Visits with You and Your Baby: Newborn to 12 Months

This publication provides information for new parents on car safety, vaccinations, nutrition, and growth.
Visits with You and Your Baby: Newborn to 12 Months - Articles
Visits with You and Your Baby: Newborn to 12 Months

Car Safety For Your Baby

Car safety begins with your baby’s first ride home from the hospital. Pennsylvania state law requires that babies and toddlers ride in an approved child safety seat. A child safety seat can save your child’s life, but it’s important to use it correctly.

  • Always read and follow your vehicle owner’s manual and your car seat instruction manual carefully.
  • Babies should ride facing the back of the car until they are at least 1 year old and weigh at least 20 pounds. Small, lightweight infant-only seats are designed to face only the rear.
  • You can also use a convertible car seat, which is designed to fit children from birth to about 40 pounds. (Note: some car seats have a starting weight of 5 pounds.) You can turn the seat around to face the front when your baby is at least 1 year old and weighs at least 20 pounds.
  • The safest place for any child safety seat is in the back seat of the car. Never put a rear-facing child safety seat in the front seat of a car with a passenger-side air bag. This will endanger your baby during a crash.
  • Be sure your baby is buckled into the car seat correctly. Use the correct harness slots (at or below the shoulders for rear-facing, and at or above for forward-facing), and keep the harnesses snug.
  • Be sure the safety seat is buckled into the car correctly. Follow the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions and those that came with the car seat. The seat needs to fit tightly so that it doesn’t move more than 1 inch from side to side or toward the front of the car.
  • If a friend or relative has given you a used car seat, or if you are thinking of buying one at a yard sale, be careful! A used car seat should not be more than 6 years old, should not have been in a crash, and should not have any cracks or missing parts. If the seat does not come with instructions, you should get a copy of the instruction manual from the manufacturer before you use the seat.

For more information, you can call 1-800-CARBELT (in Pennsylvania).

Source: Pennsylvania Traffic Injury Prevention Project, Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; National Highway Traffic Safety Association

Vaccinations For Your Baby

Your baby needs to have shots to protect him from some diseases. Your baby will get his first shot, the Hepatitis B vaccine, be-fore leaving the hospital. Then he will need shots every couple of months. This is when your baby needs to be vaccinated:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 12–15 months
  • 18 months

For more information about vaccinations for your baby, call your local health care provider.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

How to Use “Visits with You and Your Baby”

This is the first of two Visits with You and Your Baby booklets. When your baby reaches his first birthday, make sure to pick up the second Visits booklet, which has information about your baby’s second year. Save these booklets for the future. You can use the activity pages in each one.

Do you have a baby book? If not, keep track of your baby’s growth by making notes on these pages. Here are some of the things you could write down:

  • Your baby’s weight and length each month.
  • Her eating and sleeping habits (whether she sleeps through the night, for instance).
  • Her favorite toy.
  • New skills. (When she learns to roll over, sit up, or say “da-da.” Look at the “Baby’s Growth” chart in this Visits to find out what to expect at different times.)
  • When each new tooth appears.
  • Important events (his first haircut or visit to grandma’s).

He or She? Him or Her?

Please note: In this and all Better Kid Care publications, we refer to children alternately as “he” or “she.” When we use “he” or “she,” we include all children.

Congratulations! You’re a new parent.

You’ve been thinking about your new baby for months. You probably had lots of questions. What will she look like? How will he act? Is she normal? You probably had some worries, too. All parents do, and all parents have dozens of questions.

Now that your baby is born, you’ll probably have even more questions and worries. We all worry less when we know what to expect.

In Visits with You and Your Baby, you’ll find answers to many of your questions. These pages are filled with information that will help answer many of the questions you have. Visits with You and Your Baby contains dozens of good ideas to help you.

Hold onto Visits. Keep it handy. Place Visits on a coffee table, end table, or near your television set. Look at it often. It will help you follow your baby’s growth and development.

Enjoy your baby. Try to relax. Being a really good parent takes effort and time. Spend time each day with your baby. Your baby needs lots of time. Holding, kissing, and cuddling are really good for your baby. These things tell your baby you love her.

Congratulations again! We know you’ll do the best job possible. Read on now, and enjoy your baby more by using Visits with You and Your Baby.

P.S.

Some new mothers expect to be happy all the time after the baby is born. But it’s normal to feel “blue” or “down in the dumps” once in a while. You’re changing your life to make room for your baby. You’re getting less sleep. You may feel you can’t do all the things you want to do. If you feel “blue” most of the time, you should talk about it with your doctor or nurse.

Your Baby’s Growth

Keep in mind that every baby is different. Children grow at different speeds. Your friend’s baby may start to do something before or after your baby does. That’s perfectly normal. Children usually learn things in a certain order, not at a certain age.

Here's How Your Baby's Body Will GrowHere's How Your Baby's Personality Will Grow

Here's How Your Baby's Language Will Grow

3 monthsholds up head and chest while on stomachsmiles at facescries less and makes more noises
eats and sleeps more regularlystays alert and looks around moreresponds to voices
6 monthsreaches out for and grabs hold of objectslooks at objects closelylaughs and squeals
sleeps in a favorite positionrecognizes you (but may be afraid of others)coos a lot
gets his first teethsmiles at other childrenreacts to sounds
9 monthsholds and shakes a rattleself-feeds cookies or crackerssays “ma-ma”
sits without help for up to a minuteholds own bottleimitates sounds
shifts objects from hand to handis shy with strangersresponds to own name
can stand if held upsmiles at face in a mirrorwatches others
12 monthssits without help for 10 minutesacts more secure with strangerswaves bye-bye to people
can pull self up to standing positionshows emotions like love and jealousyunderstands “no-no”
picks up objects with fingerslikes to be with adultssays two words
crawls on hands and kneeshelps to dressturns pages of a book
15 monthscruises a room (holds onto furniture to move around)tells you when diaper needs to be changedpoints to things she wants
can stand alone for a few secondsdoesn’t always stop when you say “no”says five words, names included
scribbles with crayonsthrows objects from high chair but wants them backcan follow simple commands
walks for a few stepsis very curiousimitates adult talk
crawls up stairsapproaches other childrenpoints to clothes or parts of body when named
18 monthswalks without fallingacts impatient with problemssays “no”
walks up stairs if you hold handsdisobeys commands sometimespoints to pictures of people or objects when named
can pull or throw toystakes off shoes, flushes toiletunderstands what you say but still babbles back
21 monthssquats down without fallingpulls you to show you somethingasks for food or to be taken to the bathroom
kicks a ballcan drink from a cupspeaks in two-word sentences
stacks up blocks and other toyshugs you and toysuses twenty words or more
24 monthsruns without fallingimitates houseworkspeaks in three-word sentences
walks up and down stairsdoesn’t share, but will when askedsays “I,” “me,” and “you”
turns pages of a bookputs on simple clothesnames and points to pictures
Beyond 24 monthswalks on tiptoewashes and dries own handssays first and last name when asked
jumps with both feetcan play games with other childrenuses plurals for objects
stands on one foottries to order others aroundnames and points to colors

The First Three Months

Remember: Your baby will need to be vaccinated before leaving the hospital and at 2 months.

Your Baby's Development

Newborn babies seem totally helpless. They eat, sleep, and cry. They depend on you for everything.

You will see your baby start to learn right away. She learns by watching things. As a newborn, she will sometimes keep quiet and just look around. In three months, she will be able to stay awake longer.

Your Baby's Growth

Every baby is different. Every baby develops at his own rate. These signs of growth should be used only as general guides.

Here's How Your Baby's Body Will GrowHere's How Your Baby's Personality Will GrowHere's How Your Baby's Language Will Grow
3 Monthsholds up head and chest while on stomachsmiles at facescries less and makes more noises
eats and sleeps more regularlystays alert and looks around moreresponds to voices

Watch how your baby studies the world around her. She will try to find out where sounds come from. Sometime when your baby is awake and quiet in her crib, talk to her softly from across the room. She will turn her head to find out where you are.

Your baby will grow stronger during the next few months. She will want to see more of the world around her. If she is on her back, she will arch and stretch her neck out. If she is on her stomach, she will be able to lift her head and chest for a short time.

The first things your baby notices about herself are her hands. When she waves her hands, she can see them. Soon she will be able to control her hands and look at them whenever she wants to. This shows her that she is separate from everything else.

Newborn babies cry to communicate. Your baby will cry if she is hungry, has an upset stomach, or if her diaper needs to be changed. She’ll cry very loudly if she’s lonely and wants to be held. Somehow, a parent can usually tell the difference between all of these kinds of cries. The way you respond to them is a kind of communication too.

During the next few months, your baby will learn new ways to “talk” to you. She will smile, coo, babble, and make vowel sounds (like “aah” and “ooh”). You can prolong this “conversation.” Smile or laugh, and imitate the sounds she makes. You’re starting to teach her about language! Be sure to speak correctly—not in “baby talk.” Remember, your baby learns to talk by imitating what she hears.

Right now, your baby’s world is comfortable and secure. When she’s hungry, you feed her. When she’s wet, you change her. Teach her that the world is a friendly and loving place. This will make her want to explore it on her own in the coming months.

How can you expect your newborn to behave? For one thing, she won’t sleep through the night. She’ll want to eat often, especially if she is breast-fed. She may spit up and be fussy. All of these things are common and normal. Your baby is still getting used to life in this bright, noisy world. Her digestive and nervous systems are changing. Prepare yourself for these changes and for the behavior that goes along with them.

Health and Medical Tips

Take your baby to the clinic or doctor at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. The doctor will give him a check-up and a series of shots. Many school districts and child-care centers want you to prove that your child has had these shots before they’ll let him in. You can go to a doctor or to a nearby clinic for these check-ups. Make a note of them in your baby book.

Mealtime

When you feed your baby, you give him the nutrients he needs to grow and develop. However, there’s more to it than that: When you respond quickly to his hunger cries, he learns to trust you. When you hold him close at feeding time, you build the emotional ties between you.

Are you wondering whether to breast-feed or bottle-feed? Here are some things to consider about each:

Breast-feeding

Breast-feeding offers many physical, emotional, and practical benefits for both baby and mother.

  1. Breast milk is a specialized food designed to meet the growth, development, and energy needs of infants.
  2. Breast milk is easy for babies to digest.
  3. Breast milk has special ingredients that protect your baby from allergies, infections, and diseases.
  4. Breast-feeding strengthens the emotional ties between you and your baby. These ties are important to her development.
  5. Breast-feeding is less expensive and more economical than bottle-feeding.
  6. Breast-feeding uses up the fat your body held onto while you were pregnant. It may help you to return to your pre-pregnancy weight.

If you choose to breast-feed your baby, never drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or smoke marijuana before you breast-feed. You will pass these substances to your baby in your breast milk. Smoking marijuana may also decrease the amount of milk your body will make. Stay away from, or cut back on, the amount of coffee or soda you drink, because these drinks contain caffeine, which can upset your baby’s appetite.

Bottle-feeding

Breast-feeding may not be right for every mom. In rare cases, a woman may have physical reasons for being unable to breast-feed. Some may feel uncomfortable about breast-feeding. Others may take medications that wouldn’t be safe if passed through their breast milk to the baby. Still others may have cultural reasons not to breast-feed.

In all of these cases, bottle-feeding infant formula can be a healthful choice.

If you choose bottle-feeding, you can be assured that infant formulas available in stores are a good option. Although they don’t protect babies from allergies and other illnesses, formulas will give your baby the nutrients she needs, just as breast milk does.

If you hold your baby to feed her, you can build the emotional ties between you and your baby, just as you would if you were breast-feeding.

If you decide to bottle-feed, use iron-fortified formula. Don’t just use milk from the supermarket shelf. And remember, whether she’s breast-fed or bottle-fed, your baby won’t be ready for other kinds of food until she’s at least 4 months old.

Safety

  1. Never prop up a bottle in your baby’s mouth. He could gag or choke on it.
  2. Never leave your baby alone on a changing table, bed, or other high place. He might roll off and get hurt.
  3. In the car, always put your baby in a government-approved child seat. An accident, or even a sudden stop, could knock him out of your arms.
  4. Make sure that toys and other objects don’t have any small parts that your baby might swallow. Newborn babies put all kinds of things into their mouths. It’s one of their first ways of learning about the world.
  5. For cribs to be safe, there must be no more than 2⅜ inches between crib slats. To reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and prevent suffocation, infants under 12 months of age should be placed on their backs to sleep in a crib with a tight-fitting mattress.
  6. Do not put pillows, quilts, comforters, bumper pads, or pillow-like stuffed toys in the crib. More crib safety tips can be found on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Web site.
  7. Safely prepare, store, and serve breast milk or infant formula using the following instructions:
    Expressed breast milk:
  • Wash your hands before expressing milk.
    Use plastic storage bags made specially for storing breast milk, or use clean collection bottles.
    Milk that will not be used within 24 to 48 hours should be frozen immediately. Label the milk with the date it was expressed, so the older milk can be used first.
  • Breast milk can be frozen
    --in a freezer compartment inside the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks
    --in a refrigerator-freezer with a separate freezer door for 3 to 4 months
    --in a separate freezer at temperatures below 0˚F for 6 months
  • Thaw breast milk in the refrigerator or under warm running water. Do not heat it in a pan on the stove or in the microwave.
  • Before feeding thawed breast milk to your baby, gently shake the container to mix layers that may have become separated during freezing. Use the thawed breast milk within 24 hours. Do not refreeze it.

Infant formula:

  • Wash your hands, measuring utensils, bottles, and nipples with hot, soapy water before preparing the formula.
  • Wash the outer part of bottles with disposable bags regularly to keep bacteria away from your baby.
  • Use infant formula before its expiration date. The levels of vitamins decrease after that date, and the product’s quality will not be as high.
  • If the formula is ready-mixed, clean the top of the can with soap and water and rinse before opening.
  • Use fresh water from the cold water tap or distilled water if you are using a concentrate or powdered formula.
  • Microwave ovens are not recommended for heating infant formulas. Overheating the liquid is dangerous. Hot spots can form, which could cause serious burns to the baby.
  • To warm the formula, place the bottle or plastic insert under hot tap water until it reaches the temperature you want.
  • Throw away any formula remaining in the bottle after feeding your baby. Once a baby has nursed from a bottle, germs from the baby’s mouth may have gotten into the formula. Putting the bottle back into the refrigerator or reheating will not stop the growth of germs.
  • Cover and place cans of formula in the refrigerator right after filling the bottle. An opened can may be kept for up to 48 hours if it is refrigerated.
  • Formula prepared from powder and then refrigerated should be used within 24 hours.

Child Care

Many mothers return to work after their babies are born. How do you decide who’s going to care for your baby? It’s hard. Let’s say you own a restaurant and you need to hire a dishwasher. You’d talk to everyone who applies for the job. Then you’d think it over and pick one of them. Picking a caregiver for your baby is much more important and much harder. You’ll want to be sure that she is in good hands.

  • Talk to each person who might watch your child.
  • Don’t be afraid to check up on them.
  • Talk to other parents about the kind of care the person gives.

If you plan on returning to work, you need more than a babysitter. Maybe you babysat for friends or neighbors. Parents asked you to come over and watch their kids for a few hours. All you did was keep them out of trouble and put them to bed. If you need someone to look after your baby for several hours every day, you’re looking for a caregiver, not just a babysitter.

The caregiver has many responsibilities. Like you, the caregiver should help your baby to develop and grow. Do you want the caregiver to come into your home? Do you want to take your baby to the caregiver’s home? Or do you want to enroll your baby in a child-care center? Whatever you decide, think about what you want from your caregiver.

If you’ve decided to sign up for a child-care home or center, here are some questions to keep in mind:

  • Is the home or center clean and baby-proof?
  • Is the diaper-changing area away from the food preparation area?
  • Are there toys available? Are they safe ones?
  • Is there a separate room or quiet corner for children to sleep in?
  • Are there toys and playthings for outdoor play? Is the area fenced in?
  • Can you visit your baby any time unannounced? This is important. Whenever you take your baby to a new caregiver, plan to stay and watch for a few hours.
  • Has the caregiver had a medical checkup recently? Looking after children is hard, tiring work!
  • Does the caregiver play with the children? Does she laugh and smile with them and show them warmth and affection? Remember, you expect a caregiver to do more than just keep an eye on your child for a few hours.
  • How does the caregiver handle behavior problems?
  • Does the caregiver listen to your suggestions and answer your questions?
  • Does the center have a phone with which to contact you in an emergency?
  • At pick-up time, does the caregiver talk to the parent about the child’s day?

When you’re looking for someone to watch your baby, look for some-one who doesn’t smoke. Smoke in the air can hurt babies because their lungs are still developing, and they can catch respiratory infections easily. Lit cigarettes can also badly burn your baby.

Nurturing With Nutrition: The Newborn

You probably know that babies can “talk”—not with words like we do, but with smiles, cries, and movements. While you feed your baby, see if she’s trying to tell you something.

When Your Baby Has Had Enough

What does your baby do to tell you she’s full? Maybe she goes to sleep or moves away from the nipple. If you try to put the nipple back in her mouth, she may hold her lips shut. Maybe she bites the nipple or smiles and lets it go. Watch for these signs. If you’re careful not to overfeed your baby, she won’t spit up as often.

Is It Time Yet?

Have you ever seen someone try to feed cereal to a 1-month-old with a spoon? The child doesn’t know what to do! At that age, all her tongue can do is move forward to suck. She can’t use it to get cereal off of a spoon. Putting cereal in her bottle is like force-feeding her.

Please wait until your baby shows you that she’s ready for solid foods. Here are some of the signs:

  • Your baby stops pushing food out of her mouth with her tongue.
  • Your baby can sit up when she’s supported.
  • Your baby can turn her head toward or away from the food to show you whether she’s hungry.
  • Your baby can control her head and chest to move forward when she’s hungry and backward when she’s full.

Most babies won’t be ready for solid foods until about 6 months of age. Some babies develop food allergies if they’re given solid foods too soon. That’s something you’ll want to avoid! Some signs of allergies are hives, swelling, rash, trouble breathing, vomiting, or diarrhea. Tell your friends and family members about signs of allergies. Until recently, we did not know what babies were trying to tell us.

Of course, you may be tempted to feed your baby solid foods before she’s ready for them. Maybe a friend told you that it would help her sleep through the night. Well, it probably won’t. And your baby may feel like she’s being rushed.

Caution: Choking Hazard-Babies and young children can choke easily on some foods, such as fruit seeds or pits, pieces of hot dogs, and some raw fruits and vegetables, including grapes, apples, carrots, and celery. Using grated or finely chopped foods may reduce the risk of choking. Never leave a baby or young child alone while eating.

3–6 Months

Remember: Your baby will need to be vaccinated at 4 and 6 months.

Your Baby's Development

Your baby isn’t a newborn anymore! You know how quickly he’s growing. A few months ago, your baby grabbed at things automatically. It was a reflex. Now he’ll grab at and hold onto things that interest him. He’ll learn how to use his eyes, too. He’ll look at his rattle and pick it up with his hands. This is called “eye-hand coordination.” You do it when you sew, hammer, cook—even when you play a video game. It’s a useful and important skill in daily life.

If a newborn doesn’t see you, he doesn’t know you exist. For a baby, it really is out of sight, out of mind. Soon your baby will begin to recognize you. He may cry when you leave him alone or when a stranger comes near. This is called “stranger anxiety.” It’s perfectly normal behavior for children who are less than a year old.

Remember, your baby is eager to learn at this age. People fascinate him. He’ll start to feel more secure around strangers in time. If he cries now, it means that he can tell you from other people. It’s because you are important to him. You’re a good mother.

Your baby’s memory will get better. As we said before, he’ll start to recognize familiar faces. He’ll recognize familiar objects, too. If his favorite stuffed animal isn’t in his crib, he’ll notice. Be ready to pick up toys when he drops them. He remembers what he just had in his hand, and he may cry if he can’t make it come back.

He should sleep more regularly now. Maybe he even takes a nap at the same time every day. Children often make noises and move around at night. When you hear your baby at night, you probably want to go to him and settle him down. But as long as he’s all right, it’s better to leave him alone. Don’t get into the habit of going to his crib two or three times every night.

One of the most important things you can do to help reduce the risk of SIDS is to put your baby on his or her back to sleep. Do this when your baby is being put down for a nap and to bed for the night. (Babies with a health condition might require sleeping on their tummy. Talk with your doctor or nurse about which sleep position to use.) Avoid putting pillows, quilts, comforters, bumper pads, or pillow-like stuffed toys in the crib with your baby. Your baby can be placed on his or her stomach when awake for some “tummy time.” This is good for your baby to develop arm and leg muscles.

Your Baby's Growth

Every baby is different. Every baby develops at his own rate. These signs of growth should be used only as general guides.

Here’s How Your Baby’s Body Will GrowHere’s How Your Baby’s Personality Will GrowHere’s How Your Baby’s Language Will Grow
3 monthsholds up head and chest while on stomachsmiles at facescries less and makes more noises
eats and sleeps more regularlystays alert and looks around moreresponds to voices
6 monthsreaches out for and grabs hold of objectslooks at objects closelylaughs and squeals
sleeps in a favorite positionrecognizes you (but may be afraid of others)coos a lot
gets his first teethsmiles at other childrenreacts to sounds

Your Baby Will Tell You How He Feels

Your baby probably smiles a lot more now—at you, at other people, and even at himself in a mirror. He may even laugh. With his first teeth due to come in soon, he’ll need to have his laughs now. Teething won’t be much fun.

Please remember that your baby is unique. He grows at his own special pace. Your baby may do things before other children his age do them, or he may do them later. If you’re worried about your baby’s development, talk to a doctor or nurse during one of his regular check-ups.

Mealtime

When your baby is about 6 months old, he’ll be ready to try solid foods. Be sure that he’s ready. Don’t go by his age or how much he weighs. Look for these signs that show your baby is ready to try solid foods:

  • Your baby stops pushing food out of his mouth with his tongue.
  • Your baby can sit up when he’s supported.
  • Your baby can turn his head toward or away from the food to show you whether he’s hungry.
  • Your baby can control his head and chest to move forward when he’s hungry and backward when he’s full.

Here are some tips on feeding your baby:

Start with infant rice cereal. Mix it with breast milk or iron-fortified formula. Introduce new foods one at a time. Once you start on a new food, wait at least a week before starting another one. If your baby throws up, gets diarrhea, or develops a rash, he might be allergic to something he ate. If he ate only one new kind of food that week, you’ll know what caused the trouble. If he doesn’t become sick, you’ll know that food is safe. You can come back to it later.

You can buy baby food in jars at the supermarket, or you may save money by making your own baby food. You can mash soft foods like apples, bananas, peas, and potatoes. Strained meats are also good. Don’t add salt, sugar, or spices.

Use a spoon made especially for babies.

Prepare a small amount of food, and don’t keep leftovers. They can cause diarrhea.

You control the kind of food you give your baby. Let him decide how much to eat. He may not want anything at all. That’s okay. After all, your baby makes lots of other choices on his own. He wakes up when his body tells him to. So let him decide how hungry he is—or whether he’s hungry at all.

Warming Baby’s Food

Babies enjoy foods either warm or cool. If you wish to warm infant foods, play it safe so your baby won’t get burned. Be careful not to overheat foods—they only need to be lukewarm. Hot foods can scald a baby’s mouth and throat, causing serious injury.

When warming foods, keep the following points in mind.

  • Always wash your hands before feeding your baby.
  • Read warming guidelines on baby food labels. Remember, foods can be served cold or at room temperature.
  • Warm foods over hot water until lukewarm.
  • If you warm foods in a microwave oven, do not microwave the jar. Put the food into a microwave-safe dish, and then heat it.
  • Heat only the amount you need. Less food heats faster than more food, and some microwaves heat faster than others. Ten to 15 seconds on high for 4 ounces of food is plenty.
  • Do not microwave baby food meats, meat sticks, or eggs. These foods are high in fat, and microwaving them can make them splatter and over-heat. Warm these high-fat foods over hot water instead.
  • After heating food, allow it to “rest” for a minute or two. Stir the food to distribute the heat evenly.
  • Always test the temperature of the food before serving. Use a different spoon from the one you will use to feed your baby.
  • After feeding your baby, throw away any food left in the dish. This food may have become contaminated or spoiled by bacteria on the spoon used to feed the baby.

Travel

Many children die in car accidents each year. Seat belts can’t protect children who are under 5 years old. Here are some tips on safe car travel with your baby:

Use a government-approved infant seat and strap it down tightly. Make sure that the area near your baby’s head is well padded.

If possible, put your baby in a car seat in the backseat. A bed should never be used.

Driving under the influence of alcohol increases the risk of having a car accident. If you drive when you’ve been drinking, you are endangering both your life and your baby’s life. Children also need constant care, and alcohol slows down your reflexes. Even in small amounts, alcohol affects your ability to respond quickly, as well as your judgment and memory. You may feel alert after drinking but your driving ability has actually been reduced. Don’t drink and drive.

Health and Medical Tips

Take your baby to the clinic or doctor at 4 and 6 months of age. The doctor will give him a check-up and a series of shots. Many school districts and child-care centers want you to prove that your child has had these shots before they’ll let him in. You can go to a doctor or to a nearby clinic for these check-ups. Make a note of them in your baby book.

Four-month check-up:

  • 2nd DPT vaccine
  • 2nd Polio vaccine
  • 2nd HIB vaccine

Six-month check-up:

  • 3rd DPT vaccine
  • 3rd Hepatitis B vaccine
  • 3rd HIB vaccine

Many studies have shown that there are harmful effects of just breathing smoke or smog in the air. Your tiny baby depends on you for a lot of things. He doesn’t have any control over the air that he breathes, but you do. Keep your baby away from any source of smoke as much as you can. That includes cigarette smoke, smog, car exhaust, and smoke from fires.

Thumb or Pacifier?

At this age, your baby will suck on anything he can reach. It’s how he learns about things. It’s also how he calms himself down when he’s upset.

It’s normal for your baby to suck his thumb. Babies do this even before they’re born. If you leave him alone, he’ll probably grow out of it before his fifth birthday. You may decide to give your baby a pacifier instead. Don’t use it to quiet him every time he cries. See if he’s hungry or needs to be changed. Maybe he wants to be moved or held. Check on all of these things before you give him a pacifier.

Let your baby grow out of thumb-sucking on his own. It won’t cause any problems until his permanent teeth start to come in. That’s years away!

Why You Shouldn't Use a Bedtime Pacifier

Do you ever give your baby a sweetened pacifier or prop up a bottle in his mouth at night to help him fall asleep? It’s not a good idea. Here’s why:

  • He might suffocate if he gets tangled up in the pillow or blanket used to prop up the bottle.
  • He might choke if he spits up.
  • The sweeteners might cause cavities in his new teeth.
  • He might expect it every night. It will be harder to break the habit later. Take the time to feed your baby the bottle before he goes to sleep.

Then put him to bed without it. Never use alcohol on pacifiers to help your baby fall asleep. Alcohol, even in small quantities, is harmful to your baby’s health.

Discipline

Is it too early to think about discipline? In one sense, yes. You can’t really expect a 3-month-old to obey your requests. He can’t even understand them. The way you treat your baby now will affect his behavior down the road. Be a warm and reliable parent.

Your baby learns to trust you when you feed him, when you change his diaper, and when you hold him close. You can use that trust later when you have to make some rules to keep him out of trouble.

Child Care

You need to choose someone special to look after your baby. A good care-giver is dependable, patient, and excited about children—more so than a babysitter! A good caregiver looks after both physical and emotional needs. You may find a caregiver who will come to your home or you may choose a child-care home or center.

When you leave your baby with a caregiver, be sure that person knows what to do. Here are some things to write down:

  • Your full name.
  • Where you’ll be, and how the caregiver can contact you.
  • Your baby’s doctor.
  • For a caregiver that comes to your home, write down phone numbers of the police, fire department, ambulance, hospital, poison control center, and a neighbor or relative who can help in an emergency.
  • What to feed your baby, and when.
  • Your baby’s sleep schedule.
  • Where to find diapers, clothes, and towels.
  • When you’ll be back.

Here are some things to find out about the child-care home or center:

  • Is the home or center clean?
  • Does the caregiver wash her hands after she changes diapers? How about before she feeds the children?

Here are some questions to ask about infants:

  • Does the caregiver hold the infant when feeding him a bottle?
  • Does the caregiver follow your instructions? For example, say you don’t want to start your infant on solid foods until you see the readiness cues. Will the caregiver agree to that?

Activities

You’ve probably found out that your baby loves to play games. It’s important for you to join in. Here’s what to do:

Change the tone of your voice as you talk. If you’re having fun, let your baby hear it! Use your face too: Nod your head, smile, or open your eyes wide in surprise.

Move his arms and legs to the pace of the game. Swing them fast to get him excited. Hold them still to calm him.

Stop the activity when his attention starts to wander.

Reward him with smiles and praise.

Talk to him about the game. He can’t understand your words yet, but he can understand your tone of voice. Give names to what he sees and does. He’ll learn how to say those names soon.

Here are some games to try:

Peekaboo

You don’t have to leave the room. Just cover your face with your hands for a few seconds. Then take your hands away, look surprised, and say, “Peekaboo!”

Watch the Rattle

Put your baby in an infant seat or lay him on his back. Hold his rattle about 12 inches in front of him. Give it a little shake every now and then until he looks at it. Then move it around. Try to get him to follow it with his eyes—side to side, up and down, around and around.

Then try something different. Hold his rattle to one side. Shake it until your baby turns his head to find out where the sound is coming from.

Talk to him after each little game. Act pleased. Tell him how excited you are that he followed the rattle. Reward him with a kiss.

Nurturing with Nutrition: 3–6 Months

When Your Baby Has Had Enough

Now that your baby is older and can control his body better, he can tell you when he’s had enough to eat. The signs will be easier to understand. For example, he might put his hand to his mouth, or he might be more interested in what’s going on around him than in his food. That means he’s full. Please don’t feed your baby after he gives you a “full” sign.

Once your baby starts on solid food, he may not need to nurse as often or drink as much formula as he did before. Tune into him for signs.

Is It Time Yet?

When he’s about 6 months old, your baby will start to suck on whatever he can reach. He may even munch on it. Have you noticed how well he sits with your help? How about how well he can control his chest and his head? He’s definitely ready for solid foods.

The Feeding Team

You and your baby can work together as a “feeding team.” You decide what foods to offer. Let him decide whether he wants to eat and when he’s had enough. Don’t overfeed him. Isn’t that easy? Now the two of you can enjoy your time together at meals.

Caution: Choking Hazard-Babies and young children can choke easily on some foods, such as fruit seeds or pits, pieces of hot dogs, and some raw fruits and vegetables, including grapes, apples, carrots, and celery. Using grated or finely chopped foods may reduce the risk of choking. Never leave a baby or young child alone while eating.

6–9 Months

Remember: Your baby will need to be vaccinated at 6 months.

Your Baby's Development

Your baby won’t become bored with things as quickly now. If she has a toy in one hand and you give her another, she will reach out for the new toy with her free hand. Before, your baby would knock a toy against her crib or high chair with one hand. Now she will take one toy in each hand and bang them against each other. Soon she will be able to put two things in one hand and reach for a third with her other hand.

Her other muscles are developing too. Your baby can now sit up without your help for almost a minute. She may be more comfortable in a chair. She can lean against the chair’s back and watch things all around her.

She will start to crawl soon, so this is the time to put a gate in front of the stairs and move dangerous items out of her reach. Her legs are strong enough for her to stand if you hold her hands. Your baby isn’t ready to walk just yet, no matter how much you practice with her. There are plenty of things she can do on her hands and knees for now.

As more teeth come in, your baby’s mouth is the center of attention for her. She will start to show an interest in solid foods. In fact, she will start to chew on things instead of sucking on them. The teething ring that you were given at your baby shower will come in handy now.
Expect your baby to start talking to you in the coming months too. The sounds you’ve heard her make will turn into “words” like “ka-ka,” “ba-ba,” and “da-da.” At this age, babies learn to say new things almost daily.

Keep in mind that every baby is different. Children grow at different speeds. Your friend’s baby may start to do something before or after your baby does. That’s perfectly normal. Children usually learn things in a certain order, not at a certain age.

Your Baby's Growth

Every baby is different. Every baby develops at his own rate. These signs of growth should be used only as general guides.

Here’s How Your Baby’s Body Will GrowHere’s How Your Baby’s Personality Will GrowHere’s How Your Baby’s Language Will Grow
6 monthsreaches out for and grabs hold of objectslooks at objects closelylaughs and squeals
sleeps in a favorite positionrecognizes you (but may be afraid of others)coos a lot
gets his first teethsmiles at other childrenreacts to sounds
9 monthsholds and shakes a rattleself-feeds cookies or crackerssays “ma-ma”
sits without help for up to a minuteholds own bottleimitates sounds
shifts objects from hand to handis shy with strangersresponds to own name
can stand if held upsmiles at face in a mirrorwatches others

Teething

Teeth usually start to appear when children are between 4 and 12 months old. As teeth come in, your baby will fuss and drool a little more. To make her feel better, give her something cold to chew on. Many stores sell rubber pretzels as teething rings. Rubber spatulas will work, too. Keep several in the refrigerator so you’ll always have one ready. Your baby can chew on both the soft, flexible tip and the hard, plastic handle.

Even your baby’s temporary teeth need care. You can clean them with a washcloth or gauze until she’s old enough to brush them herself.

Teething is hard work! Be extra patient with your baby for the next month. Give her a little extra love.

Mealtime

Your baby is probably eating solid foods now. Breast milk or formula gave her the nutrients she needed for the first 6 months, but she needs a variety of foods now. She needs to use her mouth and jaw. The muscles she uses to chew are the same ones she’ll use to speak.

Your baby will want to help feed herself at this age. She’s going to make a mess. Relax, be patient, and have fun! You can get food off of almost anything with a warm washcloth. Here are some tips on how to feed your 6-month-old:

Feed your baby in a room with an easy-to-clean floor. If the room is carpeted, spread newspapers or a tablecloth under the high chair. Remember this rule: Praise the good things your baby does, ignore the bad. Cheer when the food makes it into her mouth. Don’t get angry about spills and messes.

Don’t let her have small, hard foods like popcorn, nuts, and raisins. These hard foods can get caught in her throat. Don’t give her stringy foods like celery, either.

Ask your doctor about vitamins and iron supplements.

Remember, you and your baby are a team. You decide what foods to offer. You decide when to feed her. (Begin to try a regular schedule.) Let her decide whether she wants to eat and when she’s had enough.

In time, your baby will learn how to be neat at the dinner table. It could take several months—or several years! For now, stay calm and relaxed about it. If you’re relaxed, it’s easier for your baby to learn this complicated task.

Never smoke at mealtime. Smoking around your baby can increase her risk for respiratory problems. A baby can be hurt by lit cigarettes, lighters, and matches. Your baby could also be burned if you try to feed her and smoke at the same time.

When you go out to eat, always request non-smoking sections, because secondhand smoke can be very harmful to your baby. Don’t risk your baby’s health.

Safety

Your baby will want to explore her world soon. To keep her out of trouble, make sure your home is childproof.

  • Put safety gates at the top and bottom of all stairs.
  • Unplug cords in electrical outlets. Cover empty outlets with black electrical tape or special plastic caps (available at hardware stores and drugstores). Put furniture in front of outlets you still use so that your baby can’t get to them.
  • Keep all household cleaners, bug sprays, detergents, alcohol, cosmetics, and medicines out of your baby’s reach. All medicines, household cleaners, and other poisons should be kept in a locked cupboard.
  • Place breakable or valuable objects on a high shelf, or take them out of the room entirely. This includes books, CDs, and glass ashtrays. In their place, put things that are safe for your baby so she can find and play with them. This includes books with cloth pages, stuffed animals, pots and pans, and wooden spoons.
  • Never tie objects to cribs or playpens with string.
  • Is there any peeled paint, chipped plastic, or splintered wood where you live? Fix it (or get the landlord to fix it). Make sure the paint is lead-free.
  • Keep playpens and highchairs away from hot appliances. This includes stoves, heaters, irons, hair curlers, and blow dryers.
  • Is there a glass window in the oven door? Watch out: Your baby could burn herself on it.
  • Put special latches on doors and kitchen cabinets. Only adults can open these. Lock up the good dishes and the knives. Put some plastic bowls, pots and pans, and wooden spoons in a cabinet that your “explorer” can reach.
  • Use a government-approved infant seat in the car. If you’re in the market for a four-door car, make sure the back doors can be locked so that they can’t be opened from inside.
  • Have a rubber mat in the bathtub to prevent falls, or stick slip-proof decals to the floor of the tub.
  • Lock all windows that your baby can reach. Lock doors too: Now that she can stand, she’ll start to turn doorknobs. If there’s a door you want to secure, put a hook on it that only adults can reach.
  • If you have a woodstove or a fireplace, install a screen around it to keep your baby away.

Keep alcoholic substances out of your baby’s reach! Alcohol can poison your baby if it is swallowed in even small amounts. Your baby’s weight is so low that she can’t handle even small amounts of alcohol. If your baby weighs 20 pounds and drinks just one ounce of 80 proof alcohol, her blood alcohol level will be well above the amount at which someone is considered to be legally drunk. Your baby will probably have nausea, vomiting, and mental confusion. She should be seen by a doctor at once.

Health

Has your baby had all of the recommended shots and visits to the doctor or clinic? Write the dates of the visits and shots to the left.

Before you take your baby to your doctor or clinic, it’s a good idea to write down any questions you might want to ask. If you don’t think your baby is doing something he should be doing, ask about it at the clinic or doctor’s office. Tell the nurse about it, and ask for suggestions. If the nurse or doctor uses medical jargon, ask for an explanation.

Discipline

At this age, your baby can’t understand the difference between right and wrong. You have to teach her how to behave—and how to keep out of trouble. To discipline means to teach, not to punish. Never, never hit, shake, or slap a baby. Hitting, shaking, or slapping can cause brain damage and other serious damage.

A few months ago, we said that your baby learns to trust you when you take care of her basic needs for food, for comfort, and for love. In the next year, she’ll become more independent. The more she trusts you, the easier it will be for her to accept the limits that you put on her behavior. She needs your help to learn what she should and shouldn’t do. Here’s how to start:

Reward her when she does something good. At this age, she loves attention from people. Talk to her, smile, and give her a hug or two. Make sure she knows that you like what she’s doing, and she’ll tend to listen when you tell her that you don’t like what she’s doing.

Ignore bad behavior as long as there’s no danger involved. Don’t scold your baby. Don’t even look at her. If you think she’s about to hurt herself, “redirect” her—have her do something else. For example, if she’s crawling toward the top of the stairs, pick her up. Then put her in the middle of the room and tell her, “It’s okay to crawl here.”

Remember to reward her when she does something good after you’ve ignored or redirected her.

These ideas probably make sense to you now. But they’re hard to re-member when your baby is screaming in your ear. For now, stay calm, and try to keep them in mind. This will help your baby learn about self-control later on.

Nurturing with Nutrition: 6–9 Months

This may be a difficult time. Your baby wants to do things on her own. However, she can’t feed herself yet. Food ends up everywhere except in her mouth—in her hair, on her face, on her clothes, and all over the floor. What a mess!

Let her practice. That’s how she learns. You don’t get angry when she falls while she’s learning to walk. Please don’t get angry while she’s learn-ing to feed herself, even if she does make a mess.

When Your Baby Has Had Enough

Messiness may be part of her education, but when your baby plays with her food, you can bet that she’s full. Maybe she’ll shake her head or drop her spoon (or her dish). She wants to communicate with you! Listen to her, and don’t overfeed her.

Is It Time Yet?

Have you noticed how well your baby chews now? She can sit up by herself and hold a bottle.

You might want to see if she’ll drink from a cup now. Try it with some water. Put her in the empty bathtub; she can’t make a mess in there. Hold the cup for her, and let her try to drink out of it.

The Feeding Team

How’s the feeding team? This is the time for you to begin a feeding schedule.

At this age, your baby can’t eat a lot at one time. She’ll probably like three meals and two snacks daily. You decide what foods to offer and when to feed her. Let her decide whether she wants to eat and when she’s had enough.

Watch for the fullness cues we’ve talked about. When your baby lets you know that she’s full, put the food away. It’s not okay for her play with it. Remember: To discipline means to teach, not to punish.

Use the “Meal Planner” chart below to plan your baby’s feeding schedule.

Meal Planner for The Feeding Team

BreakfastSnackLunchSnackDinner
Exampleinfant cereal, strained fruit, iron-fortified formula, or breast milkiron-fortified formula, breast milk, or juicestrained vegetable, strained meat, iron-fortified formula, or breast milkiron-fortified formula, or breast milkstrained vegetable, strained fruit, iron-fortified formula, or breast milk
Your plan

Caution: Choking Hazard-Babies and young children can choke easily on some foods, such as fruit seeds or pits, pieces of hot dogs, and some raw fruits and vegetables, including grapes, apples, carrots, and celery. Using grated or finely chopped foods may reduce the risk of choking. Never leave a baby or young child alone while eating.

9–12 Months

Remember: Your baby will need to be vaccinated at 12 months.

Your Baby's Development

Your baby can stand now if you pull him up by his hands. Soon he’ll be able to pull himself up, but his legs still aren’t strong enough for him to walk on.

The first few times he tries to stand, he’ll probably fall on his backside. If something interests him, he’ll sit down on purpose and look it over care-fully. He can sit without help for longer periods of time now, too.

He can even pick small things up with his fingers. Be sure to keep objects like buttons and bottle caps out of his reach.

Children develop from the top down. The head is the first thing they learn to control. Then they can control their arms and legs, and finally their hands and fingers. Keep this rule in mind as you watch your baby develop.

A few months ago, your baby was probably afraid of strangers. Even old friends might have seemed unfamiliar to him if they’d changed their appearance at all (by wearing glasses, for example, or shaving off a mustache). Try this when a new person walks into the room: Smile at your baby and give him a reassuring look. Then, greet the new person. This often makes children feel secure and comfortable around someone new.

He will become more friendly and sociable in the next few months. When people come to visit, he won’t act as shy or scared. When they leave, he might even wave “bye-bye.”

There is no better time than at the start of your baby’s life to realize that your actions have a powerful influence on him. When, why, and how your child will use alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs in the future could depend on how you use alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs as he grows up.

Your Baby's Growth

Every baby is different. Every baby develops at his own rate. These signs of growth should be used only as general guides.

Here’s How Your Baby’s Body Will GrowHere’s How Your Baby’s Personality Will GrowHere’s How Your Baby’s Language Will Grow
9 monthsholds and shakes a rattleself-feeds cookies or crackerssays “ma-ma”
sits without help for up to a minuteholds own bottleimitates sounds
shifts objects from hand to handis shy with strangersresponds to own name
can stand if held upsmiles at face in a mirrorwatches others
12 monthssits without help for 10 minutesacts more secure with strangerswaves bye-bye to people
can pull self up to standing positionshows emotions like love and jealousyunderstands “no-no”
picks up objects with fingerslikes to be with adultssays two words
crawls on hands and kneeshelps to dressturns pages of a book

My Baby Can't Sit Up By Himself Yet!

  • Don’t panic. Children grow at different speeds. They usually learn things in a certain order, not at a certain age. This point is very important. It’s easy to accept your baby being “ahead of schedule.” It’s harder if he’s “behind,” for example, if he can’t sit up by himself yet, while other children his age have started to crawl (or walk!).
  • Don’t worry. Instead, look for progress. Ask yourself: Is he learning some things? Are they in the right order, even if they’re off by a few months?
  • Is he gaining weight? Is he active? Does he respond when you play with him? Does he smile? Does he laugh?
  • If you’re still worried, talk to your doctor. If he thinks there may be a problem, he’ll know where you can go for help.

Mealtime

Already, your baby can pick things up and put them in his mouth. Now he can start to feed himself. The solid foods that you give him, together with breast milk or formula, have all of the right nutrients.

Before you sit down to feed him, put a drop cloth down on the floor around his chair. Just pretend you’re about to paint the house! It’ll be easier to clean up.

Relax, and be patient. Praise the success and tolerate the mess. And serve good, healthful food!

Give your baby a spoon of his own so he won’t grab at the one you’re using to feed him.

Likes and dislikes change often at this age—sometimes from day to day. For example, let’s say that your baby has eaten carrots for weeks. Then one day he just won’t eat them. Maybe he wants to be more independent that day. Or maybe he wants something new. Leave the carrots on the shelf for a week or two. Then offer them again. Likewise, if he didn’t eat beets the first time you served them, don’t assume that he’ll never eat them. Offer them again in a week or two. Maybe his tastes will have changed.

If you refuse to eat certain foods, your baby will do the same. He’ll turn down foods often enough on his own! Be a good example to him.

He may be able to drink out of his own cup now. Use a small one with handles on both sides. Start with some water. Then try a small amount of juice, milk, or formula. Expect some to spill out of the corners of his mouth. Praise him for even a single swallow. You might drink out of a cup also, to show him how it’s done.

Your baby will need some between-meal snacks. Make them healthful ones. Fruits, pieces of cooked vegetables, and graham crackers are better for him (and for everyone!) than candy.

Even if he eats at a different time, invite your baby to the table for family meals. He’ll have a chance to learn about foods and how to eat. He won’t be able to sit still for as long as you do, though. His attention span is still shorter than yours.

Show him what you want him to learn. By the time he’s 11 months old, your baby will start to feed himself with a spoon, but he’ll still need your help.

Give your baby plenty of time at meals. Don’t force him to “clean his bowl.” Just take it away when he decides that he’s done. Ignore bad behavior at meals, just as you do at other times.

If you stay calm and reward your baby as he learns to feed himself, he’ll do fine. If you think he doesn’t eat enough, see if he’s still gaining weight. It’s normal for children to eat less at this age. They’re not growing as much as before. Let your baby do what his body tells him. You should follow his lead. Take him to a pediatrician or a clinic for regular checkups.

Bath Time

Does your baby hate to take baths? Does he cry and make a fuss? If so, get him used to it gradually.

Sit him on a towel and give him a sponge bath for a week or so. Keep a doll nearby. See if he’ll wash the doll while you wash him. Encourage him to wash his own face with a washcloth. Wash yours, to show him how to do it.

Once he accepts this kind of bath, you may be able to put him in a large dishpan. Keep the dishpan on the floor at first with a towel underneath it. The next week, put the dishpan in the bathtub. See if he’ll sit in the bathtub without the dishpan a week or so after that.

Don’t move from one step to the next until your baby seems prepared for it. Keep your cool, and praise even small successes. Never leave your baby alone in the bathtub.

Bed Time

Many parents have a hard time putting their toddlers to bed. Even when they are tired, children like to be around grown-ups. There are steps that you can take now to make your baby calmer at bedtime. If you take these steps, maybe he won’t climb out of his crib later and wander into the room just as you’ve settled in to watch your favorite TV show!

Start a bedtime routine. Your baby is more secure when he knows what’s going to happen. You can give him a bath, read him a story (or sing him a lullaby), and kiss him good-night. Or you can invent your own routine. If you do the same things every night, your baby will not resist bedtime as much.

Put a night-light in his room, and leave the door open. He won’t be lonely if he’s able to hear grown-ups in other parts of the house.

Safety

Your baby will be a toddler soon. He’ll soon be able to walk. He won’t have to crawl to get around. Now is the time to look around your house and spot potential dangers.

  • Put safety gates at the top and bottom of all stairs.
  • Don’t use tablecloths. If your baby can reach them, he’ll pull them down—and whatever was on the table will follow. Use placemats instead.
  • When you cook, keep the handles of your pots and pans turned toward the back of the stove. If your baby can’t reach the handles, he can’t pull them down. If you can, cook only on the back burners.
  • Make sure that all loose carpets have skid-proof bottoms. If they don’t, your toddler could slip and fall.
  • Strap your baby into his highchair so he doesn’t squirm out and fall. If the chair doesn’t have straps, use a towel.
  • Keep all medicines (prescription, over the counter, home remedies, and homeopathic) out of your baby’s reach. Always read the label before giving him any medicines. Remember that children’s cold remedies and other nonprescription items are medicines, too. Ask your doctor about the safety of using these. Never give aspirin to a child. This is to prevent Reye’s syndrome, a potentially serious condition that can affect children and teenagers.
  • Don’t leave your baby alone in or near a bathtub or pool—that includes wading pools. Children can drown in just 1 or 2 inches of water. Always be within an arm’s reach of your baby when he is around water.

Health and Medical Tips

Children of smoking parents are more at risk for developing respiratory problems than children from homes where there is no smoking. Don’t expose your baby to tobacco smoke. You or anyone else in your household who smokes should quit. You need to protect your baby.

  • Never let anyone smoke while holding, bathing, or feeding your baby.
  • Never let anyone smoke in the area where your baby is sleeping.
  • Insist on non-smoking areas when you visit public places with your baby.
  • If you smoke, put off having a cigarette until you are away from your baby, and get help from your doctor or clinic staff to quit smoking.

Discipline

Your baby has started to crawl around and pull himself up on the furniture. You probably have to say “No!” a lot. “Don’t tip over that lamp!” “Don’t rip pages out of those books!” “Get that TV cord out of your mouth!”

If you scold your baby a lot, he may learn that he is a bad person or that he shouldn’t explore and become more independent. That isn’t what you mean at all. How can you avoid this?

Reward good behavior. If you laugh and clap when he does something good, he’ll probably do it again. He loves to have your attention.

Keep temptations out of the room. Put a plastic bowl on the coffee table instead of the glass one. Get board books or books with cloth pages. Then show your baby how to turn the pages. Practice it with him. Praise him when he does it right. Don’t look when he tries to chew on or tear them. Soon he’ll learn that when he turns them properly, you’ll pay attention to him.

Ignore bad behavior as long as there’s no danger involved. If you don’t pay attention to him when he does something bad, he probably won’t do it again. Find something to reward him for after you’ve ignored or redirected him. This shows him what he needs to do to earn your approval.

Don’t shout unless your baby is in real danger. If he’s about to chew on an electrical cord, for example, say “No!” and take him somewhere else. Don’t yell at him afterwards. He won’t understand why you’re mad. You can explain later, when he can talk.

Learn to “take ten” when you’re mad. Ask someone to watch your baby for a few minutes. Or put him in his crib or playpen. Count to ten slowly, and relax. Think of all the good things he’s done, not just the things that upset you.

Here’s what you need to remember about discipline:

  • Reward the good.
  • Ignore the bad.
  • Save “No!” for danger.
  • Have a safe area for your baby to explore.
  • Don’t lose your temper with him. Go to another room to cry or shout. When you’ve calmed down, give him a hug. Your baby needs your love, not your anger!

Child Care

Here is some advice to help you pick a caregiver:

Have a talk about child care with possible caregivers—even if they’re friends or relatives.

  • What do they do with the children they care for?
  • Do they spend time outside with the children if the weather’s nice?
  • How much TV do they let the children watch?
  • What do they do about meals and snacks?
  • How do they handle bad behavior?

Write out all the details of your agreement with the caregiver you choose. Include both your responsibilities (times, payments, and supplies, for example) and theirs (visitors, phone calls, meals, and schedules). Decide on what to do if one of you needs to end the agreement. If you both understand your responsibilities, fewer problems and disagreements can come up.

Activities

Bring It to Me!

Put something down a few feet from your baby. Or roll a ball away from him. Then ask him to get it and bring it to you.

Have him help you around the house. Leave items that you’ll need (paper towels, dustpans) within his reach. Then ask him to get them and bring them to you.

Surprise Package

Wrap paper around one of his favorite toys. Then see if he’ll open it. Show him how to do it without tearing the paper.

Going to Market

When you go to the supermarket, let your baby hold the boxes and cans. Point out the pictures on the labels and tell him what’s in them. Let him put the boxes and cans into your cart. Maybe he’ll be too busy to ask for a treat!

Nurturing With Nutrition: 9–12 months

This is a busy time for your baby. He’s learning how to move around in the world. He’s still growing, but not as fast as before. His body doesn’t need as much food. Let your baby do what his body tells him. You should follow his lead.

When Your Baby Has Had Enough

Your baby can tell you that he’s full in a more grown-up way now. Maybe he’ll hand you his spoon or bottle when he decides he’s had enough. Watch out for the old signs too. He might stick his tongue out or sputter with his lips. He might even throw his dish across the room!

Is It Time Yet?

Your baby really knows how to use his teeth now, doesn’t he? He can use his tongue better now, too. He can lick food off of his lower lip now. That’s quite a change from when he was a newborn and couldn’t control his tongue at all.

He can drink from a bottle all by himself, too. When he’s not interested in a bottle anymore, it’s time to switch to a cup. Maybe he’s already switched. If you are breast-feeding, you won’t have to feed him as often.

The Feeding Team

Your baby still needs your help, even though he does so much to feed him-self now. You decide what healthful foods to offer, you set his meal times, and you make clear it how you expect him to behave at the table.

Let your baby do what his body tells him. Let him decide whether he wants to eat and when he’s had enough.

Caution: Choking Hazard-Babies and young children can choke easily on some foods, such as fruit seeds or pits, pieces of hot dogs, and some raw fruits and vegetables, including grapes, apples, carrots, and celery. Using grated or finely chopped foods may reduce the risk of choking. Never leave a baby or young child alone while eating.

This is the end of the first Visits with You and Your Baby. We hope it has been helpful! As your baby starts her second year, you can find more useful information in Visits with You and Your Baby, 12 to 24 Months and Beyond. Your Penn State Extension office also offers programs and more materials on topics such as nutrition, parenting, and child care.

Visits With You and Your Baby was adapted by Beth Van Horn, certified family life educator and extension agent in Centre County, from Off to a Good Start, by James Van Horn, professor of rural sociology and certified family life educator; Community Demonstration Project; and others. Nutrition material was prepared by Madeleine Sigman-Grant, Ph.D., RD, professor and MCH-Nutrition Area Extension Specialist, The University of Nevada, Reno.

Authors

Beth Van Horn

James Van Horn, Ph.D.