Congratulations on your baby's first birthday! Over the last year you will have learnt a tremendous amount about being a parent to a small baby, whether this is your first second or later child. Your baby has gone from being a helpless little bundle who does little more than sleep and cry to a very active tot who can play and move about independently with sometimes alarming speed.
Round about 12 months is a very common age for babies to take their first solo steps. He might launch himself from a cruising position next to some furniture, or if you have walked him into the middle of the room holding his hands and then let him stand alone he might enjoy standing on his own for a few moments before either falling back to the ground on his hands and knees or bottom, or taking a step or two forwards. However it happens it's a momentous occasion and he's old enough now to feel proud of himself if you congratulate him and give him some applause. If he hasn't started walking yet then don't worry, many babies don't start walking for another six or so months.
By the time he is 12 months old your baby will understand how objects relate to one another and will be able to use an intermediate object to move something, whether that's putting toys in a push toy and moving them around the room, knocking down a tower of bricks or pushing one toy about with another toy or bat. His improving limb-eye coordination means that he might be able to kick a ball from a supported position and may be able to roll a ball towards you on the floor with his hands.
If you haven't yet heard your first real word then you'll probably hear it over the next few weeks, along with a stream of nonsense that you will have become adept at interpreting (or at least pretending to). Many babies are already saying a few words by 12 months and he may now even be able to distinguish between you as mama and dada rather than calling you both the same name. He'll understand more words all the time and might be able to follow a simple instruction, like 'Bring me the ball please' or 'Please pick up the book'. Make sure you use lots of pleases and thank yous if you want him to grow up using them himself.
He'll enjoy picking things up and putting them in boxes or containers, and you can get advantage of this to try and encourage him to help you tidy toys away as a game. Be prepared though that this particular game usually has a second part for your baby – tipping them all noisily back out onto the floor again! It'll be quite a while yet before he understands the idea of tidying toys away and keeping them tidy, but it won't do any harm to introduce the idea of tidying up and helping Mum or Dad being fun.
By now your baby will be eating a wide range of foods and will have very clear likes and dislikes when it comes to what he eats. He'll be able to happily eat finger food on his own, though he might play with it for a while before it reaches his mouth, and he may even be trying to use a spoon on his own, although it may be more miss than hit at the moment.
There's no way that the process of learning to feed himself will be anything other than very messy, particularly when he realises what fun it can be to throw his food instead of eating it, particularly if he has an audience to play to. Try to accept this and prepare as best you can by feeding him in a thoroughly wipe-able environment.
Separation anxiety often peaks around 12 months when your baby fully understands that you exist when he can't see you. And if you're not looking after him then what are you doing? And when will you be back? He might settle happily with other people sometimes and at other times he might feel vulnerable and anxious. If he does get anxious when you leave him, try to reassure him by staying calm and showing him there's nothing to worry about. Tell him when you'll be back and keep your goodbyes short and as upbeat as you can: if he's crying the chances are that he'll stop shortly after you leave.
What you can do
The examples you set for your child now will stay with him as he grows older because he's learning from you all the time. He'll take his cue from you as to how to behave in some situations and will probably look to you for your reaction whenever he is unsure how to react to something himself. This might be another child taking a toy from him, or it might be when he falls over. Often when children fall over they shock rather than hurt themselves and you might see him look at you for your response. If you look anxious and frown and rush towards him he will probably start crying, but if you smile or laugh gently and say 'Oh down you go again' or 'oopsadaisy' he might start laughing too. Obviously you're not going to laugh if your baby has really hurt himself, but a calm reaction from you can calm his own reaction to everyday bumps.
Keep helping your baby to put names to objects and use the opportunity to present him with adjectives and colours at the same time. Try asking him where things or people are to see if he'll point to them or try and say their names or 'there' (most likely to be 'da' for the time being).
NB: All babies develop at their own pace and some will reach developmental landmarks more quickly than others. This timeline is meant only as an approximate guide for parents. Premature babies will develop more slowly than full-term babies and can be expected to develop in line with their age calculated from their due date. If you are worried about your child's health or progress consult your doctor.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 |
8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12