How life has changed – for you and your baby – over the last 12 months! Looking at him now, it’s hard to believe that just a short year ago he was a helpless newborn. Now he’s walking (or nearly), talking (a few real words) and laughing at any opportunity.
1. In a year packed with milestones, here’s the biggest of them all: your baby’s first steps. The average age is 12-13 months but some babies start to walk before their first birthday. Have your camcorder handy if you’re keen to record the event. While his walking will improve on a daily basis, he’ll find stopping and steering a challenge for a while yet.
2. The part of your baby’s brain responsible for memory is going through a period of very rapid growth. His memory is already pretty sharp; if a toy gets lost, for example, he’ll look in the place where he last saw it. He’s also storing events and experiences in his memory, so if he throws something on the floor and you say no, he’ll remember it and test it in the future.
3. He’s got a sense of humour. Again, this is because of the huge amount of brain development that’s happened recently; he’s now able to see and share the joke, and even initiate one himself. If you do something funny like put on a strange hat or pull a silly face, he’ll be delighted to share in the peals of laughter.
4. Despite your efforts to spoon-feed him, he’ll want to do it himself. More will tend to go on the floor than in his mouth because his ability to handle the spoon doesn’t yet match his enthusiasm. But practice will get him there in the end, and do encourage him to use the spoon correctly – meanwhile, keep a mop handy for under the highchair!
5. He loves the chance to chat. And when he babbles away to himself
it sounds exactly like he’s having a real conversation – in some other language. His voice even rises and falls in all the right places. Give him space to say things in his baby language and then talk back to him when he falls quiet – he’ll love chatting properly, and it’s fun for both of you, too.
Help them learn
Lots of praise and encouragement will help boost his confidence and learning
- If he seems very attached to a particular toy, don’t worry or try to dissuade him – it’s a security object with a very useful role for both of you. When you’re not around (in bed at night, for example), the reassuring feel of his favourite teddy or blanket will let him know he’s safe and all is well. If you’re worried it may get lost, make sure it always stays indoors – teach your child that the teddy has a special bed, and show him how to put it away there when you are going out.
- He may be fussy at bedtime – at this age children often are. Reinforce the bedtime routine more strongly than ever. Bath, story and kiss, then sleep usually works. Stick to the same set of events, even if Mum does it some nights and Dad does it on others.
- He’ll love having his own little house to play in. Buy one or make your own. Drape a sheet or double duvet cover over a small table so he can crawl inside and, if he wants, pull the sheet down to have complete privacy!
- Blow bubbles and show him how to chase and pop them. This game will help your baby discover cause and effect.
- He’ll start to enjoy problem-solving too. Demonstrate different noise-making toys then hide them under a blanket. Make the noise of one toy under the blanket, then pull the blanket back and ask him to point to the toy you used. Give him lots of praise when he picks the right one.
At 12 months, your baby will enjoy water play, plus a reassuring bedtime routine
- Remember, babies are individuals and develop at different rates. If you have any concerns, see your GP or health visitor.