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How can you help your baby during the first year?

The best things for your baby are often the most basic. Loving, holding, changing diapers for, talking to, and feeding your baby are the first things to focus on.

During the first year, other ways that you can help your baby grow and learn are to:

  • Respond to your baby's cries. Crying is your baby's way to tell you what he or she needs. If your baby has colic, do what you can to comfort him or her. Remember that colic is normal-and temporary. Your baby will grow out of it.
  • Help your baby learn. Talking, reading, and playing are all important ways to help your baby's mind grow.
  • Place your baby on his or her tummy, and play together. Also give your baby plenty of time to explore safely. This can help your baby gain the confidence to try new skills, such as crawling and walking, and to grow into a healthy toddler.
  • Keep your baby safe. Always put your baby to sleep on his or her back to reduce the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Use a car seat every time your baby rides in a car.
  • Know that your baby is curious, but set limits. A baby between 1 and 12 months is too young to understand what is "good" and "bad" behavior. You may need to redirect your baby's attention. For example, if your baby tries to pull the dog's tail, you can find a toy to get your baby's attention, and then move the dog to another area.

The first year of your baby's life is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful. Some days you may feel overwhelmed. Learning what is normal for babies at this age can help you spot problems early or feel better about how your baby is doing.

Ask for help when you need it. Call a family member or friend to watch your baby. If you need a break or don't feel well, ask your doctor or local hospital for some suggestions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about growth and development:

Developmental milestones:

Seeing a doctor:

Ongoing concerns:

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 07, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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