keep in mind that all babies are unique. Whether your baby
reaches milestones early or late, he has his own developmental
path to follow. The dividing lines between these months are
very fuzzy. If you have any concerns or questions about your
babyís development, please check with his health care provider.
The First Birthday Party
Congratulations! Your baby is celebrating
his first birthday this month! And you have survived your
first year of parenting. You may feel that a gala is in order
to mark this special occasion.
Letís be honest -- the first party
is just as much (if not more) of a celebration for parents
than it is for baby. Try to remember that though he is a whopping
year old, he is still a baby.
If he is on the sensitive side,
a big celebration with streamers, balloons, cake, and many
happy adult faces beaming at him may be all he needs to send
him over the edge into tears and clinginess. By all means,
we do want you to celebrate -- just be sure you plan with
baby in mind. Here are some tips to help make a successful
celebration for baby and you:
Try to keep the number of guests
to a manageable level. The more bodies and voices, the more
stress for you and baby. If weather permits, host the party
outside. Babies love being outside without four walls to constrain
Try to resist opening gifts in
front of all the other children. Babies and toddlers have
no impulse control. These young guests have not developed
the etiquette to just "oooh" and "aaah" from their seats.
If they see a present that they must handle, there will be
an altercation for sure. If you must hire a clown, musician
or some sort of entertainment, respect babyís reaction. If
he is scared, donít expect him to overcome this fear because
it is his party. Hold and talk to him about the performer
and keep him at a safe distance.
Give him a taste of his cake. Even
you moms and dads who are against offering sweets to baby
can let down your guard for this occasion. He is going to
taste sugar as some point; why not let his first birthday
mark this event? Some bakeries make very small cupcakes which
are easy for small hands to hold. Keep him to his nap schedule.
Try to plan the party so that he can have his nap at the usual
time. While this may be impossible, it is a good way to avoid
the tears that so often crash his party.
You need to have a good time too.
As we mentioned, this is also a celebration for you. Spending
the whole time doing food prep or cleaning is not our idea
of a party. Plan easy food -- maybe even splurge by ordering
prepared food -- so you can enjoy yourself with your family
and baby. Take photos or video to record this day. This is
a keeper for the memory books. Growing Independence
As your child is learning to do
more things for himself, you may notice a change in his attitude
-- and your own. He is no longer the small baby that longed
to be held in your arms for an indeterminate amount of time.
He is now on the move and only has time for cuddles when it
is on his terms.
He is pushing himself to do even
more things with his body and at times becomes impatient if
you do it for him. But he also still wants 100 percent of
your attention. You may not be rushing to him every time he
calls out. Naturally, you feel that the time has come for
him to learn that you have things to do as well, and sometimes
heíll have to wait. Patience is one of lifeís hardest lessons.
As we have been emphasizing, part
of your child's job is to explore and discover new things
in his world. Sometimes, this can lead to dangerous situations
and get him into trouble. Consistency in setting limits is
a crucial part of parenting.
Setting limits ultimately keeps
him safe; he must learn that within the outside world there
are hazards that he must learn to avoid. Also, he will learn
the skills to interact considerately and respectfully with
others. In short, he canít always get his way.
Instead of telling him what he
cannot do in a situation, try to steer him to an alternative
-- something that is safer and acceptable for him to explore.
Or, give him a few choices of activities so he can feel more
in control of his actions.
Many of us fondly remember our
special "lovies," the items we clung to when we were young
to help us through difficult situations. These lovies can
take the form of a blanket, doll, stuffed animal, or maybe
something else -- as long as it holds special meaning to your
Experts use the term "transitional
object" to refer to lovies because they support children going
through transitions, such as having a new babysitter or going
to a new childcare setting. They remind the child of safety,
security and love that is felt at home and within the arms
of a loving parent.
Do you have a Linus in your family?
This is probably not the best time
to start separating your child from his transitional object,
as many children are peaking in separation and stranger anxiety
about now. But, you may be tired of watching your child drag
his blanket across the room, the yard -- around town. There
are strategies that parents have used to prevent this from
One of the most successful tactics
includes setting specific times for when the special object
is to be used such as bedtime, when saying goodbye to mommy
and daddy, if sad, after taking a tumble, etc. Other times
during the day, keep the blanket in a specific spot so your
child can access it if needed. Some parents have made a small
swatch of the blanket for their kids to hold and carry with
them but without dragging. Or, you may not care and not have
a problem with baby dragging the blanket. Whatever you decide,
Around twelve months (or more likely
in the next few months), youíll notice baby starting to change
his nap schedule. He is transitioning to one long nap per
day. He may start to push the morning nap later, and then
refuse to go down for a second one in the afternoon. Or, he
may settle down for the morning nap at the usual time but
sleep for longer.
Some babies adapt in one day to
the new nap routine and others take months. You may have to
step in and keep him up later in the morning so that he can
settle down for a good long nap in the afternoon. This may
provide some fussiness in the late morning since he is tired.
Also, children can develop a routine
based on when others are napping at childcare. Talk to your
childcare provider about his changing nap routine. Pretty
soon, youíll be able to put your feet up for a good two hours
in the afternoon at a predicable time -- everyday.