Physical Growth

No Wonder Baby’s Hungry!

Your baby’s first growth spurt – which began even before birth – lasts until age 2. At 12 months, your child usually weighs around 21 pounds, is around 30 inches long, and measures a head size of about 18 inches.

Boys are slightly heavier and longer than girls at this age.

Body proportions begin to change as “too short” arms and legs begin to “catch up” with the baby’s long trunk.

Useful Info: Your Baby Has Style!

Actually all babies have style – a style of reacting to the world around them.
This style is called temperament, and just like brown eyes or curly hair, your baby is born with his or her temperament. Recognizing your baby’s unique temperament and adjusting the environment to fit your child is an important responsibility of parenting. Babies are usually described as fitting into one of three temperament categories.

Easy: Easy babies eat and sleep on schedule, are usually happy, and accept change easily. Easy babies make parents look and feel good.

Slow to warm up: These quiet babies like routines, resist being hurried, and are slow to accept change.

Intense: Intense babies are challenged by just about everything. They have trouble sleeping and accepting new foods and tend to be fussy. Intense babies require patience and special handling.

Milestones: Language

Around 6 months, your baby begins to understand a few words. He or she also invents sounds for happiness or other emotions. More and more of your baby’s vocalizations sound like speech.

Around 9 months, your baby invents words for objects, like “ba” for bottle. Words like “mama” and “dada” said by accident create such excitement that very quickly the sounds transform into real words with meaning.

Around 12 months, your baby says his or her first real word. Your baby also responds to “no” and uses simple gestures like waving for “bye-bye” and head shaking for “no.”

Useful Info: A Good Night's Sleep

At about 6 months of age, your baby sleeps all through the night – 11 hours. In addition, your baby takes two naps totaling 3-4 hours during the day. Your baby is resting up for the last month or so of the year when nighttime waking resurfaces.

Between 10 and 18 months of age, your baby is likely to wake in the night and want to see you. Help your baby self-comfort by offering a stuffed toy, a favorite blanket, or a pacifier.

Play Activities!

Now it’s Your Turn

How? Use a damp washcloth to wash your baby’s hands after mealtime. Offer the washcloth to your child to take a turn washing your hands. You can play “Now it’s your turn” with feeding, too. Let your baby take a turn feeding you with a spoon. You’ll think of other variations.

Why? Babies like to imitate adults, so the game is fun for the baby. It also allows your baby to practice skills that use small muscles and require coordination. You may find that the next time you wash your baby’s hands or feed your child, your baby will be more cooperative.

Milestones: Physical Skills

Usually around 8 months, your baby sits without support. When your baby lies down, he or she is in constant motion, which makes diaper changes especially dangerous. Some babies begin crawling at this time. Others scoot and some roll to get where they’re going.

Usually around 10 months, your baby can pull up to standing from a sitting position, can stand holding on to something or someone, can play pat-a-cake, and may be able to pick up tiny objects by using his or her thumb and forefinger.

Usually around 12 months, your baby is able to walk while holding on to furniture or using your hands, drink from a cup, pick up a tiny object using the tips of his or her thumb and forefinger, and stand alone for a few seconds.

Brain Fact

Some babies walk early and some walk late. Parents of early walkers may hope that this is a sign of exceptional intelligence. In fact, there is no relationship between intelligence and the age of walking or other physical skills.

It’s good to celebrate every one of your baby’s accomplishments, but beware of putting emphasis on the timing. Bright babies may walk early or late. It’s just too soon to tell.

Ask Your Doctor

Development — 1 Year

Your baby may need developmental evaluation if at 1 year, he or she:

  • does not crawl
  • drags one side of the body while crawling
  • is unable to stand even with support
  • does not search for hidden objects
  • says no single words
  • does not wave goodbye, shake head, or use other gestures
  • does not point to pictures or body parts

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
(See First Steps listing in Growth and Development Resources.)

Milestones: Learning

During this developmental period, your child is both an explorer and a scientist.

Usually around 6 months, your baby discovers gravity. As your baby’s laboratory assistant, your job is to pick up the toys, the food, or the bottle that your baby drops. This is an experiment your baby will repeat over and over again.

Usually around 9 months, your baby understands that an object continues to exist even when it is out of sight. If you hide a ball under a blanket, your scientist knows how to make it reappear. Your baby is now able to keep a mental picture of the ball in his or her memory.

Usually around 12 months, your baby develops an understanding that objects have names and uses. As a 6-month-old, your baby used pretty much every object as a toy to bang, rattle, or chew. By the end of the first year, your baby understands that a cup is for drinking, a spoon is for feeding, and a rattle is for shaking.

Books for Your Baby

Certain books are extremely popular with children, usually because they do a great job of delivering the right message for the right age in the right way. Many of these books become favorites and become part of the bedtime routine night after night.

There are many reasons a child attaches to a particular book. Some of the most common reasons and popular books are listed below:

  • Offers reassurance – Who’s Mouse Are You? by Robert Kraus
  • Easy to identify with – Sam’s Teddy Bear by Barbro Lindgren
  • Humor – Curious George by H.A. Rey
  • Easy to predict/ Lots of repetition – Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin, Jr.
  • Great pictures – The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Pleasing rhythm to the words – Madeline by Ludwick Bemelmans
  • Happy book – Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
  • Uses gimmicks like lift-ups or flaps – Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill
  • Topic of special interest – Big Wheels by Anne Rockwell

Favorite books serve a purpose for your child. Once the purpose has been served, your child will be ready to go on to new books.

The next time you are re-reading a story for the 100th time, congratulate yourself on helping your child work through the many challenges of childhood.

Habits Healthy: Toothbrushing

As soon as the first tooth appears, you need to start the habit of cleaning your child’s teeth.

Use a clean, moist washcloth to wipe your baby’s teeth and gums. Use only water – no toothpaste. A soft, small toothbrush can also be used for baby teeth. Schedule your child’s first dental visit at this time.

Emotional Development

Falling in Love

Two important emotional milestones are reached during the second six months of life.

Stranger anxiety: At 6 months, your baby was the life of the party. He or she had smiles for everybody. Strangers complimented you on your socially outgoing child.

About 9 months of age, your baby begins to react differently to strangers. Now your baby is clingy, fussy, and turns away from smiling faces. You may hear comments that you are “spoiling” your child.

Not so! Your 9-month-old saves his or her smile for familiar faces. Your social 6-month-old and your stranger-shy 9-month-old are both right on track in their emotional development.

Separation anxiety: Another change occurs at 9 months. Your baby becomes intensely aware of your importance in his or her life. The idea of losing you, even for one minute (especially when your child has no sense of time) is not tolerable. And so your baby cries, clings to you, and generally sounds as if his or her heart is breaking whenever you attempt to separate.

Although you may find this stage difficult, your child’s reaction to separation is telling you what a good job you have done. Congratulations! Babies who show no separation anxiety between 10 and 18 months are a cause for concern.

Brain Fact

Peek-a-boo may be the first “brain game” you play with your baby.
If you play peek-a-boo with your 6-month-old, when you open your hands to show your face, your baby is probably looking somewhere else. To a 6-month-old, you are truly “out of sight and out of mind.”

Play peek-a-boo with your 9-month-old and when you open your hands, your child squeals with delight. This simple age-old game gives you a peek at your baby’s understanding that something continues to exist even when it can’t be seen – an understanding that indicates the areas for higher level thinking in your baby’s brain are becoming active.

Questions & Answers

Q: Why does my 8-month-old break into tears when I arrive to pick him up from day care?

A: When your baby sees you, he remembers how much he misses you. He can’t tell you he missed you, but his tears show the intensity of his feelings.

To help your baby get back in control, spend a few minutes playing with him before preparing to leave for home. When he calms down, he’ll be able to remember he enjoys the day care and perhaps he’ll show you someone or something that he likes. That will make both of you feel better.

Health Alert: Say “No” to Baby Walkers

Baby walkers are not safe.
Each year, there are more than 25,000 injuries from baby walkers. The most common injuries are head injuries, broken arms and legs, and facial injuries.

Walkers allow infants to move too fast and make it easy for them to get into dangerous situations. In addition to placing an infant in danger, walkers may actually delay walking.

Safety Habits: Avoid Unsafe Clothing

Flame resistant sleepwear: Before purchasing, check all sleepwear for a label stating that the clothing item meets the federal government standards for flame resistance. Carefully follow the cleaning instructions to prevent loss of the flame resistant quality. Unless you are sure washing precautions have been followed, don’t purchase or accept offers of used sleepwear for your baby.

Drawstrings or ribbons: Remove all drawstrings from clothing – hoods, jackets, waistbands. Drawstrings can catch on objects and strangle a child. Cut strings off mittens. Never use a ribbon or piece of string to tie a pacifier to clothing.

Ribbons and necklaces: No baby necklaces or pacifiers on ribbon for your baby. Neck ribbons and necklaces can also cause strangulation.

Safety Habits: Teen Babysitters

Be choosy when it comes to hiring a teenage babysitter. Babysitting is a big responsibility. Be sure the person you choose is ready to accept the responsibility for your baby’s care, safety, and life.

Ask for recommendations from friends, neighbors, co-workers, or other associates. Look for someone who is experienced. Interview before you hire – in person, if possible. Ask the prospective sitter about:

  • experience with children (especially in your child’s age group)
  • training in first aid and rescue skills (choking)
  • training in child care and babysitting skills
  • a fair hourly rate
  • Ask several “what-if” questions, such as
  • “What if my child cries when I leave?”
  • “What if someone comes to the door?”

Be sure to check out references. Ask about experience with children of similar age to your child. It is ideal to schedule a one-hour training/observation session (with pay) before the first solo job.

If you are unable to locate a trained teen sitter, you should encourage a prospective sitter to take a babysitter preparation course. Contact your local hospital to determine the availability of babysitter training courses. You can also contact Safe Sitter National Headquarters at 1.800.255.4089 or 317.543.3840 to locate the nearest Safe Sitter training program. You can also visit the Safe Sitter Web site at for additional information about hiring a babysitter and the Safe Sitter Program.