Month 12

Toddler Development and Milestones: Your 12-Month-Old


Wait, where did your adorable baby go? You’ve blown out the candle on the birthday cake and all of a sudden there’s a proper little person sitting where before there was a chubby-cheeked baby. It might be bittersweet, you might even shed a tear, but only for a moment because so much fun awaits!

Physical Development

Most children take their first steps around the one year mark. But as with all milestones, some kids are early while others prefer to wait a little longer until they feel steadier on their feet.

Signs to watch out for are pulling himself up and cruising along the side of the sofa or coffee table. Once your little one is crossing the gap from the coffee table to the sofa, walking unaided is within reach.


  • At this age, your little one enjoys putting things in boxes or pouches and emptying them again. Let them do this to toys and other child-friendly objects to not only entertain them, but to enhance their fine motor skills. 
  • You might also see him use one hand more than the other, showing his hand preference. Other things he’ll be able to do as his fine motor skills grow are holding a cup, eat with his fingers (utensils are still a thing of the future) and even help himself get dressed.  
  • As he discovers the world from a standing point of view and his muscles grow stronger, he discovers new games. Throwing balls (and other objects), pushing wheely cars along the floor and even climbing onto the sofa (or the coffee table, or those steps outside). Rolling a ball, tickling, and pushing around wheely toys are favourite games at this age.

When to Talk to Your Doctor:

  • If your toddler isn’t crawling or drags one side of the body while crawling by their first birthday, then it’s time to consult their paediatrician. 
  • Another sign to watch out for is if they cannot stand even when supported. 

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During this toddler development stage, your little one enjoys putting things inside boxes or pouches, so keep your valuables out of reach.

Cognitive Development

Your 12 month old toddler’s development is all about the outside world. Your toddler is slowly realising he is living in a place much bigger and more interesting than he ever imagined before.

Where before he was content to be carried around in his parents’ arms, now he squirms and wriggles to venture out alone.

This is the time when his memory is developing. 

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This is the best time to introduce shapes and colours to your little one.

The discovery of the world comes with the discovery of having influence in the world. Your toddler is slowly understanding that his actions cause reactions.

He might also begin to point at things that he wants or that he is interested in. This is the beginning of two-way communication.

This is also the time of heart-melting moments when your toddler waves goodbye and blows you big handfuls of kisses. However, that doesn’t mean that he’s okay with you leaving! Far from it, in fact.


  • He is starting to understand that he can actually make things happen! Watch out for him initiating games, such as rolling a ball over or pushing your nose.
  • Now is the perfect time to start introducing shapes and colours, although it will take some time before your little one will recognise them!

When to Talk to Your Doctor: 

  • Watch your little one closely. If she doesn’t seem to search for things you hide while in front of them, it could be a sign of delay.
  • If your little one finds it difficult to learn simple gestures like waving goodbye or pointing to familiar objects, it’s time to visit your child’s doctor. 

Social and Emotional Development

The discovery of the world is exciting, but also scary. The world is big! Your toddler wants to toddle off, but only if he’s sure you’re near. While exploring, he’ll constantly check to see where you are.

This is the time when your former belle of the ball may turn shy. Stranger and separation anxiety might arrive on the scene, and your sweet little one might start bawling if you leave him with someone else or at daycare – even if he never used to protest before.

Don’t worry, it’s all part of this new toddler development stage. Your toddler is starting to recognise and differentiate between people. Don’t force him to socialise. Let him slowly get used to all these small and big people who come into his life.

On the positive side, this is also the time when your little one will start bonding with other people besides his primary caregivers.

Although parallel play, where children play side by side instead of together, is still firmly the norm, your little one might start making eye contact with other children. He might even hand over a toy after he’s finished with it! This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Best of all, this is also the time when he’ll be smothering you with hugs and kisses. Well, when he’s not off exploring the world that is.

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  • As your child is moving from being a baby to toddlerhood, he needs your constant presence and guidance. Let him discover and try things on his own, but be around to make sure he is safe.
  • He may try to eat on his own (using his hands, most likely making a huge mess) or he may attempt to put on his own shoes.
  • The growing sense of independence at this age may lead to the first signs of stubbornness. Your toddler wants to do things by himself, and he may get very upset when you try to help. Let him work things out on his own, and wait for him to turn to you before solving his problems.
  • Finally, your toddler may no longer be a baby, but neither is he a big kid yet. He is still only just discovering the world beyond his own body.
  • So don’t worry if he’s hitting other children, not sharing toys or developing a serious attachment to a toy, a pacifier or another object. All of it is perfectly normal at this age, believe it or not! It’s all part of toddler development. So correct him calmly, but do not discipline. His brain is simply not up to understanding social niceties yet.

When to Talk to Your Doctor: 

  • Though anxiety when faced with new faces and places is common at this age, pay your child’s doctor a visit if your child becomes overly so, to the point that they can’t be around other kids or new people.

Speech and Language Development

Memory development is a necessary step in learning how to speak. Although you might not see anything happening on the outside, your little one’s brain is working overtime on the inside to retain all those words you’re saying to him. He’s busy matching them to the objects you are talking about.

The growth of his (as yet passive) vocabulary means that soon he will be able to follow simple and precise instructions.

Maybe he already responds to short phrases like “give me the ball” or “put the toy in the box”. Help him along a little by pointing at the toy and the box as you are saying the words!

Toddlers also respond much better if you are on their level and making eye contact.

Many toddlers are now able to use one or two words in a meaningful way such as “mama”, “daddy” or “ball”. He’ll be practising his talking by imitating the words you say and animal sounds (which he will love doing).

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Can your toddler say “mama” or “daddy”? Is she practising any speech sounds yet?

Although your toddler might be babbling away to his teddy bear or toy car, proper talking will take a little while longer. Forming words requires a lot of precise effort from small muscles.

For now, your toddler is still concentrating on mastering the big muscle movements. In fact, if he has started walking, most likely he’ll be talking and babbling less. Your little guy is concentrating on not falling over!


  • Less babbling doesn’t mean he isn’t listening to you, so keep talking. All that moving around is very tiring, so reading him books and stories is a perfect way to wind down.
  • Listen carefully and you might even catch him making “speech sounds”, such as raising his voice to indicate a question. Engage with your child and know that babbling is a vital part of language development.

When to Talk to Your Doctor: 

  • Note how your child tries to babble. Does he struggle with forming simple words, like “mama” and “dada”? It could be time to pay your doctor a visit. 

Health and Nutrition

Twelve months marks the moment for the first dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and a booster for pneumococcal disease. Immunisations for measles and diphtheria are compulsory by law.

This could mark the start of picky eating. As your toddler is moving around, he might lose interest in food. Don’t worry too much about it as it’s all part of toddler development. A one year old should be getting around 1,000 calories per day from healthy, nutritious food to support his growth and development.

A typical daily meal plan would be: 1/2 cup of breakfast cereals with 1/4 cup of whole milk or banana slices in the morning, or cooked green and yellow vegetables, rice, mashed potatoes, cooked ground meat, or chopped fruits.

By the time your baby becomes a one year old, he should weigh around 8.6-10.8 kg. He should be about 69.0-78.1 cm in height.


  • He will eat when he is hungry. Forcing food on him might ignite his stubborn streak instead. Introduce new foods one at a time to be super safe when it comes to possible allergies.
  • At the one year mark, your toddler’s gut is almost fully developed. This means you can introduce cow’s milk.
  • The most important tip in this toddler development guide is for parents is to keep your phone or camera at the ready to catch those all-important first (second, third, fourth, fifth) steps!

When to Talk to Your Doctor:

  • Do keep an eye out, though, for symptoms of lactose intolerance. These are usually temporary, but may mean that you should introduce dairy at a slower pace. Cheese and yoghurt are generally fine.
  • If your little one develops rashes and other allergy symptoms.

We hope you found this article on 12 month old toddler development helpful. What can your child do by the time they celebrated their first birthday?