Kathryn Gamble Lozier
As your baby gets closer to the one-year mark, he may take solo steps, be more proficient with his fine motor skills, and become more adventurous with his general physical abilities. Here's a look at what you might see on display this month as your baby finishes out his first year.
What to expect: It might seem like it's been ages since your baby was content to sit still, which is simply a sign that she's more engaged with the world around her. If you find that your little one is finding her way around the house at an alarming pace, it's a good time to reevaluate your babyproofing efforts. You can designate areas in each room for the baby to explore -- such as a low cabinet in the kitchen, which you can fill with wooden spoons, lightweight plastic colanders, and measuring cups and spoons -- so that you don't have to restrict her adventurous spirit.
"Many babies walk just after or around the age of 13 months," says Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., a Parents advisor, mother of two, and author of the blog Seattle Mama Doc. So be patient if your babe is still figuring out how to use her feet. As Baby becomes more proficient at walking, she may become clingier or may even refuse to walk at times. This is a completely normal way for your baby to show that she's processing her newfound physical independence. If you have stairs in the house, Baby might start trying to climb up them. Be vigilant with baby gates and consider teaching Baby, with careful supervision, how to climb backward down the stairs.
If your little one suddenly refuses to ride in the stroller, she's probably more interested in exploring the world on her own terms. This can be frustrating when you're trying to exercise or have somewhere to go, but know that it's a normal part of development. "Sometimes, if you let them walk a bit first, they will tire themselves out enough to get in and enjoy the ride," Dr. Swanson says.
Progression: As the month goes on, your guy will likely become more stable on his own feet (if he's not already running around) and will show increasing dexterity with his hands. He might be able to roll a ball to you, play hide-and-seek, and hand you items that you ask for.
How to help: Let Baby play inside the house without shoes or socks so that he can continue to learn to trust his own two feet. Provide safe areas to explore, and remember that your baby is becoming much more adventurous -- so he may go to greater lengths to reach or grab an object. Watch out for cords, objects on the table, and lamps that are within baby's reach. Baby may be interested in helping to stack blocks (try large, toddler-safe blocks), push toy cars, and hammer round balls through round holes.
Don't freak out if: Baby is clingy and demands to be carried more than normal, even as he continues to become more and more proficient at moving around. This is a normal sign that he's still adjusting to his new reality. Try to be patient during these phases. Baby may also have spurts where it seems like he's throwing all of his food on the floor. He might be experimenting with gravity or enjoying the sound of food hitting the floor, or he might not be hungry. Trust your baby to eat when he's hungry, and consider stopping the meal when more is winding up on the floor then in his mouth.
When you should you worry: If your baby seem weak or listless, or shows continued signs of regressing in terms of mobility, check in with your doctor.
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