As your baby grows and begins to communicate actively with you, it's natural to question the appropriateness of her development. Should she be forming words, walking, and showing a need for independence at this age? According to Lenora Gregory, managing director of the Nemours BrightStart early literacy program in Jacksonville, Florida, parents should always actively discuss each developmental stage with their pediatrician. Your pediatrician can point out concerns, encouragement and tips, but parents can also work to enhance a 12-month-old's development with activities at home. Teaching your child basic skills will only further her physical, educational and emotional growth.
Once your little one reaches the one-year milestone, it's likely he's making sounds and starting to form his first words. Give him the tools to express himself by joining in his chatter. "At this age, parents should be talking and reading to their child, pointing things out, and letting the child handle books," says Gregory. Tactile books and pop-up stories work best to keep your child's interest. When parents read to their children, it not only exposes them to more words and sounds, but it also gives them the opportunity to mimic you. Get creative by emphasizing words in books and at home.
Part of a child's emotional development relies on interaction with her peers. Kids learn through play and learning is work, says Gregory. "Play dates are good to have at this age because they help to develop social and emotional skills," she says. Arrange a play date with a friend and her child so that your baby can practice her social skills while stacking blocks, crawling and exploring the habits of her peers.
At 12-months, it's likely your baby wants to get physical Gregory explains. Give him the room and the opportunity to stretch his legs and wander at a community baby gym. Many recreational centers offer designated times for moms and tots to climb, tumble and explore while getting some much-needed physical activity. Use this time to teach your child how to balance, climb safely and develop his confidence.
Keep your baby's mind engaged each day with toys that will expand her mind and her smile. Gregory recommends age-appropriate toys that cater to her interests. For example, if your child is fascinated with cleaning or housework, offer a toy vacuum or duster so she can practice hand-eye coordination skills. Toy pots and pans will also delight the little chef in your home. Brightly colored balls and blocks; simple puzzles; and push, pull and riding toys will enable your child to develop skills for optimal physical, emotional and educational growth. In addition, the more interaction she has with you while playing with toys will keep her entertained – not to mention provide a great bonding experience for mom and tot.