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The Baby to Toddler Transition
It's hard to believe your baby is almost a toddler. Where did the first year go? Sniff. Your little one has changed so much since birth, and more huge changes are on the way. As you approach your child's first birthday, here are the biggest milestones babies typically experience in the weeks and months before they demolish their smash cakes.
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Sure, you waited for this day to come for months, but life is about to get much harder now that your sweetie can't sit still. Gone are the days when you can safely plop your baby in the middle of the bed and get dressed. Now he's on the move, either on all fours or homo erectus style. But Baby's mobility makes some things easier too; you don't have to carry him everywhere, so your back is bound to feel a little relief.
By babbling, "dada"ing and the like, your cutie is now doing more than crying to communicate needs. It's a lot of fun to watch your wee one's language emerging from unintelligible jabber to ... "Wait, did she just say 'Mama'?" According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, some babies say their first official word by age 1, but don't fret if your tot doesn't. Baby milestones are achieved over a broad range of time, especially when it comes to language development. Talk to your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns.
Baby is getting more food on the floor and his face than he is in his mouth, but isn't it adorable to watch him try to feed himself? The good news is, you don't have to buy or make as much special food for Baby because he is ready to try a lot of the same foods the rest of the family is eating. Still, your baby will require close supervision while eating, as safety is a big concern now. The AAP advises parents to cut all food into half-inch pieces to prevent choking. You'll also want to wait to introduce certain foods, such as honey, egg whites and nuts, until after Baby's first birthday.
Around Baby's first birthday, you may wish to start weaning him off breast milk or formula. For some babies, the transition to cow's milk is easy; they naturally take to a sippy cup without much resistance. Other babies have a harder time giving up the breast or bottle. Talk to your child's doctor about strategies to make weaning easier on Baby, and you!
Baby may drop his morning nap sometime after his first birthday, usually between 15 and 18 months. The "death" of the morning nap may happen earlier, though (cue the "Funeral March"). This can be a tough adjustment for everyone, especially Mom! But look on the bright side: If he naps less during the day, he may sleep longer at night.
Once your munchkin is on the move, you'll need to get serious about baby proofing your home. Go room to room and get down on Baby's level. What kind of trouble could she get into? How could she potentially harm herself? Of course, no amount of baby proofing is a substitute for close, constant supervision.
Baby is learning to do more with his hands than simply sucking his thumb or pulling out a clump of Mommy's hair. As the AAP notes, by the end of his first year, your dexterous darling will be using his thumb and first finger to pick up pieces of food and manipulate toys. Thus, mealtimes and playtimes are great opportunities to encourage your baby's ever increasing capabilities. Try lining up Cheerios and cheering when baby picks one up on his own: "Wow! What a big boy!"
As your child approaches her first birthday, you will notice she is much more engaged in what is going on around her. When the doorbell rings, she perks up and looks toward the sound to see what it is. When the dog walks in the room, she giggles and claps her hands in excitement. Just think: A few months ago, she could have slept through a fireworks display. Isn't it fun to watch her become such a willing participant in her daily life?
At first, your baby went along with whatever you wanted her to do, for the most part. Now, she may not be so thrilled when you buckle her into her car seat. Likewise, she may not be in the mood to sit patiently in the shopping cart as you browse the aisles at Target—and boy, will she let you know! Now is the time when your tot's personality is emerging, and she is developing ideas about what she wants to do and what she likes. She may wiggle in glee when a certain song comes on or wail in protest when you take your wallet out of her mouth. Hey, at least you know where she stands.
This is a normal part of baby development. Around eight months of age, many babies will begin to experience stress when separated from a parent This stage can last well into Baby's second year of life. Of course, seeing your little one's upsetting reaction to your departure can be just as hard on you. But don't let tears deter you from leaving. As long as you are leaving your baby in capable hands, all will be okay.