Baby Development Month-by-Month: Month Twelve

Happy Birthday!

While your little one will still feel like your baby, at 12 months old she is very much on her way to becoming a toddler.

Our previous series looked at baby development during your baby’s first year – the challenges, milestones, and fascinating things going on in her brain. The following series will provide a handy guide on what to expect during your child’s second year, with everything from her first words to her first tantrum to look forward to.

As ever, it is important to remember that every baby is different and unique, and some children will reach certain milestones at earlier or later stages than others. If you are ever concerned about your child’s development, speak to your GP or health visitor.  

Feeding and sleeping

At 12 months old, your baby will need around 13-14 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, possibly including two naps during the day – a shorter one in the morning, although she may have dropped this one by now, and a longer one in the afternoon. Many babies will sleep through on at least some nights at this age but not all will as sleep patterns vary and can be easily affected by teething pains, hunger and discomfort.

By now, your baby will likely be enjoying three meals per day with the rest of the family, plus a couple of healthy snacks in between. At 12 months old, your little one will still be drinking milk – up to around 400ml per day – either as breastmilk or full fat cows’ milk.  

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

Communication

Your little one may have mastered a couple of words by 12 months, but if not she will be able to communicate what she wants one way or another – leading you into the kitchen for a snack, pointing to a desired object, or reaching her arms towards you for a cuddle. She will also understand a lot of what you say and will be able to follow simple instructions such as ‘clap hands’.

Continue to sing and chat together to encourage the development of conversation and language and enjoy the cute little attempts your baby might make to join in with familiar songs.

Senses and physical development

It is amazing to look back at those newborn photos at this age to see how much your little one has grown! You will notice her growth gradually start to slow now that she is more active and on the move.

Your baby will certainly be keeping you on your toes as she explores the world around her – crawling, bottom- shuffling, cruising, or even walking around the room unaided. Most toddlers will wait another month or two though before taking those first steps without holding onto anything.

Her hand-to-eye coordination will allow your toddler to hold several objects at once and she may be able to reach out and grab objects even if she is not looking directly at them. She is unlikely to show a preference for her right or left hand just yet so will use both to achieve what she wants to.  

Playing with your twelve-month-old

As you know, you will need to be on high alert when it comes to child-proofing your home and trying to avoid accidents, although it is important to allow your little one to explore the world around her without wrapping her in bubble wrap.

Support your toddler’s fine motor skills by allowing her to play with crayons or chalks, stacking blocks and shape sorting toys. Play Doh is also fantastic at helping her to develop the muscles in her hand required for pincer grip and (albeit much later) for holding a pencil in a tripod grip to write and draw.

Regularly reading together, even though she may not have the concentration to get through more than a few pages, will help to support the development of her vocabulary and language skills. Noisy toys and household objects are also helpful in laying the foundations for these skills, even if they drive you nuts.

Pretend games and role play will encourage your child’s imagination, for example having a conversation on a toy telephone or playing with a doctor’s kit.  

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

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