. In other words, parents looking for 2-month milestones can rest a bit easy. There are far less essential waypoints than your baby books might lead you to believe.
As your baby’s second month on earth rolls around, your child’s movement will start being better coordinated by the wiring in their nervous system. Because of that, the 2-month developmental milestones are focused on how a baby moves in response to environmental stimuli. Because parents are a huge part of that environmental stimuli, many infant milestones are linked to how 2-month-olds react to their parents. But that places a lot of necessity on how parents interact with their baby, which can make the 2-month milestones particularly fraught.
Luckily there are just a couple of truly crucial 2-month baby milestones that parents should place their focus on. These milestones are linked to red flags. If your baby is not hitting them, however, that does not mean there is definitely a problem. That said, missing these milestones should be brought to the attention of your pediatrician.
2-Month Milestone #1: Baby Should Lift Head During Tummy Time
Tummy time wasn’t always a thing, but now that we know that children should always be placed on their backs to sleep, babies have less opportunity to practice their “prone skills.” Those skills, like pushing up with their arms and turning their head and neck, can only be done when your baby is backside up and help them develop important neck and arm muscles. Thus, the need for tummy time.
Now that your baby is 2-months-old, they should be able to lift their heads during tummy-time and look around. Will that mean they will enjoy themselves during this time? Nope, but they should have some neck strength as they fuss. This ability is emblematic of a healthy nervous system talking with a baby’s muscles.
The Baby Milestones That Matter
There are fewer developmental milestones in the first year of your baby’s life than you might think. Here’s your month-by-month guide.
Red Flags: When 2-month olds are not able to lift their heads or hold them steady, it could be a sign that there is an issue. But it’s important not to consider that in isolation. Babies get tired, just like everyone else. Sometimes it simply takes longer for muscles to strengthen and develop, particularly if a baby was born immature. However, if your 2-month-old also seems lethargic, with loose “floppy” limbs, or overly stiff and shaky limbs, you will want to notify your pediatrician.
What You Shouldn’t Stress About: Babies at this age aren’t supposed to be rolling over or playing with toys in a specific and focused manner. Also, babies might naturally be fussy during tummy time. It’s not the most fun a baby can have. So don’t panic if your baby “hates” tummy time.
2-Month Milestone #2: Baby Starts Developing a Personality
So you won’t find “develops personality” on most infant milestone lists. It’s too subjective for people inclined to scientific inquiry. Most milestone lists break this down to the objective minutiae: smiling, cooing, responding to a parent’s voice, fussing when they want needs met. But for a parent who has been paying attention to their kid at all boils down to the feeling that their child is developing a personality — they seem like they’re becoming more of a person.
With that personality comes a focus on the parent. You will likely see a lot of cute responses when you interact with your baby. On the other hand, when things get too monotonous, your kid may fuss out of boredom. And you thought that wouldn’t come until they were a tween.
Red Flags: There is a lot to be said here about who parents understand their babies to be. Some babies have a very watchful and mellow temperament. Sometimes babies might be incredibly fussy due to issues like colic. Other times babies are curious and excited. So recognizing the red flags at this stage is more about keeping track of a baby’s physical response to their environment in the context of what a parent knows to be normal for their child. A baby who doesn’t follow a novel object, or parents face, with their eyes may need to be seen by a pediatrician, for instance. The same goes for a baby that does not respond to a parent’s voice or loud noises. These could be signs of neurological issues.
Non-Milestone Moments In Baby’s Second Month
Much is said around this time about a baby being able to smile. But parents should keep their patience. Some babies are not as easy to smile. It’s not necessarily indicative of a child having an autism spectrum disorder. Babies who are premature might smile later. Babies who are suffering from colic may not smile that often. And babies with parents who aren’t very smiley may not respond to them with smiles.
That’s why it’s important to stay calm if a baby hasn’t flashed a gummy smile by 2-months old. It will show up eventually. And because babies are sensitive to their parent’s emotions, a stressed-out parent may not have a super smiley kid. That said, parents who feel there has been a change in their child’s demeanor, or see that their child is not particularly responsive in general, will want to speak to their pediatrician. Trust your gut.