How did a year pass by so quickly?! As you prepare the smash cake and first birthday party invites (or plan a small celebration with family), you likely can’t help but think about how much your child has grown.
But the first year of life is full of both joys and worries for parents. And one of the common worries nearly all parents share is whether their child is developing as quickly as other children — or just as much as they should.
Sometimes, it seems like all you hear in your parenting circles is people talking about their child’s newest word or how they’ve started walking. What if your baby isn’t doing these things yet? It’s enough to make you a nervous wreck!
But you’ll hear it from other parents, from your pediatrician, and also from us: Every child develops differently.
Nevertheless, we’ve compiled information on milestones commonly associated with turning 1 year old. These things don’t magically happen on baby’s first birthday, but they’re photogenic moments you can expect around that time, give your take a couple months. Be sure to have your camera at the ready!
Your baby has grown a lot in the past year! By the time your baby turns 1 year old, the average weight for a boy is 22 pounds 11 ounces (10.3 kg). That for a girl is 20 pounds 15 ounces (9.5 kg).
While you may be feeling the weight (these carriers can help), you may blink and miss how tall your baby’s getting! The average length of a 1-year-old boy is 29 3/4 inches (75.7 cm). And not far behind that, 1-year-old girls average 29 inches (74.0 cm).
Because the timing of growth spurts can differ from child to child, it’s important to remember that it’s OK for your child to look a little bigger or smaller than their peers. If you’ve kept up with routine well baby checks during your child’s first year, those appointments have allowed your doctor to make sure that your baby is staying on track.
Most babies are sleeping around 10 to 12 hours during the night and taking 2 to 4 hours’ worth of naps by the time they’re a year old. Overall sleep may total around 14 hours.
You may find your child beginning to transition from two shorter naps to one longer nap around this time. You may also notice brief sleep regressions as new skills like cruising and walking occur as well, alongside (possibly painful) periods of teething.
In general, their sleep translates into your sleep — and your restfulness should be looking a lot better than it did this time last year!
By 1 year, your child is likely getting into a sitting position without help, pulling themselves up to “cruise” along furniture, and may even be walking or talking steps independently.
This is an area where comparisons between children seem easy to make, so just rest assured that a wide range of movement milestones are normal at 1 year of age. As long as your child is mobile, they’re doing great!
Around a year of age, most children are banging things together, putting things into and out of boxes, and holding things with one hand. You may also notice that your child is:
- starting to turn pages in books one at a time
- building towers out of blocks
- using a pincher grasp to try to hold coloring instruments
- eating with a spoon
You should continue to see better control over the objects they’re holding and their own body as time goes on.
You may notice that your child slows down with the amount they’re eating around a year of age. This is because they begin growing at a slower pace around that time. Your child needs about 1,000 calories divided between three meals and two snacks a day.
You may notice, however, that they may want to eat a lot of food at once — or none at all. Their preferences may change from day to day, too. This is all completely normal! They should be able to eat finger foods by themselves, but likely are still getting help with spoons and forks.
Around a year of age, it’s appropriate to introduce a few foods that were previously on the forbidden list. Whole milk and honey can both be added to your baby’s well-rounded diet.
By the time your baby is a year old, they should be producing lots of sounds! Between 10 and 14 months, most babies speak their first word — and between 12 and 18 months, most children are able to name some familiar objects.
Your child should be communicating in other ways, too. You should notice them using gestures like shaking their hand “no” or waving “bye.” They should be responding to their name as well as simple directions like stopping an activity when they hear “no.”
Socially, you may notice that your child is shy or nervous with strangers. That’s OK — it’s totally normal at this age. Your little one may even cry when a parent leaves and show fear in some situations. This may tug painfully at your heartstrings, these are signs of a greater social awareness. They’ll likely have clear favorite people or objects that they prefer.
By 1 year, your little one is able to interact with others (especially their favorite people!) and play games like peekaboo or pat-a-cake. They’ll likely also be putting out arms and legs to “help” with dressing, and you’ll catch them imitating things they see around them. You’ll likely notice a desire to interact with others using the new skills they’re developing.
Your baby should be gaining a greater understanding of the world by interacting with objects in physical ways (like shaking, banging, or throwing). They should be able to search for and find hidden objects as well as identify objects that match spoken words.
Your child is also doing a lot of learning through imitation and copying how others interact with objects — so just be the wonderful role model that you are! They may test different behaviors to see your reaction as well.
As your not-so-little-anymore baby gains greater motor skills, they should begin to use things like cups and brushes correctly. In fact, these aren’t just motor skills — they show a busily working mind. As you demonstrate the proper way to use these tools and they imitate the actions they’re seeing, you should notice growing proficiency!
There are many factors that can impact when your child meets key milestones. For example, a premature baby born 4 or more weeks early may meet milestones closer to the date associated with their expected due date than their premature birthday. (This is known as an adjusted age.)
Other factors that can contribute to the timing of milestones include:
- sex of baby
- overall health
Every child is a unique individual, and a combination of many factors impacts their development in all areas.
Although every child is unique, if your baby isn’t reaching key milestones within a few months or loses the ability to perform already achieved skills — like saying “mama” — then talk to their doctor.
Some examples of
- standing when supported
- pointing to things
- searching for things they see you hide
- saying single words (ex. “mama” or “dada”)
- learning gestures like waving or shaking their head
If your little one hasn’t reached these, make an appointment with their pediatrician.
Take time to celebrate how far your little one has come in the last year! Look back at pictures taken just a few months ago and you’ll be amazed at how much they’ve grown.
It’s tempting to compare your pride and joy with other children — we’re all guilty of this at times. But remember that your baby is a unique individual with their own strengths and weaknesses. What your sister’s friend’s second-cousin’s baby did at 11 months has nothing to do with what yours has accomplished — and will in the future.
Check in with the pediatrician if it seems like your baby’s falling behind in any area of development, but don’t worry if they haven’t become the star goalie of the soccer team just yet. Those days will be here before you know it!