At 12 months of age, your baby is probably eating meals with you and eating your table food. If your baby is still eating baby food, now is a good time to change to table food. It will be easier for you and cheaper as well.

Babies this age need six small meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus a snack in the morning, afternoon and before bedtime. One-year-olds are becoming independent and want to feed themselves. Even though it makes a mess, it is important to give babies the opportunity to develop the skill of feeding themselves. You can put a plastic drop cloth or newspapers under the high chair to make clean-up easier.

From 1 to 2 years of age, babies do not grow very much. Your baby's appetite will decrease and he or she may become a picky eater. Don't worry — toddlers will not starve themselves. Your responsibility is to provide your toddler with a variety of healthy foods; it is your toddler's responsibility to eat them. Mealtimes should be pleasant, so try to avoid battles over food. Don't force your child to eat or to finish everything on the plate. If your child is not hungry at one meal, just put the food away and wait a few hours. He or she may be hungry at the next meal or snack time.


This is a good time to begin weaning your baby from the bottle. If you haven't already done so, let your baby try using a cup. A great place to practice is in the bathtub, where spills won't make a mess. When your baby wants milk or juice, put it in a cup. If you only put water in the bottle, your child will become less interested in it. If you are breast-feeding, it is still important for your baby to learn how to use a cup. Offer milk, juice or water after a meal in a cup.

Never allow your child to keep a bottle in bed. The sugar in milk or juice will stick to your child's teeth, and won't be washed away by saliva during sleep. If you give your baby a bottle before bed, rinse out his or her mouth with a few sips of water, and don't let your baby take the bottle to bed.


One-year-olds no longer need formula, and can now switch to whole milk. Some toddlers never drink milk; if that's the case with your child, please don't force it. Toddlers need the nutrients in milk — calcium and protein — but these nutrients are also available from other sources. Toddlers do not need milk.


Your toddler does not need juice. Juice is a source of "empty calories" and does not provide good nourishment. If you choose to give your toddler juice, please do not give more than 2 ounces a day.


Car Safety

Keep your baby's car seat facing backward until he or she is at least 12 months old and weighs at least 20 pounds. Studies show that children are safer if they continue to travel facing backward even if they meet the guidelines to face forward. Consider keeping your child's car seat rear-facing until your child weighs 35 pounds. You will need to check the guidelines for your car seat to see if this is possible. If needed, consider buying a different car seat that will allow your child to continue facing backward.

Never leave your child alone in the car. The inside of the car will get very hot very quickly.

Water Safety

Even though your toddler can now sit up independently, never leave him or her alone in the bathtub. It is possible for a toddler to drown in a few inches of water.

If you have a swimming pool or hot tub:

  • Have a child-proof lid in place at all times.
  • Make sure there is a fence around the pool or spa.
  • Keep your patio doors closed and locked.
  • If you visit a friend with a pool or hot tub, make sure the cover is on and the gate is locked — or never let your child out of your sight.
  • Remember that toddlers are never water-safe, even if they have had swimming lessons.


Unfortunately, violence is affecting more and more families today. Parents, especially mothers, may find themselves in a relationship that is abusive or dangerous. If you are concerned about your relationship, your safety or the safety of your child, please talk with your child's pediatrician, who will help you find resources in a confidential manner. To speak with someone by phone and find help near you, call 800-799-SAFE (7233) or (415) 864-4722.

Dental Care

If your drinking water does not contain fluoride, please ask your child's doctor for a prescription. This will save you dental bills for cavities later on. Also, this is a good time to begin using a washcloth or soft toothbrush to wipe your baby's teeth and gums. However, do not use toothpaste with fluoride.

Health Screening

At your child's 12-month checkup, he or she may have a skin test for tuberculosis (TB). This test will not prevent TB but will test to see if your child has been exposed to the germ that causes the disease. If you, anyone in your family or a close friend have been exposed to TB, please tell your child's doctor.

Also, children who are at risk for anemia and increased levels of lead can be tested between 12 to 18 months of age. Please talk to your child's doctor if you have any concerns.

Books About 1- to 2-Year-Olds

Your One Year Old, by Ames and Ilg
Toddlers and Parents, by Barry Brazelton
The Second Twelve Months of Life, by Caplan
The Happiest Toddler on the Block, by Harvey Karp

The Growing Child is a monthly newsletter filled with development and behavior information appropriate to your child's age. For information, visit growingchild.com

Used by permission of Jane E. Anderson, M.D.