The First Year: 12 Month Milestones

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Updated on Jun 18, 2012

Happy birthday, baby! It's your little one's birthday soon, but you'll have a birthday of sorts too. With 12 months as a parent behind you, you're now a year-old mama, and you've come a long way. As you get ready to plan your child's first party and watch her blow out the candles on her cake, you can pat yourself on the back for a serious job well done. But before you start hanging up balloons and streamers, check out some of the stuff you can expect during the last month of true baby-hood.

Tests for Reactions. One of the major differences in temperament you'll start to notice this month is that your baby starts acting more and more like a toddler. Silliness, temper tantrums, loud noises, and preferences are all par for the course as your baby ends her first year. She'll test out noises and actions just to see how you react to them .

  • Stay engaged. As your baby gets older and more independent, it's common to steal some "me time" for yourself. Still, it's critical that you give your babe plenty of face time as she practices new sounds, words, and actions. Clap, play, smile, and laugh so your baby gets the reactions she wants.
  • Keep your cool when your baby misbehaves. Whether it's chucking food at the grocery store or pinching you while you play, your little one is just seeing what happens when she does certain things. Instead of getting frustrated or yelling, stop the behavior. Say "No, we don't do that" and redirect her attention for the most effective way to deal.

Uses Items Correctly. Just a few months ago, if you handed your baby a hairbrush, it probably went straight to her mouth. But now your little brainiac knows how to use different objects, so don't be surprised when she uses a brush to, you know, actually brush her hair.

  • Take the opportunity to help expand your baby's vocabulary. By giving the name of the object she's playing with and then narrating the actions, you help teach her new words: "Oh, you're playing with the brush? Are you brushing your pretty hair?"
  • Allow your babe to explore different uses and types of play for different objects. It's the marker of a curious tot when she turns an object over in her hands, tries to squish it, bang, it, or test out different ways it can be used. Toys with several different uses—such as simple scarves—are best when compared to a one-note plaything.

Has One to Eight Teeth. Your baby's chompers are clipping along at a fast pace, meaning you might look in her mouth and discover a couple of teeth that weren't there before. More teeth means more food options for your culinary cutie, so serve up variety.

  • Offer foods that your baby can eat by herself, whether it's with her fingers or while testing out utensils for the first time. You can graduate to larger bits of soft food, but remember that chewing is still mostly for practice at this point. Don't offer sticky or hard foods just yet.
  • Want your little one to master the fork and spoon? Pediatric occupational therapist Anne Zachry suggests creative play. "Practice with edible play dough using plastic or child-sized forks and knives. Work on scooping with a spoon, stabbing with a fork, and eventually cutting."
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