Your child is now a whole year old. However, he’s only just beginning to develop his major independent skills – speech and mobility – and he still has many milestones yet to reach. As a parent, it is normal to want to know that your child is developing at a healthy rate. But remember, all children develop differently so, unless there are any major concerns, it is best to relax and just let the joy unfold.
Is it time for baby steps?
Perhaps your child was a very early starter and has been walking since he was 10 or 11 months old. However, the reality for most is that the first baby steps are taken sometime during the second year. His initial attempts are likely to be giddy with excitement, full of trepidation and very wobbly, but as he approaches his second birthday he will most probably be walking independently with confidence, perhaps even negotiating stairs and maybe even kicking a ball.
Is your home childproofed?
Children are natural explorers, and when they are 13-18 months there are new exciting frontiers to be found everywhere – from kitchen cupboards to siblings’ rooms to shelves and spaces under beds and tables. However, you’ll need to be aware that explorers of this age can get themselves into all kinds of trouble. Consider every space in your house and whether it contains any potential baby hazards and, when doing this, never underestimate a small child’s capacity to climb, Spiderman-like, into even the unlikeliest of places.
Should your child be speaking in sentences?
Your child may be saying simple words such as “Mama” and “Dada” and by 18 months may even have a vocabulary of ten or more words, but full sentences are going to be beyond him at this early stage.
There is one thing you can be sure of: he understands much more than he says, and you will begin to get a sense of this as he starts to demonstrate his comprehension by following simple commands.
For example, try asking your child to find a favourite toy or object and watch him as he looks for it and then shares his recognition when he finds it. Similarly, he will begin to point at the things he wants and to try and get your attention so that you can fetch them for him.
You can make the most of his burgeoning comprehension skills by reading to him whenever possible. Even if he does not understand every word, he will enjoy the stimulation and will be learning as part of the process.
What about motor skills?
During the 13-18 month period, there will be a noticeable surge in the range and precision of your child’s motor skills. He will begin to be able to build towers of up to eight blocks, to make marks on paper with crayons or markers, to throw a ball, to climb onto chairs, to turn the pages of a book and even to feed himself with a spoon. As you observe all this happening, you might begin to have an inkling of whether he is left or right-handed.
In fact, there will be times when you probably wish his motor skills weren’t quite so advanced. Times when he is trying to unpack your bag, to pull the cat’s tail or to determinedly feed himself even though you’ve just tidied the house and are in a rush to get out to make an important appointment.
Reward or punishment?
Your child is only just over a year old, so at this point it is important that you establish the habit of reinforcing good behaviour with plenty of praise and attention rather than focusing on negative behaviours. At this stage it is normal for your child to act out a bit and to demonstrate difficulty in controlling his emotions – it is your job to be positive and keep patience throughout this process.
What are the developmental red flags?
As we mentioned earlier, every child is unique and develops at their own rate. However, if your child does not even attempt to speak or to walk, you should contact your GP to check that everything is alright.
You should also speak with your GP if your child seems to be unable to grip anything or to understand or respond to simple directions.
Find out more about what to expect in months 19-24.