0-8 months

Reflexes provide the foundation for development. These unintentional behaviors are the beginning of exploration as they put us in contact with the environment. When these behaviors are enjoyable, they are repeated. This marks the emergence of intention and is the beginning of the next phase of development. Supportive and engaging caregivers enhance these enjoyable experiences by supplying meaning through their verbal and non-verbal reactions.

Cognitive and Communication Milestones

  • Passively observe their environment
  • Startle to loud sounds
  • Have a social smile
  • Demonstrate awareness of people and/or objects by:
    • Visually attending
    • Discriminating between strangers and familiar people
    • Respond to voice and sound
    • Turn head toward sound source
    • Watch speaker’s face when spoken to
    • Mouthing and grasping
    • Beginning to establish joint attention by reaching/showing without gaze shift to adult
  • Accidental behaviors are repeated to bring about the same result
    • Use object to make noise or perform action to make an object move
  • Beginning to be aware that objects exist when out of view (object permanence)
    • Retrieve an object in view
    • Search for partially hidden object
    • Visually track falling object
  • Begin to develop imitation of familiar actions and sounds
    • Anticipate a familiar experience (e.g., making slight throwing motion as if to throw an offered ball)
  • Stop crying and smiles when spoken to
  • Vocal production expands from cooing (vowel sounds) to repeated consonant-vowel strings (e.g., mamamama, babababa)



Back to Pre-Symbolic Milestones