After months of 3am wake up calls and unpredictable sleep patterns, by now your baby probably takes regular naps and is staying asleep all night. On the other hand, you’re still exhausted. This isn’t a newsflash, but chasing after a nearly one-year-old (and possibly other kiddos) leaves little, or no, time for yourself. So, try to find ways to focus on your own needs, even if the moments are brief or you fall asleep six minutes into your favorite show. The better you feel about yourself, the better you’ll be as a mama.

Along with all the on-the-go action, your little one is trying to talk and starting to make sounds for objects. According to Dr. Tovah Klein, head of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and author of How Toddlers Thrive, all babies talk at different rates, but your baby should at least be making lots of sounds (da-ba-ma-mama).

At this stage, your baby is:

  • • Saying words you can understand like ba-ba (ball or bottle), mama, and dada. If she has no sounds at all, talk to your pediatrician.
  • • Learning to understand what “no” means and beginning to stop herself when she hears it. (Remember, she’s still learning so may not always listen!)
  • • Understanding simple instructions and questions like, “Where’s your bottle?”
  • • Pointing and reaching to tell you what she needs (she knows more words than she can say).
  • • Waving bye-bye, or hello, or clapping her hands. These are all ways that she is “talking” before she has words and connecting to other people.

To help your baby’s developing language, explain what you’re doing, point to objects, and name them. If she gets excited or points to something, talk about it to put words to her gestures, “Yes, that’s a bird!” It also makes her feel good that you understand what she means. The more language she hears directly spoken to her, the better her talking will be as she grows.

Get ready for lots of fun this month with these week-by-week tips from child development psychologist Dr. Holly Ruhl.

Week 1

Baby’s pincer grasp is maturing, which will prepare your tot for independent feeding, dressing, writing, and much more. Exercise those fine motor skills with brainteasers that require baby’s forefinger and thumb. Place a few Cheerios in a narrow cup for little one to attain, introduce
colorful knob puzzles, or have baby place pipe cleaners into an empty 2-liter bottle.

Week 2

Baby is already making inferences about social interactions. Find a spot to people-watch with your budding socialite. Point out boys, girls, and babies, note different relationships such as family and friends, and observe social behaviors like laughing and talking. Now that baby has a few words and can follow your gaze, you have a perfect date for a quiet tête-à-tête.

Week 3

Baby can now recognize the names of many objects. Introduce facial features and body parts. Point to your belly button and help your tot touch that button nose. Play “The Hokey Pokey” to teach arms and legs, blow raspberries on baby’s tummy and hands during diaper changes, or sing songs like “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” to teach through music.

Week 4

Letting your tiny tot get a little messy is a fun way to offer new sensory experiences, develop fine motor skills, and elicit those precious baby giggles. Let your petit artiste dabble in edible paints made from blended fruits and water. Engage baby in clean-up and you will be surprised how quickly your clever cutie starts tidying up independently!

Baby’s First Puzzle: Melissa & Doug Jumbo Knob Puzzle

This extra-thick wooden puzzle with jumbo knobs is perfect for little hands to grasp. Talk about the farm animals and make silly sounds while baby continues to develop hand-eye coordination.