Your 1-Year-Old


Setting limits. Your 1-year-old is becoming increasingly mobile, so it is important that you start putting limits on his behavior. Children learn by exploration, but it has to be safe.

  • Praise your 1-year-old for good behavior.
  • Saying “no” at the appropriate time is as important for your child’s development as nutrition and love. Saying “no” in a stern, but calm voice with good eye contact is almost always effective. 
  • Discipline isn’t punishment. Discipline is setting limits that let your child know what is acceptable. 
  • Discipline should be consistent but never violent. Distraction, loving restraint, removal of the object from the toddler or the toddler from the object are all good ways to teach your child what not to do.
  • The Center for Effective Parenting offers free parenting classes in Arkansas. Visit for more details.

Television viewing

Children under 2 should not watch television. The time babies and toddlers spend awake is better spent by having direct contact and meaningful interaction with parents and other caregivers. This one-on-one contact is important for a healthy brain and the development of social, emotional and other skills. Play with your child instead of placing him in front of a television.

Separation anxiety

Your 1-year-old may cling and cry when you try to leave. This is separation anxiety, an important milestone in your baby’s development. For more on separation anxiety, refer to the section on behavior in the chapter on  Months 9–12  of this book.

Early learning

Mom reading book to childYour child’s vocabulary is growing. As he recognizes more words, his interest in books and songs will increase. Encourage this interest by reading, singing and talking to your toddler as much as possible.

  • Ask questions while looking at pictures and reading stories. Your child’s verbal and nonverbal responses will be cues you can use.
  • Get your child books with flaps and textures he can explore and carry around with him.
  • Teach new songs and add hand movements such as “pat-a-cake” and “itsy-bitsy spider.”


By your baby’s first birthday, he should be able to:

  • Pull to stand, crawl rapidly, seat himself on floor, cruise on furniture or walk alone with an unsteady gait.
  • Play social games, such as pat-a-cake, peekaboo and “so big.”
  • Bang two blocks together.
  • Say one to three words in addition to “Mama and Dada.”
  • Drink from a sippy cup. Your baby should be off bottles completely by age 1.
  • Wave “bye-bye.”
  • Feed himself.
  • Point with a finger and display a precise pincher grasp when picking up small objects.
  • Understand a few simple words; love music, rhythms and rhymes.
  • Cooperate in getting dressed by holding still.

If you’re concerned, talk to your child’s doctor. 

As a parent, you know your child best. If your child is not meeting the milestones for his age, or if you think there could be a problem with the way your child plays, learns, speaks or acts, talk to your child’s doctor and share your concerns. Don’t wait.

Eating right

Your child has been growing very rapidly during his first 12 months – doubling his birth weight at 5 to 6 months and tripling it at a year. Now everything is going to ease off a bit, including your child’s appetite. Because his rate of growth is slower than in the first year, he may not be as hungry. This is not a sign of illness. It is natural and normal for this age. 

  • Milk intake decreases considerably. 
  • If you are formula feeding, your doctor might suggest switching to whole milk (some babies have harder bowel movements at first with whole milk) and limiting the amount of milk to 24 ounces or less. 
  • No more bottles! After one year, the bottle can cause damage to the teeth. 
  • If you are still breastfeeding, talk to your child’s doctor about weaning directly to a cup.
  • At this age, toddlers eat mostly table foods, but it is fine if your child still wants “baby food.”
  • Your child may still want you to feed him. If he wants to feed himself, let him. Most won’t master utensils until 18 months, but let him get used to holding a spoon. 
  • Feed your youngster three meals a day (with the family), plus a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack.
  • Avoid foods that can cause choking, such as peanuts, popcorn, hot dogs or sausages, carrot sticks, celery sticks, whole grapes, raisins, corn, whole beans, hard candy, large pieces of raw vegetables or fruit, or tough meat.
  • Don’t ever force your child to eat. Adopt a “take it or leave it” attitude. 


Oral health

  • Begin brushing your child’s teeth with a tiny, pea-sized amount of toothpaste that does not contain fluoride.
  • Protect your toddler’s teeth by throwing away the baby bottles. Never put your baby to bed with a bottle.
  • Only give your child fluoride supplements if recommended by your child’s doctor or a pediatric dentist.
  • Your child’s first dental appointment should be no later than his first birthday. 



Child resisting bed timeMost of your toddler’s brain activity occurs during sleep. Children age 1–2 require around 10–13 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. Total sleep time includes naps as well as nighttime sleeping. Often the difference between happy toddlers and cranky, out-of-sorts toddlers is their sleep schedule.

  • Babies who are put to bed while they are still awake learn to calm themselves and drift off to sleep.
  • Children this age often resist going to sleep because they do not want to be separated from people and activities.
  • Some children may start to give up one of their naps, but most 1-year-olds still take two naps.
  • If your toddler wakes up during the night, check on him, but keep the visit brief. Do not take the infant into bed with you or rock him back to sleep. This way, nighttime awakening will not become a habit.



Getting ready for potty training

At around his first birthday, your child’s behavior will let you know he recognizes what it feels like to have a full bladder or rectum. He may begin squatting or grunting when he is about to have a bowel movement (poop) or tug at his diaper when he needs to urinate (pee). Children this age don’t have the muscle development to control these functions, but you can reinforce your child’s awareness of the link by saying “Is a poop (or pee) coming?”

When your child poops or pees in his diaper:

  • Change it right away so he learns urine and poop should be removed and thrown away. 
  • Do not make negative comments about dirty, stinky diapers; otherwise your child may think he has done something wrong and try to hold his bowel movements. Instead, say positive things about how good it feels and smells to be clean and dry.
  • Your goal is to strengthen your child’s awareness of what it feels like to need to go. So when the time comes, he will see potty training as a good thing.

Motor skills necessary for potty training

Surprised childFor toddlers to be successful at potty training, other skills must also reach a certain level of maturity, usually by 18–24 months. 

  • Walking gets them to the toilet in time.
  • Hand and finger skills and coordination mean they can handle getting their training pants down in time. 
  • Mental focus means they can concentrate on activities that may keep them seated on the potty long enough to be successful.

You can encourage these developments by:

  • Teaching your child to dress and undress himself.
  • Making sure that clothing is easy to remove (opens in front, has snaps not zippers).
  • Offering him picture books or toys to play with while he’s waiting for a bowel movement to occur.
  • Praising your child when he is successful at recognizing these pre-toilet training cues. Gaining “grown-up” skills builds feelings of independence, which will make potty training a lot easier for both of you.

Child stacking cupsExercise and activity

Your child’s newfound independence also will extend to play. Let your child use toys in any way he wants instead of insisting he use them “the right way.” Toddlers need to learn how to imagine, invent and problem solve. To help with this:

  • Plan play dates, but remember that your 1-year-old is too young to be expected to share.
  • Allow time for your child to play alone. It builds confidence when he can choose and direct things. 
  • Try new ways to play games like peekaboo; bring in push-pull toys and items that stack such as boxes or cups. 
  • See if your toddler can match up spoons with other spoons, forks with other forks, etc.

Your child’s safety begins with you

Safety must be a high priority. Your oh-so-sweet newborn is now a very mobile toddler. If you haven’t made your house safer, DO IT NOW! More children die from accidents than all diseases combined. Download the Arkansas Children’s Safety Checklist from

Car seat safety

  • Most states have laws requiring that toddlers and young children travel in child safety seats that are in the backseat of the car and away from active air bags. 
  • Vehicles with no backseat aren’t a good choice for traveling with children.
  • Putting a car safety seat next to a door that has a side air bag may not be appropriate. If you’re only placing one car seat in the backseat, put it in the center rather than next to a door.
  • Your baby’s car seat should remain rear-facing until age 2 or until he has reached the highest weight allowed by the manufacturer for rear-facing (usually about 35 pounds).


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