Reaching Milestones: 12 Months

All babies develop on their own timeline, but you can watch for certain developments in your 12-month-old. Celebrate with your baby as he reaches these milestones.


  • Looks and listens simultaneously
  • Understands how to use many objects (cuddling a stuffed toy, shaking a rattle, putting a cup to his lips)
  • Understands that objects have names
  • Develops object permanence (looks for an object that’s hidden under a blanket because he knows it hasn’t disappeared there)
  • Has increasing attention span (up to 15 minutes)
  • Is attracted to novelty (is curious about new toys, objects)
  • Explores playthings in multiple ways (touching, banging, dropping)
  • Increasingly displays memory of recent events
  • Follows one-step commands (“Lift your arm”)


  • Has developed fine motor accuracy when picking up small objects with fingers (pincer grasp)
  • Improving coordination for releasing objects from his grasp
  • Points and pokes with his index finger
  • Developing self-feeding skills, although messily
  • Drinks from a cup with a spout or an open cup with support
  • May be able to put things into containers
  • Crawls quickly
  • Crawls up stairs
  • Pulls up to standing position
  • May stand independently for brief periods
  • May cruise along furniture
  • May take first steps or even walk


  • Uses gestures to communicate
  • Shakes head or frowns to express “no” or may respond to the word “no”
  • Holds out arms to be picked up
  • Recognizes and responds to many words
  • Responds to simple questions and one-step commands
  • Babbles in long groups of consonant-vowel sounds, like “tata upupup ba ba ba!”
  • Uses the cadence and verbal inflections of real conversation
  • May use “Ma ma” and “Da da” to refer specifically to parents
  • May say other early words


  • Accurately mimics the expressions and some sounds made by others
  • Imitates the actions of others
  • Shows an interest in watching older children
  • Shows an interest in being around other babies but doesn’t play with them yet
  • Watches for your reactions in various situations (to banging, laughing, etc.)
  • Shows stranger anxiety (shyness around strangers)
  • Shows separation anxiety (crying or exhibiting distress when you leave the room)
  • Shows increased affection with family
  • Waves good-bye