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Your baby’s social development 9-12 months

9 to 12 Months
Peek-a-boo and other hiding games provide hours of fun. Cuddle up with a book

Your baby at a glance

As your baby is getting closer to his first birthday, things like self regulation and learning through imitation are important for development. During this stage you are likely to see your baby:
  • Starting to be able to feed himself things like a cracker or a small piece of fruit. (Always stay nearby in case of choking)
  • Imitating simple actions she sees you doing
  • Showing fear of strangers, and may start clinging to you and seeking your reassurance when around unfamiliar people
  • Enjoying games such as peek-a-boo or clapping his hands to songs and nursery rhymes (copying you)
  • Responding when you call her name
  • Showing more awareness of how to get attention, either crying to get your attention or making loud sounds to get others’ attention

Your baby's story

Although you and your baby have been communicating together from the very beginning, during this stage he may say his first words. You are both going to find this very exciting, and all these months of listening to you and making babbling sounds have been practice and preparation for just this moment.

Child excited about giftIn terms of interactive games, she will enjoy it when you ‘hide’ her toy under a blanket, and is overjoyed when she pulls away the blanket to recover the toy. And of course this game doesn't get old easily; she will find enjoyment in many many repetitions. She will also still love to imitate your expressions and gestures, and her joint attention keeps improving, which is important for both social development and language development. During this stage she is advancing to pointing to a specific object and making sure she gets your attention on to it as well.

Towards your baby's first birthday you are probably noticing that he wants to do more things himself, such as feeding himself, drinking from a cup without help, or brushing his teeth. This is his need for independence starting to come to the fore. At the same time, you will see how strongly he is attached to you still, and he will want to keep learning from you, copying you, and above all he is looking to you for reactions and signals about what to do and how to feel about different things and situations. This is called social referencing, which means your child looks to you for reassurance when he's unsure about a situation, and looks to see what you like and dislike, and picks up your emotional reactions in various situations (and can get upset if you are, or feel happy when you're happy).

Your baby already knows the difference between familiar and unfamiliar faces, but in addition she is also developing the sense of fear during this stage. She prefers to be around you and others she knows well, and stranger anxiety is common. Your baby may become more serious and quiet when around strangers, or she may show a stronger response of fear and discomfort (e.g. crying and clinging to you or motioning that she wants to leave with you). Showing a preference for familiar people, and a particularly preferential attachment to you, is a normal and healthy part of your baby's social and emotional development.

You may already have seen the start of separation anxiety, but this can peak between 10-18 months and your child may display a strong desire to be exclusively with you and part of everything you do. He may start crying the moment you leave his side, become upset when you try to put him in someone else's arms, and perhaps wants to be carried everywhere. Children are different, also when it comes to separation anxiety, but if you see this behaviour with your baby, remember that it is perfectly normal, and the best thing to do is to reassure him and show understanding for the fact that he needs you to calm down and feel safe. As the saying goes: 'this too will pass'.

What you can to support and encourage your baby's development

Just as you have been doing, keep talking to your baby to encourage language development.
Play games and watch your baby's pure joy when engaging in activities such as finding the object you 'hid' under the blanket – over and over again. She learns through repetition and through interaction. Peek-a-boo is great as she learns to predict what will happen and shows such delight in the result, every time.

More generally, provide objects of different sizes, shapes and textures, and watch your baby revel in discovering new things all the time,(in particular as he keeps getting more control of his actions). Also, notice what your baby's particular interests are so you can support and focus his play and development. Children are different in their interests and disinterests, likes and dislikes.

Baby with fingers in mouthWith your baby's budding independence, support and encourage him in his efforts to do things himself. It can require some patience, as independent feeding and drinking gets messy and brushing his own teeth can become a drawn out affair. But this is how he learns, so these are important activities, and they will get easier as he gets more proficient. He needs your support along the way, to cheer his efforts, but also to help him learn that it's ok to make a mistake and about trying again. This builds your child's self-confidence, and will be important for learning as he grows and develops.

Support him through phases of separation anxiety. If you need to leave your baby with someone he doesn't know, you can help to ease his discomfort by giving him time to get used to the stranger. Let him know that you are comfortable around the new person, be positive and upbeat, and it will help reduce your baby's anxiety.

Continue with things you have been enjoying together from the start, such as reading, talking, singing, and laughing.

Adding Sparkle to Your Children's wardrobe!
Happy New Year!

50% off all our gorgeous items!
Offer code BFF  

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