A guide to your child's development at 6-12 months
Child Health and Parenting Service (CHaPS)
Your child’s development is unique. Children develop at different stages and achieve as individuals. You play an important role in your child’s development, guiding and letting them explore their surroundings.
Your baby starts to explore the environment around them between the ages of 6 and 12 months. They are remembering much more now and are starting to recognise some simple emotions. They can tell you when they are happy and sad. As they become more active, they’ll start to explore their environment and their connections with others. Eating solid foods, sitting and crawling are big milestones that take time and practice to master.
Here are some ideas of what typical development looks like at this age and guidelines when to seek professional support. Your Child’s Personal Health Record also includes some developmental information. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, please seek advice from your Child and Family Health Nurse (CFHN) or General Practitioner (GP).
Talking and Understanding
- Babies still use crying as their way of communicating, but now they can also babble and start realising the power of early words. By 12 months you will recognise 4-8 clear words.
- Babies use non-verbal communication including waving, clapping and turning to look at people and objects you name, such as ‘where’s the dog?’ They’ll also start to giggle and recognise well known songs. They will start to copy sounds that you make and they learn by listening to you.
- Talk to your baby, read books, sing songs, listen to music, make nonsense sounds like blowing raspberries. This builds early language development and the connection you have with your child.
Playing and being active
- Your baby loves playing with you, it’s how they make sense of the world around them. It’s not just about fun, it’s how children learn and develop.
- Babies need the opportunity to move their bodies several times a day. Over the next few months your baby will learn to sit up, crawl on all fours and pull to stand. They’ll learn how to do this by playing and exploring with your attention and support. Reaching for and grasping objects helps develop hand-eye skills.
- Eating solid foods is a new experience. Try to offer family foods and challenge your child with tastes and textures once they start to get used to the idea of eating. Remember breastmilk and/or formula remain an important source of food until 12 months of age. Introduce water to drink from 6 months of age and aim to switch from a bottle to a cup by 12 months.
- Even though your baby is getting bigger, they still need lots of cuddles, love and support especially when things get overwhelming or scary. By paying attention and responding to your baby’s needs, you are strengthening the bond between you and your baby and supporting your baby’s wellbeing. Your baby will feel confident to explore if they know you’ll always be there to help support them.
- Baby may start to develop a fear of strangers or separation anxiety as they start to understand more about the world around them.
How to support your child's development at this age?
Here are some simple things you can do to help your child’s development at this age:
- Give your child opportunities to play and explore, but remember, your baby loves playing with you the most. Try peek-a-boo, singing songs, making different noises and trying out animal sounds. Explore outside, offer toys with different textures to feel. Messy play can be fun too. Your baby learns by watching and copying you.
- Enjoy a wide variety of foods together, your baby is learning to try new things by watching you, so don’t be afraid to try something new and tasty together. Beware of foods that are choking risks such as grapes, and popcorn. Closely monitor your child whilst they are eating. Teeth start to emerge, brush twice a day and avoid sugary foods and drinks. Have a look at the Start them Right booklet for more information about starting solids.
- Encourage baby’s speech and language development by reading together out loud, singing and reciting rhymes with baby.
- Build the connection between yourself and baby by responding to baby’s cues, smiling and chatting to baby during everyday activities and giving lots of cuddles, touch and tickles. Listening and responding to your baby’s babbles helps your baby feel loved and connected to you and allows them to practice their talking skills.
- Take care of your needs, catch up with friends, chat to your Child and Family Health Nurse or GP if you are finding parenthood overwhelming.
- Explore your community, try a local play group, library or contact your local primary school for more information about the Launching Into Learning program
- Now is a great time to look at making your home environment safe for baby.
When to be concerned about your child’s development and what to do
Talk to your GP or phone 1300 064 544 to speak with a Child Health Nurse if you have concerns about your child's development
- Concern about baby not feeding as anticipated, refusing food, not growing as expected and/or distressed.
- Concern about your baby is not making eye contact or showing interest when you talk to or play with them.
- Concern about your baby’s ability to use their arms or legs, for example, difference between right and left side of body in strength or movement, arms or legs being floppy or stiff or baby not showing interest in rolling, sitting or crawling.
- One leg appearing longer than the other or ‘cluncking’ hip joints when changing baby.
- One eye turning in a different direction to the other.
- Concern about baby doesn’t turn their head towards you when you speak or make a sound.
- Your baby doesn’t babble or make sounds
- Your baby suddenly not having a skill they previously learnt.
- Information for babies 3-12 months, Raising Children Network
- Food for under 5's, Start Them Right
- Child's development 4-8 months, Starting Blocks
- Child's development 8-12 months, Starting Blocks
- Kids health information factsheets, Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne
- Red Nose Safe Sleeping Hub
- Physical activity information for 0-5 years, Being Active
- Launching into Learning 0-4 years
- Talking with babies, Let's Talk
- Child accident prevention, Kidsafe Australia
- Playgroups Tasmania