Baby's First Year - Month 12

Imitation and baby babble
Imitation and baby babble 

Happy birthday and congratulations! You have made it through the first year with your baby which is often said to be the most exhausting but also incredibly rewarding. The first birthday party is very often for the parents to celebrate this great achievement! Your baby is moving rapidly into toddlerhood and you will be noticing significant changes. We have some tips for you below.


Imitation and baby babble
By now baby will have got the general idea of speech and is likely to be able to make sounds similar to conversation, but making little or no sense. She may wave her arms about as though she is giving a speech and you might just be able to work out a word or two.

She will certainly understand when you ask her to do one simple thing such as bring a nappy or pick up a toy, and she will show that she understands what you are saying even if she refuses to do it. She is likely to be very good at pointing and indicating when she wants something. You may also notice a few words in amongst all this baby babble, such as "mama", "dada" and "no" (which always comes before "yes", probably because it is easier to say).

Talking to her, naming objects and repeating her will help baby learn to speak. So when she points to a banana or her cup you can say "Would you like a banana/drink?" or "Here is Emma's (use her name) banana/drink."


First shoes

Babies need to learn to walk before they need shoes. Shoes, particularly those with hard soles, can actually slow down a baby's progress when it comes to walking. The only shoes she needs are soft leather or sheepskin, with non-skid soles, that she can wear when safety or warmth are important. When baby is walking well, her first shoes need to be fitted by an expert. Shoes can be expensive and will need replacing every three to six months, so don't be in a hurry to get baby shod - bare feet are best.

Some well-meaning people think that shoes will correct baby's flat feet. But flat feet are perfectly normal; they will correct themselves as baby grows into an active toddler.

A baby who will soon walk is likely to be waking at night again - maybe as often as every four hours. The drive and frustration that comes with learning to walk will usually affect all of baby's behaviour.
Some experts advise that babies who are waking in this way can be helped by being woken for a snack and cuddle just before the parents go to bed and this may be something you want to try.

By this age two naps a day may no longer be necessary. However, two quiet times during the day (and these can be in her cot) can help baby cope with daily challenges. Being firm about these times, and giving her a few toys to play with, will help her learn how to settle. So will not running to her in the morning immediately she wakes.


Your little Miss/Mr Independent
Around their first birthday many babies are afflicted with the drive to be independent coupled with the need to stay protected. They want to be in control, but they don't want to feel unsafe. This can create major dilemmas for parents who can be surprised that at their baby's sudden shows of frustration. This does not mean that baby is spoiled, but it does mean that you need to be on guard all the time and to set limits, both for baby's safety and reassurance.

It also means that there are tasks that you will have to watch her attempt, such as posting a toy through a slot, or opening a box. Give her the opportunity to do it herself and the reward that comes with it. However, if it becomes so frustrating for her that she works herself into a state, you may need to help her or find her something else to do.

Likewise with safety issues. It may be that you have to remove her from the hazard, such as helping herself to the dog's food, or opening the fridge door, and bear with the shrieks of rage and indignation while you find her something more suitable to do. Before she returns to the potential danger try to have it secured - for example, put the dog's food behind a stair gate or in a playpen and put a safety catch on the fridge door.


How many colds are normal?
It can seem as though baby just goes from one cold to another, particularly if you have older children, or your baby goes to child care or playgroup regularly. There are hundreds of cold viruses and it is not uncommon for babies to have up to ten colds in a year, which is why it seems like they never go away. Colds can lead to ear infections, bronchiolitis, tonsillitis and croup and a baby who has a lot of colds can be more susceptible to complications.

Colds are spread by droplets in the air when people cough and sneeze or by touching with a contaminated hand (so washing hands frequently when you have a cold is very important).  Apart from washing hands you can help to prevent colds from spreading by keeping those with colds away from baby; by using tissues and throwing them away, rather than using cloth handkerchiefs; and by ensuring that older brothers and sisters with colds wash their hands before touching baby.

Extra fluids, plenty of sleep and food will help baby (and others!) recover from a cold - antibiotics will not, they do not work against viruses. If baby's nose is very stuffed up, then saline drops from the chemist may help, otherwise you will need to see your doctor to discuss alternatives.

Immunisation reminder
If you haven't received a reminder (or maybe you have mislaid it!) this is the month your baby needs the next lot of immunisations.

Don't forget to take your child's Personal Health Record when you go.

Happy birthday - and well done!

Find out more:
The Parent Easy Guides from Parenting SA, a government organisation and the fact sheets from the Children, Youth and Women's Health Service are amongst the best and most up to date sources of information for Australian parents. Here you will find PDFs on all these topics and more.

Quarterly Guide to your toddler's second year
A quarterly update packed full of information, tips and useful contacts on your Toddler's development between 1 and 2 years. Emailed to you each quarter to coincide with the age of your toddler.

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Find out more:
The Parent Easy Guides from Parenting SA, a government organisation and the fact sheets from the Children, Youth and Women's Health Service are amongst the best and most up to date sources of information for Australian parents. Here you will find PDFs on all these topics and more.

Visit the Essential Baby Forums to meet other parents and share your experiences at each stage.

These guides are written for Essential Baby by child care author, Carol Fallows. Carol established Australian Parents magazine in the early 1980s as Australia's first parenting magazine and managed it for nearly 18 years. She continues to write about and for parents. Her most recent title is Having a Baby. The essential Australian guide to pregnancy and birth. (Transworld/Random House, 2005).

Next, read the Toddler Quarterly Guides - covering development, sleeping, toddler care, immunisation reminders, food and more.

This information is not a substitute for professional advice. If you have any concerns about your child's health or wellbeing it is important that you seek help from your doctor or a health professional.

Unless otherwise indicated the pronoun he or she refers to either sex. We have chosen to alternate.