Welcome to the fourth instalment of our milestone series. If you missed the previous editions then you can check them out here…
So, your baby has reached the stage where they are learning about moving their body. Welcome to the era of protecting your stuff! Get used to putting your little one down in one spot, turning around for 2-seconds and finding them halfway across the other side of the room with half a box of tissues on the floor! Let’s have a look at the awesome milestones of the 6-12 month range.
So, many a parenting books will tell you that because your baby is through the newborn phase, they should be sleeping through the night by now. I say codswallop to that! Do not, I repeat do not panic if your little one is not sleeping through. But if they are sleeping through, relish it!
As adults we wake in the night several times and put ourselves back to sleep. Most of the time without even realising that we are doing it. But when our little ones wake in the night, they don’t always have the skills to put themselves back to sleep, so they want us to help them.
Often sleep disturbances can go hand in hand with reaching cognitive milestones. Around the 6 to 12 month mark, babies are surging forward and trying to learn so many new skills – talking, crawling and even walking. They don’t want to stop practising these new skills to do something as boring as sleep! And they also won’t understand why Mummy looks like a Mombie (Mum Zombie) at 3am when they just want to play!
There are a couple of other things that could be affecting your little one’s sleeping, that is separation anxiety and teething. Around this time, your baby will be very conscious of when you leave the room and may scream the house down until you return. Eventually they will grasp the concept that you are going to return if you leave, but it might take some time – and some broken sleep – for them to realise.
What to do
It can be hard to know exactly what is interrupting your baby’s sleep, as they can’t tell you! Unfortunately, kids don’t come with an instruction manual, as much as we sometimes wish they did! Every child is different and some will be excellent sleepers, some will not.
Just try and roll with it. Especially when there are changes afoot, like moving, going back to work, travel, illness and life events. But if you have some concerns, or want to establish more of a routine, there is no harm in contacting a baby sleep consultant.
Oh it’s getting messy now! Don’t be surprised if you find food on the floor, in their hair, smeared down the highchair straps, or anywhere else close to the eating area.
Should you worry about table manners? NO!
It is actually really good to let your baby play with their food as it is how they learn. If you are interested in knowing more, we have a whole article on Letting Your Little Ones Play With Their Food.
One of the best things to invest in, is a Suction Bowl or Suction Bowl. It fixes onto the surface in front of your little one so that it cannot be knocked over. It makes it so much easier for them to grab stuff out of the bowl. They are probably a little too young to be feeding themselves with a spoon yet, so fingers (and the whole hand) are great alternatives.
They say variety is the spice of life. Embrace variety wholeheartedly with your baby. Exposing them to a whole range of different foods will help to prevent them becoming a picky eater, and will teach them good habits for later in life.
If you aren’t sure what kinds of foods to offer your baby at which stage, then make sure to reference the Plunket Guide for solid foods.
Eating on the go can be a challenge, both mess-wise and suitability. It is best to always take snacks and foods with you as it can be hard to find plain, basic, baby-type food when you are out. For food on the go, try refillable pouches which counteract the mess factor.
Playing with your little one is starting to get really fun now, because they can actually play back. They will start to get interested in toys, and be able to grab and work them by themselves.
Best toys for this age:
Stacking Cups: Not just for stacking, they can teach about little and big, colours, cause and effect, making towers, knocking them down, scooping and tipping water, and so much more. Best of all, they are so cheap and will get played with heaps!
A Ball: Yep, another simple toy. But a simple toy that will provide hours of enjoyment. A great encouragement to begin crawling, or to chase after when they are crawling. Fantastic for hand eye coordination and motor skills too.
Cause and Effect Toys: Babies love exploring their new found skills, so buttons to push, switches to flick, knobs to turn… and when doors open or figures pop up, watch the magic as their eyes light up.
Activities: There are lots of cool things you can do with your baby that don’t even need toys. Things like Peek-a-boo or reading books are great fun and have educational value.
Stay tuned for our next milestones blog when we tackle the 12-18 month age range.