“How old is your baby?” a kind person asked.
“13 months and 2 weeks,” I said… then instantly felt ridiculous.
At what age are you supposed to stop counting your baby’s age by months and start counting by years?
Well, I don’t know. And, considering I’m trying to slow down time, I don’t care.
The other day my husband held my 13 months and 2-week old baby up so he was standing. Then he started to walk him around the living room. I gave him a death stare (you know the one) and said, “Good grief, put that baby down. He doesn’t need to walk. HE’S OUR LAST BABY!”
My other 4 kids and my husband were not worried about this. They were cheering my baby on. Inside I was shocked… I couldn’t believe it. With my firstborn I religiously referred to my earmarked copy of What to Expect in the First Year because I wanted to be sure she was tracking milestones. With my last baby… I couldn’t care less. I spend half the day holding him on my hip even though he’s quite mobile.
But he’s my last baby and I can’t let go.
5 Things To Focus On When Baby Is 1 Year Old
This season – when baby is 1 year old – can be quite challenging. Baby is mobile and making messes, becoming more vocal, and developing their own personality. As a mother of 5 children here is what I focus on during that second year of life.
Rest For Baby, Er, Toddler
When babies are little they sleep all the time. As they age they begin to drop naps and become much more alert and mobile. If we’re not careful they can fool us into thinking they don’t need to rest.
But they do!
At the beginning of their second year (age 1) they will likely be having a morning and afternoon nap. Towards the early to middle part of age 1 they will drop the morning nap and only have an afternoon one. If you are able to be home with your children it’s important you keep this nap fairly consistent. Babies can miss a nap or two every once in a while, but if they miss naps habitually they begin to be cranky, irritable, and a lot more fussy than necessary.
Teaching The Meaning Of “No”
It’s hard to imagine “disciplining” a 1-year-old, but the reality is that discipline means teaching our children the way they should go. It means communicating the family boundaries and values and helping our little ones learn to comply. At the age of 1, this is fairly easy. They probably don’t have a strong counter will and they are just now learning about their own individuality and how to make their own choices.
What Discipline Looks Like For A 1-Year-Old:
- Teaching the meaning of “no.”| If baby is trying to grab your glasses off your face or slap a sibling or you, you can simply look at baby and say “no” then move baby away or redirect baby so he can’t repeat it. Love and Logic® recommends a location change. Either you change the location of the object in question, the baby, or yourself.
- Use “Uh Oh” | We follow many Love and Logic® principles here and one of those is using this phrase to communicate when a child has done something we want to discourage. If baby is throwing food off their high chair, we might say “uh oh” and take that food off the chair for a time. You can use this phrase when baby tries to do anything that isn’t allowed in your home (like crawling outside on their own or biting, for example). This phrase will be of great use throughout the toddler years.
Read: The Magic of “Uh Oh”
Allowing Roam Time
Many parents have different philosophies about how much physical freedom to give their children, but regardless of your limits, allow your baby to explore freely where they can. As the parent, you know what locations in your home or yard are safe, but encourage exploration and curiosity. Babies and toddlers who are never given a chance to roam freely begin to feel hemmed in. And how do people respond and act when they feel a complete lack of control? Like a caged animal.
While it can be tempting to just put baby in a play pen for most of the day to avoid all the mess, this severely limits baby’s opportunities to learn, explore, and become comfortable in their environment. While we want to give our children healthy limits (and consequences when they go outside these limits) it’s important we don’t keep little ones in too tightly constricted areas out of convenience to us.
Allowing little ones to run, jump, play, explore, and get messy will not only help in their gross motor development, it’ll help them learn their own physical limits which builds self-confidence.
Finding A Rhythm
The days are long, but the years are short.
Never was this more applicable than during that second year of baby’s life. They are moving, roaming, and leaving a wake of disaster behind them. My 1-year-old makes a bigger mess than all 4 of his siblings combined! Not because he’s naughty, but because he loves to unpack and re-pack. If we don’t have a good rhythm to our days it can be very overwhelming. It’s hard to entertain a child 24/7.
It’s important to find a routine that works for the family. Here are some things you may include in your day to day with your 1-year-old.
- Meal times
- Snack times
- Independent play times
- Nap time
- Wake up and Bed time
- Free play
- Reading, structured play, crafts, etc.
Depending on your own family or lifestyle, there may be more. But you can start there and fill in the basics then work outwards. As a mother of 5 (with my oldest being only 6 years old) I can tell you that a routine saves your sanity and the peace of mind of your children as well.
It is amazing to me how much little ones absorb. Even 1-year-olds like to read books or look at photos and pictures. Help your little one begin cultivating a love for learning by letting them play and explore certain things. You can make busy bags, use washable finger paint, play in the sandbox, or take extra long baths with bubbles and bath toys. Every thing young ones do is an opportunity for learning.
Talk a lot about what you’re doing and which colors are which. Count to 10, sing songs, and introduce your little ones to things here or there that will help spark their curiosity. Resist the urge for screen time, there’ll be plenty of time for that later!
No one likes to be told “enjoy every moment” but the truth is… we need to enjoy as many moments as we can. This year can be challenging, but it’s a very precious time!
Rachel is a mother of 5 who blogs at A Mother Far From Home. Through encouragement, wisdom, and practical strategies she does her best to help mothers take the chaos out of parenting.