Baby Development Month-by-Month: Month Thirteen

Your little explorer will be getting more independent by the day as she heads towards taking those first steps and starts using her first words to communicate what she wants.

You will feel like you need to have eyes in the back of your head as she rifles through everything and regularly bounces off furniture in an attempt to master walking on her own. This age is lots of fun as well as rather tiring for the parents!

Feeding and sleeping

Your 13-month-old will need around 13-14 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, possibly including two naps during the day. Having said that, she is likely to drop one of those naps soon or reduce its length, hopefully leading to more sleep for everyone during the night. Remember that teething, hunger, and discomfort can all contribute to increased unsettledness both during the night and at naptime, plus all babies are different, so it is not uncommon for babies to still wake in the night for a cuddle and some reassurance.

By now, you should aim for three balanced meals per day (think protein, starchy foods, dairy, and fruit and vegetables), plus a couple of healthy snacks in between. Offer water with and without meals and milk in the morning and evening, ideally from a free-flow cup rather than a bottle. Healthy meal-time habits can be taught by enjoying meals together, resisting the temptation to offer food as a bribe for good behaviour or for eating up her veggies, and acting as a role model for your child. If you do not eat your greens, how can you expect her to?  

Try not to react if your little one goes through a phase of food-throwing. It is common at that age, along with the desire to self-feed as much as possible and is all part of her flourishing independence.

Your child will also need daily vitamin drops and your GP or health visitor will be able to advise if you are worried about your baby’s feeding pattern and weight gain. 

Communication

Your little one may be experimenting with a handful of words by now, but they might need deciphering for others. Most babies will not reach this milestone just yet, and will be using non-verbal communication to achieve what they want – pulling on your coat, pushing things away, and shouting in frustration when things do not go to plan. Interestingly, between the ages of one and two years, a child can understand up to five times more than she can verbalise.

Alongside the desire to communicate what she wants may come the occasional tantrum as she gets frustrated when things do not go her way and she feels powerless, or when you are unable to understand what she wants. Try to remain calm and use simple language to try and verbalise what she wants, for example ‘you want to keep playing’. Once you land on the correct want, the shouting and screaming is likely to subside, and you can move on to finding a way to meet that need in a way that you are happy with. For example, ‘you want to keep playing but we need to leave now. How about we take some toys in the car?’ Once she has calmed down, acknowledge that fact with something like ‘you calmed down’ as this will help to model the behaviour you want her to demonstrate. Sometimes you may need to ride out the storm if the tantrum is caused by you stopping her doing something that may cause harm for example. There is no point trying to reason with her mid-tantrum, but you may be able to talk simply about it afterwards, in a way that she can understand and once she has calmed down.

Senses and physical development

At 13 months, early walkers may be able to take some tentative steps on their own or might cruise around the room holding on to furniture or to your hand as they go. When she falls – unless she hurts herself and needs your attention – encourage her to stand back up and to try again. This will help to develop her confidence as well as her balance which are both important in mastering the skill of walking. Many babies will not be walking just yet and may be crawling or shuffling to get around, as all little ones will reach certain milestones at different points.

When indoors, it is beneficial for babies to walk with bare feet or socks to encourage the development of their leg muscles and the arches of the feet, as well as ensuring their little toes are not squished into uncomfortable shoes.

Her hand-to-eye coordination will continue to develop, allowing her to accurately grab moving objects, move objects backwards and forwards between her hands or to you, and banging things together to make a noise.

Playing with your twelve-month-old

Building towers is a great game to play together at this age. Try placing one block on top of another and then encourage your little one to do the same. This will support the development of her hand-to-eye coordination and is an achievable goal so it will help to build her confidence and sense of accomplishment.

Talking and singing together will encourage her language development. Continue to narrate your day, name emotions, for example when she laughs you could say something like ‘are you happy?’ and point out different coloured objects in the world around her. Naming and point to body parts is another way of increasing her understanding and vocabulary development, and it will not be long before she is able to point to the correct body part when you say the words.

As she begins to navigate walking, every item of furniture will become a hazard so it might help to move low coffee tables out of the way for a while as she gains in confidence. She will want to explore though, and you cannot prevent every accident or bump to the head, so it is handy to have some malleable ice packs in the freezer to use as cold compresses, wrapped in a towel or muslin.

Setting aside some time for drawing with paper and large crayons will help to support your toddler’s fine motor skills and messy play will allow her to explore lots of different textures and develop the muscles in her hands. 

While the above indicates what you can expect to see your baby going this month, it is important to keep in mind that all babies are unique and will develop at their own pace. If you have any concerns about your baby’s development, talk to your doctor or health visitor.

Jen Dowding, Baby massage and baby yoga instructor, Basking Babies Laindon & Orsett

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