Baby development: Your 1 year old
It's been 12 months since your baby's birth and now it's time to celebrate your baby's birthday! He's achieved a lot since those early days of mostly sleeping and feeding. Your baby has passed many milestones along the way, from the first smile and coo, to grabbing your hair and crawling. Now, on your baby's very first birthday, expect your child to be cruising, eating solids and even saying his first few words.
How can I encourage my baby to walk?
Your baby will be getting better by the day at building up muscle strength, balance and confidence. By now he should be an excellent crawler but beware, he may decide a flight of stairs looks like an exciting challenge to go up or down.
Your baby may also be building up confidence towards taking his first unsupported steps. This may not happen for a few months yet, but your birthday baby may be able to walk while holding your hands for support. If you catch your baby taking his very first steps, it's likely that they will be unsteady but quick - babies usually fall down at first. If you notice your baby's feet turned inwards or outwards with his feet apart, be assured this is typical of the first unsteady steps.
To encourage your baby to try walking, hold both his hands as he tries taking steps. Keep the area clear of toys and other obstructions so your baby has a safe environment in which to practise walking. While your baby is indoors, bare feet are best. However, once your baby is walking outdoors or on cold or rough surfaces take him to get his first shoe fitting by a qualified fitter, who'll make sure there's plenty of room for your baby's growing toes.
Remember that babies develop skills at different rates, so don't worry if you have to wait until your baby is 18 months old before the first steps are taken. However, if your baby hasn't yet shown any interest in becoming mobile, whether through rolling, crawling or bottom-shuffling, talk to your GP or health visitor. You should also contact them if your baby doesn't seem to be able to coordinate his arms and legs to move together or if he is unable to use both of his arms or legs equally.
What type of activities will my baby find interesting?
A range of activities will keep your baby entertained as his brain and motor skills continue to develop. Your baby may now understand shapes and how they fit together. Wooden puzzles that have knobs for lifting out and placing shapes into a hole, for example, can help improve your baby's hand-eye coordination as well as teach him about shapes. If he can hold a chunky crayon, your baby might enjoy scribbling. Although your baby has developed the finesse to handle a small object, he will also enjoy more boisterous activities such as pushing, throwing and knocking things down. He may also enjoy play tunnels and castles made from large cardboard boxes. Expect the noise levels to increase, but also allow your baby opportunities for some quieter activities.
You can make tidying up into a game for your baby, asking him to help pick up toys and put them away using short simple sentences such as "Please get teddy." Now is a good time to start teaching good manners using 'please' and 'thank you'. It will also help your baby to eventually get into the routine of doing chores one day. Meanwhile, your baby may enjoy 'helping' you to do some household jobs such as dusting or sorting the laundry.