This page shows you the relevant topics for this stage. The developmental summary outlines what’s going on for baby and how parents and whānau can support their child’s learning and behaviour. The individual tiles explore each topic in more depth.
During this time, baby will understand many more words than they can say. By 12 months old, they can understand about 10 words that they’ve heard often.
They’ll also learn to follow requests such as, ‘Wave to Daddy!’ They’ll look at books and listen for a brief time when whānau share books with them, and they’ll also enjoy rhymes and songs.
Baby will use a mixture of strategies to communicate with people, such as gestures (especially pointing), sounds with gestures, jabbering (noises that sound like speech), facial expressions, ‘almost-words’ such as ‘ca’ for ‘cat’, and some complete words — such as ‘mum’ or ‘dad’.
Use parallel talk and self-talk so baby hears the words that match what they’re looking at (or playing with). This helps to increase their vocabulary.
Have fun sharing books together every day.
Share rhymes and songs. This is another fun way to learn what words mean.
Tell baby the words that match what they’re pointing and gesturing at. For example, if they’re pointing to their bottle or a cup, respond with, ‘Do you want a drink?’
A baby during this period is getting more mobile, moving around and exploring what they can see, reach and manipulate. They’ll be grasping, mouthing, shaking, banging, dropping —and then throwing — objects to see what happens, and what they can make happen.
They’ll also repeat actions that have interesting effects — for example, pressing a button to make a noise. These types of activities create many new connections in their brain.
Repetition makes these connections stronger. As connections get insulated with a fatty coating called ‘myelin’, they allow messages to travel quickly and efficiently, becoming permanent pathways in their brains.
Make sure baby can explore safely. Check and make safe:
drinks and food items left within reach
heaters, fires and ovens
plugs and electrical cords
steps and stairs — teach baby to come down backwards
During this period a baby is increasing their skills and ability to move on their own, going when and where they choose. And they’ll be playing with things that interest them — whether they’re safe for baby or not.
Baby is interested in finding things and then discovering what they can do with them. They’re focusing on exploring and satisfying their curiosity, without any awareness of hazards and dangers.
Find a balance between baby exercising their curiosity and staying safe. There will be times and places when parents will need to limit baby’s activities.
Think about what places are more ‘baby friendly’ than others.
Remember that baby isn’t behaving in this way to upset or annoy dad or mum, they’re exploring to learn.
Be consistent — baby will get confused if something is okay sometimes and other times it’s not. If it’s ‘no’ once, it needs to stay ‘no’
Use a firm but warm tone of voice.
Have a small number of ‘no’s’ and stick to them.
Say what mum and dad want baby to do rather than what they don’t want them to do. For example, if they are trying to stand up in their highchair parents could say, ‘Sit down in your highchair. Chairs are for sitting.’
Try distracting baby with a different toy or activity — even better if it’s like the one they’re not allowed. For example, ‘Here’s a soft ball for throwing. Books are for looking at’.
During this stage baby will be rolling, sitting, pulling themselves up to a standing position, ‘cruising’ (sidestepping while holding onto furniture), standing on their own, and maybe beginning to walk with help or by themselves.
As their mobility increases, they can decide for themselves where they’ll go and what they’ll explore when they get there!
Share baby’s excitement as they learn to move.
Encourage new movement skills by giving baby toys that roll, and by putting toys in places that baby has to move to reach them.
Get down to baby’s level and check around the house and garden for dangerous or precious things that baby shouldn’t touch.
Move or remove those precious or dangerous things so baby can explore freely and safely. This is called making a ‘Yes!’ environment.
During this stage as a baby becomes more strongly attached to close family members, they become aware there are other people they don’t know as well.
They may be cautious when new people come close, and they might grizzle and get anxious or upset. This is known as ‘stranger anxiety’ and is a sign of a healthy attachment between baby and their caregivers.
Feel glad that baby knows the difference between close family and other people and understand that baby will sometimes need to ‘warm up’ gradually to others.
Reassure other people that baby is in a new stage of development and is learning that they are ‘okay’ people to be with, if they give baby time and understanding.