Little, dimpled hands flail as an unsteady foot moves forward – a moment watched with bated breath by the family. For your baby, it is the first step of a lifetime.
One year into life, your newborn will have almost tripled in weight, starting to both speak and walk. Dr Afra Jamal Ahli, Specialist in Family Medicine and Fellow in Maternal and Child Health at Dubai Health Authority tells us further about developmental milestones for one-year-olds that you should keep an eye out for.
Children at this age are able to respond to simple spoken requests, like ‘drink water’, ‘drink your milk’, ‘and give me your hand’. For example, if you say, ‘I’ll help you wear your shoes’, you’ll find them sitting - so they are able to understand what you want them to do.
Social and emotional development milestones for one-year-old babies
1. Signs of separation anxiety and shyness
Having learnt to recognise his or her parents, your child can become anxious if you leave.
Dr Afra says, “The child will be usually crying when mum or dad leaves, sometimes it’s called separation anxiety, especially if they are very attached to their parents.”
At the same time, if the child is shy or nervous with strangers, that is a completely normal reaction towards others.
2. Favourites with people and toys
If you find your baby starting to become inseparable from their new stuffed animal toy, don’t be surprised. Whether it’s their first blanket or stuffed animal, at this age, your baby will start to have favourite things to play with. They also have favourites with people, for example, the nanny, if you are a working parent.
3. Playing simple games
Your little one will be able to play the universal favourite for baby games, peek-a-boo, and simple rhyme songs with claps.
4. Repeating sounds or actions for attention
Babies will repeat sounds in a certain tone or wave their arms multiple times, for example, to gain your attention.
Language and communication milestones for a one-year-old
“Something quite magical happens at the end of a baby’s first year. Every one of them embarks on a new journey towards language,” says Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Director of the infant language lab at temple university, USA, in the Netflix show, Babies.
1. Saying ‘mama’ and ‘dada’
After hopeful repetition by parents over months, hearing you called by your baby is an infinitely precious moment. Most babies call their mother and father as in their native language, at one year of age.
2. Responding to simple requests with gestures
Dr Afra says, “Children at this age are able to respond to simple spoken requests, like ‘drink water’, ‘drink your milk’, ‘and give me your hand’. For example, if you say, ‘I’ll help you wear your shoes’, you’ll find them sitting - so they are able to understand what you want them to do.”
She adds that the acceptable range at this age is to say ‘mama’ ‘dada’ and responding to these simple requests, and babies should be assessed if not doing these.
3. Using simple gestures
Nothing warms a leaving guest’s heart more than a baby waving their little hand goodbye. At one year old, your child should be able to instantly delight by waving ‘bye-bye’, and also using other simple gestures such as shaking their head ‘no’.
4. Copying your words
As you lovingly repeat names of people or objects to them, you will find them attempting to replicate the sound.
Cognitive skills, milestones for a one-year-old
1. Exploring things in different ways
Shaking, banging, throwing and biting are few of the ways your little one will try and make sense of things around them, to understand their living environment.
2. Identifying objects
Your baby can look at the right picture or thing when it’s named.
3. Copying your gestures
Copying your movement is important for child physical development.
In a 2013 study published in the peer-reviewed open access scientific journal PLOS One by the Public Library of Science, researchers from the University of Washington and Temple University in the US found that babies observing an act by an adult performed with a specific body part causes activation of the corresponding area of the brain for the baby. For example, watching an adult use their hand to touch a toy led to the hand area of a baby’s brain to light up.
4. Pointing and poking
Your child starts to use his/her index finger to poke, test or point at things.
5. Grip development:
With development of motor skills related to grip, your baby can bang two things together, put in and take things out of a container and let go of objects without help.
6. Using objects correctly
After the year of repetition, he or she begins to understand object use such as drinking from a mug.
7. Following simple directions
After understanding your simple requests to eat and drink or move objects, at one-year-old, they should know how to carry these actions out.
Physical development milestones for a one-year-old
1. Can achieve a sitting position without help
At this age, babies should be able to reach out and sit by themselves.
Dr Afra says, “The age of crawling is variable – children may start crawling up to the age of 6 months, 9 months or 1 year.”
At 12 months or one year, they should be able to sit and try to hold things and pull themselves up to stand. They may be able to walk by holding on to surrounding furniture as well, also called ‘cruising’.
4. Walking or ‘cruising’
Dr Afra says, “The expectation of walking is variable – some children might start walking at 9 months, some are expected to walk by 12 months - that is the norm - but our expectation as physicians are to follow the child up to 18 months for walking.”
How can a parent support baby development to ensure these milestones are reached?
According to Dr Afra, a proper routine for meals, activities with family and friends and sleep can greatly help development. Avoid using smart devices, ensure your child’s mind is stimulated by new experiences, conversations or things.
“Parents should always have a special time with activities for the children,” says Dr Afra.
Swimming under the supervision of trained professionals can also help development of motor skills.
No smart devices
Especially at development from 6 months up to 3 years, Dr Afra emphasizes that parents should limit their baby’s use of smart devices.
This can happen when parents are working for prolonged periods of time for which they are keeping them in front of the TV or with the nanny, and the nanny is busy.
She says, “Frankly speaking, they should not be using any smart device and if they do it should not be for more than 30 minutes per day.
“This is a very important point because speech delay and walking problems tends to develop because of this.”