Building Character and Self-Esteem

Month 12, Week 1

Around their first birthday, babies become independent thinkers and want to try doing everything by themselves according to their own plans.

Of course, when you say "no," there may be tears, but stand firm. Rules and boundaries are important for growing children. Setting limits in a way that's appropriate for your child's temperament (or natural predisposition) can help boost his self-esteem.

Here are some suggestions:

  • When asking your baby to stop doing something, let him know that he isn't bad, his behavior is. This helps him keep a positive self-image.
  • Praise good behavior. Your baby will be glad you've noticed that he's good at stacking blocks and feeding himself. And if you dole out compliments, not just complaints, your baby will be less likely to cause trouble to get your attention.

Your Baby's Development This Week

Although he can't speak, your baby makes his opinions perfectly clear. Lately, he prefers the company of the people and things he loves best and may shun others, which is perfectly normal.

Here's what's typical:

  • Your baby loves being around you and your partner more than anyone else. When the babysitter shows up, he'll be visibly upset, a sign of normal separation anxiety.
  • Your baby is wary of strangers. Several months ago, he didn't flinch when Great Aunt Sally wanted to hold him. But now that he recognizes familiar faces, he also can spot a stranger. Expect him to cringe and wail; it's a healthy reaction to the unfamiliar.
  • Your baby is comforted by a favorite stuffed animal, blanket, or other security object. It's his go-to item when he needs to calm down or fall asleep.

Month 12, Week 1 Tips

  • If your baby's stuffed animal or security blanket is ever-present, buy a duplicate, so you'll always have a clean one on hand.
  • A first birthday doesn't have to mean the end of breastfeeding. Experts recommend continuing as long as mother and baby are interested.
  • When your baby learns to talk, teach him a code word for breast milk so he can ask for it discreetly in public.
  • No need for an elaborate first birthday party. At this age, any hoopla is really for you. Your child won't notice whether it's lavish -- just whether he got hugs, kisses, and cake.
  • Is your home overflowing with toys and baby books? Consider donating those that are still in good shape and aren't your child's favorites. He may not ever notice.
  • Once his birthday passes, trade your baby's bottle for a sippy cup. Begin by eliminating his midday bottle and gradually replace all with sippy cups, switching the bedtime bottle last.
  • This is the age when formula-fed babies switch to cow's milk -- usually whole milk.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on July 25, 2019



American Academy of Pediatrics: "Emotional and Social Development: 8 to 12 Months."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Transitional Objects."

WebMD: "Baby's First Year."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Your Child's Temperament."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Continuing Breastfeeding Beyond The First Year."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Weaning to a Cup (Audio)."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Discontinuing the Bottle."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Car Safety Seats: Information for Families for 2011."

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