Best Way to Help a 12-Month-Old Baby Learn and Develop Skills

As your precious baby approaches his first birthday, you will look back in amazement at the incredible changes that have taken place. He is now a little individual with a unique personality, a wide range of emotions, and a strong sense of his place in the family and his daily routines. He is bursting with life and energy, full of love and affection for those closest to him, and a real joy to be with.

Physical development

This month your baby may attempt to stand alone and even take his first steps unsupported. But don’t forget that the speed of your baby’s physical progress depends on his individual development and he should not be compared to other children.

12 month baby Develop Skills Best Way to Help a 12 Month Old Baby Learn and Develop Skills

First steps

Towards the end of this month your baby may take his first steps – a really exciting development. If he’s perfected his balance while cruising around your furniture, he may start to occasionally let go, grabbing hold of something only if he totters. Once he reaches this stage, encourage him to walk towards you, or widen the gaps between the furniture.

Initially, he may manage only one or two steps before falling; encourage him to try again, and before long he’ll manage more and more steps on his own. Moving the furniture slightly further apart will also help him gain confidence. But be prepared for your baby to go at his own pace – lots of babies don’t walk until they are 13 or 14 months old, and some not before 18 months.


Now your baby has much more control over his hand movements, he is more accurate in everything he does with them, including feeding himself with finger foods with no difficulty. Using a spoon isn’t as easy to master, since it involves difficult hand-eye coordination in addition to good muscle control. But now he can rotate his hand he is much better at getting food into his mouth, although it will still be a messy business.

It is worth encouraging your baby to feed himself, since sometimes he may refuse someone else feeding him, and he shouldn’t rely on you entirely for all his food. On the other hand, it’s still too early to leave it all up to him. Although he may start each meal enthusiastically, he’ll soon get distracted and you may have to intervene to ensure he eats enough.


Exploring different objects is still one of your baby’s favourite activities but now he will probably have stopped putting everything that he picks up into his mouth. How an object feels in his hands is now more important to him, and he will experiment more and more with his hands, for example, he will try to hold more than one item – such as two building blocks – in his hand at a time, although for a while he will drop one, and maybe both. And having discovered last month how to let go of something purposefully, he is now having great fun throwing things deliberately!

Activities to develop skills

Help your baby expand his understanding, and particularly his knowledge of the names of objects, with familiar songs and books. Try also to encourage him to share well-loved toys, and develop his coordination and rhythm by playing clapping games with him.

  •    Your baby may now be able to hold his hands flat when he claps his hands together; if not, let him hold your hands as you clap them together. Let him sit on your lap, or on the floor lacing you, so he can watch and join in clapping games and songs. Putting words, gestures, and music together will help with first words as well as giving him the chance to play with and imitate you.
12 month baby Develop Skills 1 Best Way to Help a 12 Month Old Baby Learn and Develop Skills
  • Play give and take with your baby by offering him something new to look at, then asking for it back when he’s finished exploring it. If he gives it to you, praise him. If not, take it gently thanking him and praising him.
  •    Soft toys such as teddy bears and clowns and dolls will give him lots of play opportunities for many years to come. Use them now to help him learn social rituals – encourage him to kiss his favourites goodnight, or say good­bye when he goes out for the day if Your baby will love listening to song tapes and looking at books again and again. This repetition will help encourage his first words and improve his memory.
  •    If your baby is beginning to walk, he may be ready for his first push-along trolley. At first you may need to help him along, but he’ll soon enjoy pushing the trolley himself.

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