We’ve made it! As your little one approaches their first birthday, it’s fascinating to think back to less than a year ago when they couldn’t hold their own head up and were completely reliant on you. Now you probably can’t keep hold of them as they crawl or run around, babble away to strangers and develop in leaps and bounds before your eyes. It’s spectacular to consider how so much can happen in such a short space of time.
Each of our little humans are so special and so unique, that’s why it’s important to remember that milestones will be reached at different times, and it doesn’t mean that your little one is behind. There’s so much growth and learning going on, so it’s important to continue to encourage them and just enjoy this time as they blossom into toddlers.
In this post, we’ve highlighted the general milestones that your baby may reach at this age, along with how their routine might develop. We’ve also included some tips on how you can help to encourage their development at this time.
This is the fifth post in this series, and we’ve previously looked at:
- They might be able to grip a sippy cup and drink by themselves, but watch out – they may throw it when they’re done.
- They’ll be feeding themselves with their fingers or a spoon.
- Continue to introduce any new foods one at a time to check for allergies.
- Now that they can eat a wide variety of foods and their sense of taste is developing, their diet can be varied but should focus on nutritious foods with plenty of calcium, protein and fibre, such as fruit, vegetables, fish, tofu, chicken, dairy products, wholegrains, etc.
- They should still have around 600ml of breast milk or formula a day.
- Still avoid small hard foods that they can choke on (such as nuts and popcorn). They should also not have honey or cow’s milk until they are 12 months old.
- Similar to the previous few months, they’ll sleep for around 11 hours at night and 2.5 hours in the day.
- If they haven’t already, they might drop their second daytime nap.
- They will also probably sleep through the night, but some babies will still wake up for changing and attention.
- They may go through a sleep regression as their naps change, as their body changes as they learn to walk, or they may have a growth spurt.
- Offer comfort when necessary, but try to let them fall back to sleep alone as this will help with their sleep in the long term.
- Similar to the previous few months, they’ll produce 4-6 wet nappies a day.
- Poos should not change in consistency or smell too much, and they may not poo for up to a week, but shouldn’t be going more than 4 times a day.
- Look out for changes in their poo which may indicate that they’re ill or have an infection. White poo may show they’re not producing enough bile, mucus could be the sign of an infection, solid poo or poo with blood in may be due to allergies, constipation, infection or digestive problems.
- When introducing new foods, make sure to check to see if your baby’s poo changes, as this is a clear way of noticing if they’re allergic to that food.
- Sometimes poos will be a different colour due to what they’ve eaten – beetroot may produce red poos, spinach can make them green, etc. If you notice a change in colour, think back to what your baby’s eaten as this may provide an answer.
- Once your baby starts moving around, they will love exploring their environment.
- At this time, if you haven’t already, it’s important to childproof your home. Our previous milestones post gives tips on how to create a safe environment for your little one to walk/crawl/scoot around in.
- As their memory gets better and their attention span develops, they may start to get bored of some things. Mix up their games, books and activities to keep them alert and happy, and to keep pushing forward with their development.
- They can understand simple instructions, such as ‘no’, but they might choose to ignore you sometimes – try to only use the word when necessary so that it has more power and they don’t try to ignore it.
- They’ll be able to point at objects, for example, when you ask “Where’s the ball?”
- They’ll recognise their favourite songs and will probably try to join in.
- Their vision is almost as good as an adult’s.
- They can see colours well.
- They easily recognise familiar faces, objects and images.
- They can see clearly and make out faces around 20 feet away.
- They’ll be able to easily follow moving objects with their eyes.
- The age that babies start crawling, cruising and walking varies a lot, so don’t worry if they haven’t started yet.
- Once they start walking, they’ll be learning other movements such as squatting, ducking, standing on one leg, etc.
- They might need you to hold their hands as they get used to walking.
- Make sure to childproof your home so that they’re safe while exploring their environment.
- They’ll try wriggling away when you try to change/dress/feed them, so keep an eye on them.
- As they start to become more independent, the smallest of chores can become difficult, but it shows that their confidence is building.
- They’ll start saying Mama and Dada – it’s been found that Dada is a more common first word.
- Other words might appear such as Nana, or simple words like shoe (even if they’re not pronounced correctly, still praise and encourage them).
- They understand back-and-forth conversation as they learn about rhythm and turn taking.
Other cute little things
- As they’re meeting lots of new people but their immunity to common infections haven’t developed yet, there might be lots of coughs, sneezes and runny noses.
- As they start to learn what they like and don’t like, they may start having tantrums.
- They’ll start to imitate others and try to join in with their siblings or friends.
- They’ll be teething and this may be a difficult time – try teething toys or a wet, cool flannel to help soothe their gums, etc.
- Their personality will start to shine through.
Tips to help development
- Call them from across the room and get them to crawl or walk to you, or put a toy a few feet away from them and encourage them to reach it.
- Help them to stand and sit if they can’t do it alone to help with their muscle strength.
- When at home, allow them to walk around barefoot as much as possible as this helps to develop their walking skills.
- Get them a push-along toy or baby walker to help them with walking.
- Don’t panic if they’re not walking – the average age for first steps is 13 months.
- Read together as much as possible.
- Point at things in pictures and tell your little one what they are, or ask them if they can tell you.
- They’ll start to recognise familiar pictures in books that you read often.
- Get them involved by letting them turn the pages.
- Visit your local library to change up what you’re reading with them without the cost or waste.
Keep up the playtime
- Sensory play can really boost development and get them exploring and learning. It can be messy – try play sessions with sand, flour or jelly, or try mixing cornflour with water (but be prepared to clean it up).
- You could also try introducing paints and crayons.
- Roll a ball to them and get them to roll it back.
- They’ll love putting things in order, or taking things apart and putting them back together again – try stacking blocks or nesting cups for this.
- Put on some music and have a good old dance and sing-along.
- They’ll want to help you tidy – try turning it into a game.
- Take turns to pull silly faces at each other to teach them about turn taking.
- Let them experience different textures when crawling/walking – wood, tiles, carpet or even outside on the grass.
- Encourage walking by gently massaging their heels so that they focus on using that part of their body.
- Encourage them to say ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ by saying it clearly when asking them for things.
- Continue to socialise with them – talk, ask questions and encourage back and forth conversation.
- There are plenty of toys that you can buy to help your little one with development at this age.
Things to look out for
All babies are different and all babies grow and learn at different speeds. You shouldn’t be too concerned if they are getting things a bit later than their friends, but there are a few things to look out for that may be a sign of something more serious.
Contact your healthcare professional if you have any concerns over your baby:
- Not babbling/talking or responding to sounds/their own name
- Sleeping too much or over-sleeping
- Crying excessively or not smiling/laughing
- Not making eye contact or recognising familiar people or objects
- Not responding when you try to play with them
- Not attempting to crawl
- Not being able to sit up by themselves
- Not letting you know what they want through body language and sounds
- Not showing emotions such as happiness and sadness
As we've mentioned, no two babies develop at the same speed. It’s understandable to be concerned, but just remember that they have so much to learn and they will get there eventually. It’s also completely OK to admit if you need help, or if you make mistakes – all parents do and that’s how we learn.
Don’t forget to check out our previous posts in this series, and let us know in the comments below if you have any tips for development or play ideas!