You might be surprised at how your 11-month-old's personality is emerging this month. Is your babe a Nervous Nellie, or is he more of the strong and silent type? Is he obsessed with things that go, or is he more content to just hang out in your arms? Take note of your baby's likes, dislikes, and preferences as they start to become more defined; they could be a clue to his personality in the future. In the meantime, he'll also be developing and changing at a rapid rate, so pay attention and soak up the blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments that you can steal with your tot.
Standing Steady. Whether or not your little guy is walking yet, he'll start to experiment with ways to move. If he's conquered cruising, you might see him try and get on his tippy toes or balance on one leg while holding onto a piece of furniture. Now is about the time that babies get interested in climbing; you might catch your tiny mountaineer scaling the furniture in your home.
- Take the necessary measures to ensure that your baby is safe. Climbing on the furniture can be seriously dangerous, so putting up gates, bolting furniture to the walls, and lowering his crib mattress can help him explore safely while he tests out his new skills.
- Head to a park or indoor gym that has a space for babies and toddlers. There, your little one can climb, crawl, and play to his heart's content in a hazard-free space. It's a great way to get out of the house and you might even enjoy some adult interaction, too.
Improves Hand-Eye Coordination. For the last few months, your baby has been able to transfer items from hand to hand, or stack up cups during playtime. But his coordination improves this month, so bring on the more challenging toys.
- Purchase puzzles that have chunky pieces. Your little one is old enough to detect simple shapes and put the right pieces in place as long as the puzzle is easy.
- Use simple, sturdy, creative toys that allow your baby to make up his own shapes and games. A box full of classic pattern shapes will hold your little guy's attention longer than a noisy electronic toy, and it'll help to hone his hand-eye coordination as he makes pictures and patterns.
Plays Favorites. When it comes to your baby's palate, he'll have some definite ideas of what he likes and doesn't like. What's more, he should start graduating from eating with his hands to using a spoon to feed himself. It's a tricky skill to learn, so grab a bib and prepare to get messy as your independent babe does it for himself.
- Offer plenty of new foods. It's tempting to give in and offer favorites over and over to avoid a fight, but babies need 8 to 12 times of exposure before developing a taste for foods. If he turns his nose up at broccoli, try offering it with his favorite macaroni and cheese—a few more times and he'll probably eat up without complaints.
- Purchase utensils that are easy for your budding epicure to use himself. Plastic pieces with wide handles are best for little hands, and they clean up easily.
Improves Attention Span. Playtime with your baby in the past 10 months was probably short-lived. Your little one could go through five or six toys in a matter of minutes as he dropped one and moved onto the next. But during the last section of the first year, his attention span will start to become more focused, which means you can play with one toy for longer periods of time.
- Give your little one plenty of attention. He'll want to play together instead of just playing with toys, so get down on the floor for a round of hide and seek, peek-a-boo, or patty-cake; he'll actually be able to make it through the game.
- Choose toys with abstract purposes. A car is fun, but it only goes back and forth and hardly sparks your baby's imagination. In fact, your little one would probably have more fun with a tissue box; he can put things in it, pull out tissue, and put the tissue on his head. Blocks, finger paints, and stacking cups are ideal abstract toys that'll keep your little one busy.
Loves to Read. If you're hoping to raise a reader, now's the time to kick it into high gear with your efforts. An 11-month-old is old enough to not only identify items in a book, but also follow a simple story line. Your baby loves the time with you and the stimulation that comes from turning those pages.
- Head to the library to check out toddler-appropriate board books. They're practically indestructible and the different colors, textures, and pictures can capture your little one's attention, especially if you've exhausted your home collection.
- Read together every day for at least 10 minutes and skip TV watching; it's discouraged for children under the age of two by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Educator and learning specialist Anne Giles suggests making your own books. "Toddlers love books that feature themselves, their family, pets, and places with which they are familiar," she notes. "You can foster a love of reading in toddlers by making books for them using photos of family members, pets, and familiar places labeled with words or short phrases"
Learns Good Manners. Your baby's new-found communication skills, like imitation and simple phrasing, means he's able to start improving his manners too. Manners and simple words like "please" and "thank-you" are easy for babies to learn because there's a clear benefit to saying either one.
- Make a point to say "please" and "thank you" to your baby. He'll learn from your example and pick up on the fact that he can use manners to indicate what he wants. Even if his versions don't sound completely like the actual word, he's learning how to behave.
- If you do baby sign language, make sure you offer the sign with the words. Even if your baby's vocabulary doesn't include polite words, he can offer the sign for "please," a circular motion on the chest, or "thank you," by touching his mouth with his hand and then moving his hand outward.
Your little one is rapidly approaching toddlerhood, so soak up these last few months of having a baby at home. Keeping a journal, taking pictures, and recording video all make for nostalgic nights as you look back at all that your baby (and you!) have accomplished in the past year.