Your Baby’s Development at 6-12 months
They say that time never goes by so fast as when you are raising a family. It’s true. In the blink of an eye your precious swaddled bundle of joy is all grown up and flying out of the nest. There are so many moments of celebration, memory making and growth. The growth and development milestones are especially fascinating during your baby’s first year. You can certainly see the physical changes as your little darling begins to walk and talk and establish his own personality. It’s also remarkable to practically glimpse into his brain and watch the rapid-fire development occur before your very eyes.
In our first post of the ‘A Growing Baby Indeed’ blog series, we focused on your baby’s growth and development during the first six months of life. Here, we’ll take a closer look at what takes place during the second half of the first year. So much is happening! Your cherub is learning how to move, developing language and thinking skills as well as growing socially and emotionally. Before you know it, it will be time to celebrate his first birthday! Where did the time go?
Supporting Baby’s Language Development
Your baby is learning how to speak just by listening to you. The caring tone of your voice will soothe him and encourage his engagement. Before the age of six months, your baby has recognized some familiar words. While he has not understood their meanings, he may now begin to make the connections between the sound and meaning of those words. Your baby’s receptive learning, that is, listening to and understanding meaning, develops before his ability to produce speech. All you need to do to support his language development is to keep talking to your sweetheart. Tell him what you are doing as you change his diaper. Talk to him about the day’s weather and what’s on the grocery list. Read to him; sing to him. His babbling in return will soon turn into intelligible words like ‘baba’ or ‘dada’, as the sound-word connections continue to evolve. When talking with or reading to your baby, shut out background noise like TV, for instance, so that he can focus on you and what you are saying.
Baby on the Move
Interestingly, your baby is learning how to move from head to toe-in that order! He first learned to hold up his head, then discovered his arms and hands, reaching out to everything in sight. Now it’s on to the torso and legs. You will see significant milestones in your baby’s movement between 6 and 12 months of age. The area of his brain that controls his trunk and leg movements is now more mature. Of course, development is unique to each baby; the progression of his physical or motor skills is influenced by his developing brain. At some point during these months you may see him sitting up on his own, crawling, and pulling himself up to stand. By the end of the first year, he may be cruising along holding on to furniture and taking his first steps all by himself. As your tiny tot mobilizes, this is when you will want to encourage, but of course ensure his physical safety. Nurture his budding moving explorations with cushions to climb over or a soft obstacle course of pillows to crawl around. Get in on the action, put the tunes on and bust a move together!
What is Your Baby Thinking?
Repetition is the mother of all learning. If ever a saying rang true, it is now with your baby. The part of his brain responsible for cognition and learning is extremely active at this age. By repetitive experiences, your burgeoning buddy is learning that what just took place is not merely a coincidence. Doing something over and over again is excellent for your baby’s cognitive development. He is beginning to understand how to use things like shaking a rattle, pushing and pulling objects or banging blocks together. He is conducting and observing his own cause and effect experiments. Your baby may delight in dropping a spoon or a toy repeatedly. When he does, he is learning a few things. While he has the dropsies, or dumps things out of containers, he is learning about the objects and how things work. He is also learning to rely on you, as you pick up the item over and over. Cultivate his love of learning by offering soft and safe toys to touch and explore. Remember, the same things he is dropping to the floor may likely also go into his mouth.
Social and Emotional Development is Growing by Leaps and Bounds
The way you touch, talk, hold, and feed your baby are oh so important to his developing brain. These social interactions are critical to his feelings of trust and security and contribute to a sense of confidence and happiness. Your baby’s brain is developing rapidly and in particular, the frontal lobe experiences a growth spurt. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for forming bonds with people. It is during this time, then, when he may show signs of separation anxiety and a fear of strangers. Mommy and Daddy are probably his preferred caregivers, and he may well let you know when someone else steps in to help. Not to worry, this is a normal reaction. Be calm and loving with the introduction of another person, and because he has bonded with you and trusts you, he may follow your lead.
Your baby’s interactions and experiences during the first year of life are extraordinarily important. The love, nurture and contact with another human being causes his brain to develop at an astonishing rate. In fact, during the first months of life as many as one million new neural connections are formed every second! His brain will never be so busy, and an amazing 60% of baby’s energy goes into brain development.
It is remarkable how many milestones your baby will achieve in just 12 months. Enjoy the wonder of all that your precious little one will accomplish by the time he turns one year old. The world is his oyster, or better yet, birthday cake!