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Month 13

13-minCongratulations! You survived the first year! Look forward to some pretty interesting times with your child now that it has moved on from being a bouncing baby into a teetering toddler! As your little one becomes more of a challenge to keep up with, make sure your partner is involved with helping you look after him or her. Below are some developments you can expect to witness this month, but remember that each child grows at its own pace, so don't worry if your little one hasn't cleared the mentioned milestones yet. If you feel your child is too far behind, discuss the matter with your pediatrician.

Mental Development
Your child's communication skills will be more effective as it adds new words to its list of vocabulary. Your toddler will also be able to express itself more clearly through gestures and intonations, or by using primitive words. Talk to your toddler often and repeat the names of objects to it to teach it new terms.

Separation anxiety will still be an issue at this stage and your little one might protest when you leave the room. This happens because your child hasn't gotten a very strong grasp over the concept of object permanence, so as far as it's concerned once you're out of the door you might never come back. Try to reassure your toddler that you'll be back soon by giving it lots of hugs and kisses and offering it a simple explanation. Playing hide-and-seek as well as peek-a-boo games will help lessen the trauma of separation anxiety and will get your little one used to the concept of object permanence.

Physical Development
As your child becomes more adept at crawling, cruising and walking, don't be surprised if it refuses to be carried and demands to be allowed to go where it wants to on its own. This will be particularly true in shopping malls, grocery stores and when traveling, which means you're going to have your hands full when you take your little one on outings.

Be patient and try not to get upset if your child falls after refusing to be held, after all falling is part of learning how to walk. Allow your child to cruise in safe places to test its new independence. Resist the temptation to make your child wear shoes, as keeping them barefoot will help them build muscles in their lower legs while developing a sense of balance.

You can also offer your child a stable push toy to help it cruise. Don't worry if your child is a bit klutzy and falls often, as its depth perception and coordination are still a work in progress. Your best bet if your little one has started walking is to leave it barefoot or to use slip-proof socks to lessen the risk of slipping on tiled and smooth floors.

Your toddler should be getting better at using its hands and will enjoy placing different-sized containers into each other according to their size before dumping them out again. It might also be building small towers of blocks and knocking them down.

Eating Habits
Your toddler's expert pincer grip will enable it to pick up smaller food pieces at mealtimes such as O-shaped cereal and individual pieces of macaroni. Your child might show greater interest in using a spoon, but it will still need your help with maneuvering it into its mouth without spilling its contents. At this age there are a wider range of foods that you can offer your toddler as it passes the 1 year mark, as its digestive system and immune system are more properly developed. These include cow's milk, corn, wheat, citrus fruits, berries, honey, eggs, shellfish, and peanuts.

If you're still breastfeeding there's no harm in continuing to do so for a while longer, but if you choose to wean your little one then gradually reduce the frequency of feedings by removing one feed every 4-5 days.

Sleeping Habits
While it's generally recommended that children this age get 1-2 naps during the day, your toddler might begin resisting taking the traditional naps. Its growing independence might also make bedtime more of a struggle than it used to be. Follow a bedtime routine that includes a bath or a story to help it settle down, and avoid giving your child juices and sugars at the end of the day as they can leave your tot feeling hyperactive. Make sure you and your toddler get plenty of time to wind down at the end of the day, and involve your partner in taking turns to tuck your little one in bed.