The countdown to your baby’s first birthday is on! With an 11-month-old baby, playing is learning. From testing their problem-solving skills by motoring around the room (by crawling or possibly walking) to doing some cause-and-effect experiments with their toys, your baby is continually turning feedback from the world into knowledge.

Looking ahead, your goal may be to help stimulate your baby’s body and mind with developmentally appropriate activities. By keeping track of what developmental milestones your baby is working on achieving, you can support their development and consult with your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns.

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11-month milestones at a glance

We know it’s hard to believe that you’re inching even closer to that 1-year milestone, mama, and so much has changed since those early newborn days. Look how far you’ve both come! Your little one may seem suddenly not so little, but the future is looking bright.

Baby might be making more moves of their own these days, all in preparation for walking and taking those first tentative steps. Keep supporting them and encouraging their growth and progress—having you as a cheerleader is what will help get them there. Hopefully all that movement is tiring them out at night, but if not, we’ve got expert advice to help you all catch some more zzzz’s.

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An in-depth look at 11-month milestones

Read on to find out what you need to know about 11-month-old baby development this month to best support your little love’s growth.

11-month developmental milestones

Here’s what The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Mayo Clinic say about 11-month-old baby milestones.

(Editor’s note: The 11-month milestone guidelines were written to reflect the behaviors that 50% or more of children exhibit at a certain age. Note that milestones are not a perfect metric: It’s key to speak to your pediatrician if you have concerns about your unique child.)

Cognitive

  • Your 11-month-old baby’s receptive language skills are much better than their expressive language skills at this point. That means they can understand a pretty good amount of what you’re saying—including simple commands like “let’s go to the door.”
  • Your baby’s mobility means they might be getting into a lot of things. That’s just their curiosity coming out! Your busy bee might enjoy dumping out bins of toys and pulling items out of cabinets. Just be sure to keep anything out of reach that could be hazardous.

Motor skills

  • On average, babies start walking between 9 and 18 months—which is definitely a wide range. The most common point for taking first steps happens right around their first birthday. Even if your baby isn’t ready to stride quite yet, they should be working on pre-walking skills, such as standing unassisted and cruising along the sides of furniture. Note that the AAP discourages the use of baby walkers due to safety concerns.
  • If you haven’t already, introduce a sippy cup to your 11-month-old with a little bit of water. They should be able to get the hang of it pretty quickly, which is helpful if you need to start phasing out bottles in the next few months.

Social and emotional

  • At 11 months old, your baby has probably been babbling up a storm for a while. Now, you should notice some true “words” working their way into their vocabulary. Don’t put too much focus on pronunciation for now. What you’re looking for is a word that they use consistently to describe something, like “baba” for bottle.
  • With separation anxiety often peaking around this point, your baby may be hesitant to leave you—even to go to another person they know. Along with learning that objects are unique, your baby is realizing that you are one-of-a-kind. This can be emotionally challenging for you both, but your baby will soon learn that you come back.

Related: Why isn’t my baby talking yet? 7 ways to encourage speech from a speech-language pathologist

summary of 11-month-old baby milestones - sensory and motor development

Baby’s sleep at 11 months

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, babies under the age of 12 months need 12 to 16 hours of sleep per 24 hours. After age 1, that sleep requirement drops down to 11 to 14 hours of sleep. Now, you can probably anticipate your baby needing at least somewhere between 12 to 13 hours of sleep between night sleep and naps combined. Aim for a minimum of 10 hours nightly at the very least, plus two naps during the day.

“At this stage, your baby is going through a lot developmentally and is likely starting to show signs of trying to walk, increased verbal communication and increased interest in foods,” explains Rachel Mitchell, a certified sleep consultant and founder of My Sweet Sleeper. “All of these things can start to affect sleep, although not always in a negative way.”

Your little one might be pretty tuckered out tonight—or they may catch a second wind. If it’s the latter, consider trying to get a bit more outdoor time into their schedule. Going for a walk or running around the backyard can help to balance energy and circadian rhythms.

What baby sleep looks like at 11 months:

  • Your baby may be taking 2 naps per day
  • Your baby may no longer be waking at night
  • Your baby may be awake for 2.5 to 3.5 hours at a time

Being overtired can also contribute to poor night sleep, notes Mitchell, who shares that keeping to a consistent bedtime routine can be really helpful here.

Read more: How much sleep does an 11-month-old baby need?

Feeding a 11-month-old

Your almost-tot is hopefully getting even more comfortable with a few favorite foods and with actually feeding themselves. Start offering a spoon sized for small hands and a sippy cup at meals, and keep offering as many new foods as possible.

At 11 months, your baby is right in the middle of a window where they’re very open to new tastes and textures—and it’ll pay off in spades now to capitalize on that openness before the much more “independent” toddler years.

The AAP and La Leche League (LLL) recommend the following feeding timeline and amounts for 11-month-olds:

  • Solids: Offered three times per day or at family mealtimes
  • Breast milk: Up to eight ounces every four to five hours
  • Formula: Seven to eight ounces every five to six hours

Your 11-month-old should be no stranger to solids. Here are the recommended serving sizes for an 11-month-old baby:

  • Infant cereal (single grain) mixed with breast milk or formula: five to eight tablespoons (optional)
  • Fruits: two to four tablespoons
  • Vegetables: two to four tablespoons
  • Shredded meats, eggs, yogurt and soft-cooked plant-based proteins, such as lentils: two to three tablespoons
  • Starches: ¼ to ½ cup simple carbs, such as pasta, mashed potatoes, bread

Keep adding in common allergens, too, if you haven’t yet. Early exposure to foods that fit in the top 8 categories of potential allergens (dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, sesame and soy), and talk to your child’s pediatrician about what symptoms to look out for.

Read more: 11-month-old baby feeding schedule & expert advice

Activities for 11-month-olds

Your busy bee likes to use their hands to explore whatever catches their eye these days. Rotating out a few of their toys can help them feel fresh—and believe it or not, too many toys can be overwhelming. It’s also smart to encourage (supervised) independent play these days, which can mean some more downtime for you, mama. Play is their work, remember.

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Tunnel time: Set up a play tunnel or create one under your dining table with blankets and pillows. Encourage your tot to get cozy with a few board books or loveys—or try to coax them to push a ball from one end to another.

Dance party: At 11 months, moving and grooving is your baby’s favorite thing to do, so why not celebrate with a dance party? Help your little one find the beat and dance, spin or sway along together to a few fun songs. Watch as they try to mimic your movements!

Set a playdate: Your little one loves to watch peers and older kids, and might get a kick out of tossing around a ball on the playground with a fellow tot or toddler. This can also help introduce the concept of sharing—a whole new world!

Supporting your 11-month-old baby’s development

Ready to make the most of those wake windows? These 11-month-old baby activities can support your cutie’s development.

  • Help your 11-month-old baby have freedom to safely explore by clearing the living room or playroom floor of small objects or things that could be dangerous for them to pull on.
  • Play with your 11-month-old baby with songs that have hand motions, such as The Itsy-Bitsy Spider and Wheels on the Bus.
  • Encourage your 11-month-old baby’s communication skills by having focused conversations. Your baby may have a lot to “say.” (Whether you understand it is another story.)

It’s science: Harvard researchers say this type of play helps your baby’s cognitive development

Want to help your baby’s brain reach its full attention? Of course you do—so take a cue from Harvard researchers and engage in a little “serve and return” play with your 11-month-old baby. Here’s how it works:

  1. Notice when your child is “serving,” like when they point or say something.
  2. Return the serve by acknowledging your baby, which rewards their curiosity.
  3. Name your child’s interests, such as by saying, “Yes, I see the dog!”
  4. Take a turn after a moment by pointing out something else to your child.
  5. Let them finish the game when they seem ready to move on.

A note from Motherly: 11-month milestones

Playing with your baby is becoming an increasingly interactive, exciting way to bond—but it’s also an important way for them to learn. Engage in a way that feels right to you and, remember, a little independent play is good for your baby, too. As you look ahead, keep your baby’s milestones in mind. If you have questions or concerns, bring them up with your child’s doctor. Early intervention leads to the best outcomes.

Looking ahead: What should my baby be doing at 12 months?

A version of this story was originally published on Oct. 17, 2021. It has been updated.