Congratulations, Mama—you made it through your baby’s first year! Through the sleepless nights, the constant never-ending diapers, the adjusting-your-whole-life-to-revolve-around-this little-one, the crying (theirs and yours), and all the sweet snuggles: you did it.
But what’s in store for you and your baby next? Here’s what to expect from your 12-month-old baby.
Welcome to One Year
It happened. You blinked and now your baby isn’t a baby anymore. It’s totally normal to feel emotional about your growing baby—it’s hard not to miss the tiny baby cuddles and the way their head smells those first few months.
But there is so much to look forward to now that you have a toddler. Every day, you are going to see your little one’s personality emerge a little more. From how they interact with other kids their age to the ways they find to get exactly what they want, your toddler is becoming less dependent on you and more sure of themselves with each passing moment. And there is something so incredibly exciting about that.
There are also belly laughs and reciprocal communication to look forward to. And of course, a little one who actively seeks you out because you’re their favorite person in the world (even if that means you never get a break come bedtime, eek.)
In the months to come, you can expect walking, running, and talking to be at the forefront of skills your one-year-old masters. You can also expect them to choose a favorite toy or stuffy and to start forming a genuine attachment to that object, just as their attachment to you may also grow stronger—and sometimes harder, when separation anxiety comes into play.
There are no obstacles you can’t tackle, though. And as much as you miss that tiny baby smell, you’re sure to find you love the ways your little one starts communicating with you and propelling themselves forward as you run to keep up.
12-Month-Old Baby Milestones
- Follow simple commands
- Point to body parts when asked
- Will be able to start learning up to 100 new words
- Can start to play pretend
- Play simple games, like “peek-a-boo”
- Show fear or shyness in new situations or with new people
- Repeat sounds for attention
- Wave bye-bye
- Can put things in a container and take them out (hello, Tupperware drawer!)
- May stand alone or take steps
Of course, when exactly these milestones occur will vary by child. But there are some milestones all 12-month-olds can look forward to.
Happy birthday, baby!
The first birthday is a huge milestone! But can we let you in on a little secret? It’s a bigger deal for you than it is for your baby. At their age, they aren’t going to remember any of the fuss you put into a party—and they might actually get overwhelmed by too much excitement. But that first bite of cake? Those balloons? That happy celebration? Those moments will remain in your memories for years to come.
So do something that will mark this occasion in a way you can be excited about, whether that’s a big party with friends and family or a quiet celebration with just those already living in your home. There’s no one right way to do this first birthday—there’s just you deciding on the best way to celebrate for your family.
We could talk all day long about toddler-proofing your home. Now that you have a mobile little one, keeping them safe requires an even bigger commitment—you’re about to learn just how quickly those little ones can move, and how much trouble they can get into in just a short period of time. From being aware of the risks of pans being pulled from the stove to becoming hyper-vigilant around water, it’s time to step up your safety game.
- Lock up any handguns that may be in the house. Store ammo separately, if possible.
- Use the right car seat for your toddler’s height and weight. Keep your toddler rear-facing as long as possible, and at least until age 2 at the minimum.
- Be sure you have smoke alarms on every level of your house, and check that they work regularly. (Two words: Jack Pearson.)
- Scan any fall hazards, including chairs, furniture, or even potted plants your child may be able to scale or tip over.
- Secure all furniture and TV to the wall.
We also want to talk about another big 12-month-old protection milestone: vaccines. Over the next year, your child will get their final vaccines that include:
- HepB vaccine
- DTap (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis)
- Hib (Haemophilus influenzae, type b)
- PCV (pneumococcal)
- IPV (inactivated poliovirus)
- Influenza (flu)
- MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)
- Hep A
Some of these vaccines will be given at your child’s 1-year well-check visit, and the rest will be spread out in the months to come. But be sure to catch up on any vaccines that you may have fallen behind on, and talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have.
We know it seems like a lot, but your child’s pediatrician will help you to understand the schedule so you know what to expect. And remember: these vaccinations are about keeping your child safe. While your little one likely won’t love those pokes, they get over it quickly—and the benefits far outweigh those few seconds of tears, we promise.
One of the things you’re sure to notice about your 12-month-old baby is the way they are starting to develop their social awareness. You may see your toddler become shy around strangers when they haven’t been before, or realize they’re clinging to you in public spaces more than they have in the past. You may also notice they’re testing your responses to certain things, like throwing an object to the floor and looking directly at you to see how you react.
This is all very normal. Your child’s awareness of those around them, and the responses their actions elicit, is growing every day. That makes now a great time to start repeating rules and boundaries. Kids this age need a lot of repetition to commit those expectations to memory, so have patience and keep calmly reminding them of the dos and don’ts in your home.
Now is also a good time to start teaching your child that Mommy always comes back. Separation anxiety is big at this age and daycare drop-offs may become harder. But as any childcare worker will tell you: they do get over it. And with time, and the reminder that you always return, they will slowly start to gain more confidence when you leave.
Your New Normal
Now that you have entered toddlerhood, some of your old baby routines may be changing. So what does this new normal look like?
How much should a 12-month-old eat?
The AAP recommends breastfeeding alongside solid foods until at least 12 months of age. After that, it’s up to you and your baby if you want to continue. But at this point, solid foods should make up the bulk of your child’s diet. They should be getting three meals and two snacks a day.
The AAP encourages a parent provides, child decides method of eating for toddlers. This basically means you should provide a variety of healthy foods for a child to choose from, and allow them to decide what they actually want to eat from there.
For formula-fed babies, now is the time to start weaning them off the formula and moving to an exclusively solid food diet. You can start transitioning to a sippy cup and introducing more water with meals and throughout the day.
How much should a 12-month-old sleep?
Around 14 to 16 months of age, your toddler will start exhibiting signs of being ready to transition from two naps a day to one. But for now, the 12-month-old sleep schedule still includes two naps a day, totaling three to four hours of sleep, and 10 to 12 hours a night.
How much should a 12-month-old weigh?
Average weights can vary a lot based on a child’s height, gender, and typical growth pattern. The World Health Organization (WHO) growth charts place the average weight for a 12-month-old at between 17 and 27 pounds.
But remember: there can be a broad range of what is considered “normal” at this age.
The two most important things your pediatrician is going to be looking at is that your child’s growth has remained consistent over time and that their height and weight are relatively proportional.
Welcome to Toddlerhood!
Get ready, Mama! This next stage of parenting is going to keep you on your toes. Your 12-month-old baby is about to morph into an active, curious, mischief-causing toddler. And yes, there are going to be some tough spots, so prepare yourself for the tantrums and limit-testing to come.
But there are also going to be some amazing and exciting moments, like when you get a glimpse at who your child is going to grow up to be, and the times when you all laugh so hard together that your sides hurt and you feel happier than you ever knew was possible.
Caring for an infant was sweet. Raising a toddler is an adventure.
So buckle up and let the fun begin!
Frequently Asked Questions
What should a 12-month-old be doing?
All babies develop at their own speeds, but in general, a 12-month-old should be sitting on their own, able to stand (even if still supported), and say simple words like “mama” or “dada.”
How many words should a 12-month-old say?
In general, a one-year-old should say one to three words.
How many teeth should a one-year-old have?
According to the American Dental Association, there is no set number of teeth a one-year-old should have. In general, all 20 baby teeth should be in by the time your child is three. But when they do come in, don’t forget to brush those new baby teeth!
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Reviewed by Chaunie Brusie, RN, BSN…