Ages & Stages: Your Under One Year Old

Infants in their first year of life learn an incredible amount of material. Their learning happens quite naturally and spontaneously. The infant is discovering that he has hands and is beginning to learn that he can do things with them. She is learning to coordinate her movements and struggling to gain control of her body. Eventually, attempts to roll over and sit up will become successful. Babies have a natural agenda that instructs them how to move best to prepare for their next developmental step. In order to have lots of time to exercise freely, it is important to limit the amount of time your baby spends in baby carriers, baby chairs, and baby jumpers. Laying on a mat provides the space for your baby to naturally exercise his legs, back, neck, stomach, and arms.

Your baby is also busy learning that the world is a safe, responsive, nurturing place. He develops an essential sense of trust when he cries and other vocalizations are responded to quickly, when his needs are met, and when he can smile and make someone smile back. Your baby’s communication system is built upon the amount of time you spend establishing eye contact and modeling conversation. Long before she can talk, you and your baby will have developed an elaborate verbal and nonverbal communication system with each other.

Babies enjoy many games at this age. Just repeating his sounds and waiting for his response is enjoyable. “Peek-a-boo” is an old favorite. Babies also love to hear you sing, even if you can’t carry a tune. The singsong melodies and changes in pitch are captivating to this age group. Sing songs you remember from your childhood. Sing about what you are doing—”I am changing your red shirt. It is covered with green peas.” You are still your child’s most favorite toy. He loves to watch your facial expressions and hands and listen to your voice. Right after birth, he can distinguish his mother’s voice and will turn his head towards her when she speaks to him.

It is important to remember that you can talk to even your youngest baby. Describe to her what you see her doing when she reaches for her toe or cries to be fed. Tell him what you are doing when you walk away to get his diaper or close the window. All of this rich talking, listening, and interacting not only teaches your baby about language, it also helps to build your emotional relationship with each other.

Your baby is busy getting to know her world. She is learning how to identify people, places, and things in her environment by the way they look, sound, feel, smell, and taste.