Baby's 12th month: stages of development

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A baby of this age is inquisitive both in play and in her locomotive independence. As she gets better at walking she often transports toys with her. Because they start to spread their feet apart they have a better sense of gravity and stability and pace will increase as their confidence does. But the majority of one year old babies don’t start walking until after 12 months, although occasionally some will do it sooner than this.

Additionally if your child is 90 cm taller or able to climb out of their cot without help it could be time for a proper bed.

Hands are coordinated enough for stacking small objects and placing very simple puzzle pieces. Reach, grasp and release are easily accomplished with either hand.

One year old children show that they are beginning to develop assertiveness and possessiveness due to the sense of satisfaction they get from being in control and achieving things without assistance, even if it takes them a very long time.

Children of this age love to be with others but they may give their attention for only a few minutes.

At this time, your baby will vastly increase their knowledge and understanding of word sounds. Your twelve month old should respond appropriately to twenty to fifty words, which are usually related to the people, toys, common objects and activities that are present in her every day life, such as sleep, kiss, look, teddy, ball, car, show, no, doggy, etc. Genetics, older siblings and pattern of parent conversation play a key role in how many words a twelve month old is exposed to. Twelve month old babies will also start to say no constantly, often even when they don’t mean it, just because they are aware the impact it has and you can try to cut down on this by asking questions that don’t require a yes or no answer.

By twelve months a baby can hear as well as an adult and can also demonstrate sharpened visual perception skills. Scribbling with crayons will be very entertaining for a baby and during play she may also start to arrange her toys in order of size.

Children of this age love to be with others but they may give their attention for only a few minutes. They will continue to develop more attachments as they realise the different experiences they can have with different people – eg: rough play with Dad, quiet play with Grandma, etc.

A one year old child is emotionally aroused by other’s distress and may cry if she sees or hears someone else crying. She will also make an effort to include others in her experience and recognises how interacting with other people can affect them emotionally.


Weaning at 12 months is perfectly acceptable as babies will reap the most nutritional benefits from your breast milk in the first year. If a baby has a sudden drop in appetite don’t be alarmed – it may be due to teething or if a growth spurt is wearing off. They may also become more picky

Conversely babies who have a surge in appetite may be experiencing this because they no longer drink breast milk as often and if so the extra kilojoules she is consuming are probably at the same level as before, except in solids. Babies that are allowed to eat according to their own hunger are more likely to grow at a normal rate. But consult with your doctor if your baby’s weight seems to be lot more or a lot less than it should be!

Seek advice at the end of twelve months if your baby is not able to grasp toys, smile and laugh, sit by herself or make vowel or consonant sounds.

The information provided on Essential Baby is, at best, of a general nature and cannot substitute for the advice of a medical professional (for instance, a qualified doctor, child health nurse, pharmacist/chemist, and so on). If you have any concerns about your child’s development please contact a medical professional.

Discuss infant development with other mums on the Essential Baby Forums here.