Toddler Development And Milestones: Your 1 Year Old

Toddler Development And Milestones: Your 1 Year 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!

For the first 11 months of his/her life, your baby has been very busy discovering exciting new abilities. This year, a whole new world awaits your baby. No wonder your 12 month old baby (now officially a toddler!) can’t wait to get up and walk! And trust us, this is only the beginning of what promises to be a rollercoaster of a year.

12 Month Old Development and Milestones: Is Your Tot on Track?

toddler 12 months development

Physical Development

At this stage, your child’s median length and weight* should be as follows:

  • Boys
    – Length: 75.7 cm (29.8 inches)
    – Weight: 9.6 kg (21.3lb)
  • Girls
    – Length: 74.1 cm (29.2 inches)
    – Weight: 9.2 kg (20.4lb)

And your 12 month old child’s head circumference* should be:

  • Boys: 46.1 cm (18.1 inches)
  • Girls: 44.9 cm (17.7 inches)

Most 12 month old 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 him/herself 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.

  • Your 12 month old little one enjoys putting things in boxes or pouches and emptying them again. Let your child do this to toys and other child-friendly objects to not only entertain him/her, but to enhance fine motor skills.
  • You might also see your child use one hand more than the other, showing hand preference. Other things your child will be able to do as his/her fine motor skills grow are holding a cup, eating with his/her fingers (utensils are still a thing of the future) and even putting on certain items of clothing, like socks.   
  • As your child discovers the world from a standing point of view and his/her muscles grow stronger, he/she 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) are so much fun. Rolling a ball, tickling, and pushing around wheely toys are also favourite games at this age.
When to Talk to Your Doctor

If your child,

  • Isn’t crawling or drags one side of the body while crawling.
  • Cannot stand even when supported.
toddler development and milestones

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/she is living in a place much bigger and more interesting than he/she ever imagined before.

Where before your baby was content to be carried around in your arms, now he/she squirms and wriggles to venture out alone.

This is also the time when his/her memory is developing. 

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

Your baby might also begin to point at things that he/she wants or 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/she is okay with you leaving! Far from it, in fact.

  • Your baby is starting to understand that he/she can actually make things happen! Watch out for him/her 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!
  • Activate your child’s memory by showing him/her objects and naming them often, and then asking your baby to show you those same objects when you name them.
When to Talk to Your Doctor

If your child,

  • Doesn’t seem to search for things you hide while in front of him/her.
  • Finds it difficult to learn simple gestures like waving goodbye or pointing to familiar objects.
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/she is sure you’re near. While exploring, he/she will 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/her with someone else or at daycare – even if he/she 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 your baby to socialise. Let him/her slowly get used to all these small and big people who come into his/her life.

On the positive side, this is also the time when your little one will start bonding with other people besides 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/she might even hand over a toy after he/she is finished with it! This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Best of all, this is also the time when baby will be smothering you with hugs and kisses. Well, when he/she is not off exploring the world that is.


12 months toddler

  • As your child is moving from being a baby to a toddler, he/she needs your constant presence and guidance. Let him/her discover and try things alone, but be around to make sure he/she is safe.
  • He/she may try to eat on his/her own (using his/her hands, most likely making a huge mess) or your toddler may attempt to put on his/her own shoes.
  • The growing sense of independence at this age may lead to the first signs of stubbornness. Your toddler wants to do things independently, and may get very upset when you try to help. Let your baby work things out alone, and wait for him/her to turn to you before solving his/her problems.
  • Finally, your toddler may no longer be a baby, but neither is he/she a big kid yet. He/she is still only just discovering the world beyond his/her own body.
  • So don’t worry if he/she is 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 your baby calmly, but do not discipline. His/her brain is simply not up to understanding social niceties yet.
When to Talk to Your Doctor

If your child,

  • Shows unusual levels of anxiety when faced with new faces and places.
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. He/she is busy matching them to the objects you are talking about.

The growth of your child’s (as yet passive) vocabulary means that soon he/she will be able to follow simple and precise instructions.

Maybe your little one already responds to short phrases like “Give me the ball,” or “Put the toy in the box.” Help him/her 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”. Your 1 year old will be practising speech by imitating the words you say and animal sounds (which he/she will love doing).

what to expect at 1 year

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

Although your toddler might be babbling away to his/her 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/she has started walking, most likely he/she will be talking and babbling less. After all, walking takes a lot of concentration!


  • Less babbling doesn’t mean your child isn’t listening to you, so keep talking. All that moving around is very tiring, so reading him/her books and stories is a perfect way to wind down.
  • Listen carefully and you might even catch him/her making “speech sounds”, such as raising his/her 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

If your child,

  • Does not babble.
  • Struggles with saying basic words like “mama” and “dada”.

Health and Nutrition For Your 12 Month Old

Your 12 month old child needs around 4 meals per day (¾ to full cup/bowl), plus breastfeeds, and one to two snacks.

Typically, the calorie intake for boys and girls of this age are as follows:

  • Boys: 776.4 Kcal/day
  • Girls: 740.8 Kcal/day

Their nutrition should be composed of the following:

  • Protein

Protein is an important building block for much of your baby’s physical growth. At this age, your little one needs approximately 25 grams of protein per day. This is equal to an adult palm-sized piece of chicken or fish, or a child palm-sized piece of red meat or pork, or five to 6 five to six tablespoons of beans and peas, or five to size dice-sized cubes of tofu. Avoid processed meats as much as possible.

  • Fruits

Feed your baby about one cup of fruits every day, but do make sure you cut the fruits into small pieces. One cup of fruit equals one medium sized banana, or one medium avocado, or half a small papapya or one small mango. You could also combine a variety of fruits to make up the daily requirement. Avoid canned or dry fruits if possible as they are usually high in sugar.

  • Vegetables

Your child needs 1/4 cups of vegetables every day. 1/4 cup of vegetables equals to about 1/4 cup of cooked vegetables, or one cup of raw leafy green such as spinach or kale, wilted, or half a medium carrot or five-6 florets of broccoli.

  • Grains

Increase your 12 month old child’s grain intake to up to 3 ounces or about 85 grams every day. This equals to a slice of bread, or one cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or half (1/2) cup of cooked pasta or rice. Start your child on wholegrains early for good gut health.

  • Milk/Dairy

You can cut down on your child’s daily dose of milk to about 400 to 700mL. Offer other sources of calcium too like yoghurt and less-salt cheese. Cow’s milk can be introduced this month.

In a nutshell, here’s what your child needs every day (refer above for what the amounts look like):

  • Fruits: 1 serving for boys and girls
  • Vegetables: 1/4 cups for boys and girls
  • Grains: up to 3 ounces for boys and girls
  • Proteins: 25g for boys and girls
  • Milk: 20-35 ounces of breast milk or 24 ounces of formula for boys and girls
  • Water: 1200 ml for boys and girls


  • Your child will eat when he is hungry. Forcing food on him/her might ignite his/her 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.
  • Never give whole grapes to your child. Cut them lengthwise and remove any seeds.
  • Always supervise your baby when he/she is eating.
  • Limit salt and sugar in your child’s food.
  • Encourage your toddler to eat on his/her own.
When to see a doctor

If your child,

  • Breaks out in a rash after eating.
  • Vomits frequently after eating.
Vaccinations and Common Illnesses

Your 12 month old child should have got the following vaccinations by now:

  • BCG
  • Hepatitis​ B (1st, 2nd and 3rd dose)
  • DTaP (1st, 2nd and 3rd dose)
  • IPV (1st, 2nd and 3rd dose)
  • Hib (1st, 2nd and 3rd dose)
  • Pneumococcal Conjugate (1st and 2nd dose)
  • Chickenpox (1st dose)
  • MMR – 1st dose: Immunisation against Measles, Mumps & Rubella
  • Pneumococcal Conjugate – 1st booster: Immunisation against Pneumococcal Disease

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.

Parents do note that following MMR vaccination, some children develop a fever and rash one to two weeks later or swelling of the glands of the neck after three to four weeks.

To read more about your child’s vaccination schedule, click here.

If your child is in daycare by now, then it’s normal for him/her to contract common illnesses such as colds, Hand Foot and Mouth disease, or throat infections.

While it’s stressful to see your little one ill, sickness in kids is inevitable and in fact, helps build up baby’s immunity.

Mums and dad, you should never medicate your baby on your own unless you are doctors yourself. Please seek medical advice for any illness in your child, even common ones. However, you can ease your child’s symptoms through, for example, saline drops for a congested nose or lukewarm sponging for fever.

  • By now, your 12 month old toddler should have started a dental hygiene routine. Even if you cannot use a toothbrush on your child yet, it’s important to keep those tiny teeth clean. Wrap a piece of soft cloth or gauze around a clean finger and clean your child’s teeth this way.
  • Never force feed your child if he/she loses his/her appetite when sick. Just make sure your baby is well hydrated.
  • Do not ever medicate your baby unless you are a doctor yourself.
  • If your baby is prescribed antibiotics by the doctor, it’s essential that you finish the course, even if baby seems to be better.
  • If baby bumps his/her head, apply an ice pack (wrapped in a cloth) immediately to prevent bruising.
  • Basic hygiene practices should be strictly followed by all family members. This includes washing hand before meals and after using the bathroom.
When to Talk to Your Doctor

If your child,

  • Has a bad fall and hits his/her head.
  • Has strange bumps or rashes on his/her body.
  • Has a fever of over 38 degree Celsius.
  • Has a phlegmy cough for more than three days.

We hope you found this article on 1-year-old toddler development helpful. What can your child do by the time they celebrated their first birthday?

*Disclaimer: This is the median length and weight, and head circumference according to WHO standards.

Source: Healthy Children

Your toddler’s previous month: Baby development and milestones: your 11-month-old

Your toddler’s next month: Toddler development and milestones: your 1-year-and-1-month-old

Baby milestones: the first 12 months from newborn to toddler.

Do you have questions on this toddler development guide? Share with us in the comments!

Republished with permission from theAsianparent

Written by

Africa parent