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Is My Baby Normal? Evaluating Your 12-Month Old’s Development

February 19, 2014

oneyearoldIt’s refreshing to see your one-year old babble, crawl or even walk while going about her day, but it’s also normal for parents to question if their child is developing as she should. Should she be talking more? Is she growing like she should?

According to Lenora Gregory, managing director of the Nemours BrightStart early literacy program, one of the best ways to evaluate your child’s development is to schedule regular checks with your pediatrician and foster learning moments in the home to further her learning at this young age.

Typical 12-Month Skills

As your little one attempts to blow out the candle on her first birthday cake, her emotional and physical development is aging at the same time.

According to Gregory, the typical 12-month old is making sounds and starting to form his or her first words. Your child is making great strides to understand language at this age. She is also trying to communicate with you through broken words and hand gestures. Her vocabulary will continue to develop from one to two words at 12 months to more than 50 words by the time she turns two.

Emotionally, even one-year olds are trying to do things on their own, such as picking up objects, putting small bits of food in their mouths and communicating with broken words or babbling. During this second year of life, you can expect your child to get frustrated at times when she is unable to pick up a toy, feed herself or even while wanting to freely roam her surroundings. At this age, your child has a taste of freedom and wants to explore her independence. When you sense the onset of a tantrum, it’s best to create a distraction to deter the behavior.

Even though your child may not be walking, it’s likely she is trying to move those little feet around or pull up on furniture, gaining more balance each time she tries. While learning to walk, your child may fluctuate between needing to cling to you for reassurance and pushing you away so she can freely roam.

Development Through Play

Parents, nannies and caretakers can enhance a 12-month-old’s development by teaching skills through play.

Your child will learn about language through interaction with you. Gregory recommends talking with your child at all times. If she points to a ball, say “ball” to teach words. If she crawls toward her high chair, ask her if she is ready to eat and name all the foods as you two enjoy mealtime together. Exposing your child to words and interaction will help her develop her own vocabulary in no time.

You can also help your child’s physical development through play. Toddlers gain better control over hand-eye coordination when they can explore toys and their surroundings, according to the experts at Nemours Kids Health. Expose your little one to toys that prompt them to use their hands and eyes, such as building blocks or toys that produce sound when touched. As your toddler continues to push a button that produces a sound, she will soon learn cause and effect, thus developing her physical and mental skills

Pretend play is also fun and an effective teaching strategy for 12-month olds. If you want your child to drink from a sippy cup, begin with play. Gather toy kitchen items, such as a plastic cup or spoon, and show your child how to pretend to take a drink or a bite. Make it a game so she sees that independent behavior has rewards.

Seek Out Resources

If you have concerns about your child’s development, seek out community resources to further his or her learning. Check the local schools, daycares or chamber of commerce for mommy and me groups. Your child can develop social skills by playing with others and you can bond with other parents, all while learning how other children develop.

Primarily, Gregory recommends keeping open communication with your child’s care providers. “Parents should always be talking to their pediatrician if they have any questions or concerns, and, if the child is in daycare, they should speak with the daycare director,” she says. There are also a lot of trusted online resources to look to, such as KidsHealth.org and the book The Kids Health Guide for Parents: Birth to Age 5.”


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