Your baby is now almost 12 months old, and boy, what a year it’s been! Although she was born vulnerable and unable to do many things on her own, she is now capable of taking the world by storm with her growing curiosity, social and communication skills, and physical abilities. You will notice that your baby now has preferences for certain toys and may help get dressed by holding out her hands and legs, but also begin to test your response with purposeful actions, like throwing her bowl of fruit on the floor!1,2 Her communication skills should also be quite impressive now as she’ll be able to babble with speaking tones, say a word or two, pay more attention to what you say, understand what “no” means, and respond to simple verbal directions (e.g. “sit down”).1,2
Your baby will start exploring her environment at a more rapid pace now that she is able to use her fingers and hands well in handling objects, change positions easily (crawling to sitting to lying), scoot and crawl, cruise (walk supported), or possibly even take a few steps on her own!1,2 This is the age when your baby will start to really take initiative in getting you to read or play with her, looking for things you hide, investigating object properties, and exploring the concept of Cause and Effect.1,2 So go ahead and enjoy your time together as she discovers the world as a newly minted one year old!
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Is Your Baby Developing a Language or Speech Delay?
Now that your baby is nearly one year old, she should be able to understand the words for common everyday objects (e.g. milk or book),3 respond to simple requests (e.g. “more milk?” or “don’t touch”),3 and communicate using gestures (e.g. pointing and waving) and more advanced forms of babbling, using different sounds and tones of speech.4 She should also be able to say at least one word (e.g. “mama” and “dada”) at this age, even if she may not sound clear or fully understand its meaning yet.3,4,5 But what if your baby is not demonstrating these skills yet? How can you tell if she’s a late bloomer or actually has a more significant language delay?
Late bloomers typically follow the same language development stages as other children, but are often a little slower to master these skills due a variety of reasons, including their natural ability to learn language,4,6 their focus on learning other skills,4,6 the amount of daily language exposure they have,4 and how caregivers and others directly communicate with them (e.g. giving your baby a snack instead of letting her ask for it).4,6 Common late bloomers include boys (they typically are 1-2 months behind girls),6,7 premature babies (they usually catch up by 2 years old),6 multiple babies (e.g. twins),6 bilingual children,7 and children with chronic ear infections.6 With continuous exposure to language through active conversations and reading time, many of these late bloomers usually catch up with their peers and end up with thriving language abilities!
However, language and speech delays are more serious conditions that may require early detection and intervention. Language delays refer to the broader skills of expressing and receiving information (verbal, gesture, and written) in a meaningful manner, while speech delays focus on verbal expression, including talking and the way words are formed (articulation).3 These delays may be symptoms of more serious underlying learning disabilities or medical conditions, including apraxia (affects sequencing sounds in syllables and words),8 aphasia (affects speaking, listening, reading, and writing),9 dysarthia (affects speech due to weakened muscles from brain injury or stroke),10 mental retardation (50% of speech delay cases), autism, hearing loss, and neurological disorders (e.g. cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and traumatic brain injury).11,12
If your baby is slow to achieve her language skills and you’re concerned about her progress, be sure to contact your pediatrician to discuss the situation. The fact remains that language and speech delays are the most common developmental delays found in the U.S., with one in five children learning to talk and use words later than other children the same age.13 So don’t wait. Go ahead and schedule an appointment to speak with your baby’s pediatrician. After seeing your physician for a consultation, he/she may refer your baby to a certified speech-language pathologist to run more in-depth tests to evaluate her receptive and expressive language skills, ability to use other forms of communications (e.g. gestures), articulation, and oral-motor abilities (how the mouth, tongue, and palate work together to enable speech and eating).3
And if you’re worried about the potential cost of these specialized services or would just like to learn more about the public resources available to you and your baby, be sure to check out The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center’s (ECTA) website to learn more about “Part C” early intervention programs14 and to find a local program center15 near you.
At almost one year old, your baby has probably mastered many wonderful new skills at this point. However, continue to be on the look out for any major developmental red flags that she may show as she plays and interacts with others.
As mentioned earlier, by now, your baby should be able to say single words and use gestures to communicate, such as waving good-bye, shaking her head to say “no,” or pointing to an object or picture to express interest.1,2 If she is behind in these skills, speak to your care provider about the possibility of early screening.
Most one-year-old children are able to crawl and stand with the support of furniture or a caregiver by now.1,2 While babies typically master how to crawl between 6-10 months old, don’t be alarmed if your baby is slow to crawl or never takes up crawling before learning to walk. In most cases, her gross motor development will progress as normal.16 According to Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families, she may not take to crawling as quickly if she prefers building other skills or exploring with her hands, is larger or heavier than average for her age, or was born prematurely. However, if at this age your baby is having issues standing with your support, you should seek consultation from your pediatrician as it could be a sign of hypotonia (poor muscle tone)17 or a neurological condition, such as cerebral palsy (poor muscle tone, movement, or posture due to brain damage)18 or dyspraxia (difficulty planning and executing physical tasks), which affects communication between the brain and muscles.19
Because your baby should have a firmer understanding of Object Permanence by 12 months old, she should enjoy playing peek-a-boo games and searching for objects that she sees you hide.1,2 If she is not interested in this form of play, you may want to speak to your care provider to discuss the possibility of a cognitive development delay, which can, if left untreated, impair her ability to learn, understand, problem-solve, reason, and remember in the long run.20 And if your baby loses any developmental skills she once possessed (e.g. she stops babbling, making eye contact, or engaging in give-and-take play),2 this may be a major red flag of regressive autism.21,22
Track Your Baby’s Learning Progress!
Although your baby is developing at her own pace, failure to achieve important developmental milestones may signal potential medical or developmental problems requiring special attention.1 Continue to engage her with Playful Bee’s Just Right LearningTM curriculum and track her learning progress weekly. By supporting her development across all learning domains (Social-Emotional, Language, Physical, and Cognitive development), you are giving your baby a great head start in life!
To review and check out all of her achievements to date, click on her 9-12 month old developmental milestone list.
Although your baby has mastered many wonderful new skills at this point, be sure to be on the look out for major developmental red flags that she may show as she plays and interacts with others. If you notice any of the following traits or behaviors, you should speak to your care provider about your concerns as soon as possible.
- Doesn’t crawl.
- Can’t stand when supported.
- Doesn’t say single words (“mama” or “dada”, specific).
- Doesn’t learn to use gestures, such as waving or shaking head.
- Doesn’t point to objects or pictures.
- Doesn’t search for objects that she sees you hide.
- Loses skills she once had.
To review and check out all of your baby’s achievements to date, click on her 9-12 month old developmental milestone list.
1American Academy of Pediatrics: Shelov, Steven P. (Ed.) (2009). Caring for your Baby and Young Child – Birth to Age 5 (5 ed.). New York, NY: Bantam Books.
2Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2012). Important Milestones: Your Baby at One Year. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Retrieved March 11, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-1yr.html.
3Nelson, Amy (2013). Delayed Speech or Language Development. Kids Health. Retrieved April 1, 2014, from
4American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Birth to One Year. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/01.htm.
5WebMD. Recognizing Developmental Delays in Children. WebMD. Retrieved March 25, 2014, from http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/recognizing-developmental-delays-birth-age-2.
6Parenting Magazine. Guide to Speech Delays. Parenting Magazine. Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://www.parenting.com/article/speech-delays.
7Lowry, Lauren. Fact or Fiction? The Top 10 Assumptions about Early Speech and Language Development. The Hanen Centre. Retrieved March 25, 2014, from http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Articles/Fact-or-Fiction–The-Top-10-Assumptions-about-Earl.aspx
8American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Apraxia Speech in Adults. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/ApraxiaAdults/.
9American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Aphasia. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/aphasia.htm.
10American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Dysarthria. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/dysarthria/.
11Leung, Alexander K.C. and Kao, C. Pion (1999). Evaluation and Management of the Child with Speech Delay. American Family Physician. Retrieved on April 2, 2014, from http://www.aafp.org/afp/1999/0601/p3121.html.
12Boyse, Kayla (2012). Speech and Language Delay and Disorder. University of Michigan Health Systems: YourChild Development & Behavior Resources. Retrieved on April 2, 2014, from http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/speech.htm.
13Healthy Children. Ages & Stages: Language Delay. American Academy of Pediatrics: Healthy Children. Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://www.healthychildren.org/english/ages-stages/toddler/pages/language-delay.aspx.
14The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA). Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities (Part C of IDEA). The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA). Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://ectacenter.org/partc/partc.asp#overview.
15The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA). State Part C Coordinators. The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA). Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://ectacenter.org/contact/ptccoord.asp.
16Zero to Three. Steps toward Crawling. Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families. Retrieved on April 3, 2014, from http://www.zerotothree.org/child-development/early-development/crawling.html.
17Healthline. There Are 7 Possible Causes of Poor Muscle Tone. Healthline: SymptomChecker. Retrieved April 3, 2014, from http://www.healthline.com/symptom/poor-muscle-tone.
18Mayo Clinic. Cerebral Palsy: Definition. Mayo Clinic: Diseases and Conditions. Retrieved April 3, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cerebral-palsy/basics/definition/con-20030502.
19What to Expect. Top Questions about Fine-Motor Delays and Gross Motor Delays in Toddlers. What to Expect. Retrieved on April 3, 2014, from http://www.whattoexpect.com/developmental-delays-in-children/fine-motor-delays-and-gross-motor-delays-in-toddlers.aspx.
20My Child Without Limits. Developmental Delays. My Child Without Limits. Retrieved on April 3, 2014, from http://www.mychildwithoutlimits.org/understand/developmental-delay/.
21Borthwick, Lindsay (2012). Regression May Mark One-Third of Autism Cases. Simons Foundation Autism Research Institute (SFARI). Retrieved April 3, 2014, from https://sfari.org/news-and-opinion/news/2012/regression-may-mark-one-third-of-autism-cases.
22Behavioural Neurotherapy Clinic. Early Symptoms of Autism. Behavioural Neurotherapy Clinic. Retrieved on April 3, 2014, from http://www.autism.net.au/autism_symptoms.htm.
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