9 to 12 Months
- What Your Baby Likes: Playing near Mom and Dad, performing for audiences (expect an encore if well-received!).
- What's Behind the Smiles: She now realizes she can do quite a lot on her own, from playing with toys to picking up food on her plate and putting it into her mouth. She's sitting up on her own, possibly crawling, and maybe pulling up to a standing position. These milestones all give her a great feeling of accomplishment, though she might sometimes express frustration over what she wants to do but physically can't quite do yet, Gross says. She'll enjoy showing off, though, and will eat up the attention she's given.
- What You Can Do: Encourage her emerging independence with lots of praise. For instance, when she's playing with a musical toy: "Look at you, pushing those buttons and making those sounds!" When you notice her pleasure at using a spoon just like Mommy and Daddy (even if she's not getting much food into her mouth), tell her, "You're eating all by yourself. What a big girl you are!"
Get physical with your baby: holding her securely in your arms, sing a song or silly chant you make up yourself, and turn in circles. She might also like for you to bounce her gently on your knee or dance with her to upbeat tunes.
Another idea: Try setting up a couch cushion obstacle course, Myers-Walls suggests. Place cushions on the floor and show your baby how to climb over and crawl from one to the other.