Your 1-year-old baby is an energetic jumble of chubby arms and staggered, determined steps. At this age, your little one is starting to understand more complex language and physical concepts, even if his entire conversational repertoire includes just a few words. His newfound mobility lets him explore his environment. As your baby prepares to transition from babyhood to toddlerhood, you'll notice several new behaviors, commonly characteristic of children 12 months old.
Poking straws through a strainer, intentionally dropping toys, flinging food or shaking a box of macaroni are just a few examples of how your tiny scientist is learning his world. According to HealthyChildren.org, this exciting, if sometimes trying, phase is how your baby learns how objects affect each other, and how he can affect objects. Now is the time when open electrical outlets, radiator vents and fans become particularly dangerous for his curious fingers.
A few months ago you had to follow his grunts and head direction to find out what he wanted, but at 12 months, he's able to communicate his wants much more effectively. He might point or reach for something he wants, hand you a toy to invite you to play and, occasionally, screech in protest when you don't grant his request. He also might request a refill by urgently handing you his empty sippy cup or snack bowl.
Your 1-year-old wants to participate in whatever is going on, whether it's decorating the Christmas tree or changing into his pajamas. Sometimes his assistance will reveal his understanding of an everyday process such as raising his bottom when you're putting on a clean diaper. Other times he'll indicate his understanding of words he might not say for months. For example, you might mention something in passing about a train, then find him making his way over to his toy box and proudly retrieving his toy train.
When your baby was younger, he saw every smiling face as friendly. One-year-old babies, however, are warier of strangers who try to engage them and might become nervous if a stranger moves too close or comes into their home. You'll also find your little one now prefers his parents or primary caregiver over anyone else. Even if he seems fine in the company of a grandparent or sitter, watching you leave might result in a several minutes of screaming and crying.