Baby Milestones 12 Months and Signs of Delay.

Last Updated on 3 August 2022 by Dott. Sandro Cantoni

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At every age, your infant and toddler play, learn, talk, and move. Seeing when and how it does these things is critical. Because from this you can know if the baby’s development is normal or not.

This observation of development can be done by any parent just fine. It’s not a matter of doing special investigations or tests, but just watching the baby’s movement and some simple daily activities. 

In fact, I believe that parents are the best people to check the baby’s development. Because they know him perfectly in all its facets. The parent can pick up on nuances of behavior that the pediatrician often fails to detect.

What are the developmental milestones?

The developmental milestones are the things that most babies do at a certain age.

Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t reach all the developmental milestones for his age right away.  

Every baby is different. Some babies develop faster, others are a little slower. But this is often normal. 

Some babies walk at 10 months, others at 18 months. 

The achievement of developmental milestones also depends on gestational age. If the baby was born one or two months premature, then he or she will reach the milestones one or two months later. 

If you think that your baby’s development is not normal, ask your pediatrician for a checkup. 

Don’t wait until the next checkup in a few months. Do the same if you have concerns about how your baby is talking, playing, acting or moving, or any other concerns.

Don’t wait. Make your doubts and concerns clear to the pediatrician.  

If there are problems, early detection and early intervention are critical. 

What are the developmental milestones for a 12-month-old baby?

Motor skills

At this age, your baby also crawls well on stairs. He begins to lift himself up and can even take his first steps (either held by hand or, more rarely, on his own).

He can sit up on his own, without help.

At 12 months, the infant has developed the “parachute” reflex. That is, when sitting, he puts his hands forward, and is able to pick up a toy that is behind him.

If he is near a low piece of furniture he is able to pull himself to his feet. Then he walks sideways. 

He grasps objects better and better, even those out of his reach. He explores objects with his mouth, and also by holding and turning them in his hands while looking at them. 

He can hold a pencil and likes to scribble on paper. 

After you teach him, he is able to put objects inside a container.

He picks up small objects with his thumb and forefinger (pincer grip). 

His coordination improves and the child is able to pass a toy from one hand to the other. 

If shown cubes or other toys, the child often picks them up and bangs them against each other. 

Vision, hearing, communication.

If he’s not too distracted, he knows and turns around right away if you call him by his name.

Your baby communicates with you by trying to say a few words while looking at you. In his vocalizations, he already has the typical cadence of his native language, with many vowels and consonants.  He imitates well your vocal games or animal sounds and may have already learned a few words, which he uses with great enthusiasm. 

Uses simple gestures, like shaking head “no” or waving “bye-bye”

Psycho-emotional development

Repeats sounds or actions to get attention

He increasingly recognizes familiar people.  Likes to hear and see familiar people. 

He knows how to show sadness, joy, anger, fear, hurt, or discomfort and how to recognize these emotions in others.

Cries when mom or dad leaves.

He increasingly recognizes the differences between people and begins to imitate them.

Intellectual and Social Developpement.

The child often laughs while you play with him, or even alone. With his behavior, he begins to answer the questions “where is mommy ? where is daddy ?”.  He shows you that he understands some simple words in his context, such as dog, food, etc…

He is learning to associate gestures with words, such as saying “no” by shaking his head from side to side and saying “bye-bye” by waving his hand.

Explores things in different ways, like shaking, banging, throwing.

He starts to use things correctly; for example, drinks from a cup, or brushes hair.

He will often bring you an object if you ask, and point with his finger to a toy or other object or person that interests him. He plays claps or greetings (plays “pat-a-cake” and waves “goodbye”), either with you or alone.

What are the warning signs for possible developmental delay at 12 months?

The child does not roll over. is unable to move from prone (on his stomach) to supine (on his back).

He/she also fails to stand up, or fails to hold on to his/her feet.

The child does not walk when held by the hand and does not crawl.

He has difficulty moving to try to reach an object out of his reach.

The child does not pick up small objects with a pincer grip.

If the child sees that his parents are hiding a toy, he does not reach for it.

He does not place objects in a container after a demonstration.

The child does not use common objects, e.g., does not hold a phone to ear or bring the spoon to mouth.

He does not attempt or maintain eye contact with his parents.

The child does not say any words, such as “mommy” or otherwise.

He also does not laugh or react to simple questions, such as “where is Mommy?”, and does not react when you call him by his name.

The child does not turn toward the source of a noise.

He does not imitate parental gestures, such as greeting, saying hello.

Then he does not imitate some syllable or sound of the parents, such as the sound of a common animal.

When asked to carry an object, the child does nothing.

He is not interested in his surroundings.

The child does not point to objects or people with his finger.

If your 12-month baby has any of these symptoms or if you are worried, talk to your pediatrician or health care provider. Don’t wait. Early detection of a possible problem is crucial. Early treatment is critical.


About the author

Hi. My name is Sandro Cantoni. I’m a Pediatrician. I work in the General Pediatric Clinic. Hospital of Neuchatel, Switzerland.

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