Today we begin a new series on babies' development from 12 to 24 months. If your baby is still young or you are waiting for your baby, we encourage you to read our earlier posts on infant development starting with the information on newborns. You'll be able to read all of the parts of that series by following the links at the end of each post.
Cognitive Development - Devoted to Discovery
For many parents, the rapid changes in their babies' thinking and ability to communicate in the second year become a source of both pride and frustration. Babies' experiments to discover how the world works expand and become more creative and complex. While a few months earlier, babies may have been content to shake objects put into their hands, young toddlers want to twist, turn, open, and bounce things over and over again. Toddler's "devotion to discovery" is key to their growth and development but it also requires careful supervision as some of their experimentation (like tasting whatever they find under the sink) can put them in harm's way. At the same time, babies' memories improve, allowing them to recall and repeat groups of related behaviors. It is not uncommon to find young toddlers trying to imitate their parents' or their siblings activities. Babies will expand their early efforts at words and start to point at objects so that their parents can name them.
Social Development - Strangers and Security
As babies become more mobile and able to move quickly away from their parents', their fear of separation and strangers grows. Allowing a little more time for introductions to new people (or people they don't see often) will go a long way in helping your baby stay calm. Many babies between 12 and 15 months will want to do more things for themselves which can be very stressful for parents who don't have time to wait 20 minutes for their babies to pull on their socks. Babies' desires for activity, movement, and independence get out of sync with their abilities, leading to frustration, anger, and the occasional meltdown. Babies this age also develop persistence in their desires making it harder to distract them away from the things they want.
Physical Development - Moving On Up
Most babies learn to walk between 12 and 15 months of age. They will also experiment with getting up and down from different positions (like from their hands and knees or squatting). Many babies also find they like to climb. Be ready! As their bigger muscles get stronger and more coordinated, fine motor skills also improve. Babies get better at grasping very small objects with their fingers and learn they can use both hands to hold onto to larger things. These new skills allow babies to explore objects in new ways. Now, they can pinch, pull, squeeze, and throw toys (or valuables) rather than just touch them. Unfortunately, babies' increasing dexterity can be a source of danger as they develop the ability to pull caps off bottles and open cabinets. Baby proofing becomes increasingly more complicated and necessary. Remember, once babies start an action (like reaching for a hot pan), it can be very hard for them to stop. It isn't a matter of discipline, their bodies just take awhile to respond to their brains.
It is no wonder that parents of toddlers can become overwhelmed with the amount of energy and vigilance necessary to keep their babies happy and safe. At the same time, parents are astonished by the number of new skills their babies acquire with each passing day.
Next time: Babies Development in the Second Year: 16-18 Months