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11-12 months: baby development

11-12 months

Babies come in all shapes and sizes, but baby development at 11-12 months typically has a few things in common. Here’s what your baby might be doing, how you can help and when to see a child health professional.

Baby development at 11-12 months: what’s happening

Your baby will soon be 12 months old! It’s amazing how much your baby has developed in the last year.

Your baby is now communicating in many ways – pointing, grunting, nodding, waving and often trying to talk to you too. Her babbling sounds more like a conversation, and she might say a couple of single words she understands like ‘dada’ and ‘mama’.

Over the past few months your baby has learned to show emotions like caution and fear. He might also be more aware of his own needs, and can let you know what he wants.

Play is important, because it’s how your baby learns. Your baby might look at, shake, bang, throw, drop and poke different objects. She enjoys playing with you and might start showing you things she’s playing with – for example, a toy or doll.

Your baby is getting better at using his hands and fingers and will probably use his fingers to feed himself at most meals.

Your baby might pull herself up to stand by holding onto furniture, or she might even stand well by herself. Around now, she might take her first steps on her own or could even be walking by herself. Walking is tiring for her, though, so sometimes she might crawl instead.

At this age your baby might also:

  • bounce to music
  • cooperate more when he’s getting dressed
  • follow instructions like ‘Give me the block’ or ‘Put the train down’
  • start to link words with their meanings – for example, when you say ‘ball’ or ‘teddy’ he might look around for these things.
You’ll be surprised at how far your baby can move, so always watch your baby. It doesn’t take long for baby to unexpectedly move into or reach for something that puts her in danger.

Helping baby development at 11-12 months

Here are a few simple things you can do to help your baby’s development at this age:

  • Talk to your baby: your baby is interested in conversation, so talking about everyday things like what you’re doing will help him understand what words mean. The more talk, the better!
  • Respond to ‘dada’, ‘mama’ and other words: give meaning to your child’s talking by listening and talking back to her. This encourages two-way conversation and builds your baby’s communication skills.
  • Play together: give your child toys that encourage imagination and creativity, like blocks and cardboard boxes. Paints, crayons and pencils are also fun – but be prepared for some mess! Or try playing outdoors. Playing together helps your baby feel loved and secure.
  • Read with your baby: you can encourage your baby’s talking and imagination by reading together, telling stories, singing songs and reciting nursery rhymes.
  • Encourage moving: moving and exploring help your baby build muscle strength. This is important for more complex movements like pulling to stand and walking. Making your home safe can help your baby move about without getting hurt.
  • Feed your baby healthy food: he’ll probably love finger food, which is also good for developing his fine motor skills. Have your baby sit while he’s eating – this can help to prevent choking.

Sometimes your baby won’t want to do some of these things – for example, she might be too tired or hungry. She’ll use special baby cues to let you know when she’s had enough and what she needs.

Parenting a one-year-old

Every day you and your baby will learn a little more about each other. As your baby grows and develops, you’ll learn more about what he needs and how you can meet these needs.

In fact, as a parent, you’re always learning. Every parent makes mistakes and learns through experience. It’s OK to feel confident about what you know. And it’s also OK to admit you don’t know and ask questions – often the ‘dumb’ questions are the best kind!

Your own physical and mental health is an important part of being a parent. But with all the focus on looking after a child or baby, lots of parents forget or run out of time to look after themselves. Looking after yourself will help you with the understanding, patience, imagination and energy you need to be a parent.

Sometimes you might feel frustrated or upset. But if you feel overwhelmed, put your baby in a safe place – for example, a cot – or ask someone else to hold her for a while. Take some time out until you feel calmer. You could also try going to another room to breathe deeply or calling a family member or friend to talk things through.

Never shake a baby. It can cause bleeding inside the brain and likely permanent brain damage.

It’s OK to ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your baby, call your local Parentline. Our coping toolkit has practical ideas to help you relax and feel calmer.

When to be concerned about baby development

See your child and family health nurse or GP if you have any concerns or notice that your one-year-old has any of the following issues.

Seeing and hearing
Your child:

  • isn’t making eye contact with you, isn’t following moving objects with his eyes or has an eye that is turned in or out most of the time
  • isn’t interested in sounds
  • doesn’t respond to his name when called.

Your child:

  • isn’t babbling or using single words
  • isn’t trying to let you know what she wants
  • isn’t pointing to objects or pictures, or using gestures like waving
  • doesn’t seem to understand you.

Behaviour and play
Your child isn’t showing emotions like happiness or sadness.

Movement and motor skills
Your child:

  • isn’t crawling
  • isn’t standing when he holds onto you or furniture
  • uses one hand a lot more than the other.

You should also see a child health professional if you notice that your baby has lost skills she had before.

You should also see your child and family health nurse or GP if you notice the signs of postnatal depression in women or postnatal depression in men in yourself or your partner. Symptoms of postnatal depression include feeling sad and crying for no obvious reason, feeling irritable, having difficulty coping and feeling very anxious.


Baby development issues


This short video is about baby development issues, particularly issues with vision, hearing and movement.

All babies develop in the same order but at different rates. There are signs that can tell you that a baby might be experiencing a delay in development. If you’re worried about your baby’s development, it’s a very good idea to have your child checked out by your GP or child and family health nurse.


Developmental delay in babies


This short video has information about recognising and catching development delay in newborns and babies. If you’re worried about your baby’s development or you suspect a delay in development, you should talk with your GP or child and family health nurse. There’s no need to feel embarrassed if you're worried about your baby.

Children grow and develop at different speeds. If you’re worried about whether your child’s development is ‘normal’, it might help to know that ‘normal’ varies a lot. But if you still feel that something isn’t quite right, see your child and family health nurse or GP.

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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