Growth and Development, Ages 1 to 12 Months
Promoting Healthy Growth and Development
A baby goes through so many changes that it can be hard for you to keep up with all the things experts say you "should be" doing to promote healthy growth and development.
Remember that the best things for your baby are usually the simplest. Loving, holding, changing diapers for, talking to, and feeding your baby are the things to focus on. The rest will fall into place.
But you can always learn more about how to help your baby grow and develop in healthy ways.
Physical health and development
- Try to breast-feed for at least the first year of life. Breast milk is the ideal food for babies.
- Reference Learn your baby's rhythms. You will gradually get a sense of your baby's unique sleeping and eating patterns and be able to help establish a routine by about 3 months of age. But be prepared to make adjustments as needed.
Reference Help keep your baby's head from getting too flat. It's important to always put your baby to sleep on his or her back. But always sleeping on the back may make your baby's head a little flat. You can help keep it from getting too flat by changing his or her head position regularly.
- Allow your baby "tummy time" while he or she is awake and you are closely watching. Tummy time also helps your baby develop Reference motor skills Opens New Window.
- Cuddle your baby while holding his or her head up as much as you can. Don't place your baby in car seat carriers or bouncers for long periods each day.
- Change your baby's head position during sleep at least every week. (Remember to always keep your baby on his or her back during naps and at bedtime.) A good way to make sure your baby's head rests in different positions is to switch which end of the bed you place him or her in each week. Babies usually turn their heads away from the wall, toward the inside of a room.
- Start to care for your child's teeth as soon as you see the first baby tooth (Reference primary tooth).
- Reference Keep your baby safe from injury, drowning, burns, poisoning, and other dangers.
- Choose child care wisely. Before you take your baby to a child care center, check the health policies of the center. Get the names of people and agencies you can talk to about the care center's safety record. For more information, see the topic Reference Choosing Child Care.
For more information about health and safety, see the topic Reference Health and Safety, Birth to Age 2.
Emotional health and development
- Reference Encourage bonding. Consistently interact with and provide loving attention to your baby.
- Recognize and reinforce behaviors. For example, when interacting with your baby, encourage smiling and eye contact.
- Respond to crying. Your baby cries to communicate needs, such as feeling hungry or uncomfortable. You are not spoiling your baby by promptly responding to these cues. Use Reference comforting techniques, like cuddling and singing.
Development of new skills
- Reference Stimulate learning. You help promote your baby's Reference cognitive development Opens New Window through emotional bonding, interaction and play, and unconditional love.
- Reference Nurture speech and language development. Talking to, interacting with, and reading to your baby are all natural ways to promote language development. For more information, see the topic Reference Speech and Language Development.
- Don't spank your baby or use other types of Reference corporal (physical) punishment. A baby between 1 month and 12 months is too young to understand what is "good" and "bad" behavior. Try distracting a child who is doing something wrong or something that might be dangerous. For example, if your baby tries to pull the dog's tail, you can find a toy to get his or her attention, and then move the dog to another area.
- Don't worry about "spoiling" your baby. You can't spoil a baby at this age. Hold your child, and give him or her as much love and attention as you can. Your love and patience are critical for helping your child grow into a happy and confident toddler.
Taking care of your baby is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful. Some days you may simply feel overwhelmed. Ask for help when you need it:
- Call a family member or friend to watch your baby and give you a break.
- Investigate community resources that are available to help you with child care or other needed services.
- Call a doctor or local hospital for some suggestions.
- Some communities have respite care facilities for children. A respite care facility is a place that provides temporary child care during times when you need a break.
Also, parents may find that they have a harder time communicating with each other. Feeling tired can make you more sensitive and lose patience more easily than normal. Learn Reference coping skills to help you deal with anger and frustration. For more information, see the topic Reference Stress Management.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 7, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Reference Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics