Infant & Toddler Development

11–12 Months

Can you believe that your baby’s first year is drawing to a close? Remember that he is still a baby, but don’t be surprised if you suddenly find him moving quickly into his second year with you in fast pursuit.

Your baby is special because he has you for a parent. He learns about most things from you, especially about love. Babies, just like grown-ups, need love and attention.

Be generous with your smiles, hugs, and kisses. These teach your baby that he is loved.

What it’s like to be 11–12 months old

How I grow…

  • I may stand by myself.
  • I hold a toy in one hand while pulling myself up with the other hand.
  • I may wave “bye-bye” while standing.
  • I may turn my body around without falling down.
  • I walk if you hold one or both of my hands.
  • I squat down, stoop, and bend over.
  • I hold a pencil or crayon and love to make marks with it.
  • I can get food to my mouth using a spoon. I am still messy.

How I talk…

  • I know that words are used to identify things.
  • I use one word to express a complete thought.
  • I babble and mumble gibberish quite a lot, but I do know a few words.

How I respond…

  • I try to mimic what I see you do.
  • I try to get your approval and may hide when I know you are not pleased with me.

How I understand…

  • I see the expression on your face and copy it. I’m learning from you!
  • I may say “woof” or “meow” when I see a dog or cat.
  • I am learning about people and animals, and what they do.
  • I like to look at pictures in books and magazines.
  • I may point to familiar objects.

How I feel…

  • I may cling to you, especially in new situations. That’s because my world is expanding and I feel safe with you.
  • I love to shake my head and say “no” even when I mean “yes.”
  • I may cry, scream and have tantrums if I don’t get my way.

How you help me learn…

  • Make animal sounds when you show me pictures of animals. I will try to copy you.
  • Teach me new songs and nursery rhymes, but don’t be surprised if I like the old familiar ones best.
  • Play music that has a rhythm so I can clap or move to the music.
  • Make a funny face at me and I will try to copy you. Open and close your eyes and mouth, or move your head from side to side or up and down, and I will imitate you.
  • Give me toys that I can push and pull. If it shakes or rattles as it moves, I like it even better.
  • Give me soft cuddly toys that I can carry easily.
  • Give me washable, non-toxic crayons to hold and large pieces of paper to mark. Taping the paper down makes it easier for me.
  • Don’t be surprised when I bring you the same book, over and over again, for you to read to me. I like the repetition.
  • I like pop-up toys and simple boxes that have doors to open and two or three simple shapes to match.
  • If we are going to visit friends and relatives, tell me where you are taking me and who we will see. You might even show me photographs of them.

Feeding Your Baby

Most babies this age enjoy an amazing variety of foods. The size of your child’s appetite relates to his activity and how fast he is growing. Appetites tend to decrease now because the rapid growth and weight gain of the first year tapers off.

If your infant appears to be a picky eater, don’t overreact or let mealtime become a battleground. Many parents panic and give their child anything that he wants just so he won’t “starve”. During an appetite slump, many children are bribed or pushed into eating by being promised “a cookie if you eat just one spoonful of vegetables”.

Along with breast milk or formula, your baby’s daily diet should now include small servings of:

  • Breads, cereals, rice and pasta, or starchy vegetables (poi, breadfruit, yams, and potatoes)
  • Soft cooked vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, and soft cooked beans

Most infants go through stages when foods are readily accepted, then for no apparent reason even favorites will be rejected. If you’ve introduced your baby to a variety of healthy foods, he probably has some all-time favorites that you can be sure will please him during these taste shifts.

Safety & Your Baby

Walking with Your Baby

Soon your child will be able to walk beside you for short distances. He’ll enjoy it, but since you are much taller than he is, it’s hard for him to continually raise his arm to hold your hand. (Just try walking with your arm above your head.) Be especially careful in parking lots and when crossing streets. When you lift him over a curb or up a step, put your hands beneath his armpits. Jerking him up by his hand can injure his shoulder or elbow.


Limit Setting

Most babies this age are accomplished crawlers. Now, discipline becomes a major part of your daily routine.

Discipline involves setting up reasonable limits to teach him what is safe and acceptable. Discipline also lets him know that you may have to stop his behavior. At this age, a firm “no” may stop your child from his unacceptable behavior. Be sure, however, to save your forceful “no’s” for those situations that really concern you.

If you use too many “no’s,” your child may stop listening to you or use your “no’s” to get attention. As your baby crawls toward a breakable object, he may turn around to look at you. You say “no”, but he reaches out to touch it anyway. You say “no” again. Once more he reaches for the object, waiting for your “no,” and so the game goes on. To end the game and help him realize the meaning of “no,” calmly remove the object and replace it with something he can have, or take him away from the forbidden area and get him interested in something else. Get up, go over to him and show him what you want him to do. It won’t be effective to yell at him or threaten him if he doesn’t stop.

Temper Tantrums

Most parents find it difficult to cope with temper tantrums. Babies “melt down” most often when they are frustrated, tired, hungry, sick, over stimulated, or can’t have what they want. For example:

A tantrum might occur when your baby wants to play with your watch. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he may lie on the floor crying. Your baby is angry because you have set a limit. Let him cry out his anger and stay nearby while he cries. If you stay calm, it will help him regain his composure. When he realizes that you are paying little attention to his tantrum, he will stop crying. Don’t give in to his demand just to keep him quiet.

You do have to set certain limits and stick by them. Be kind, loving, and calm while setting those limits. When he has calmed down, offer him an appropriate toy or activity.

Take Care of Yourself

As you know, time is a valuable resource. There never seem to be enough hours in the day.

Some parents have found these ideas to be helpful:

  • Make a short list of things that really need to be done and cross out tasks as they are completed. You will feel a sense of accomplishment as tasks are finished. It helps to make a new list every day, expect the unexpected, and be prepared to revise the list as needed.
  • Reduce the time and energy spent feeling guilty or frustrated about things that can’t be completed or jobs that can’t be done.
  • Routines reduce thinking time. Make a simple, daily housekeeping schedule with basic important tasks on it.
  • Avoid clutter. Have a place for things and plan a regular time for picking up.
  • Plan ahead to save time. Allow time to finish up activities. Leave 10 minutes earlier than necessary for an appointment. Being early can cut down on stress.

Some children are born with special needs. These children continue to surprise adults as they find creative ways to do things. If you have any questions about your child’s development, call your doctor or H-KISS. Check The Parent Resource Directory for the phone number.

A Parent Asks

Q – My son has a blanket that he carries around with him all the time. He wants to take it every where. Should I try to get it away from him?

A – No. Many children develop a special attachment to a blanket or other object, such as a stuffed animal. These precious objects go through thick and thin, sickness and health, good and bad with them.

Your son’s need for his blanket will probably decrease over the next few years, especially if he doesn’t feel pressured to give it up. Meanwhile, it is a source of great comfort and security and helps him cope with his daily life.


Q – What should we get our baby for his first birthday?

A – As your child approaches his first birthday, you might consider the purchase of a riding toy even though he probably won’t be able to use it for several months. Be sure it is well built with widespread wheels and a low center of gravity to prevent falls. Pull toys, large interlocking construction blocks, balls, sturdy books, and activity boxes are favorites.

When you select toys, look for those that:

  • Encourage action and stimulate imagination.
  • Hold up under rough treatment.
  • Are washable, painted with non-toxic paints, and made of fire-resistant material.
  • Have no detachable parts that can be lost or swallowed.
  • Have rounded edges that won’t injure your child.
  • Are appropriate for the child’s age.

While careful toy selection is your responsibility, adequate supervision during play is still the best way to prevent injuries.


Q – My son loves to pull everything out of cupboards and drawers. I feel I should let him explore, but it is such a mess. What do you suggest?

A – Babies at this age create clutter. A healthy, 11-month-old baby is only doing what comes naturally—exploring. He pulls things out of drawers, tips over wastebaskets, unrolls toilet paper, drags toys all over the house, and examines anything he can touch. He is not doing it to upset you. If there is nothing harmful in the cupboards and drawers, allow him to explore. This stage will pass and encouraging his curiosity teaches him to enjoy learning.