Weeks 27 through 52
Don't worry if your baby isn't doing what's described here at exactly the time listed. Remember, every baby grows in a way that's entirely unique and individual. If you have concerns about your child's development, be sure to discuss them with your pediatrician.
You may have noticed your baby playing a new game: "drop things on the floor." It may seem like a simple pastime to you (and also a source for a sore back), but she is achieving a lot with her throwing. She's learning about cause and effect. When she gets the response she expects, it reinforces her understanding of how the world works.
Let's hear some applause, please! By this week, your baby is using his hands in more sophisticated ways--he may start to clap or imitate you when you wipe off his food tray. He may be ready to start feeding himself, too, so arm him with supplies of soft finger foods (be sure they aren't choking hazards).
She's not ready to host dinner parties yet, but your baby is eager for some more sophisticated ways of socializing. She's fond of peek-a-boo, and finding an object that you've hidden for her. Your playtime together teaches her the fun of sharing games--something she'll be able to draw upon in the coming years when she meets kids at the playground.
If he hasn't already started to crawl, your baby is busy mastering the muscular coordination and strength necessary for this feat. His first attempts may be "creeping" (propelling herself on her belly). Next, he may push up on his hands and knees and rock. Give him lots of time to practice and loads of encouragement. Before long, he'll be out of the starting gates!
Your baby's hands have likely evolved from little paws to little tools. Instead of clumsily grabbing things, he's learning how to manipulate his thumb and forefinger to pick up and hold objects. This "pincer grasp" will develop more in the next several weeks. Be extra vigilant about keeping choking hazards off the floor and away from his curious fingers.
So much to do, so little time could be your baby's motto this week. Her current preoccupation? Standing. Though she's still young for pulling herself up, she may be able to lean against furniture with her hands free. Despite taking lots of tumbles, your baby is determined to conquer gravity. Soften her falls by placing rugs or blankets under the furniture she uses as a jungle gym.
Those days of watching your baby happily follow your command may seem far in the distant past. He has his own opinions now and he'll be sure to let you know what he does and doesn't like. Though it might be unnerving, to say the least, bear in mind that he's experimenting with his emotions and learning how to control his environment.
Over the past few weeks, your baby has developed more coordination and strength in her legs and feet. She may have finally figured out how to pull herself up to standing position. Encourage her to stand by placing one of her favorite toys on the seat of a sturdy chair. Point to the chair, tell her the toy is there, and cheer her on to get up and grab it.
Stop and listen closely this week. In that gurgling brook of baby babble, you can hear the rhythms of speech! Your baby is stringing syllables together and placing different consonants with vowels. Plus, your baby understands more of what you say. She may comprehend common words like "ball" and "bottle." Satisfy her thirst for knowledge by reading her lots of baby books and labeling things for her. She's taking in every word!
At around nine months, a baby can create memories from his experiences. He might look at a ball, remember how it moves, then push it. He's even able to set goals for himself--like making noise from a pan by crawling to it and banging it with a spoon. Give him plastic bowls, pans, and other utensils and he'll happily set to work while you prepare dinner.
If you haven't already, take a good hard look around the house and put dangerous and valuable objects safely out of your baby's reach. Her curiosity is boundless and her mobility gets her around further and faster. Keep the bathroom door closed and tell her that certain situations she gets into are dangerous. Your consistence and firmness will teach her self-management skills.
At this age, your baby leaves a trail wherever he goes. As he scoots around the house, he may pull books off shelves and clear cabinets of their contents. He'll also happily tip over wastebaskets. Though it's tiring for you to constantly clean up after him, he needs to be a little explorer. This inquisitiveness is a natural part of his development.
If it seems to you that your baby is always sticking something into her mouth, you're probably right. Babies between the ages of eight to twelve months spend at least 20 percent of their waking hours either gumming, turning over, or banging small objects. Your little one is filled with energy and the desire to discover the whole world. Be vigilant about her safety, but let her follow her bliss!
All eyes are on you. As you go about your day doing seemingly mundane tasks, your baby is intently watching you. He's also starting to imitate you. If given the chance, he might take a toothbrush and run it across his teeth, or try combing his hair. Mimicking is an important way for your baby to learn. He'll love toys that represent real objects, like a play phone.
You may have spent the past three nights re-reading Good Night Moon at your baby's insistence. She focuses on objects on each page and feels comforted by seeing the same images and hearing the same words over and over. Don't fight her requests--this is building her self-esteem. You can try slipping in a new story every once in a while.
If you have a health club membership, you might be thinking about canceling it. Your baby is giving you plenty of exercise! He's constantly on the go and discovering new and faster ways to move. He's likely cruising while holding furniture and may even be making a few wobbly unassisted steps. The more time he gets to practice using his legs, the stronger and more coordinated he'll be.
Out of sight, but not out of mind--your baby now knows that objects exist even when she can't see them. She'll look under blankets for her misplaced book, or play games by dropping a toy in a container, then turning it upside down. You can reinforce this concept of object permanence by playing a rudimentary game of hide and seek. Hide a toy under a cup and let her find it.
It's impossible to let your baby out of your sight. He's discovered that there's more to his world than what meets the eye on ground level. The allure of stairs and furniture is irresistible, so be sure you've installed safety gates. Though he might get himself up, he needs help getting down. Teach him how to descend by standing behind him and gently pulling him down to the closest step.
By now, your baby is telling you, so to speak, that she wants to do things on her own. She prefers feeding herself and might even grab the spoon away from you during mealtimes. Let her. Despite the colorful palette she drips on the tray and surrounding floor, she needs the practice to master her fine motor skills. Your cheering is also helping her self-image and esteem.
Your baby's personality is really blossoming now. She's developing her opinions and isn't shy about expressing her preferences for people and ways to do things. If diaper changes are becoming wrestling matches, keep in mind that she's flexing her newfound independence --a positive step in development.
To limit accidents for your increasingly mobile baby, lay down the laws of the land. Though it's important for him to learn by exploration, he also needs some limits and boundaries. Do this by giving him simple directions and demonstrations: We walk to the sidewalk, then stop. Also, show him: This is the sidewalk. And give him a big hug and kiss each time he does what has told.
Your baby may or may not be walking yet, but she's certainly trying to get around. She cruises on furniture, holds your hands while taking steps, and may not even want to sit down. This is a major milestone, though babies may take that first unassisted step at anywhere from 8 to 15 months. You can help her walking skills be giving her a sturdy push-pull toy, and placing furniture in strategic areas to encourage her cruising.
There's a flip side to your baby's new-found independence. Insecurity. She realizes that by doing things on her own, she's a separate entity from you. Her anxiety around strangers may have returned, too. Reassure her by staying close when she needs you, and giving her attention when she turns to you for it.
You may be ready to collapse at the end of the day, but your baby is too excited by her new accomplishments to sleep. During her last feeding, hold her in your arms in a darkened room and gently rock her while singing. By establishing a relaxing bedtime ritual, she'll soon be able to expect and appreciate the break from her intense day.
Your baby is learning just how much he can handle. He's discovered that he can hang onto an item in each hand and he can even tuck one under his arm to pick up a third. You can encourage his reasoning and motor skills by offering him different tantalizing objects. Watch how he figures out how and where to hold them all!
Happy birthday! While you're reveling in the accomplishments and changes your baby has made since entering your lives last year, she may give you a present of her own: Calling her parents mama or dada. She's on the brink of using more words, too, so encourage her interest in language by speaking slowly and clearly. You're preparing her for a lifetime of learning.