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Your Baby's 12th Month

Growing Independence

As your child is learning to do more things for herself, you may notice a change in her attitude and your own. She is no longer the small baby that longed to be held in your arms for an indeterminate amount of time; she is now on the move and only has time for cuddles when it is on her terms.

She is pushing herself to do even more things with her body and at times becomes impatient if you do it for her. But she also still wants 100 percent of your attention. You may not want to rush to her every time she calls out. This is a good opportunity for her to learn that you have things to do as well, and sometimes she’ll have to wait. Patience is one of life’s hardest lessons.

Limit Setting

Part of your child’s job is to explore and discover new things in his world. Sometimes, this can lead to dangerous situations and get him into trouble. Consistency in setting limits is a crucial part of parenting.

Setting limits ultimately keeps your child safe; he must learn that within the outside world there are hazards that he must learn to avoid. Also, setting limits teaches him the skills to interact considerately and respectfully with others. In short, he can’t always get his way.

Instead of telling him what he cannot do in a situation, try to steer him to an alternative—something that is safer and acceptable for him to explore. Or, give him a few activity choices so he can feel more in control of his actions.

Transitional Objects

Do you have a Linus in your family? Many of us fondly remember our special “lovies,” the items we clung to as youngsters to help us through difficult situations. These lovies can take the form of a blanket, doll, stuffed animal, or maybe something else—as long as it holds special meaning and is soothing to your child.

Experts use the term “transitional object” to refer to lovies because they support children going through transitions, such as having a new babysitter or going to a new childcare setting. They remind the child of the safety, security, and love of home and loving parents.

This is probably not the best time to start separating your child from his transitional object, as many children are peaking in stranger and separation anxiety about now. But, you may be tired of watching your child drag her blanket across the room, the yard—around town. There are strategies that parents use to prevent this from happening.

One of the most successful tactics includes setting specific times for when the special object is to be used. Encourage these as appropriate “lovey” times:

    • bedtime
    • when saying goodbye to Mommy and Daddy
    • when Baby’s sad
    • after taking a tumble

Other times during the day, keep the blanket in a specific spot so your child can access it if needed. Some parents have made a small swatch of the blanket for their child to hold and carry with her. Or, you may not mind Baby dragging the blanket. Whatever you decide, be consistent.

New Napping Patterns

Around 12 months (or more likely in the next few months), you’ll notice Baby starting to change his nap schedule. He is transitioning to one long nap per day. He may start to push the morning nap later, and then refuse to go down for a second one in the afternoon. Or, he may settle down for the morning nap at the usual time but sleep for longer.

Some babies adapt in one day to the new nap routine and others take months. You may have to step in and keep him up later in the morning so that he can settle down for a good long nap in the afternoon. This may provide some fussiness in the late morning since he is tired.

Also, children can develop a routine based on when others are napping at childcare. Talk to your childcare provider about his changing nap routine. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to put your feet up for a good two hours in the afternoon at a predicable time everyday.

Celebrate Sensibly—and Sensitively

When your baby celebrates his first birthday, you deserve congratulations! You get a pat on the back for having survived your first year of parenting. And you may feel as though a gala is in order to mark this special occasion.

But let’s be honest: Baby’s first party can be just as much (if not more) of a celebration for parents than it is for Baby. Just think back to this time 10 months ago, as you were trying to stabilize yourself as a parent.

Try to remember though, that while he is a whopping year old—and appears more curious and independent than he ever has up till now—your little one is still a baby. If he is on the sensitive side, a big celebration with streamers, balloons, cake, and many happy adult faces beaming at him may be all he needs to send him over the edge into tears and clinginess. By all means, we do want you to celebrate—just be sure you plan with your baby in mind.

More Development Help

As you’re considering your child’s development, keep in mind that all babies are unique. Whether your baby reaches milestones early or late, she has her own developmental path to follow. The dividing lines between these months are very fuzzy. If you have any concerns or questions about your baby’s development, please check with her healthcare provider.

 

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