You baby will show off her language skills this month and may make strides in both comprehension and speech. Read on to learn what intellectual developments you can expect, and what you can do to help your baby become her very best.
What to expect: You'll likely see improvements in word comprehension as things start to click more in Baby's little brain. And as soon as he is able, he'll start speaking words back to you -- mama, dada, and either dog or cat are common early words that Baby will use to show how much he likes the people and pets around him.
Babies thrive on new experiences, so in addition to regularly rotating through his toys (put some away in the closet, then switch them in every week or so), take him outdoors to explore. "Fresh air, sand, mud, dirt, grasses, puppies, other kids -- it's all part of the great outdoors and each is an opportunity to expand baby's awareness of the wonderful, wide, wide, world," says Michele Borba, Ed.D., a Parents advisor and author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries. "All of these different stimuli help cognitive and language development as well," she says.
But if you find yourself stuck inside all day, there are still ways that you can entertain your tiny tot. "I've found that the absolute best toy is your face! Make exaggerated facial expressions and watch your baby copy your expressions," Dr. Borba says. "You're actually planting the seeds of empathy and emotional intelligence."
Progression: Toward the end of this month, your baby might have a few words in her arsenal. And she might start to experiment with shrieks, shouts, hisses, and tongue clicks as she continues to explore the sounds she can make with her mouth. She may become better able to recognize specific animals or objects and point at what she wants.
How to help: Read to Baby at least once a day, if not more, and give him the chance to turn the page and choose between two books. Some babies start to show a clear preference for specific books by this age, so respect his interests to make storytime enjoyable for both of you. Continue to talk to Baby throughout the day and to point out objects of interest. The more you share language with your little one, the better his vocabulary will be in the long run.
Babies at this age are often interested in copying what you do, and in regular household objects. "Put out a few pots and pans and a big wooden spoon and -- voilà! You have a drum set for your little one," Dr. Borba says. "Show baby how to play with safe things around the house and he'll enjoy copying you," she continues.
Don't freak out if: If your baby seems quiet. Some babies are naturally more vocal than others, and most babies go through phases of being very loud and very quiet. These are natural cycles. Continue to read and talk to Baby and trust him to respond in his own way.
When you should you worry: If Baby is generally unresponsive or seems listless or unable to focus, check in with your pediatrician.