Your baby's physical and emotional milestones
At this age your baby is learning to focus on people other than himself. He is easily distracted by noises, movement and stimulation and his imagination is developing.
Although your baby (almost a toddler) is unable to express himself verbally, he can make himself understood through expressions and body language. He is also becoming aware of emotions like jealousy, fear and happiness – sometimes an enjoyable experience, sometimes frightening.
Your baby is on the brink of becoming a toddler and can be easily frustrated by his limitations. While some can be consoled with an alternative, tot's who are 'strong-willed' can learn to manipulate their parents into getting their own way.
Discipline is not always easy at this age as your tot still doesn't understand right from wrong. Smacking him will just teach him that smacking is okay when you are feeling frustrated and none of us want to teach our kids that. Rather just distract, distract, distract at this age. Take him away from the 'scene of the crime' or if it's extreme then try a time-out (for no more than one minute) in a quiet space – even if you need to sit with him, until the focus of the tantrum has disappeared. There will be plenty of time later on when your baby is more verbal to start considering star charts etc. For now your continued patience and celebration of your inquisitive tot is what he needs more than discipline.
Now that your baby is eating a full diet and three meals a day , there is no need for additional iron or vitamin supplements, unless specified by your doctor. Try not to introduce junk food to your tot at this time although inevitably the first taste of cooldrink or chips is just around the corner. It's okay to indulge now and then but be mindful of mirroring good eating habits for your child. Remember they learn from you. Try not to stock the junk in the home and let your child see you eat fruit and vegetables. Continue to offer healthy foods for your tot to eat. Preferably allow him to feed himself and let him finish up when he has had enough – this way there is no control issue over food and your dinner table doesn't have to be a battle ground. Your tot will eat according to comfort: and remember their tummies are still tiny so don’t stress if you don't feel he is eating enough. If you offer three great meals, healthy snacks inbetween and don't let your toddler fill up on juice then he will eat when he is hungry.
It's fine to offer the occasional treat but don’t overdo it. Never give treats as a reward or to consol your child when he's upset because this will teach him to associate them with comfort and this association may cause difficulties later in life.
If you are still breastfeeding, well done! A baby can breastfeed for as long as it suits you and him. Remember that breastfeeding now may be as much a source of comfort as it is a source of nutrition. Be prepared for pressure to stop – society at large generally doesn't support breastfeeding moms after a time but this is entirely a choice that only you need to make for your child and family. Your baby's main source of nutrition from 12 months is from solid food. If your baby is not breastfeeding, limit his milk intake so he doesn't fill up on milk. You can also save your money now and switch your infant from formula to normal cow’s milk unless you are concerned that his nutritional needs are not being met by his daily diet.
Stimulating your twelve-month-old baby
At this age babies enjoy using their legs to get mobile – supported either with a wooden trolley, the bed or furniture, or a willing adult. It's an exciting moment when your toddler takes his first few steps alone – but once he has got it right, there's no stopping him mastering his introduction to independence. He will practice tirelessly at every opportunity and as his agility improves, so will his curiosity.
Keep your baby stimulated with anything that makes a noise – he loves to beat or bang, hit, smack or squeeze whatever he gets his hands onto! Teach him finer skills and patience with toys that fit into one another or have flaps to close, buttons to push, or shapes that fit together. It’s better to buy quality toys that last and are educational. When buying toys remember that the play should come from the child and not the toy. Show or teach your child how to play with the toy, e.g. a peg puzzle.
With your baby's first birthday just around the corner, this is an exciting time for your little family. If you are planning to have a big party, just remember that right now, your baby may not appreciate being the centre of attention and behave accordingly!
He may be overwhelmed by all the people, the fuss, the noise and the excitement. If this is the case, it may be kinder to have a quiet little gathering, or to let him have a sleep before he gets overtired or fills his face with bright blue and yellow icing, chocolate cake and cheese curls!
Your journey through pregnancy and babyhood is a thing of the past now that your baby is on the brink of toddlerhood. You must continue your role as guide, mentor, consoler, healer, interpreter and teacher for many years to come!
During your baby's first year you learned so much about him while he adapted to living outside the womb and becoming part of society. For him, this adventure called living has just begun and when he celebrates his second birthday next year, your toddler will have doubled his life span and the skills he has learned during his first year. Undoubtedly another important chapter is about to begin. Well done on making it through your first year!