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Baby Steps: Milestones through 18 Months


9-12 Months: What's the Point?  

Pointing, a skill your baby is likely developing at this age, is a key building block for speech. "It's a nonverbal way of communicating that everyone understands," says Penny Glass, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist and director of the Child Development Program at Children's National Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. "It evolves from the shared eye gaze that babies begin practicing with caregivers around 6 months. For example, if she's hungry, she may look at her bottle on the table, and then look at you." Here are some tips for helping your little one get to the point.  

Name the object 
He may point to a dog, prompting you to say, "That's a big dog." Each time you name what he's pointed to, he learns there's an association between words and objects, which is what speech is all about. Pointing also helps teach your child about the back-and-forth of conversation.  

Lend a hand 
"Encourage her to point by lending a hand," says Susan Schwartz, clinical director of the Institute for Learning and Academic Achievement at the NYU Child Study Center. Gently take her arm and gesture while you say: "Look at the airplane in the sky."  

Join in 
Make sure you also point toward the objects, since babies learn through imitation.  -- Mindy Berry Walker  

13-18 Months: Battling the Binky  

While your little one is happily sucking away on his pacifier, there you are, like a movie villain, hatching an evil plot to eliminate it from his routine. No need to be overzealous. For the first 10 months, babies have a natural urge to suck independent of feeding, so depriving him of the opportunity to suck when he needs to will only frustrate him. It's still okay when he's a toddler too. It serves as a comforting mechanism, and most children stop their sucking habits before they turn 3 or 4. (As long as they stop before permanent teeth come in, you're fine.) But that doesn't mean pacifiers can't lead to bad habits. If you think your baby's a binky junkie, try these tips.  

Set limits 
Gradually wean your child off the pacifier by only allowing it during certain hours of the day.  

Praise her! 
Reward your child when she does not use the pacifier. Use a daily reward, or offer lots of hugs.  

Keep him busy 
Oftentimes children use pacifiers to relieve boredom, so keep his hands busy or distract him with fun things to do.