Baby development at 11-12 months: what’s happening
Your baby will soon be 12 months old! It’s amazing how much your baby has developed in the last year.
Your baby is now communicating in many ways – pointing, grunting, nodding, waving and often trying to talk to you too. Your baby’s babbling sounds more like a conversation, and they might say 1-2 single words they understand, like ‘dada’ and ‘mama’. Your baby might also understand the meaning of simple instructions, especially when you use visual cues. For example, when you hold your hand out and say ‘For daddy?’, your baby will give you the toy they’re holding.
Over the past few months your baby has learned to show emotions like caution and fear. Your baby might also be more aware of their own needs and can let you know what they want.
Play is important, because it’s how your baby learns. Your baby might look at, shake, bang, throw, drop and poke different objects. Your baby also enjoys playing with you and might start showing you things they’re playing with – for example, a toy or doll.
Your baby is getting better at using their hands and fingers and will probably be feeding themselves with their fingers at most meals.
Your baby might pull themselves up to stand by holding onto furniture, or they might even stand well by themselves. Around now, your baby might take their first steps on their own or could even be walking independently. Walking is tiring for your baby, though, so sometimes they might crawl instead.
At this age your baby might also:
- bounce to music
- cooperate more when they’re getting dressed
- follow instructions like ‘Give me the block’ or ‘Put the train down’
- start to link words with their meanings – for example, when you say ‘ball’ or ‘teddy’, your baby might look around for these things.
You’ll be surprised at how far your baby can move, so always watch your baby and never leave them unattended on a change table, sofa or bed. Now might be a good time to think about making your home safe so your baby can move about without getting hurt.
Helping baby development at 11-12 months
Here are simple things you can do to help your baby’s development at this age:
- Talk to your baby: you can help your baby understand what words mean by chatting as you do everyday activities like bathing your baby or changing nappies. Your baby is interested in conversation, so the more talk the better!
- Respond to ‘dada’, ‘mama’ and other words: give meaning to your baby’s talking by listening and talking back. This encourages conversation and builds your baby’s communication skills.
- Play together: give your baby toys that encourage imagination and creativity, like blocks and cardboard boxes. Paints are also fun – but be prepared for some mess! Playing together helps your baby feel loved and secure.
- Spend time playing outdoors: being out and about with you gives your baby many different experiences – there’s so much to see, smell, hear and touch. When you’re outside, remember to be safe in the sun.
- Read with your baby: you can encourage your baby’s talking and imagination by reading together, telling stories, singing songs and reciting nursery rhymes. These activities also help your baby learn to read as they get older.
- Encourage moving: moving and exploring build your baby’s muscle strength. This is important for more complex movements like pulling to stand and walking.
- Feed your baby healthy food: your baby probably enjoys finger food, which is also good for developing their fine motor skills. Make sure your baby sits while they’re eating – this can help to prevent choking.
Sometimes your baby won’t want to do some of these things – for example, they might be too tired or hungry. Your baby will use baby cues to let you know when they’ve had enough and what they need.
Parenting a one-year-old
As a parent, you’re always learning. It’s OK to feel confident about what you know. And it’s OK to admit you don’t know something and ask questions or get help.
It’s also important to look after yourself. Looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally is good for you, and it’s good for your baby. When you’re well, you can give your baby the loving attention they need to grow and thrive.
And remember that part of looking after yourself is asking for help, especially if you’re feeling stressed, anxious or angry. There are many people who can support you and your baby, including your partner, friends, relatives, child and family health nurse and GP.
Never shake a baby. It can cause bleeding inside the brain and likely permanent brain damage. If you feel like you can’t cope, it’s OK to take some time out until you feel calmer. Gently put your baby in a safe place like a cot. Go to another room to breathe deeply, or call your state or territory parenting helpline.
When to be concerned about baby development
You know your baby best. So it’s a good idea to see your child and family health nurse or GP if you have any concerns or notice that your one-year-old has any of the following issues.
Seeing and hearing
- isn’t making eye contact with you
- isn’t following moving objects with their eyes
- has an eye that’s turned in or out most of the time
- isn’t interested in sounds
- doesn’t respond to their name when called.
- isn’t babbling
- isn’t trying to let you know what they want using body language, sounds or words
- isn’t pointing to objects or pictures, or using gestures like waving.
Behaviour and play
Your baby isn’t showing emotions like happiness or sadness.
Movement and motor skills
- isn’t crawling
- uses one hand a lot more than the other.
See a child health professional if you notice that your baby has lost skills they had before.
It’s also a good idea to see your child and family health nurse or GP if you or your partner experiences the signs of postnatal depression in birthing mothers or postnatal depression in non-birthing parents. Signs of postnatal depression include feeling sad and crying for no obvious reason, feeling irritable, having difficulty coping and feeling very anxious.
Development usually happens in the same order in most children, but skills might develop at different ages or times. If you're wondering whether your child's development is on track, or if you feel that something isn't quite right, it’s best to get help early. See your child and family health nurse or GP.