Month 1: Awakening &  Awareness

BABY'S PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Growing Body – The average baby weighs between 6 and 9 pounds, but surprisingly seems to gain no weight during the first week. This is normal – baby has just lost his birth weight. He’ll gain it back by the second week. By the end of the first year, amazingly, he’ll have tripled his birth weight!
  • Sensory Awareness – Your baby begins using all five senses from the moment he’s born. He looks at your face, listens to your voice, smells your scent, feels your touch, and tastes your skin. That’s how he learns about you – and through you, he learns about his new world.
  • Feeding – Learning to nurse is your baby’s first task in life. Reflexes help – your baby has a rooting reflex to help him find the nipple, a sucking reflex to help him latch on, and a swallow reflex to help him get breast milk to his tummy. 

BABY’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Thinking – Visual stimulation is one of the primary ways a baby begins to use his brain. Although a baby’s vision is only 20/200 at birth – which means he can see better close up but not at a distance – he’s able to track your finger at a distance of 8 inches, distinguish faces from other patterns, and even see bright, distinctive colors, such as red and green.
  • Language – Your baby “talks” long before he uses recognizable words. Watch his face and you’ll see him express some basic emotions. Watch his hands and you’ll notice he expresses some of his needs. Watch his whole body and he’ll tell you how he’s feeling and what he wants.
  • Problem Solving – Although you solve most of your baby’s problems in the early weeks, babies use their reflexes to solve some of their own problems. They “shiver” to keep warm, “recoil” from pain, and “startle” to remind parents to handle them carefully! They even solve the problem of how to get fed – by crying! 

How You Can Help

  • Thinking – Begin a game of Peek-A-Boo with your baby the first week. While nursing or holding him, smile and talk to him. Next, cover your face with a cloth for a moment. Talk to your baby again, then remove the cloth and smile. Watch your baby’s eyes widen as you magically reappear
  • Language – Just because your baby isn’t speaking yet doesn’t mean he isn’t learning language. The more you talk to him, the sooner he’ll develop language skills. As you talk to your baby, use a higher pitched voice, simple words and short sentences, lots of repetition, and facial expression. Watch your baby respond with body language and eye contact.
  • Problem Solving – To help your baby learn to problem solve even at this earlier stage, give him simple choices. For example, put a rattle in his reflexive grasp and a soft cloth in the other hand. See what he does with them on a very simple level. 

BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Self-Awareness – At first, your baby seems to think he’s still attached to you, even though the cord has been cut. Other times he thinks he’s one long extension from the breast. During the first week he’ll begin to find his hands and feet, feel the discomfort of separation from his parents, and “bond” with a special blanket or lovey of his own, which all leads toward self awareness.
  • Emotional Expression – Before your baby learns how to express his emotions through language, he’ll express his feelings, moods, and needs through vocalizations. His cries may differ from one another early on, as he tries to communicate his feelings, so listen carefully to his emotional signals.
  • Social Interaction – Bonding is baby’s first early emotional and physical attachment to his parents. It’s achieved through touching baby, giving him a name, holding him, and seeing to his needs. A baby needs to bond with his parents in order to feel loved, safe, and secure.

How You Can Help

  • Self-Awareness – To help your baby begin to distinguish himself from the world, give him some time in front of a mirror. At first he’ll just wonder at the movement and face opposite him. Soon he’ll realize, through cause and effect, that he’s the person in the mirror causing the movement. Nothing delights a baby more than his own reflection.
  • Emotional Expression – Most experts believe if you respond to your baby’s cries quickly, he’s more likely to cry less over time, and feel more psychologically secure, knowing that someone is taking good care of him. 
  • Social Interaction – Spend as much time with your baby as you like. You won’t spoil your baby by picking him up. In fact, the more you pick him up and hold him, the more rapid gains he’ll make physically, cognitively, and psychologically. Be sure to let other family and friends spend time with your baby too, so he’ll be comfortable interacting with others.  

Month 2: Watchful & Alert

Baby’s Physical Development

How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Visual Skills – Your baby is looking all over the place! Her vision isn’t 20/20 yet – she’s still nearsighted – but it’s improving, and she can see objects as long as you keep them nearby. She can not only track objects moving back and forth, but she can follow them up and down as well. Watch her flap her arms and legs excitedly as she spots something new and interesting.
  • Physical Growth – Your baby has probably grown about one inch by now, and she’s putting on weight even more rapidly. If she looks healthy, is taking breast milk well, and has alert periods, she’s probably doing well. Most infants feed about 6 times a day, taking in about 3 ounces of breast milk, but it varies baby to baby. If she’s outgrowing her infant clothes, she’s developing!
  • Voluntary Control – Your baby is gaining better control over her arms by this time. You might see her try to reach for objects in front of her. She’s not able to make direct contact easily, but you can see the effort she makes, as she attempts eye-hand coordination.

How You Can Help

  • Visual Skills – As your baby’s vision improves, give her more interesting things to look at. Move the objects slowly back and forth in front of her face, about 12 inches away. Then move them up and down and see if she can follow them with her eyes. To help her track the objects, have them make noise, so she has another reason to look at them.
  • Physical Growth – It’s normal for a baby to lose several ounces before she begins to gain weight. To make sure she’s getting enough breastmilk, check with your doctor. He may suggest increased feedings, especially if baby is sleeping through mealtimes, which can cause a lack of weight gain.
  • Voluntary Control – As baby attempts to reach out and grasp objects, make sure some of the items are within her reach and easy to hold, such as colorful rattles, small stuffed animals, or teething rings. Move them slightly so she’s attracted to them, and then help her make contact as she tries to reach for them.

BABY’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Vocalization – Around this time your baby may begin to vocalize when you talk. She’s trying to imitate your speech – “talk” with you – and may make 10-15 sounds that relate to speech. Especially common are vowels, which are easier to say than consonants.
  • Overstimulation – Your baby has only been on the planet a few weeks, and she’s still getting used to a completely different world of stimulation, not at all like the dark, insulated world of the womb. 
  • Tactile Discrimination – Your baby is sensitive to touch and responds to differences between hard and soft, cold and warm, fuzzy and plain, rough and smooth. She loves to be touched, held, caressed, carried, and handled.

How You Can Help

  • Vocalization – As baby begins to vocalize, engage in “conversations” with her. Talk to her, then pause and wait for her to try to vocalize. When she does, imitate the sounds she makes, using a high pitched voice and an animated face. The more you repeat her sounds, the more she’ll begin to repeat yours.
  • Overstimulation – You can minimize your baby’s overstimulation and irritability by watching her body language, muscle tension, and facial expression. She’ll tell you she’s had enough “fun” for the time being and needs a break by acting fussy, restless, or inattentive. Although some babies tune out when they’re overstimulated, others will need a break from all the excitement. 
  • Tactile Discrimination – Play a tactile game with baby to help awaken more sensitivity to different textures, temperatures, and touch. Find two objects that are hard and soft, such as a block and a pillow, two objects that are smooth and rough, such as a towel and a blanket, and two objects that are cool and warm, such as a plastic toy and a hand. Place baby on her back, gently rub the objects on her tummy, and talk about them. Watch the reaction in her eyes, face, and body.

BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Rhythmicity – Your baby’s temperament continues to reveal itself to you. One area that becomes obvious early on is her regular cycles of activity, called rhythms. Many babies eat, sleep, play, and defecate on a fairly regular schedule. You can almost time them. Other babies seem to be less predictable, waking at various times, eating at irregular intervals, and filing their diapers often or seldom. 
  • Diminishing Crying – After the first month, you should be able to distinguish your baby’s different cries. Some of those cries are a substitute for vocalizing needs and wants. As the crying becomes more selective, you’ll be better able to determine what each cry means, and how to respond. 
  • Emotional Connection – Your baby recognizes you by your smell, your touch, your voice, and your face. She needs to spend time with you, just being held, carried around in a Snugli®, being touched, and staying close. 

How You Can Help

  • Rhythmicity – You can help your baby regulate herself to some degree, although her patterns are generally innate. Follow her schedule for the most part, but you might wake her a little earlier for feeding or playtime, put her down for nap or bedtime at certain times, and help her find some routine if she doesn’t seem to have her own patterns. 
  • Diminishing Crying – If your baby’s cries are more for loneliness, boredom, or simple irritability, you can try to distract her from her fussiness with an interesting toy, funny face, or change of location. If you interrupt the fussy cry, you can often prevent a bigger upset.
  • Emotional Connection – Parents spend a large part of the day caring for their baby’s physical needs and cognitive stimulation, but often forget to take time to just enjoy one another for some quiet time. Lie down on the floor with your baby on your tummy, so she can feel your warmth, listen to your heartbeat and breathing, and hear your soft voice.

Month 3: Reaching & Reacting

BABY'S PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Soft Spot – Your baby has two soft spots, a larger one on the top of his head and a smaller one at the back. By now the posterior fontanel (back) has probably “closed,” meaning the cartilage there has hardened into bone. The frontal fontanel won’t harden and close until about a year and a half old.
  • Scooting – Your baby may show signs of beginning to scoot when he’s lying on his tummy. He’ll raise his buttocks up in the air and try to “push” off the carpet or floor. You may find that when you leave the room and return minutes later, he has miraculously inched across the floor. 
  • Weight Gain – As baby continues to get his nutrition from breast milk, he’ll add about a half pound around this time.

How You Can Help

  • Soft Spot – The soft spot is a safety net for baby, whose still rather pliable head is somewhat resilient. But baby can develop a “flat head” if he spends too much time in one position, especially on his back, (which is now recommended to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Make sure to change baby’s position often, and give him some propped sitting time.
  • Scooting – To encourage scooting, place baby on his tummy on a soft surface. Place your open hands at the bottoms of his feet, to provide resistance, and gently push them forward. Baby should tuck his legs, raising his buttocks. When he’s in this position, keep your hands steady, and you’ll find he begins to “shove” himself forward.
  • Weight Gain – As your baby puts on weight, he’s digesting his food better and spitting up less. It’s tempting to introduce cereal when you hear the old wives’ tale about how it helps baby sleep through the night. But he’ll sleep through when he’s ready, and doesn’t need the extra calories for several more months.

BABY’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Brain Growth – Baby’s brain growth is amazingly rapid during the first year. When he was born, his brain weighed about 25 percent of the adult brain weight. By the end of the first year, the brain is about 50 percent of the adult weight, and 75 percent by age two.
  • Memory – Baby’s memory is developing each time he’s reintroduced to a stimuli – a plaything, person, or event. A baby can remember something that happened as long as a week or so in the past, if it was exciting enough to gain his attention the first time. 
  • Language Development – Your baby is making new sounds, as he learns to play with his lips, tongue, and throat. He likes to coo, and to listen to the sound of his own voice as he repeats noises. He also likes to gurgle the saliva at the back of his throat, and make other interesting sounds.

How You Can Help

  • Brain Growth – As your baby’s brain continues to grow, it’s important that you continue to stimulate your baby, through language, experiences, his senses, and the environment. The more he is stimulated, the further and faster his intellectual functioning will increase. Play with him, talk to him, show him his world, and give him opportunity and time to interact with playthings and people.
  • Memory – Give him a toy that makes a noise when gently squeezed, and place it in his hand. Squeeze it for him, then watch his reaction. Soon he’ll be squeezing it himself, in an attempt to make the noise: He’s remembering cause and effect.
  • Language Development – Trying to coordinate the parts of the mouth for speech is a tricky business for baby – and lots of fun! Practice a variety of sounds with him, while he sits in your lap, face to face. Gurgle, blow bubbles, make raspberries, puff your mouth, whistle – be creative with sound and watch your baby’s fascination. He’ll soon be making all those sounds himself, great practice for the varieties of speech.

BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Adaptability – Some babies adapt easily to changes in their environment, schedule, and caregivers. Other babies seem to become irritable if their routines are disturbed or interrupted in some way. This temperament aspect of personality seems to be innate at birth.
  • Interaction with Environment – You may see your baby begin to interact more specifically with a special toy or plaything. He’s exploring the properties of the objects and learning about them through frequent contact with the senses.
  • Loneliness – Your baby feels lonely at times and may simply want to be picked up, held, and talked to. He’ll let you know he wants attention by trying to look for the caregiver, calling out, fussing, even crying. Your close proximity to baby makes him feel comforted, safe, and secure.

How You Can Help

  • Adaptability – If your baby seems happier with the same routine, you might try to keep it as consistent as possible. But if you want to introduce change, do it slowly, talk to your baby about what’s happening so the tone of your voice is reassuring and comforting, and try to keep changes at a minimum.
  • Interaction with Environment – When you offer your baby a rattle or soft toy to hold, watch how he interacts with it. He may look at it, shake it, squeeze it, put it in his mouth, even throw it – all to see what it’s about. Show baby how to manipulate his toys by demonstrating all the properties of the object, and let him try out each one, with your help.
  • Loneliness – When your baby is feeling lonely, you might consider keeping him with you as you do your tasks around the home. A great way to have baby with you, and keep him company, is to wear him in a Snugli® as you move from place to place. When you must leave him for a minute, talk to him so he knows you still exist, even though he can’t see you. He’ll begin to feel your presence nearby, and feel secure.

Month 4: Babbling &  Body Language

BABY'S PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Pre-Standing – Your baby’s legs are straightening out more as the weeks pass. She’ll stretch her legs when held upright, and will try to press her feet on flat surfaces. She may even make stepping movements when held upright in a standing position, something she used to do as a reflex.
  • Neck Strength – Baby is gathering more strength in her neck, balancing her head so she can see more of the world. She’ll still need support when she sits for periods of time, but you may find her leaning forward in an attempt to control her head.
  • Arm Waving – While baby’s legs and neck strength are increasing, so are her arms. She likes to wave her arms simultaneously, flapping them up and down. She’ll soon be able to control her arms, but for now she’s practicing control of the movements.

How You Can Help

  • Pre-standing – As your baby stretches her legs and presses her feet down, you can enhance her pre-standing skills. Make sure baby has bare feet and is wearing loose clothing or a diaper. Lay her down on her back. Grasp her back and sides, and gently raise her to sitting, making sure her neck is strong enough to support her head. Then gently raise her to standing and keep her feet near the floor. Watch to see if she presses her feet flat on the floor, then with your continued support, let her balance on her legs. Check to see if she raises a foot. 
  • Neck Strength – To increase baby’s neck strength, place her in your lap and pull her forward a few inches, while watching to make sure she can support her head. Gently ease her back into the seat.
  • Arm Waving – To help your baby increase her arm control, give her lots of opportunity to move and wave her arms. The best position for this is sitting or lying on her back. When she flaps her arms, imitate her movements and watch her increase her waving and flapping. Then gently move one arm and see what she does with the other arm. 

BABY’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Scent Memory – One of your baby’s best-developed senses right from birth is her sense of smell. You already know she can recognize mom’s scent, and even dad’s. Now she’s able to recognize other familiar smells, such as your perfume, baby lotion, or certain fragrant toys.
  • Listening to Vocalizations – You baby loves the sound of her own voice! She’s added so many sounds to her repertoire, she can probably entertain herself for several minutes, just by vocalizing.
  • Circular vision – Baby’s ability to track objects is expanding rapidly. She can look side to side, up and down, and in a small circle. As her visual activity increases, so does her interest in her world.

How You Can Help

  • Scent Memory – As baby comes in contact with familiar scents, let her hold the items near her face so she can smell them. Say the names of the items, remove them from her face, then bring them back and let her smell them again. Let her smell a variety of items and watch her reaction. You might try a lemon, a banana, some cheese, or other food items. Make sure she doesn't place these in her mouth. Don’t bring her in close proximity to unpleasant smells.
  • Listening to Vocalizations – Tape-record your baby’s vocalizations as she makes them, and add a few of your own to encourage her to express herself. Then play back the tape for your baby to enjoy, and watch her listen attentively to her own voice.
  • Circular Vision – Try a game of “Roaming Spotlight.” Sit in a darkened room with your baby in your lap facing a wall. Shine a flashlight on the wall and watch baby attend to it. Move the light slowly back and forth, then up and down, then around in circles. Move slowly so she can follow the image.

BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Gestures with Vocalizations – As baby increase her vocalization, she’ll begin to imitate your gestures as you talk with her, by waving her arms and legs. This back and forth conversation, using pre-speech and early gestures, is clearly a social interaction that takes place with babies and their caregivers. Conversations like these enhance baby’s cognitive skills and emotional attachment to her parents.
  • New Awareness of Environment – Babies at this age are especially attentive to their caregivers. You’ll notice that your baby gets upset when you leave, that she gets excited when you enter the room, and that she follows you with her eyes when you move around the room.
  • Eye Contact – Baby’s eye contact with you is increasing. She can gaze at you for longer periods of time without a lot of added attention-getters. It’s more than just watching; it’s an emotional connection that’s important to the bonding and attachment process. Notice she smiles, vocalizes and moves her body more when making eye contact.

How You Can Help

  • Gestures with Vocalizations – This is a good time for “Pat-A-Cake.” Properly harness baby in her infant seat and sit opposite her so she can see you clearly. Play pat-a-cake with her, going through the motions by holding her hands and chanting the song. Try it again without holding her hands. Then again, holding her hands. Soon she’ll begin waving in anticipation of the game.
  • New Awareness of Caregiver – Notice how baby watches you, following you around the room with her eyes. Play a game of “Peek-A-Boo,” by ducking behind counters and chairs, then popping out to surprise her. Move all around the room to keep her alert to the game, so she can try to anticipate your next move.
  • Eye Contact – As baby meets your eyes, talk with her to maintain the connection as long as possible. Move your head slightly, widen your eyes, blink and smile, to keep her interested in her gaze.

Month 5: Exploration & Experimentation

BABY'S PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Sitting Propped – Your baby is sitting better while he’s propped up, and enjoying watching his world. He can sit longer without toppling because his back is less rounded than it was. The lower back area is still curved but it’s beginning to straighten out, which will soon allow for more overall body movement.
  • Two-Hand Grasp – When you give your baby a toy, he tends to grasp it with both hands. He may let go with one hand temporarily, but will probably regrasp it with both hands soon. Then he’ll bring the toy to his mouth to check it out.
  • Wrist Rotation – About this time, your baby is beginning to rotate his wrist while holding a toy. This allows him to examine more angles and properties of the object. He’ll master this skill in another 3 to 4 months.

How You Can Help

  • Sitting Propped – Your baby enjoys being pulled to a sitting position from a lying down position, with a little help from you. As he’s lying down, let him grasp your thumbs or fingers and you’ll feel the strength of his grip. Then slowly pull him up to sitting. 
  • Two-Hand Grasp – Practice the single-hand grasp with your baby, the next step in deliberate grasping. Hand baby a toy in the center of his body and watch what he does. Then hand him a toy slightly to the side, closer to one hand than another. He should take the toy in one hand, but he may then hold it with the other hand as well. Then, give him another toy from the side, and see if he lets go with one hand to grasp it. 
  • Wrist Rotation – To help baby practice wrist rotation, begin by playing “Bye-Bye.” Seat baby in your lap facing you, then wave bye-bye to him, while saying the words. Raise baby’s arm and mimic the gesture with his hand. Play a few times, then repeat later and see if he begins to move his hand up and down.

BABY'S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

How Your Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Fine Motor Skills – Your baby is enjoying his fingers more and more, as he begins to understand how they work and what they can do. Manual dexterity is important to all kinds of future tasks, so give him lots of opportunity for finger play by placing him in a sitting position so he can see and use his fingers. 
  • Syllables – As your baby’s language develops, he’ll begin to string sounds together. He’s practicing his syllables, another foundation for making words and sentences. He’s also imitating specific speech sounds he hears from you, and may string these together as well.
  • Location of Sound – Your baby’s listening skills are improving. He’s beginning to differentiate more sounds, and recognize the ones that are repeated and familiar to him. He’ll also try to locate sounds that may not be in his line of vision. Instead of just using his eyes, he may turn his head to find the sound, now that he has better head control. 

How You Can Help

  • Fine Motor Skills – Although baby enjoys playing with his fingers and can entertain himself for some time just wiggling, clasping and sucking on his fingers, you can enhance his manual dexterity with fingerplay. Begin with a simple game, such as “Itsy Bitsy Spider?” and as you sing the song, move his fingers to match the lines. 
  • Syllables – Singing to baby is one of the best ways to encourage his ability to vocalize in syllables. Using a simple tune as a foundation, sing strings of syllables, using the sounds baby makes or “la-la-la.” Let baby watch your face and mouth as you sing, and he may try to imitate the song. 
  • Location of Sound – Find two objects that make very different sounds. Properly harness baby in his infant seat with the objects out of sight, one on either side of him. Reach down and manipulate the object to make a sound and see if baby tries to locate it. Repeat with the other object. He may be following your hand to lead him to the object, as well as listening for it. Repeat the activity, this time sitting behind your baby so he can’t watch when you make the sound. See if he tries to locate it, using his eyes and turning his head.

BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Special Attachment – Your baby may emotionally attach to a special toy, blanket, or pacifier at this time, so watch carefully to see his reactions to different objects. He may light up when he sees his favorite toy, then frown if he sees something new. Baby is forming an attachment to something other than mother, to help him cope with his loneliness, fears, and insecurities. 
  • Self Calming – When your baby gets upset, he may try to calm himself by sucking his thumb or fingers, or putting his fist in his mouth. This is the first step in self-control, and learning to cope with emotional discomfort.
  • Emotional Expression – Your baby will begin to express himself more and more through play. When he shakes a toy or bangs it on the floor or table, he may be sharing his joy, frustration, anger, or excitement. 

How You Can Help

  • Special Attachment – When you notice that your baby is fond of a particular object, make sure it’s available to him when he needs it. Attaching to a toy, blanket, or other item is a normal part of emotional development, and is not a sign of weakness. You can make him a special blanket for this purpose, and keep it with him when he sleeps, travels, or needs extra comfort. 
  • Self Calming – When baby begins to fuss, you might let him fuss a few minutes to see if he tries to comfort himself with his hands and fingers. You can also use a pacifier to help him calm himself, and make it available to him so he can get it when he needs it.
  • Emotional Expression – If your baby likes to bang his toys, but he’s driving you crazy with the sound, you can muffle the noise by putting a cloth on the table, or by letting him use softer toys to express his feelings.  

Month 6: Socializing &  Self-Esteem

BABY'S PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Mouthing – At this age, your baby is probably putting everything she can grasp into her mouth. While lying on her tummy, she may reach for items around her and take them into her mouth, to find out what they feel like, what size and temperature they are, if they’re soft or hard, and even if they’re edible. It’s the way she learns about the properties of different objects. 
  • Rollover – Your baby will be rolling over both ways if she isn’t already. This is another major milestone and leads to greater mobility. Some babies even use rolling as a method to get from one spot to another. Be sure to keep an eye on her at all times.
  • Sitting – Sitting without support is the latest physical task your baby is trying to perfect, as she attempts to hold up her head and straighten her back. She may roll up into a sitting position, combining both rolling and sitting, but may tip over soon after.

How You Can Help

  • Mouthing – You need to be especially careful of your baby’s surroundings, now that she’s taking everything into her mouth. She’ll try to mouth even the tiniest objects, including coins, bits of food, and bugs. She could choke on these objects, so make sure the area is cleared of objects that are sharp, breakable, or have small parts. Don’t stop her from mouthing objects – it’s still a valuable learning experience. Set out a variety of items for baby to grasp and mouth while lying on her tummy. 
  • Rollover – To help baby practice her rolling over, give her a little help by tucking in an arm and lifting a leg over, so she gets the idea if she hasn’t already. Place toys on either side of baby to encourage her to rollover. Give her praise when she rolls to keep her motivated, although the experience will do that itself.
  • Sitting – Hold your baby in your lap and support her lightly around the waist. Let go for a few seconds and let her balance herself. After a few times, repeat the exercise on the floor, making sure your hands are close by in order to catch her as she tries to balance herself.

BABY’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Self Esteem – Your baby shows early signs of self esteem when she wants a favorite toy, attaches to a “lovey”, or smiles at herself in the mirror. These reactions are not selfish acts, but expressions of her growing awareness that she matters.
  • Matching Sounds – Around this time your baby will begin to distinguish between somewhat similar sounds, and will anticipate which object makes which sound. She’s fine tuning her listening skills, and using the sounds to help her identify between different objects.
  • Social Language – Your baby is using syllables, vowels, and consonants to practice “social language.” She’s imitating the sounds she hears from the people around her, as a form of pre-language. You’re likely to hear consonants including “ba,” “da,” “ga,” “la,” “ma,” “na,” “pa,” “ta,” and “wa.” The rest of the consonants are more difficult and will come later.

How You Can Help

  • Self Esteem – One of the best ways to help your baby enhance her self-esteem is to give her lots of mirror time. About this time she may respond to the mirror by smiling at herself in the reflection. Let your baby see herself standing up, sitting, and up close. Then put a hat on her head and watch her reaction to her new image.
  • Matching Sounds – Play a listening game with your baby, using two toys that make similar but different sounds, such as two rattles. Hold up one rattle and shake it for baby, then hold up the other one and shake it. Repeat, and watch your baby move her eyes between the two objects as she anticipates which will make the next noise.
  • Social Language – To continue your baby’s rapid growth in speech sounds, repeat back the sounds she makes, using songs or chants. When she says a sound, imitate it, then make another sound that’s similar, and see if baby will imitate you. Say a few simple words that use similar sounds, and show her the objects that match, such as “dada” – point to daddy, “mama” – point to mommy, and “wawa” – point to a water bottle.

BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Social Interaction – Your baby is displaying more recognition of and response to other people she’s familiar with. She shows this by watching the people she’s attached to, smiling at them spontaneously, vocalizing excitedly, and waving her arms and legs.
  • Social Play – Your baby is beginning to anticipate the fun of playing with you. She may be wide-eyed at first, then begin to smile or laugh, and become excited. She may also begin to “ask” for the play to continue, by making more noises, waving more excitedly, and fussing when it ends.
  • Emotional Expression – A few weeks ago, when your baby was upset, she tended to be comforted by rocking, swinging, and other physical methods of calming baby. Now she tends to be comforted more by being with the people she’s attached to, by having her “lovey”, or by soothing herself with the pacifier.

How You Can Help

  • Social Interaction – Your baby becomes more comfortable with other people the more time she spends with them. If she doesn’t seem to respond positively to a friend or relative initially, she just needs time to warm up and get to know them. Have the person approach her slowly, talk to her, and continue to make attempts throughout the meeting. Don’t force the friendship. Baby will warm up as she grows comfortable with different people.
  • Social Play – Your baby will enjoy playing more games around this age, as she learns how to interact and respond to her caregivers. Continue playing “Peek-A-Boo,” “Pat-A-Cake,” fingerplays for fine motor development, “Airplane” for gross motor play, and “Where did it go?” for cognitive play. At the same time, all play enhances social development.
  • Emotional Expression – Notice how baby responds to your methods of comfort, and you may see that different techniques work for different discomforts. Often just holding your baby, talking to her, and caressing her will be enough to soothe her at this stage. Sometimes a change of caregiver is needed if your baby continues to be upset, to give you both a break.

Month 7: Identifying & Problem Solving

BABY'S PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Teething – Teeth may appear any time between the ages of 4 to 12 months, the most common time being 6 to 8 months. Your baby will begin to drool, but the appearance of teeth may still take some time. He may be fussy just before a tooth breaks through, and will probably increase his sucking, rubbing his gums on firm objects, and biting, all to relieve the irritation. 
  • Standing – Your baby’s ability to stand continues to improve rapidly. He should be able to support most of his weight for a few moments, although balance is still shaky. If your baby is still a little bowlegged, it’s perfectly all right for him to practice standing, but if you’re concerned, check with your doctor. 
  • Seal Push-ups – Your baby continues to practice his “seal” pushups, using his arms to raise himself off the floor. As his arms become stronger, he’ll get better at dragging himself on the floor, which eventually leads to crawling.

How You Can Help

  • Teething – Help your baby through teething by providing him with lots of cold, smooth, and firm objects to use. Rub your finger across your baby’s gums, but be prepared – he may bite down. If he bites during breastfeeding, just pull back, let him know it hurts with a frown and an “Ouch!” then let him try again. He’s capable of learning that when he bites, he doesn’t get milk for a few seconds.
  • Standing – Let baby practice standing to help develop his leg muscles and balance. From a sitting position, let your baby grasp your thumbs, then pull him upright. Let him feel his balance for a few seconds. When he feels more secure, see if you can withdraw one of your thumbs, so he’s holding only one. If he’s not ready to let go, don’t force it. 
  • Seal Push-Ups – Increase your baby’s desire to raise himself up, by raising a toy in front of him. Then set the toy a few inches away in front of him, to encourage him to go after it.

BABY’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Imitation – Your baby continues to imitate your speech sounds and gestures more accurately, so watch closely for this ability to repeat what he sees and hears. It’s a major milestone and another building block for cognitive learning and language.
  • Wondering – As your baby explores his environment, his curiosity grows about what he sees. He can turn his head and search for sounds, look for toys that have disappeared, and begin to move toward the objects he wants. Every encounter with the environment provides a learning opportunity.
  • Exploring – As your baby begins to become more mobile, he will explore new things that were not previously accessible. It’s an exciting time as baby discovers new experiences and learns new skills, but it is also important to make it a safe experience.

How You Can Help

  • Imitation – Play “Copy Me” games with your baby to give him a change to practice more sounds and gestures. Pat-A-Cake and Peek-A-Boo are still good games to play, but now you can add other simple songs and fingerplays to expand baby’s repertoire. Basic sign language introduced at this age also helps babies increase their receptive and expressive language skills. 
  • Wondering – Encourage your baby’s interest in his environment. Create interesting sounds that baby has to look for and hide colorful objects that baby has to uncover. Show him around his environment so he’s exposed to more things to see, feel, hear, touch, and smell. Field trips for baby are great at this age, so take him to the zoo, the park, the museum, the aquarium, and the lake, to expose him to a new world. 
  • Exploring – As baby explores his world, make sure your home is safe. Lock away cleaning items and poisons, secure drawers and cupboards with baby locks, gate stairs and off-limit rooms, put away sharp objects and small objects baby can swallow, check for poisonous plants, and make sure doors and windows to the outside have safety locks.

BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Likes and Dislikes – Watch your baby for clues about what he likes and doesn’t like. You’re likely to see facial expressions, body language, and sounds that show when baby is delighted with a person, object, or experience, and when he’s distressed, irritated, or unhappy with something or someone. 
  • Moods – Your baby is quick to go from happy to sad, from peaceful to mad, from excited to fearful, in a matter of seconds. These fast and frequent mood swings are normal for your baby at this age, and will be less extreme and more stable over time.
  • Name Recognition – Your baby’s name is important to him, and he needs to hear it frequently to learn it belongs to him. A name that’s difficult to say can be shortened or simplified, or your baby may do that on his own when he begins to speak. There’s no need to correct his mistakes or mispronunciations – he’ll eventually do that on his own.

How You Can Help

  • Likes and Dislikes – When baby shows emotions regarding something, such as a toy, a bath, or a taste, give him the words that go with the feelings, to help him express himself in the future, when he has acquired language. He’s absorbing vocabulary, and learns through repetition, so give him lots of input, and soon he’ll be expressing himself through words.
  • Moods – Help your baby work on tempering his moods by distracting him from his upsets, fears, and anger, by playing with him, showing him a new toy, or changing his environment. You’re not denying his feelings, you’re giving him a chance to calm down and return to more positive emotions.
  • Name Recognition – In addition to using your baby’s name frequently, play the “Name Game” with your baby. Sing the song (Baby, baby, bo-baby, banana-fana fo faby, me-my-mo-maby – baby!) or make up your own version. Show your baby pictures of other people when you sing their names, then point to your baby when you sing his name. Play Peek-A-Boo by covering your baby’s head, then asking, “Where’s (Your baby’s name)?” Pull off the cloth and say, “There’s (baby)!”

Month 8: Crawling & Standing

BABY'S PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Crawling – Around this time your baby is able to pull her tummy off the ground and crawl on all fours. Once she gets the hang of it, there will be no stopping her. When she reaches this stage, she’ll quickly progress to other gross motor skills, including standing and sitting alone. 
  • Sitting Erect – Your baby is making rapid gains in all areas of body strength and movement, which enables her to sit erect and alone for a few moments. You’ll see her lean forward, place her hands on the floor in front of her, and support herself with her arms and hands. This is another major milestone.
  • Standing – Another major milestone is baby’s ability to stand erect for a few seconds, bearing the weight on her feet. She’s gaining strength in her legs from kicking, creeping, and standing practice, and should be able to stand alone for a few seconds, as she tries to balance herself.

How You Can Help

  • Crawling – Once crawling begins, a whole new world opens up to your baby – and to you – in the form of fun and games. As baby gets up to crawl a few spaces, carefully pull her legs out from under her and pull her back. This strengthens her legs and gives her more practice getting to all fours.
  • Sitting Erect – If your baby needs a little practice sitting up straight, you can help her by placing her in a sitting position, with her legs tucked Indian style, or with one leg in front of her and one behind, depending on her preference. Lean her over slightly and place her hands on the floor. Place a toy on the floor in front of her. When she reaches for it, she may sit erect for a few seconds.
  • Standing – As your baby’s leg strength increases, give her lots of opportunities to practice standing. Hold her upright with her feet on a flat surface – no shoes. Hold her arms, then her hands, then her fingers, then let go, making sure you’re right there to catch her when she collapses. Watch her excitement!

BABY’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Cognitive Manipulation – Although we think of baby’s fingers as fine motor tools, they’re also cognitive tools that help baby learn and think about her world. Watch her manipulate objects in a number of ways beyond just grasping, such as squeezing, turning, banging, throwing and transferring.
  • Expectation – As your baby plays more games, she’ll learn to anticipate the actions and outcome. She loves repeating the same games, because she learns to anticipate better, and as her skills improve, she gets better at the actions and responses.
  • Object Permanence – By this time your baby understands object permanence – that when something is out of sight, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gone for good. She will hunt for toys when you hide them within her range, and she’ll fuss when you take objects away from her and try to hide them!

How You Can Help

  • Cognitive Manipulation – Make sure your baby has lots of interesting objects to manipulate so she can study them and learn their different properties. This would be a good time to let your baby hold a sponge, playdough, a slice of bread, a new squeeze toy, a Koosh ball, or rubber ball (large enough she can’t swallow it), wrinkled paper, and so on. Make sure she doesn't place objects in her mouth.
  • Expectation – As you play a favorite game with your baby, begin the game but pause, to see if she anticipates what’s going to happen next. Proceed with the game as usual, but add a new step to it at the end. See if baby learns to anticipate this new addition. For example, if you’re playing Peek-A-Boo, make a funny face when she pulls the cloth off.
  • Object Permanence – Play a game with baby to enhance her awareness of object permanence. Choose two favorite toys and place them in front of your baby. Cover one toy with a cloth and ask baby, “Where did it go?” See if she will pull the cloth off to find it. Repeat with the other toy. Then cover both toys and see what she does. Take it another step by hiding the toy behind your back to see if baby tries to get it.

BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Fears – If your baby hasn’t shown any fears regarding strangers yet, she may still develop them, a normal stage in her psychological development. It means she’s able to distinguish between those she’s familiar with and those she’s not. Some babies seem extremely fearful, while others are mildly affected. 
  • Exploration – As your baby uses her crawling ability to explore her environment, she may start to get into things that are dangerous or valuable to you. She needs as few boundaries as possible, so set up an environment that she can freely explore. Save the “No!”s for important times. 
  • Caregivers – Babies need to learn to cope with others besides their parents. An occasional babysitter offers a chance to play with someone else, develop independence, and learn new games. 

How You Can Help

  • Fears – If your baby seems very fearful of others, don’t be concerned. She’s just more sensitive, and will outgrow it. You can help her by allowing her to hold onto you, which reassures her that you’re there for her. You might have her share a toy with the other person as a substitute, and let it move slowly from there.
  • Exploration – If you don’t want “No!” to be your baby’s first word, then use it sparingly. Better techniques for helping baby stay within her safe boundaries are: 1. redirection – distract her with something else. 2. simple explanation – “That’s dangerous. Come over here.” 3. removing – remove the object or the baby so the temptation is gone.
  • Caregivers – When leaving baby, make sure it’s someone she’s familiar with. Have the babysitter over to play for a while before you leave her alone with the sitter.

Month 9: Imitating & Emoting

BABY'S PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Thumb/Finger Grasp – Watch your baby’s hands carefully and you may notice that he’s beginning to use his thumb and fingers to grasp an object. This milestone skill helps baby’s eye-hand coordination, his fine-motor ability, and his coordination.
  • Toileting – Your baby’s awareness of his bladder and bowel may be evident around this time, as he pulls on his diaper or fusses when he has a full diaper. But he’s not ready – physically, cognitively, or psychologically – to be toilet trained, and won’t be until he’s at least two to two and a half years old.
  • Lower to Sit – While your baby is in a standing position, have him hold onto your thumbs or a piece of furniture. He may try to lower himself to a sitting position. This is usually deliberate and not necessarily a fall, although it may look a little uncoordinated.

How You Can Help

  • Thumb/Finger Grasp – Sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and hold up your baby’s fingers to match each verse, so he becomes aware of the names and individuality of each digit.
  • Toileting – Make diaper-changing time a fun time by spending a few extra moments singing, chanting, or playing while he’s on the table. Give him some free time to be naked, but be prepared for the occasional accident. 
  • Lower to Sit – As your baby practices his standing, he may bend his legs in an effort to sit. Help lower him to a sitting position by moving your hands down so he doesn’t fall too far to the floor. His padded diaper should keep him from hurting himself. With practice and greater leg strength, he'll soon drop to the floor in a smooth and efficient motion.

BABY’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Visual/Tactile Exploration – Your baby will begin moving from the oral stage of exploring his environment to the visual/tactile mode, using his eyes to see the details of an object, and his hands and fingers to feel them. This is part of the sensory motor stage of development and will increase over the next few months.
  • Tools – As your baby interacts with his environment, he will soon be able to use one object to help him reach or play with another object. This ability to use cause and effect, to problem solve, and to manipulate a tool to reach a goal is a major milestone that leads to more complicated cognitive skills. 
  • Word/Sounds – Although it’s early, your baby may try to shape his sounds into nearly recognizable words, such as “dah” for “daddy” or “uh” for up. He may use these word/sounds appropriately one moment, and randomly the next. He’s thinking generically rather than specifically and may use one word for many purposes. On average, the first word usually appears at twelve months.
  • Visual/Tactile Exploration – Allow your baby to explore new objects but watch him carefully so he doesn’t choke or try to swallow something. Let him manipulate the objects, and note how he coordinates his eyes and hands more. Offer your baby large piece puzzles and simple manipulatives like stacking, nesting, and sorting toys – they’re especially good for baby to explore.
  • Tools – Give your baby the opportunity to use an object to manipulate another by setting up some simple tasks. Tie a ribbon to a toy, set the toy out of reach, but allow your baby to reach the ribbon. See if he uses it to get the toy. Bury a toy in the sand, and give your baby a toy rake or scoop to uncover it. Do the same thing in the bath with a scoop or bowl.
  • Word/Sounds – To encourage your baby to include word sounds in his vocalizations, speak clearly as you repeat the words he uses when he’s referring to something specific. Don’t correct his pronunciation or point out his mistakes. He’ll fine-tune his word-sounds after he hears them repeated over time.

How You Can Help

  • Visual/Tactile Exploration – Allow your baby to explore new objects but watch him carefully so he doesn’t choke or try to swallow something. Let him manipulate the objects, and note how he coordinates his eyes and hands more. Offer your baby large piece puzzles and simple manipulatives like stacking, nesting, and sorting toys – they’re especially good for baby to explore. 
  • Tools – Give your baby the opportunity to use an object to manipulate another by setting up some simple tasks. Tie a ribbon to a toy, set the toy out of reach, but allow your baby to reach the ribbon. See if he uses it to get the toy. Bury a toy in the sand, and give your baby a toy rake or scoop to uncover it. Do the same thing in the bath with a scoop or bowl.
  • Word/Sounds – To encourage your baby to include word sounds in his vocalizations, speak clearly as you repeat the words he uses when he’s referring to something specific. Don’t correct his pronunciation or point out his mistakes. He’ll fine-tune his word-sounds after he hears them repeated over time.

BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Relationships with Others – The more your baby trusts his caregiver, the more he’ll trust other people in his environment. This is key to success in most areas of your baby’s future, so be sure he’s around nurturing people who care for him and provide him with a secure foundation.
  • Imitation – Babies are visually aware at this age and love to imitate the actions and sounds of other people. You may notice this when you are doing things around the house, and catch your baby copying your movements or noises.
  • Negative Emotions – If your baby shows negative emotions, such as fear, frustration, or anger, he’s responding to situations that elicit these emotions, a normal and healthy developmental response. As he demonstrates his growing range of feelings, he’ll soon learn new ways of expressing himself through imitation.

How You Can Help

  • Relationships with Others – When introducing your child to someone new, let him watch the newcomer for awhile so he gets used to the person. Then have the newcomer gently invite him to share an activity or carry him.
  • Imitation – When you play with your baby, act out some basic skills, such as pouring, stacking, banging, clapping. Then try some more complicated movements, such as squeezing dough, folding paper, ringing a bell, and so on.
  • Negative Emotions – Allow your baby to release his feelings. Don’t try to ignore them or laugh at them. But you can also teach him other ways to show his emotions, by imitating the appropriate responses, redirecting his attention, and soothing him when he’s truly upset. Think how you would feel in his situation, and respond the way you’d like to be treated.

Month 10: Playful & Pensive 

BABY'S PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Holding Objects – Your baby at this age might be able to hold three small toys. This skill, however, takes some coordination and thought, so it may be a challenge at first. She may take a few tries to figure out how to manage that extra toy with only two hands.
  • Turning Pages – A difficult skill your baby may try at this age is turning the pages of a book. This requires the ability to use her fingers to pick up something flat – not an easy task – and use her hand and wrist to turn the page without tearing it.
  • Standing Holding On – Around the time your baby learns to stand by holding onto your hands, she’ll take another developmental “step” and pull herself to standing while holding onto furniture. This task may make her feel insecure, but her desire to stand upright motivates her to take chances.

How You Can Help

  • Holding Objects – Here’s a fun game to try with your baby, to extend her fine motor and cognitive skills. Give her a small toy to hold. After a few seconds, give her another toy and watch her hold one in each hand. After a few seconds, hand her one more toy and see what she does. She may drop a toy, double up a toy, or ignore the toy. Try again in a few days and see if she does it differently this time.
  • Turning Pages – Give your baby a cloth book at first, and let her experiment with turning pages. Then give her a cardboard style book and see if she can manage the pages in that one. Finally, give her an inexpensive picture book and watch her try to turn the pages, just like you do when you read to her.
  • Standing Holding On – While you encourage your baby to stand, place her near a couch, sturdy chair or coffee table, and slowly transfer her hand from your hand to the furniture. Keep your hands nearby to catch her if she loses her balance. Also, be sure to cover the coffee table corners with corner guards to keep your baby from hurting herself if she falls against them.

BABY’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Visual Comparison – As your baby holds objects in both of her hands, she’ll continue to assess and compare them. Notice that she holds the items close to each other, then looks back and forth between them, and even mouths both to learn more about them. This is an important skill that continues to develop through life.
  • Auditory Discrimination – Your baby continues to listen to the sounds around her and discriminate between those that are important to her, and those that are not. She recognizes many different voices, household sounds that have meaning, and is able to learn the differences between new noises she’s not familiar with, such as animal sounds.
  • Intentional Behavior – The major difference in your baby’s thinking and cognitive skills at this stage is that she’s doing things on purpose. Her behaviors and actions mean something, and she’s making an effort to perform simple tasks that she enjoys. From this intentional behavior, she’s learning more about cause and effect and problem solving, as each accomplishment builds from one step to the next.

How You Can Help

  • Visually Comparison – Help your baby learn more about comparisons by offering her two items to study that are very different, such as a ball and a block. Then offer her two objects that are more similar but still different, such as two balls of different color or texture. Watch her reaction to see if she notices the differences or shows a preference. Continue giving her similar but different items to compare.
  • Auditory Discrimination – Expand your baby’s auditory discrimination skills by introducing some new sounds. Find a book that features a few basic animals, such as a chicken, a cow, a lion, and a pig. Make the animal sounds as you show the pictures. Repeat for several days, and see if baby recognizes or repeats a familiar sound.
  • Intentional behavior – Watch your baby for a few minutes just to see what she does. Try to determine why she chooses to do the tasks she does, and the motivation behind her behavior. You’re now observing your baby as she thinks!

BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Attention Span – As the world becomes more interesting to your baby, and she can interact with it more, her attention span increases. She may be able to focus on a toy or task for several minutes, if it provides enough stimulation to keep her involved. 
  • Purposeful Communication – Your baby will probably begin to direct her vocalizations at specific people, in reference to something meaningful, even though you still may not be able to understand her intent. She’s trying to have a conversation, not just get your attention, but may become frustrated if you don’t respond.
  • Social Interaction – Your baby may use social interaction to solve a problem if she can’t figure it out for herself. For example, she may lift up a toy that needs to be opened, indicating her need for your help.

How You Can Help

  • Attention Span – Keep your baby’s playthings interesting and stimulating to continue to increase her attention span. If she starts to lose interest in a toy, you might show her another way to play with it. For example, she may enjoy rolling a ball, but you might show her how to bounce it, catch it, or throw it, and see if she plays with it longer and in other ways. 
  • Purposeful Communication – When your baby seems to initiate a conversation with you, talk back to her, using her same words, or expanding on the speech sounds she’s making. For example, you might be able to tell if she seems to be asking a question by her tone of voice or facial expression. Repeat the sound, point to the object she’s trying to indicate, and add a word or two such as, “Want the ball?” or “Throw the ball?”
  • Social Interaction – Watch your baby for cues that she’s trying to communicate with you, either through vocalization or gesture, especially when she’s trying to solve a problem. Before you give her a solution, give her an opportunity to solve it herself, by making the solution a little closer to her reach. Break the task into steps, such as loosening the top to a toy she wants opened, then let her finish the task.

Month 11: Standing & Stepping

BABY'S PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Back Rolling – It’s easier for your baby to roll over from his tummy to his back, but it takes a bit more practice to roll from his back to his tummy. He may also try to roll up into a sitting position from his back, another big challenge.
  • Grasp Release – Your baby is still practicing his grasp release, as he becomes more adept at controlling his fine motor muscles. He may still throw or drop things at random, but he may now be able to give you a toy, by deliberately letting go of it when you take it from him.
  • One Foot – Your baby continues to enjoy standing practice, and perhaps taking a step with your assistance. He can probably now stand on one foot alone, and support his weight for a few seconds.

How You Can Help

  • Back Rolling – To encourage baby to roll from his back to his tummy or into a sitting position, give him lots of floor time on his back, free of restrictions. Place a toy on either side of him so he has a reason to turn over, then give him a little support at his back, while moving his arm over in front of him, to help propel his body.
  • Grasp Release – To help your baby practice his grasp release, give him a toy to play with for a few minutes. When he seems ready to give up the toy, reach out for it. Gently grasp the toy, and see if he’ll let go. Ask him for the toy verbally, and when he releases it, thank him for the toy. Repeat from time to time but not too often – he’ll think you want all his toys! 
  • One Foot – While your baby practices his standing and stepping, give him practice standing on one foot for a few moments. Have him stand holding onto a piece of furniture, then lift one of his feet briefly. See if he can hold his weight for a few seconds. Repeat with other foot. Say “Lift your foot,” to give him the language to go with the action.

BABY’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Names – Your baby is growing more and more aware of his name, so continue to refer to him often. He’s also learning the names of others, so use those references as well, rather than “he,” “him,” “we,” or “them.” This helps baby sort his world and identify familiar people in his world.
  • Association – Your baby is applying previously learned concepts to learning new concepts. For example, if he’s given a new rattle that is similar but different to his familiar rattle, he may shake it immediately, just like he shakes his old rattle. He’s using previous knowledge to build new experiences.
  • Vocabulary – As your baby absorbs more vocabulary, he’ll soon be expressing himself verbally. He’s probably learned the words for “mama” and “dada,” and some basic concepts such as “bye-bye,” “juice,” “blanket,” “pacifier,” “doggy,” “night-night,” “hi,” and of course “no.” 

How You Can Help

  • Names – Play name games with your baby to increase his awareness of people’s identities. When a new friend appears, use the name frequently so your baby can learn it. When there are several people in the room, use all their names and point to them, so baby knows who you’re talking about. Then play, “Where’s (call out a name)?” and let baby indicate who’s who, by pointing, going to them, or just looking at them.
  • Association – Give your baby some new objects to play with that are similar to familiar objects, and see what he does with them. For example, give him a new doll and see if he handles it the same way as his old doll. Or give him a toy truck and see if he plays with it like he does with his toy car. Give him the opportunity to interact with the toy first, before you begin to show him other ways to play with it.
  • Vocabulary – Continue to expand your baby’s language by using simple words and sentences that baby experiences in his everyday life. Use gestures to go with them if possible, to make them more concrete. Soon you’ll hear one of these words clearly verbalized by your baby! Which one will it be?

BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Independence – When you say “No!” to your baby, at first he may respond by pulling back, and stop what he’s doing, or even cry if he’s startled. Around this time he may continue to do what he’s doing, even though he knows he’s not supposed to. He’s showing independence and already testing his boundaries. You might even see him look at you when he’s doing something he knows he shouldn’t, revealing his awareness of your rules and boundaries.
  • Changing Time – Changing your baby may become more of a challenge during this time, as he struggles to be free while you struggle to diaper and dress him. He’s probably bored with this activity, and wants to get on with him playing.
  • Silly Time – Your baby enjoys laughing when you’re silly, and will begin to show signs of being silly himself, if you laugh in response to his odd noises, funny faces, and silly antics. A lot of laughter in the home has a definite impact on baby’s mood and personality, so keep the good times rolling.

How You Can Help

  • Independence – As your baby asserts himself and doesn’t always respond to what he’s asked or told, try to appreciate his independence and the fact that he’s thinking for himself, not blindly obeying a rule. Use the word “No!” sparingly, follow through when you tell him not to do something, and give him the opportunity to shake his head “No!” himself from time to time.
  • Changing Time – Use this time to play games, sing songs, and interact with your baby to keep it fun, and you’ll have less trouble with changing your baby’s diapers and clothes. Bring a toy to the changing table for your baby to examine, turn on the mobile that hangs overhead to entertain him, and come prepared with new songs to sing and rhymes to recite.
  • Silly Time – To help your baby be silly, give him funny hats to put on and let him look at himself in the mirror, while you laugh. Play silly games and do a lot of giggling while you play, to encourage your baby to laugh at the fun. Make faces, use funny voices, pretend to fall or spill things – anything to make your baby laugh and encourage a sense of humor.

Month 12: Walking & Talking 

BABY'S PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Fine Motor – As your baby’s finger manipulation becomes more finely tuned, she’ll be able to use her pincer-grasp to retrieve small items, put objects inside other objects, and take objects out of small spaces. All this dexterity practice will enable her to eat without spilling, dress herself, and do many other fine motor tasks in the near future.
  • Sitting – Your baby is growing more adept at moving in and out of a sitting position, to crawling or standing. She’s also able to turn her body while sitting and reach for an object to her side or behind her. 
  • Cruising – Around this time your baby may walk, assisted by the furniture around her. She may pull to standing, find her balance, then take a step or two, using the couch for support. This is the next step toward walking alone.

How You Can Help

  • Fine Motor – Give your baby more fine motor experiences by doing large piece wooden puzzles, using a peg board, picking objects out of containers, and finger-painting on large sheets of paper.
  • Sitting – Give your baby sitting challenges by placing objects nearby but slightly out of reach, so she has to change her body position in order to acquire them. Place toys at her side and behind her, to get her to reach around. And place an object on the couch, so she has to pull to standing and reach to retrieve it.
  • Cruising – Set your baby next to the couch in a standing position. Set a toy at the end of the couch, so she has to “cruise” to get it. Sit near the toy and encourage her to come and get the object, so she’ll have the confidence to try. Bare feet are still the best for baby as she learns to travel on foot.

BABY’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Language – There’s soon to be an explosion in the area of language, as your baby readies for her first word. Parents continue to use “Parentese,” a natural form of teaching baby language that includes short sentences, simple vocabulary, a high-pitched voice, an animated intonation, and lots of repetition. Baby talk is all right, as long as you don’t use it all the time, so she’ll learn real words, too.
  • Descriptive Concepts – While your baby is learning primarily concrete nouns, such as “doggy”, and simple phrases, such as “bye-bye” and “hi!”, she’s also receptive to descriptions of objects and actions, and capable of understanding more complex concepts such as “dirty”, “hurry”, “surprise”, “hungry”, and “wait”.
  • Sequential Play – While your baby seems to play with toys randomly, you might notice that she does things in sequence. For example, if there are blocks on the floor, she might put them back in the box one by one, until they’re all gone. This is a major step in cognitive development and organized thinking.

How You Can Help

  • Language – Your baby needs lots of repetition of familiar words in order to learn how to say them. It’s especially helpful if you rephrase the sentences in simple ways for clarity. Use lots of expression when you talk to your baby, to enable her to understand you better. Never correct her speech, but set the example instead. Criticism may inhibit her language development.
  • Descriptive Concepts – Increase her receptive vocabulary by describing objects and actions throughout the day. For example, as you clean the house, change her diaper, or take a walk together, describe what you’re doing, what you see and hear, and what you’re feeling.
  • Sequential Play – You can teach your baby sequential play by putting things in order, and talking about what you’re doing. For example, show her how to put each block in a box, how to take the puzzles pieces out one at a time, and so on.

BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Positive Reinforcement – Your baby understands when you appreciate something she does, and will repeat it if the praise and positive reinforcement continues. Continue to smile at her, laugh with her, encourage her, make eye contact, and simply watch her.
  • Imitation Play – As your baby watches you, she learns from you, and will often imitate more of your actions, behaviors, facial expression and vocalizations. You might find her “talking” on the phone, “cooking” with your spoons and bowls, or even trying to undress herself. 
  • Anticipation – When reading a familiar story to your baby, you may find she anticipates what’s going to happen next, through vocalization, such as “Uh-oh!” or through gesture, by clapping her hands. She’s retaining more information, as her memory increases.

How You Can Help

  • Positive Reinforcement – Watch for positive behavior in your baby and reinforce it, through body language and speech, so your baby will learn what’s expected of her and what’s not. In other words, catch her being “good” and let her know her positive behavior is appreciated. Ignore negative behavior as much as possible and it will tend to disappear.
  • Imitation Play – Give your baby opportunities to imitate your actions, by providing play phones, plastic bowls and spoons, dress up clothes, plastic keys, a steering wheel, and other adult-like props. This type of play helps her prepare for the real world.
  • Anticipation – Each time you read your baby a familiar story, include gestures and vocalizations that are easy to imitate. When you read the story the next time, give her a second to recreate the gesture or sound before you do it yourself. She’ll soon pick it up and anticipate nearly every page!