Are you on the countdown to your baby’s first birthday and wondering what you should be doing before your baby turns one?
That first year flies by, not just because this is such a huge adjustment for you but also because babies change so much before they turn one!
They grow, they start to talk, they might even start to walk and they’ll be shuffling, crawling or rolling all over your house by one year.
Whether you’ve just had a baby, or you’re just days away from your baby’s first birthday, here are a few things to do before your baby turns one.
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1. Declutter baby toys
In just a few months your baby will be a toddler. You’ve probably already noticed their interest in toys has shifted slightly since they started sitting up unaided and moving around the room.
Keep sentimental items and put them somewhere safe, but clear out anything they no longer play with and either donate it or sell them online.
2. Get some more stimulating toddler toys
Once your baby passes the 12-month mark there’s a whole raft of new toys for them to play with!
Check out the toys marked appropriate for age one plus. You’ll find lots are designed to stimulate your baby’s gross motor skills, hand-eye co-ordination and speech.
3. Toddler-proof your home
When you were pregnant you probably baby-proofed your home. But soon you will have a walker on your hands, and your little one will be growing taller by the day.
It’s amazing the new skills they pick up in such short spaces of time, so before they turn one, now is the time to toddler-proof your house.
Take a look at the key places where your child plays. Pay particular attention to things such as the cupboard under the kitchen sink, where you may keep dangerous cleaning products such as dishwasher tablets. Either move these to a higher cabinet or install child locks on the cupbaord.
Think about sharp edges, things your child will climb onto and breakable ornaments that they will soon be able to reach.
4. Ditch the formula
Follow-on milk is pushed on us by advertising, however the truth is it’s a completely unnecessary product. It was invented by formula companies, because they are banned from advertising their breastmilk replacement formula.
All you need to do is switch to whole milk! If your baby is used to warm milk, you may want to gradually get them used to having cold milk straight from the fridge. This saves you an extra job when it comes to getting your baby’s nightly drink.
5. Ditch the bottles
If your baby is still on the bottle then now is the time to start taking it away.
Switching over to sippy cups will be much better for their teeth.
You may find your baby takes to the sippy cup straight away, however some cling to their bottle.
Introduce it gradually at meal times, making a big deal out of how exciting it is. If your baby isn’t keen, drink from the sippy cup yourself as this can make it more appealing to them.
6. Give up dummies
First of all, you don’t HAVE to ditch the dummies yet. Maybe they help your baby sleep. Maybe they’re totally attached to them and you just don’t have the heart to separate them from their best sucking buddy yet.
Whatever your thoughts on dummies, do what you think is right. But if you do want to ditch the dummy, now is a great time to do it as your baby is developing their speech and other skills.
You could try cold turkey and just remove the dummies, or just gradually cut back on how often you offer your baby their dummy.
7. Get your baby eating three meals a day
Food is for fun until they’re one. This is one of my favourite mantras when it comes to the first year.
Weaning can be fun, but it can also be stressful if you’re worried whether or not your baby is actually ingesting any food.
By age one, your baby should be on three meals a day. They may still be giving you trouble with eating, but the point is to present them with an option for them to eat every day and cut right back on their milk feeds. By one they should be on a cup of milk in the morning and a drink of milk before bed.
Of course, all babies are different and some may still be guzzling down the milk. Try not to panic if at age one your baby is still not loving solids as much as their milk. Continue to offer a meal three times a day. When they’re hungry, they will eat it!
8. Reduce the number of daytime feeds
Once you start weaning at six months you will want to gradually cut back on the number of milk feeds until your baby finally is on just two bottles, or cups, of milk a day.
This may seem impossible to do if your baby is on a good routine of five feeds a day, but you will find they just naturally drop feeds as they start to really get into solid food.
9. Help them with their speech
By now your baby is probably babbling way with “mama” and “dada”. A lot will happen with your baby’s language between 12 and 18 months, but you can help them so much with their language understanding well before this.
The key things you can do to help your baby’s speech are:
- Read to them. Even if you just show them a simple picture book, speak to them about what is going on in the pictures and repeat it again and again.
- Tell them everything you are doing. Chat to your baby about everything that is going on around you. Do this when changing their nappy, when out for a walk and when giving them a bath. Be excited and enthusiastic in your tone as this will engage them.
- Sing nursery rhymes. Singing to your baby is a great way to help them pick up words. You can also make up your own songs or sing them your favourite tunes.
10. Try new foods
Once your baby has taken well to weaning, it’s a good time to try them on as many new foods as you can.
Try not to write off foods such as vegetables and fish just because they aren’t classically a favourite of children. Now is the best time to get your child eating a variety of foods. Let them eat the rainbow when it comes to vegetables and try as many different types as you can get your hands on.
11. Take them swimming
It’s not only a brilliant bonding activity but it’s a great way for your baby to learn new words and physical skills.
12. Buy them their first shoes
Your baby may have already taken their first steps, or is gearing up to it. Their first pair of shoes is a lovely milestone, so make sure you take loads of pictures!
13. Read more advanced books
Your baby is not ready for War and Peace, but they might be ready for books with more words.
Keep showing them books with simple shapes, words and colours, as this is so useful for developing their language.
However your baby is now ready to concentrate for longer periods and listen to more complicated stories. Choose some of the Julia Donaldson books, or your own favourites from your childhood.
They may not fully understand what is happening in the story, but exposing them to more words and teaching them to concentrate on longer stories is great for their learning.
14. Help your baby sleep through the night
If you have suffered through lack of sleep for the last 12 months, then maybe it’s time to start having a think about sleep training.
There is zero pressure to do this if you do not want to. If you are happy with your baby learning to sleep through the night at their own pace, then do it. It’s totally your choice.
But if you want to get some extra zzzzs, and you’re dying to ditch those 3am night feeds, then maybe it’s time to think about giving your little one a lesson in sleep.
Help them to self-soothe by encouraging them to fall asleep on their own at night. Introducing a good bedtime routine can really help with this if you don’t already have one.
15. Think about returning to work
In the UK we get the option to have 12 months off from work. This isn’t full paid leave, most people get around six weeks of full pay and then a reduced amount for a few months.
Whatever amount of time you take off, it’s important to have a good think about what you want to do with regards to work. This decision needs to take into account both what you want to do and what you can afford to do.
Take a look at the cost of childcare in your area. Think about how many days of work you want to do, and work out how much you will earn versus how much you will have to pay for childcare. This should be done by both you and your partner, as you’re both in this together!
Whatever you decide, don’t forget that you can always try it for six months and if it isn’t working for you, change your situation. Nothing is set in stone.
16. Pick your baby’s nursery
Once you have decided you are going back to work, you’ll want to find some form of childcare. This could be a childminder or a nursery or something else.
When it comes to picking out good childcare you will want to look at:
- The inspection report. In the UK this will be the Ofsted report. Read the details as well as the verdict to get an idea of whether this nursery will be the right fit for you.
- The site. Visit where your child will be and have a good look around. Chat to the staff. Do you like the environment. Does it seem caring and stimulating for children? Is it safe?
- The routine. Will the childcare provider be flexible to fit in with your child’s routine?
- The staff. Do you get a good feeling from the staff? Do you trust them?
- Daily reports. How will the childcare provider feed back to you at the end of every day. Some places write in a diary every day while others offer a verbal report about how your child’s day has been.
17. Let them try honey
Once your baby is one, they can eat honey! Doctors advise not to give honey to babies under one because it can contain a bacteria that leads to botulism. They tiny tummies are not grown-up enough to cope with the bacteria.
But once your baby turns one, or just before, you can offer them their first taste!
18. Worry less about milestones
We’ve touched on a few milestones such as speech and walking here, but one of the key things you can do for your own sanity is to not panic about your child doing X by X month.
Children are all different. They do things at their own pace and in their own style. Try not to panic about what your child isn’t doing yet, and focus on all of the wonderful things that they are doing.
I hope this post was useful! Don’t forget to check out my post on 40 things to do with your baby.