Wonderful One Year Old

A child’s first birthday is a time of celebration for family and the mark of transition from infancy to toddlerhood.  Your child’s language, gross motor (big movements) and fine motor (hand) skills all begin to take great leaps.

Around the one year mark, language begins to evolve more quickly.  You may see your one year old indicate interest in something by using his or her index finger to point.  The repetitive babbling sounds will start to sound like single syllables or true words.  These may be words that only you recognize, but you will notice your child making the same sound in the same context repeatedly.

One year olds are great explorers.  With their new-found ability to walk, toddlers will be happily moving around the room pulling things out of baskets and cabinets.  A basket of age appropriate toys that can be unloaded (and quickly picked up by mom, dad, or older sibling) is a great source of entertainment.  They will engage their improving pincer grasp and fine motor skills by working with shape sorters, stacking blocks or trying to fit together large pieces.  They now understand ‘object permanence’ meaning objects out of sight are no longer out of mind.  They may enjoy hiding toys under the basket and then finding them again.  At this stage, they are much more efficient at feeding themselves and may even start to grab for the spoon.  They will become more adept at a sippy or straw cup as well.

Those first steps are a much anticipated one year milestone for many parents.  You may notice that your child by a year of age spends a great deal of time pulling up on the furniture and walking holding onto something.  They may even have the courage to let go briefly and stand alone before sitting back down.  They may begin to take a few unassisted steps.  However, walking is a milestone at a wide variety of ages.  Some infants may walk as early as 9-10 months, while others won’t walk until 18 months or so.  Both are within the normal range of development, so don’t be concerned if your one year old hasn’t taken steps just yet.

When those feet are spending more time on the floor, you may consider buying your child’s first shoes.  At home and on surfaces where protection isn’t the primary concern, barefoot is best.  Also, be aware of slippery rugs or surfaces.  When your child needs shoes for protection, choose those with a flexible sole and room in the toe box.  Tennis shoes are a great option for a first shoe.

Around this time of exploration and new milestone achievement you may notice that your child wakes in the night occasionally.  This happens commonly around the time babies learn to walk, almost as if that desire to get moving is stronger than the need to sleep.  Use the tools that you have learned over the first year to reassure your child and help him get back to sleep.  You can learn about these tools on our Sleep for Toddlers page.

Bringing your one year old into the pediatrician’s office may be different experience than bringing him or her for check ups during infancy.  You may notice that your child starts to fuss or seem wary as soon as you walk through the door.  This fearfulness occurs due to the fact that a one year old takes time to warm up to new or unfamiliar situations.  Bring with him a comforting toy or blanket.  Bring along a favorite board book, a few blocks, a doll or toy train engines, which can be a helpful distraction.

At one year of age, children will receive three immunizations.  These are MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), varicella (chicken pox) and Hepatitis A vaccines.  The MMR and varicella vaccines, unlike other vaccines administered during the first year, are given in the back of the arm.  Dressing your child in loose, short sleeves may make this easier.  We may also order bloodwork to screen for anemia and lead exposure, which is prevalent in some Richmond communities.

We look forward to seeing you and your one year old in the office and hearing about the many new adventures and discoveries that you are having together!  Please don’t hesitate to contact one of our providers if you have questions or concerns about your child.  Congratulations, parents, you made it through the first year.  Happy First Birthday!