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Baby Care: Your 12 Month Old Baby

Feb 25, 2022 | 2 Minutes Read

This month your baby officially graduates from being a baby to becoming a toddler! A whole year has passed since they were born even if it may not seem like it. Remembering life B.C. (before children) can be almost impossible, not to mention recalling where the time has gone. Despite all the changes, your baby has added another dimension to your life.

Be prepared for a busy month as your baby reaches new developmental milestones. If they aren’t quite walking yet, it won’t be too far off. Some babies teeter and totter for months and others just get up on their two legs and practically run from the moment they can stand. Either way—get ready!

Lots of babies revert back to crawling when they're in unfamiliar surroundings or they feel uncertain. Your baby is likely to do a combination of crawling and walking until they feel confident supporting themselves on 2 limbs. Avoid keeping them for long periods in their stroller or car seat. Practice makes perfect with walking.

Feeding and sleeping at 12 months old

If you are breastfeeding, feel confident that there are still many benefits to both you and your baby. Breast milk as well as solid foods will help to meet your baby's nutritional needs.

If your baby is bottle-feeding, they can transition over to whole cow's milk this month unless your health provider has recommended otherwise. Cow's milk, along with solids, will provide your little one with all the nutrients they need to grow.

You may want to think about phasing out your baby's bottles. If your baby can drink from a cup and is becoming proficient at drinking and swallowing, then begin to phase out bottles. This will help to protect their teeth and reduce the amount of time their vulnerable baby teeth are exposed to lactose (the sugar in milk). A sippy cup is a good transition between bottles and open cups.

Expect your toddler to still need 2 naps a day until after 14 months. You'll look forward to these rest breaks and need them as much as they do. This can be a physically tiring time for parents, so be prepared and use the time wisely, which might mean a nap yourself.

Behavior at 12 months old

Your baby is at a highly social and engaging age and will seek out stimulation wherever they can find it. Nature has designed them to look for situations which will occupy their mind and help them to learn new skills. Aim to have music, books, friends, and activity in your home as your baby will only benefit. Seeing you relating to other people and interacting in appropriately sensitive ways will also teach them what is involved in communication and relationships. Your baby will be watching you and although you may think they are too young to take much in, don't be fooled: they are like little sponges at this age.

Your toddler will also be learning all about their range of emotions now—anger happiness, frustration, boredom, and the effects of emotions on the people around them. Babies are excellent at getting what they want, and your baby will easily charm their way into the hearts and minds of their loving parents and family.

Your toddler might also be outright demanding at times as they exert their newfound autonomy. These powerful emotions may be evident for the first time in a tantrum as their drive for independence comes into conflict with their self-limited abilities and your boundaries and rules as the parent. Managing a toddler's emotional outbursts can take confidence and patience, and it can be very hard to know just what to do when they become frustrated or angry.

One excellent book which will help you understand how your toddler's brain works is The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland (Dorling Kindersley publishing).

Developmental milestones at 12 months old

There is a lot of gross motor activity this month which is exciting, but it can also be a worrying time for you as parents. It might have been much easier when you were able to place your baby in one spot and they stayed there until you picked them up. Now you'll need to have eyes in the back of your head to monitor exactly where they have scurried off to.

Your toddler will be more independent with their eating and make their wishes more clearly known. Although their language skills will still be limited, they will experiment with sounds and parts of words. You'll develop skills in deciphering what they're saying and learn to interpret their body language.

Your baby will be able to point, wave, clap hands, and transfer objects from one hand to the other. Even if they can’t walk, they may be able to balance with one hand holding on for stability.

Growth at 12 months old

Your baby is likely to have tripled their birth weight by now and grown in leaps and bounds. Compare their birthday photos with their newborn ones and marvel at the changes made in 12 short months. If your baby was premature, they could be taking more time to reach their developmental milestones. Time, practice, environment, sex, and the degree of prematurity will all impact the amount of time it will take for your baby to meet these benchmarks.

Play and interaction at 12 months old 

Make some time this month to celebrate your baby's birthday and share the joy with family and friends. At 1 year old, it's not your baby who will appreciate all the fuss, but it will be nice to acknowledge such a momentous occasion. Aim to time the gathering for after a nap when they are likely to be more social.

Their birthday is a day when you can relax their routine a little and just go with the flow. Take lots of photos and videos and ensure you and all the family are included. If you can, get pictures of all the generations of family present as the opportunity for doing this in life can be very limited.

You may want to give your baby a gift which can be added to over the years, such as a charm bracelet. Or you can give a special gift that can become a family heirloom such as a special train set or rocking horse. Books which are noted with a date and the giver's name are always a lovely birthday gift.

Your toddler is likely to still want to be with you wherever you are, so you might be feeling as if you've constantly got a little shadow. This is a sign that your baby feels secure with you being so close. There will come a time when they don't want to be in such close proximity so for now, enjoy it!

What about mom?

You are likely to feel equally sad and excited that your baby has reached such a significant milestone. You may be considering whether now is the time to start planning for another baby or, to defer this later, or, you may feel your family is now complete. This is a conversation both you and your partner should have together so you can decide what will work for your family.

Now that a year has passed, you may feel you have more time and energy to do some things for yourself. Some me-time will do you good: see this as investing in your own self-care and wellbeing. Go for walks, go shopping, get a massage, pick up a hobby, and do things you didn’t have time for when you had a newborn.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.