As our baby gets older it’s very hard not to continue to think of them as “our baby”. Believe me, my 28 year old is still “my baby”. But that baby and your baby can do lots more than we sometimes think they can. But how do we know as parents when to “move on” and let them do for themselves? It starts at a very young age. For some children before their first birthday! Frequently it’s us…the parents… who are keeping them back in that baby stage of development. Kids begin to master a wide range of basic skills at this age. To encourage your child to do some things for themselves leave more time for daily tasks, such as bathing, brushing his teeth (all 6 of them) and eating. Between 9 – 12 months of age your baby should be able to take a few sips from a cup. The primary source of milk is still the bottle or breastfeeding, but start introducing the sips from the cup. Also, sometime during this time period your baby will begin picking up small pieces of food and putting them in their mouth (Along with anything else they can find within their reach!). Between 12 – 15 months as hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills develop allow your child to handle a cup, spoon and fork. Sometimes it’s hard to let them do this exploration and learning because it will guarantee a mess at the end. But to learn a new skill it may mean a mess for the learning period. My 28 year old rarely makes a mess anymore! At this age your child is playing all the time, this is your baby’s work right now. No baby toys anymore, no rattles, it’s all about exploring his environment. Those babies are into everything starting at this age, set up a safe kitchen cabinet with plastic kitchen containers and let them explore this safe cabinet. Once you’ve shown your baby the cabinet that’s his, stand back and let him explore it. At this age your home should be baby proofed but please let your baby explore lots of rooms in the house and don’t keep them solely in one area of the house. Around this time (12 months) your baby will begin to do things for themselves, like finger feeding, trying to pull up their pants, or take their diaper off(!) . Let him learn now to wash his toes or wash his belly, while you work on body part names. You still need to watch him in the bathtub at all times, but make this a fun learning time too. So you have now entered the “Amazing Toddler” stage, sit back, enjoy and watch them learn new things. Remember they can do more that we think they can, BUT they’ll always be your baby.
Written By: J Romero, Early Intervention Staff Member