Your Baby's Development: Month Twelve
On average, babies tend to take their first steps on their own at the age of 12 months, but there is a huge variation amongst so-called 'normal' children and when they learn to walk. In fact, the normal age for learning to walk is between the ages of 10-18 months. So if your child isn't walking yet, please do not begin to worry about it, it is natural to want your baby to progress all the time, but it is all too easy to wish their early years away too quickly by constantly looking forward to the next milestone. Your child's first steps will be worthy of celebration whenever they happen.
Social and Emotional Development
By the age of 12 months, your child will probably be forging strong bonds with people other than Mummy & Daddy - that is if he or she is regularly with other carers such as nursery staff or grandparents, or even friends of yours who visit frequently. Whilst there may well be issues with separation anxiety at this stage, you may at least find that the problem is reduced when they are left with someone else who they know and trust. Don't make a big deal of saying goodbye, try to be matter-of-fact about leaving and definitely do not show sad emotions of your own. Remember that the forever repeated statement 'they'll be fine when you've gone' is actually very true. Most children get over their parents leaving very quickly - although it isn't uncommon for them to be happy all day only to burst into tears again on your return!
By now your baby will probably understand how to open books but may not have the dexterity to turn thin pages - particularly without damaging them! Give your baby toughened board books that can withstand being dropped, tugged and chewed, and let them 'read' them on their own. This doesn't mean that you can't read more fragile story books with them, but save these for when you are reading together and you can protect the book from becoming a pile of shredded waste paper!
Your baby will also be getting better at copying your behaviour by now. You might notice them try to brush their hair (although many children at the age of 1 still don't have much hair to speak of!) or hold a phone to their ear. Explain to them what their actions are and praise them 'Well done Sammy, you're brushing your hair!' - this helps them to connect the actions with the words.
Speech and Communication
By the age of 12 months your baby will probably be able to say 'mama' or 'dada' and actually direct it at either Mummy or Daddy, but don't worry if your child hasn't said their first word yet, many children won't do so until 14 months or later.
Remember not to over simplify your speech when you speak to your baby, and don't forget to explain to her what you are doing all the time. Use simple words and phrases repeatedly and they will begin to associate them with objects and actions. For example, saying 'tidy-up time' when it is time to put toys back in the box will soon catch on, especially if you make sure that you encourage her to put at least one or two toys in the box with you whilst saying it.
If you want to encourage more independence with your child's eating habits, but are struggling with the mess when they 'do it themselves' try following these helpful tips:
- Don't give them their whole meal at once, some babies cannot cope with a mountain of food in front of them and will deposit half of it on the floor before even starting to eat.
- If they are learning to drink from a lidless cup then put it in their sight but don't leave it by their food for their whole meal - the temptation to turn dinner into water play will be too much! Offer it regularly and look for their attempts to tell you when they want it (by pointing etc.)
- Don't offer too much water at a time, as soon as they have had enough water it is quite common for them to 'discard' the cup, often with a good throw!
- Remember children aren't usually as fussy as us. If they've spilled some milk in their casserole it might look unappetising but let them get on with it, they will probably eat it anyway. If they are half way through their yoghurt and manage to find a handful of pasta in their bib, let them eat the two together. Mixing up your courses might not be considered good table manners, but it won't make you ill and at this stage you should just be pleased that they are keen to eat different foods, in whatever the combination!
Encourage your baby's ability to copy by doing lots of action songs. Wind the bobbin up is a very popular song among little ones, with easy actions (such as pointing and clapping) that babies love to copy.
Be inventive with play! There are hundreds of great toys out there, but how many times has your child been just as entertained by the packaging? Children are as interested in everyday items as they are with their toys - particularly items that their parents use, 'non-toys' if you like. Give your child a couple of saucepans and a wooden spoon. They will enjoy banging and stacking them, but you can also teach them to stir and pour the 'imaginary' food. Make it even more fun by filling the pan with some porridge oats or water, it gets messy but it's great fun!
Be Careful Of...
...Good toys going to waste at the bottom of a box. See whether you can organise your toys more carefully. Often toys all end up in one toy box piled on top of one another, pieces of baby jigsaws muddle up with rubber ducks, plastic balls and wooden shapes. When they are all emptied out onto the floor no single activity stands out from another and babies lose interest quite quickly. Plastic storage boxes can be bought very cheaply and are a great way of organising your toys into separate categories, boxes with lids will help to prevent toys from getting dusty. As a parent you might find that you can help your baby to play more effectively when you can see the toys clearly organised. If you have quite a lot of toys then operating a 'toy rotation' system is a great way of keeping your child interested in things, separate the toys into two or three groups and put one of them away for a while. When you bring them back out you will probably find that your child is much more excited by them than last time they were out.