Your 10-Month-Old Baby


Your baby, who has been growing at a rate of knots these past 10 months, will start a phase of slower growth from this month, and this might be reflected in a smaller appetite than before.

Don't worry - she'll eat when she needs to - it's just that she's probably more excited right now at the various opportunities for exploration that are in front of her!

She'll have you running around after her and will run rings around you as she discovers more ways of getting mobile. Some early walkers even take their first steps around now, so watch for signs that she's trying to stand unsupported.

Other developments you may notice are:

• A sudden fear of things she's taken for granted previously: the neighbour's cat or dog, or the vacuum cleaner: this is a natural development as your baby comes to the realisation that some things can be harmful. Don't worry: show her that you're still happy to stroke next door's pet, and let her see you cheerfully vacuuming (even if 'cheerful' is the last sentiment it usually induces in you!). Eventually she'll come to trust that if you're happy, she's fine, too.

• She may start to become wilful now that she has learnt that she can manipulate you and that her behaviour makes you respond in different ways. It's not a welcome development, but does prove that she sees herself very much as an individual now.

You may find she pulls your hair, bites you (and others), defies you when you say 'no' (and watches from the corner of your eye to see your response) and throws things around because she knows you'll have to pick them up again.

It's a good time to join forces with your partner on matters of discipline. Agree on a strategy you can both stick to, and present a united front. Responding to undesirable behaviour with a firm 'no' and then ignoring it is a good starting point; turning your back on your baby if she continues with the behaviour or walking away from her is another way of dealing with the situation: your baby won't like the fact that you've withdrawn from her.

Reward her for stopping the behaviour with a little praise, a big smile and a cuddle. This should start to motivate her to please you.

• Some babies start head-banging around now. It's not very clear why, but is thought by some experts to be a tension-relieving mechanism. As long as she's not really hurting herself as she bangs her head against her cot bars, play tray or whatever, it's best to ignore this strange behaviour, which usually passes after a month or so.

• It won't be long before your baby discovers the joy of climbing. Trouble is, she may be quite nifty at getting up on to a stair, the sofa or a low table, but she won't yet have the skills to negotiate her way back down again. Keep an eye out for any mountaineering opportunities and only let her climb if you're there to help her and to bring her back down to safety.

Safety first

With your budding explorer seemingly unstoppable in her quest for new challenges, more danger lies ahead unless you exercise a little forethought. It can be tricky to second guess your 10- month-old, so here are a few pointers for you to bear in mind:

• Your baby will be keen to wriggle into small spaces to see what's going on in there - or possibly even to hide from you - but will be unlikely to know how to wriggle out backwards, so you may find yourself rescuing her on more than one occasion. For this reason, try to barricade anything potentially hazardous: the meter cupboard; any understairs space; any places housing hot water pipes; spaces under the bed, and so on.

• She'll love poking her finger into things, too, so cover any unused plug sockets; if you have a video player, buy a guard for that; put rubber door stops on the tops of doors so she can't get her fingers trapped in the hinges, and cover anything else you think she could hurt herself on.

• She's so curious that she'll want to know what every drawer and cupboard is hiding, so be prepared for her to start rummaging in any that are within her reach. It's best to put locks on these, or at least clear them of anything you don't want tossed aside, put in her mouth or shredded!

Think about where you're storing things like batteries; pens with lids; paperclips; staples; carrier bags that could suffocate her; cleaners and other chemicals; loose change; small keys; knives and other sharp kitchen implements; cat or dog biscuits; medication. The list is almost inexhaustible, but it's crucial you don't leave her wide open to harm.

• She's going to develop a love for techy things, too: your remote control will be as appealing to her as any of her own cause-and-effect toys, so be prepared for sudden TV activity from a previously quiet room! You might want to tape the battery compartment over, too, so she can't open it.

Watch out for your mobile phone: if she gets hold of it, not only might you find she's accidentally dialled someone up, but she might discard it somewhere you'd never think of looking.

• Keep the cords of any electrical appliances tucked away, taped down, concealed in special casing or out of her reach. Think what could happen if you wandered away from the iron to answer the phone, for instance. Remember, she's used to copying you by now and might make a grab for them because she's seen you gainfully occupied with them.

How to entertain your 10-month-old

More opportunities for explorative play are opening up, especially now your baby is keen to get to his feet to one degree or another. He's ready for more interactive fun, now, too, and playtime will be enjoyable for you both.

You can keep your baby entertained by:

• Providing him with a sturdy play table that he can stand against. In summer, a water play table will provide lots of fun, and he may enjoy sitting in a sand pit, especially if you provide him with a rake, trowel and things to 'write' with.

Do supervise his play at all times when he's around sand and water, though: he could fall headfirst into the water if he's left alone, and it only takes a minute and a couple of inches of water for a baby to drown. He might want to try to eat the sand, too, unless you're there to discourage him.

• Getting a toddle truck if he's already 'cruising' (holding on to furniture to enable him to walk around the room). Make sure it's fairly heavy so that it can't run away with him, though, and only let him use it if you're there to supervise.

• Playing 'catch' with a soft, squidgy ball that's easier to grasp than a smooth, round ball. You'll only be able to play at very close range, and your baby may not actually catch the ball at first. You can place it back in his hands or lap, then encourage him to throw it back to you. If he does manage to pick it up, hold it against himself and throw it a short distance back towards you, that's cause celebration!

• Connecting toys like bricks that click together will provide your baby with and outlet for creativity and give him a real sense of achievement. He might enjoy taking things apart as much as he likes putting them together - it's all good practice for greater hand skills and learning about how things work.

• Let him try using his baby hairbrush by himself: he'll love the idea that he's doing things independently of you. Show him how you brush your own hair and encourage him to copy you.

• Play with toys and books that encourage the concepts of 'up', 'down', 'in', 'out', 'over' and 'under'. He's ready to grasp these different ideas and will understand them long before he can articulate them himself. You can reiterate them in your daily routine, saying: 'Where's that teddy? He's under your cot!' or 'Let's pop this letter in the letterbox'.

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