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Ages & Stages: Birth to 12 Months

Dear Debi,
Iím a grandmother who takes care of my 11-month-old grandson. Iím with him constantly and we spend the day exploring, learning and just having fun. I would love to see some ideas on development. I know that the first twelve months are very important, so I want to start him off right.
Mary White
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Each baby is unique
  • Infants learn through interactions, experiences & senses
  • Spend lots of time holding & cuddling
  • Consult your pediatrician
Expert Advice
Sabra Smith, Ed.D.
Sabra Smith, Ed.D.
Education & curriculum specialist
During a babyís first year, much of their learning is based on their observation and interaction with their parents and/or child care provider. As they get closer to 12 months, infants begin to utilize their senses. To stimulate them, provide an enriching environment which engages their senses and interact with them as much as possible. Babies respond to the parent or providerís interaction with them, so talk to your baby, even during activities like diaper changing.

To develop an infantís motor skills, allow them to explore their environment and encourage them to do activities which involve physical activity. To develop early motor skills, clap an infantís hands, wiggle his or her fingers, teach the infant to form the number 1 with his or her fingers. Eventually that will translate into them learning the hand-eye coordination they will need to know in order to feed themselves or to start coloring.

Physical development generally occurs around the same time, but cognitive development and social/emotional development may begin at different stages. While there are generalizations of what babies should be doing at a certain stage in their life, a parent should not be worried if the baby is not doing whatís listed in a book. Remember that children develop at different rates. The level of interaction the parent or provider has with a child has a direct impact on the rate of a childís development. Children that are stimulated recognize objects faster than another child with less interaction.

An essential ingredient in infant care is touching. Itís completely vital for the development of a child. If you have two kids crying and one is picked up and has sensory support, that child is going to be more responsive. In addition to verbal communication and interaction, hugging and touching is extremely important for infants. Itís how they associate feelings and words with responses.

If you are concerned about your babyís development, then take the child to the pediatrician. Keep in mind that there needs to be some flexibility in a childís development. For example, boys and girls develop at different rates. Look at the factors at home first and see if thereís sufficient interaction at home. If it doesnít improve and the delay in development is severe, I would get a medical opinion. If the doctor is still unable to address concerns, then ask for a referral.
Child Care provider Comments
Bridgette Smith
Bridgette Smith
Mother of two, expecting her third child
At 11 months, infants are fascinated with exploring, so itís crucial to provide a stimulating environment. To help Maryís grandson develop speech, try teaching the alphabet with things around the house.
Cathy Agnew
Cathy Agnew
Cares for her grandchildren, mother of two
She should plan interactive experiences with him such as taking him for a walk in the park. On walks with him, she can pick up nature items with her grandson and talk about the things they see. Children benefit greatly from hearing everyday language. Thatís what has helped to develop my granddaughterís language skills.
Darlene Morales
Darlene Morales
Mother of one
Mary should encourage her grandson to explore his environment with different toys that will attract him and also provide different experiences through texture. Provide sensory experiences with their hands and feet. Foster his desire to learn by introducing him to new activities at home like stacking and sorting objects. She should let him explore on his own without taking over because that encourages problem solving and critical thinking at an early age.

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Ages & Stages: Birth To 12 Months Featured Video:
Ages & Stages: Birth To 12 Months
Topic: Child Development
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