Baby Growth and Development: 8-12 Month Milestones

What should a baby be doing between 8 months and 12 months? With these guidelines, parents can help their little ones reach important developmental milestones.

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Sit Without Assistance

when do babies start talking happy baby sitting on floor
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As an 8 month milestone, Baby may get into a sitting position without assistance. He still might topple over from time to time, but he will usually catch himself with his arms. Try rolling a ball to your baby while he’s sitting; every time he leans over to reach a toy, he strengthens his core muscles.

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Use Pincer Grasp

young mom feeding baby in high chair
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The pincer grasp—which lets you pick up objects between her thumb and forefinger—usually shows up as a 8-12 month milestone. You'll find Baby practicing the pincer movement on any small object, so be extra cautious of coins and other objects that are a choking hazard.

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Pay More Attention to Speech

laughing mom playing with baby girl on bed
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As your baby prepares to start talking, he’ll cue into your conversations. The more animated your speech is, the more interested he will be. Let him watch your mouth and facial expressions as you talk.

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Explore Objects

three babies playing together
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At 8 months, your baby might spend only two or three minutes with a single toy, but by 12 months, he might sit for up to 15 minutes with an especially interesting object. Give her a box or bag filled with different baby-safe household objects to shake, bang, throw, and drop.

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Develop Stranger Danger

Mom Holding Crying Baby Wearing Overalls
Stephanie Rausser

As baby grows, he may develop an attachment to his parents. Stay close to your little one when he's around a new person, because holding him helps him feel extra-safe. Ask strangers to approach Baby slowly at first.

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Respond to Verbal Requests

Mother with Baby in Summer
Thayer Allison Gowdy

Around this time, your baby will respond to simple verbal requests. Here’s how to help: When you are changing your baby or getting him dressed for bed, touch and name the part of his body. Ask him to point to his tummy or touch his head.

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Bang Things Together

baby playing with toys
Photograph by Carl Tremblay

When your baby first plays with blocks, she will love throwing or banging them together. By 12 months, she might begin building simple towers and will especially love knocking them down.

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Find Hidden Objects

Big Sibling Plays Peekaboo With Baby
Stephanie Rausser

Baby will master the concept of object permanence—or the idea that objects still exist even when you can’t see them—as an 8 or 9 month milestone. Consider hiding behind a piece of furniture, leaving a foot or hand out as a clue. She'll love finding you!

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Assume Hand-and-Knee Position

baby girl learning to crawl
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Since your baby's arm muscles are more developed than his legs, he might rock back and forth or even push backward. Place bright toys and fun objects in front of him to encourage him to move forward.

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Improve Memory

Social Media Medical Advice Mother On Laptop With Baby
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Play simple memory games with baby flash cards. Lay out three or four cards with pictures with clearly different names (showing both a ball and bottle might be confusing). See if she looks at or points to the apple card when you say apple, etc. Try the same game with photos of family members and friends.

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Imitate People

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Since babies learn by imitation, he will copy your words and actions. Test this out by offering your baby objects such as a toothbrush, cup, hairbrush, or toy telephone. When he treats the object appropriately, such as putting the toy phone to his ear, react positively and enthusiastically.

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Creep on Hands and Knees

How to Practice Tummy Time

Many babies “creep”—or push around on their belly —during this timeframe. (But sometimes babies skip the creeping stage and immediately start pulling up and cruising.) Create a miniature obstacle course using pillows, cushions, chairs, and boxes for Baby to move between and over.

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Put Objects in Containers

baby playing
Alexandra Grablewski

Baby's curiosity and problem solving work together. When she figures something out, she might repeat it many times in a row before she gets bored.

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Show Preference for Toys

Baby Boy Yellow Hat Stuffed Animal
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Baby’s favorite toys are called “transitional objects” because they help children emotionally transition from dependence to independence. Using them is not a sign of weakness or insecurity.

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Pull Self Up to Stand

Baby Crying In Crib Arm Reaching Out
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As an 8-10 month milestone, your baby might pull himself to a standing position with the help of furniture or crib walls. At first, Baby might not realize how to sit back down. Teach him how to bend his knees to lower himself without falling. Your baby might also stand momentarily without support.

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Let Things Go

Baby Sitting in High Chair Eating Baby Food
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Your little one will love throwing objects from his crib or high chair just to watch you pick them up. When you tire of this game, place him on the floor so he can retrieve the toys himself.

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Use Simple Gestures

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Babies may start using simple gestures as a 9 month milestone. In fact, Baby understands more words than you might suspect. Mention a favorite toy, pet, or a family member's name. If she immediately looks for it, you'll know she understands.

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Finger-Feed Himself

Adorable Kid Eating At Home In High Chair
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Introduce your child to a variety of foods, since he will their differences in feel and taste. Some favorite food choices for this age include dry cereal, scrambled eggs, diced soft fruit and vegetables, cubes of cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, diced meat, teething biscuits, crackers, pasta, and mashed potatoes.

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Walk While Assisted

Baby walking with parent
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Around 11 months, your baby might walk while holding onto furniture. Let your little one cruise around the living room, holding on to the sides of chairs and couches for support. Stick to heavier pieces that won't flip over, and make sure there are no sharp edges.

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Point with Index Finger

Toddler Pointing Skills
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You might also notice that Baby points to objects that he wants or enjoys. When you are reading to your little one, ask her to find and point to the tree, cat, ball, and so on in the pictures.

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Say Simple Words

Mother and Baby Do Laundry Laughing
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Some babies will have a two- or three-word vocabulary by their first birthday, while others are still speaking gibberish. The more you respond like he's speaking, the more you will encourage his communication.

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Help Get Dressed

New York City Legislation Promises Changing Tables in All Men's and Women's Public Restrooms
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Baby might extend an arm or leg to help when being dressed. Make dressing easier by having everything you need ready before you start. Remember to never leave Baby unattended on a changing table while you step away to fetch her socks or sweater.

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Take First Steps

Baby Running on Beach
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Most babies take their first steps between 9-12 months—though some children wait much later, which is also perfectly normal. Most babies advance from a couple shaky steps to fairly confident walking in just a matter of days.

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