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Your 1-Year-Old

Have a box of tissues handy—it's totally normal to have mixed feelings about the one-year mark. Maybe you feel some relief that your family is sleeping well and has a sense of routine again, or maybe there's a little feeling of mourning the close of this baby chapter. All these reactions are very valid. Don't worry, though, there's so much fun coming in the next year, as your baby starts to express herself in new ways and your relationship deepens even more. Year two is very rewarding—we're excited for you!

Eat

If you haven't already, and you're formula feeding, talk to your pediatrician about introducing cow's milk, or another form of milk. If you're breastfeeding, there's no need to add any other milk to the equation. You can continue to nurse through the upcoming year and beyond without cow's milk, just make sure to protect those breastfeeding sessions and your resulting milk supply.

Here's a great rule of thumb for toddler feeding schedules:

Parents are in charge of what, when and where to eat, and kids are in charge of deciding whether and how much to eat.

It will come as no surprise to learn that toddlers eat more some days, and less on others. Try to focus less on an individual meal and more on the week's well-rounded lineup.

To nurture a veggie lover, don't be afraid to make vegetables tasty. There's no need for plain steamed vegetables every day, so add a little butter, cheese, a dash of pepper or olive oil. If you can get vegetables at the farmers market, fresh veggies are often tastier.

"Do not underestimate the power of the family meal. Set a good example," says Cynthia Epps. Let your toddler see you eat and enjoy your meals together as a family. If you're the only family member present, always sit down and eat with your child, even if you only are eating a little bit, say Epps. This prevents a one-way dynamic where your child feels pressured into eating. By providing consistent mealtimes, your toddler sees you eat and enjoy a wide variety of foods. With your help as a model, hand-to-mouth coordination will continue to improve.

Sleep

Most babies do well with two naps until at least 15 months, but if you're wondering whether your baby is ready to drop a nap, here are the signs you might look for, according to "The Happy Sleeper" sleep consultant Heather Turgeon:

  • Baby sleeps at least 11 hours at night.
  • Baby is resisting taking one of his two naps for at least two weeks straight.
  • One nap is becoming very short.
  • The second nap is starting to interfere with bedtime.

Play

Think beyond bedtime when it comes to reading. Books before bed are a great routine, but reading at other times of the day is a good pattern to get into. Have a small stack of books in the living room and your room too. If your baby wakes up nice and early and you don't have to start your day right away, make reading a morning routine. When you read, expand on ideas and words with your baby, make hand gestures to accompany books and use a sing-song voice or other engaging tone to keep her attention. Most babies love reading and, as they grow, it encourages imagination and language development.

Music also has a wonderful and far-reaching impact on your baby's brain. Playing music and dancing helps your baby develop a sense of rhythm, so break out the tunes once a day and have a dance party. The more you clap, bounce, sing and dance, the more your baby learns timing and beats, as well as body coordination and many other developmental skills.

Milestones

  • Your baby can say some words like "mama" and "dada," or "uh-oh." Get ready for a word explosion in the next year!
  • Your baby may have taken her first steps already, or she may still rely on your hands to help.

That's it, you made it! Your once tiny baby is now a thriving personality-filled toddler thanks to you. Congrats, Mama!

Photograph by: Getty Images

Explore More: baby care, sleep, milestones, baby feeding, Baby 101, Month by Month
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