dad and baby


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12-18 Months - Life with your baby

There's so much to look forward to at this age. Read about walking, talking and sleep.


There are lots of developmental changes at this stage. It is likely your baby will: 

  • Start to walk unaided. 
  • Start saying simple words, such as ‘dad’, ‘mum’, ‘dog’ and ‘cat’. 
  • Point to things they like. 
  • Show a preference for one hand over the other. 
  • Understand some of what you say. If, for example, you say “Where’s your leg?”, they will point at their leg.

Some parents buy baby-walkers for their toddlers to encourage them to walk, but experts advise against them – they don’t really help, and walking independently is a very different skill from walking with a baby-walker. Similarly, there is no need to rush out and buy shoes – indoors, it is better if they walk barefoot.

You can, however, encourage their talking skills by reading books together, reciting nursery rhymes and pointing at objects and saying the word.


When your baby is a year old, you can introduce them to full-cream cow’s milk. It’s a good idea to stop using bottles at this stage and to let your baby drink out of a cup. If you are breastfeeding your baby, you can continue, although a few babies choose to stop breastfeeding of their own accord.

Your baby’s appetite will have increased, and you can now introduce scrambled or soft-boiled eggs. As they get older, they will be able to eat smaller portions of the foods you are eating, provided you don’t add salt to your food.

A mixed diet is important – plenty of variety means that your baby is more likely to get the nutrients they need. Some babies and toddlers can be very fussy about food, so it’s worth experimenting with different foods until you find what they like. Sometimes a baby will eat a food one day and reject it the next, and vice versa. Although it can be stressful, try not to turn mealtimes into a battleground by forcing them to eat food they have rejected.


Your baby will still sleep about 10-12 hours at night, but they will probably reduce the number of naps they take in the day from two to one, which will usually be about two hours in length.  


At 12 months, your baby will be called for their Hib and meningitis C boosters, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination (given as a single dose), pneumococcal infection (PCV) third dose booster and Men B vaccine third dose.


Your baby’s co-ordination will have developed a lot by this stage. They will be able to build towers out of play bricks and knock them over. As their walking improves, they may enjoy pushing trolleys or other toys on wheels. You could also try them with: 

  • A pretend telephone that they can ‘talk’ into. 
  • Play dough.
  • Simple musical instruments, such as tambourines.
  • Simple jigsaws.
  • Shape sorters (toys where the baby has to match the shape to the correct hole).

You can find many of these toys at a local NCT Nearly New sale so go along to one and see what bargains you can find.


Now that your baby is walking, you may find that a new set of hazards present themselves. They may learn to open doors, for example, or start climbing onto tables. Make sure doors are locked and breakable objects such as glasses are out of reach. Encourage your child to hold your hand when you are out and about and start talking about road safety with your child.

Taking care of yourself

You might be back to work by now and juggling life as a working parent. At this stage, your finances will be a priority as you balance the cost of childcare (if you decide to pay for childcare) with other outgoings such as travel to work. Take time to work out a budget and assess your finances – it will reap huge benefits for you in the future.