YOUR BABY AT 12 MONTHS
Your baby's first birthday is approaching, and there is much to celebrate. It's amazing to think how much he's changed from the newborn you took him less than a year ago.
If he's not yet walking, he soon will be - and this presents more challenges for you in terms of keeping him safe and keeping up with him!
There's no great rush to buy him shoes, unless he's walking so strongly that he resists going in his buggy.
When this happens, take him for his first shoe fitting and invest in a good pair of leather shoes. It's the beginning of a rather expensive spending curve, but scrimping on shoes could hamper the development of his feet, so it's worth every penny.
Other developments you may notice in your baby:
• He's sounding more and more conversational in his babbling. The inflections are all there, and it's worth trying to respond with some sort of an answer if you hear what sounds like a question. Practise conversation with him often so he gets the idea of turn taking.
• He's becoming noisier and more boisterous. He'll love to bang things together, and the louder the sound he can produce the more excited he'll be.
Give him a box of noisy objects it's safe for him to bang together, such as saucepan lids and wooden spoons.
• He's starting to exert his will and may shake his head to say 'no' to you.
• He may start to think inventively, using one toy to retrieve another if he can't reach it. This is an encouraging move towards greater independence as he's showing he's not reliant on you for everythin
• He might have become adept at undressing himself.
• He'll probably resist nappy changes and naps because he's far too busy playing to be interrupted!
• He'll happily play alongside another child, but it's still going to be a couple of years before he'll understand the concept of sharing and cooperative play.
• He may enjoy making you and others laugh and be happy to repeat an action over and over if it provokes a good response.
Now your baby's a year old, it's not too soon to begin to teach him the concept of manners. Because he loves to copy you, the best way to teach is by example, so let him see you saying 'please' and 'thank you'. You'll have to be a bit more deliberate than usual for him to notice, but it'll be worth the effort.
When your baby cooperates with you, thank him, too - and when he passes you something or tries to share his food or drink with you. When you ask him to bring you something, don't forget to say 'please'.
The key is repetition, so get your partner and anyone else who regularly sees your baby to make a special point of using 'please' and 'thank you' in front of him.
Try to eat with your toddler whenever you can, demonstrating good table manners. Pass things around the table to other family members before taking food yourself. Don't talk with your mouth full or overfill your fork or spoon.
Your baby won't necessarily copy your behaviour any time soon, but if he sees you consistently following the same protocol, it'll all be going in subconsciously. If he decides to throw or drop his food deliberately, say 'No' firmly, and 'We don't drop food'.
It'll take time for him to learn what is and isn't acceptable at the table, just as it'll take him time to learn to read and write, but it's never too early to start setting a good example.
It can be frustrating trying to teach a toddler good manners, but the key to doing it successfully is to repeat the example often and remain calm.
Shouting is, in itself, bad manners, and it might help to remind yourself of this whenever your baby seems to be defying you deliberately! A calm approach will mean he's more likely to try and understand what you're teaching him rather than bursting into an early tantrum because you're getting cross.
WAYS TO ENTERTAIN YOUR 12-MONTH-OLD
There's a whole new world of play possibilities once your baby's walking - and even if she's not quite taking steps independently, she'll love walking along holding one or both of your hands.
Here are some ideas for toys and games your baby will enjoy:
• Sit-and-ride toys; you can buy the type that needs to be propelled by your baby or a battery-powered model, which moves along slowly without any effort on her part. These have 'on/off' buttons that your baby can control, giving her another opportunity for independence.
• A garden playset: she'll love the feeling that she's joining in with a grown-up activity. Encourage her to dig, fill a plastic flowerpot, empty it out, pour earth from one container to another and rake soil.
• A play buggy. Encourage her to put her own 'baby' into the buggy and push it around the house or garden.
• A small indoor slide. She'll love you sliding her down at first; then, when she's stronger on her feet, she'll adore the feeling of freedom she'll get from being able to climb and slide independently.
• A play kitchen. Set it up somewhere she can copy you safely, or just help her create her own pretend world when you're not busy.
• A wider selection of books, the more interactive the better. So look for lift-the-flap; touchy-feely; musical sounds; jigsaw books and more.
• Crayons and paper: a roll of lining paper from a DIY store is a good idea so she can create as big or small a picture as she likes - and look for washable crayons.