Baby Messes

Messes on the Move

First birthdays bring more mobility, so you may begin to notice messes spreading to different areas of your home. One-year-olds are also in the midst of developing manual dexterity, which now allows them to grab used tissues from the trash or pull clothes out of the laundry basket. "One-year-olds like to experiment, purposely looking for ways to tinker with their experiences to see how the results differ," says Acredolo. Parents of children this age often wonder why their son dumps the entire contents of his toy box when he doesn't want to play with toys, or why their daughter spills out all the crayons instead of simply choosing one. Jenny Pruette of Saline, Michigan, recalls when her 19-month-old daughter poured a whole box of cereal onto the floor. "Then," Pruette adds, "She mashed the pieces with her feet!"

So what's behind these mess-making antics? Around this time, babies begin to develop a more sophisticated memory -- a huge leap forward in their ability to learn. Children this age want to experiment with their surroundings and see what the outcomes will be. Through this trial and error, experts say, babies begin to learn basic principles about the objects in their world, becoming intrigued by the concept of cause and effect. They also start to learn that by changing their actions -- for example, dropping a ball from up high instead of down low -- they can make objects behave in different ways.

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