Your baby is developing and growing by leaps and bounds. This is a particularly exciting age as your baby develops skills that will enable him or her to explore the world. New discoveries are aided by ever-more complex mental development and through the increased use of hands (fine motor skills) and increased mobility (gross motor skills). Your infant now realizes that objects are permanent, and out of sight does not mean out of mind.
Separation reactions occur now and are signs of healthy attachment. Parents can support mental growth at this age by allowing the child to experiment with simple everyday objects and toys in an environment that is stimulating, developmentally appropriate, and safe.
Formula or breast milk should be continued until 1 year of age. By this time, solids should have been introduced and your infant probably has a large repertoire of foods. At this age, finger foods are important. Your child can now pick up and hold small objects and is interested in new tastes and textures of foods. Finger foods are also important as your baby strives to become more independent. Avoid peanuts, hot dog pieces, popcorn, frozen peas, beans, raw carrot sticks, pieces of raw apple, grapes, and raisins because they can cause choking. Good alternatives are soft cheeses, toast, soft-cooked carrots and other vegetables, wedges of soft banana, canned pears and peaches, cooked rice, mashed potatoes, and teething crackers.
Because your infant is now more mobile, safety measures need to expand to anticipate new activities. The same safety concerns from previous visits remain important.
- As children begin to pull themselves up, they might grab and pull down tablecloths on which heavy or hot objects have been placed.
- Increased mobility might lead to falls. Use gates at stairwells and install safety devices on windows and screens if necessary. Avoid gates with diamond-shaped slats, which provide footholds for climbing toddlers. Instead use gates with straight, vertical slats and a swinging door.
- Keep sharp objects (knives, scissors, tools, razor blades) and other hazardous items (coins, glass objects, beads, pins, medicines) in a secure place.
- Secure electrical extension cords to baseboards and cover electrical outlets.
- Do not store toxic substances in empty soda bottles, glasses, or jars.
- All poisonous substances should be placed in a locked cabinet. In the event of an accidental poisoning, call the POISON CONTROL CENTER toll-free at 800.222.1222.
- Upgrade to a toddler car seat when your child weighs 20 pounds.
- The hot water tap should be set at less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Most burns occur in the bathroom.
- Never drink hot liquids or smoke while holding your baby, especially now that your baby can reach out.