Growth and Development,Ages 1 to 12 Months - Promoting Healthy Growth and Development
A baby goes through so many changes that it can be hard for you to keep up with
all the things experts say you "should be" doing to promote healthy growth and
Remember that the best things for your baby are usually the
simplest. Loving, holding, changing diapers for, talking to, and feeding your baby are the
things to focus on. The rest will fall into place.
But you can
always learn more about how to help your baby grow and develop in healthy
Physical health and development
- Try to breast-feed for at least the first year of life.
Breast milk is the ideal food for babies. For more information, see the topics Breast-Feeding and Weaning.
- Learn your baby's rhythms. You will gradually get a sense of your baby's
unique sleeping and eating patterns and be able to help establish a routine by
about 3 months of age. But be prepared to make adjustments as needed.
- Help keep your baby's head from getting too flat. It's important to always put your baby to sleep on his or her back. But always sleeping on the back may make your baby's head a little flat. You can help keep it from getting too flat by changing his or her head position regularly.
- Allow your baby "tummy time" while he or she is awake and
you are closely watching. Tummy time also helps your baby develop
- Cuddle your baby while
holding his or her head up as much as you can. Don't place your baby in car
seat carriers or bouncers for long periods each day.
- Change your baby's head
position during sleep at least every week. (Remember to always keep your baby
on his or her back during naps and at bedtime.) A good way to make sure your
baby's head rests in different positions is to switch which end of the bed you
place him or her in each week. Babies
usually turn their heads away from the wall, toward the inside of a room.
- Start to care for your child's teethas soon as you see the first baby tooth (primary tooth). For more information, see the topics Basic Dental Care and Brushing and Flossing a Child's Teeth.
- Keep your baby safe from injury,
drowning, burns, poisoning, and other dangers.
- Choose child care wisely. Before you take your baby to a child care center, check the health policies of the center. Get the names of people and agencies you can talk to about the care center?s safety record. For more information, see the topic Choosing Child Care.
For more information about health and safety, see the topic
Health and Safety, Birth to Age 2.
Emotional health and development
- Encourage bonding. Consistently
interact with and provide loving attention to your baby.
and reinforce behaviors. For example, when interacting with your baby,
encourage smiling and eye contact.
- Respond to
crying. Your baby cries to communicate needs, such as
feeling hungry or uncomfortable. You are not spoiling your baby by promptly
responding to these cues. Use comforting techniques,
like cuddling and singing. For more
information on crying behavior, see the topic
Crying, Age 3 and Younger.
Development of new skills
- Don't spank your baby or use other types of
corporal punishment. A baby between 1 month and 12
months is too young to understand what is "good" and "bad" behavior. Try distracting a child who is doing something wrong or something that might be
dangerous. For example, if your baby tries to pull the dog's tail, you can find a toy
to get his or her attention, and then move the dog to another area.
- Don't worry about "spoiling" your baby. You can't
spoil a baby at this age. Hold your child, and give him or
her as much love and attention as you can. Your love and patience are critical
for helping your child grow into a happy and confident toddler.