At this age your baby may be able to respond to simple instructions, like 'Find teddy!' or 'Bring me your ball'. It's a relevatory time when you realise your baby is actually understanding you so clearly.
He's probably babbling away more than ever, making partially recognisable sounds and mimicking you and those around him.
If you have a pet, he might even try to copy the sounds they make! It's a great time for pulling out those musical and sound-making toys from his earlier months.
Your baby might also:
• Show some keenness to get involved in what you're doing. You can turn this to your advantage as well as teaching him a bit of teamwork by encouraging him to help clear away his toys, for example. You can also reinforce the 'in', 'under' and 'on' words as you go: 'Put this brick in the sorter'; 'That book goes under here'; 'Sit teddy on your chair', and so on. If you're putting pieces of a toy or puzzle away, count as you go, or describe each item. 'One, two, three building bricks!' or 'Here's a red ball; there's your yellow duck'.
• Enjoy hearing new words. His thirst for vocabulary is growing all the time, so label things often as you use them. 'Mummy's putting the spoons away'; 'Here's your bowl'; 'Do you want your cup?'; 'Let's put you in the bath'. Point to each object as you name it. He's catching on more than you know!
• Enjoy drinking from a cup. At this stage, you should be offering diluted fruit juices or water only, in addition to her daily milk, but because fruit juice contains natural sugars, her teeth are at risk. Although it's tempting to get a 'no-spill' sort, it's actually better to avoid these because your baby will suck on the spout long and hard to get the drink out, bathing her teeth in juice. With a normal lidded cup, she'll drink what she wants and discard it. Of course, this means you'll need to be on hand to catch it - or be prepared to clean up lots of spills.
• Want to feed himself. Give him some baby cutlery and let him have a go - perhaps after you've fed him the first few spoonfuls so he doesn't become frustrated if he keeps dropping the food or missing his mouth. You can always guide his hand at first, and make a big fuss of him when he manages to get his spoon in successfully. Letting him have this bit of independence might encourage him to try new foods, too, so take advantage of the novelty aspect of self-feeding to broaden the tastes and textures you offer him.
A SENSE OF IDENTITY
Your baby's sense of identity is growing all the time. Around now or in the coming month or so, she'll come to realise that the baby she sees in the mirror isn't a separate playmate but is, in fact, her. She'll recognise you reflected in a mirror, too. This is a great step forward in cognitive development and is the beginning of your baby realising 'I am me!'.
Your baby will have enjoyed looking at pictures of herself and other babies for quite some time, but now she may be able recognise herself. If you show her a group photo and ask 'Where's Emma?' she might even be able to point to herself in the picture.
You can help to teach your baby about identity by starting to use 'I', 'me', 'you' and 'we' instead of using names all the time. So instead of saying 'Is Emma ready for her bath?', you can say 'Are you ready for your bath?'; and instead of asking 'Can your bring Mummy's handbag?' you can try 'Can you bring my handbag to me?'.
Along with this growing sense of self comes a greater understanding of other people, and your baby might demonstrate this by having a favourite cuddly toy she lavishes with love! It's very cute to witness as well as being reassuring that first steps towards empathy may be starting to emerge.
Although it won't be true empathy until some time during her second year when she can feel bad for someone rather than herself when she witnesses distress, you can encourage this by saying 'Poor teddy!' if she drops him or 'Aah, you really love your teddy, don't you?' when she's cuddling him tightly.
(On the subject of cuddlies, here's a tip: try, if you possibly can, to buy a replica of her favourite comfort toy, as she and you will be frantic if it gets lost. Interchange them if you can get away with it, so that they both smell the same!)
WAYS TO ENTERTAIN YOUR 11-MONTH-OLD
Your baby will enjoy increasingly complex toys now, particularly those that require a degree of dexterity. She'll love fitting things into each other, for instance, understanding as she does that smaller items fit inside larger ones.
Here are some toys and games your baby will enjoy:
• A baby swing will give her a lovely sense of freedom, even though she's strapped into a seat. The feeling of the air moving past her, the different perspective she'll have on the world around her and the continuous motion will exhilarate her and she'll probably laugh and kick her legs about as she swings. Don't push her too fast or hard or you could scare her: let her set the pace. If she does wriggle about to try and make the swing move faster, give her a bit more pace, but always keep it gentle.
• If she's walking now, she'll love to bring along a push-or pull-along toy wherever she goes! You might want to get her her own toy baby buggy and doll, or a toddle truck with building bricks so she can stop for a play whenever she feels like it. Encourage her to bring her toy out when you're vacuuming or cutting the grass so she can mimic your actions.
• A toy shopping trolley and groceries is a great themed toy for sorting, filling and emptying, and will give you more opportunities to teach her new words: 'That's a box of pasta'; 'Where's the carrot?'; 'Ooh, a lovely pizza!' and so on. She'll love themed toys in general as she's beginning to understand a bit about role play.
• A musical keyboard will allow her more creative opportunities: look for one that has pre-recorded tunes she can 'sing' along to, as well as keys that she can play herself. She might pick out a simple sequence of sounds and keep repeating them, or she might show a preference for one pre-record over the others - and, much as may drive you mad and keep you awake at night as it repeats over and over in your head - just remember, she's learning a lot from her new toy!
• Counting games will continue to be a source of enjoyment, and if she's walking or crawling upstairs (with you accompanying her), you can count each stair as you go. Perhaps keep to five stairs at a time at first until she's grasped this sequence. You can progress up to 10 and upwards later on.
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