Your Baby's Development: Month Eleven
This month may see your little one venture from standing upright at the edge of the couch to edging herself along it! Holding onto walls and furniture as they take their first steps is known as 'cruising' and means that their first solo steps are not far away. You can encourage your baby to cruise along a table or couch by putting a toy on it that requires them to take some steps before they can reach it. Demonstrating the action by walking on your knees whilst holding onto furniture might also help them to grasp the idea.
You might also notice this month that your baby has taken a noticeable step forwards in terms of dexterity, not only can they pick up smaller objects more confidently, but they can operate toys more easily (pressing buttons, lifting lids etc.).
Social and Emotional Development
If your baby is shy amongst other people, don't force them into large social gatherings. Gradually build their confidence by arranging play dates where just one or two other children come over with their mum or dad. If they meet the same children regularly, the familiarity will help them to feel more comfortable with the added noise and excitement that comes with having multiple children in one place.
As they get more nimble with their little fingers, babies become more adept at playing games that involve putting a smaller object inside a larger one. If you have a shape sorting toy then this will be perfect, but otherwise, a box or a cardboard tube will do. Give the child a ball, a spoon or other suitably sized item and let them play with putting it in the box and taking it out again. If you don't offer such toys to your child you are bound to find them trying their own versions - breadsticks into air vents or raisins into handbags are both popular ones, so skip the soggy snack recovery and get them playing with cups and boxes!
Speech and Communication
Your baby may not be pointing to things that he wants, and/or using babble or baby words (often with a certain urgency or whinge!). It might not be a 'real' word, perhaps they say 'Deh!' when they want their drink, but assigning a word to an object is a huge step in terms of their communication skills. It is important that you praise their efforts, and they will be pleased that you have responded, but always clarify what you think they want using adult words. Don't say 'Here's your Deh!', instead say, 'Would you like your drink? Here's your drink!'
Finding yourself faced with a fussy and unpredictable eater? Don't worry; it is quite normal for a child to refuse to eat a meal today that she loved this time last week. Or to discard every morsel of broccoli you offer whilst every other baby seems to be devouring it.
Your job is to keep providing a varied and nutritious menu - but that doesn't mean spending hours slaving over the hob. The more effort you put in, the harder it will be for you to cope when they don't eat it. Keep meals simple, and keep introducing certain foods, even if they have been refused before. Research shows that children are more likely to try certain foods when they are presented to them regularly than when they are unfamiliar with them. Also, don't pile a large portion onto their plate. Serve a small amount and come back for more if they eat it. This way you can safely refrigerate or freeze the leftovers for another meal and you won't feel as though your efforts have been wasted. See our article on preparing and storing food safely.
Remember that there are other common reasons for refusing food, beyond just 'not liking it'. Babies tend to lose their appetite when they are:
- feeling unwell
- grumpy or frustrated - and if you have interrupted their play to put them in their high chair then this may be why!
Also, remember that whilst most babies will almost triple their birth weight by the time they reach 12 months, they do not usually grow at one steady speed. The growth chart for an average child will show several 'spikes' where the child grows rapidly, and 'flatter' periods where their rate of growth slows, of course, their appetite is closely linked to this.
Allowing your child more opportunity to feed themselves may also help - and give them plenty of time. Many parents who follow a baby-lead weaning approach report that their child sometimes takes a very slow start to a meal and can appear to be completely disinterested, but then suddenly starts eating just as you are thinking of taking it away.
See our section on fussy eaters for more help and guidance on this.
'Babies are only predictable in their unpredictability' - remembering this when it comes to feeding your child is very helpful!
Continue chatting to your baby about everything that you are doing, their brains are more absorbent than ever before at this age. When they 'chat' to you, listen to them and reply. Don't feel silly having a conversation with a baby, that's how they learn! They will love to see that you are responding to them, and it will help you to gradually decipher the sounds that they make. Avoid using 'baby speak' yourself, they need to learn real words and their meanings, and they can cope with the addition of new words so don't worry about confusing them.
It isn't too early to do pretend play with your baby. Set up a teddy bears' picnic, pretend to pour drinks, drink them yourself and give some to the teddy. Your baby will soon catch on and will love the idea of giving the teddy something to eat or drink. You can take it further giving the teddy a bib or a wipe, and always remember to talk to your baby about what you are doing.
Be Careful Of...
...What they can reach! Once your baby starts cruising, a whole new level of your house is open for exploration. They can easily see what lies on coffee tables, beds and on low window sills now. What's more, with some perseverance they can work their way along a table edge or the side of the sofa until they can reach what they're after. This is the stage that many parents joke about, where all the ornaments and candles go 'up a level'! Get into the habit of putting everything that represents a potential hazard out of reach, including jewellery, loose change, handbags and makeup. This stage won't be forever but for now you have to accept that their physical abilities by far outstrip their understanding of danger!
Once your little one is on your feet you might be desperate to get them wearing their first shoes. But they don't need to be in them all the time. When you are out and about, particularly in the colder weather, it is wise to have some shoes for your little one to wear. However, as adorable as they might look, children do not need shoes all of the time. Whilst they are learning to walk it is actually better for them to be barefoot, so don't keep the shoes on when you're at home. Remember that socks can be very slippery on hard floors, if you are worried about your baby's toes getting cold then make sure that they have socks with rubber grips on the soles to avoid accidents. Early steps are wobbly enough as it is - without adding slippery socks into the mix!