Your Baby's Cognitive Development 9-12 months
Read together and look at picture books to help your baby’s language and memory development
Your baby at a glance
Actions are becoming more intentional and purposeful, and your baby's awareness is becoming more sophisticated. During this stage you are likely to see your baby:
- Starting to engage with you in a two-way conversation manner (taking turns)
- Understanding the meaning of 'no', perhaps shaking his head
- Showing stranger anxiety by clinging more to you or crying for you if you leave his side
- Understanding and responding to simple commands (using gestures, sounds, maybe words)
- Showing more intentional play and more sophisticated exploration of toys and their functions
Your baby's story
Your baby is imitating your actions and you will notice that she is taking turns in conversation with you, e.g. making sounds in response to what you say, then pausing and waiting for your response. She will understand the meaning of certain gestures, and may for example shake her head 'no' and wave 'bye bye' to people.
Object permanence is established at this stage, so your baby now knows that an object still exists even when she can't see it. When she sees a toy fall or get hidden, she will look for it in the right place. There is a lot going on for her, and she is starting to develop ‘symbolic thought’. This means she is beginning to be able to think about things that are not currently in front of her. This is the foundation for her development and later use of imagination and pretend play.
Further memory development means your baby is aware of his daily routine and is now starting to respond to simple directions and questions. These responses may include gestures and sounds or even a word or two as he is approaching his first birthday. (Note that babies vary widely in their language development and when they say their first words). You will also see your baby noticing when someone leaves the room and waiting for their return. Stranger anxiety comes in to play at this age, and he may cry or stare at someone he doesn't know, perhaps clinging to you.
The exploration of toys, objects and food becomes ever more purposeful and intentional, and your baby will enjoy putting things into containers to see if they fit. This is all good practice for hand-eye coordination, memory and concentration. He is probably playing alone for longer periods than he used to. During this stage your baby will start pointing at familiar objects when cuddled up with you and a good picture book. By his first birthday, he is starting to put together language and memory; he may say a word he associates with a person or a place (e.g. saying "teddy”, or his version of that word, when arriving at his Aunt’s place where he remembers playing with a teddy).
What you can do to support and encourage your baby's development
Give your baby plenty of time to play and explore. Play with him often, and keep talking to him, leaving enough space in between so he can respond in his own way. As well as learning words, he is learning about two-way conversation. He will also increasingly join you when you sing and do actions along with songs.
Provide containers, cups and boxes to play with, and allow your baby to practice self-feeding. The more she explores and finds out how things work the better for hand-eye coordination and concentration, and of course her confidence in doing things herself.
It's great to have a few picture books that he can look through himself, as well as those you read together. Notice how he communicates with you to let you know he is recognising familiar pictures or objects.
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