Photography by Nicole Duplantis/Clothing provided by babyGap and Joe Fresh
Eleven months and counting. We bet you couldn’t see your baby’s one-year birthday back when you were calmly approaching D-day and waiting to meet this awesome kid who is about to become a toddler.
Prepare for your tot to gain about two to four ounces a week and grow about half an inch taller every month. But don’t panic if their 11-month-old friends are surpassing them in height or weight or aren’t quite as big—it’s perfectly natural for babies to have growth spurts at different times. (Your healthcare provider can put you at ease if you’re concerned.)
Remember that completely helpless little person who refused to let you, say, go to the bathroom without schlepping them along? That might not be happening anymore and you shouldn’t worry: It’s not that they don’t need your support and care; it’s just that they’re getting ready to flex their independence muscles. Let them do a little investigating (hello, babyproofing!)—as long as you keep an eye out and they’re playing safely (and you provide a soft, cushy environment when they fall on their bums), they’ll get a kick out of exploring. Their ability to see and hear has really developed now, so don’t be surprised if they can’t keep their wee paws off every single thing that catches their eye.
Your baby will work on pulling themselves up to stand (this, by the way, is a major gross motor milestone), squatting, cruising, rolling over and wiggling around—they’ve got this! They’re getting around better and ready to take those first steps any day now (if they haven’t already). Some babies start early, while others won’t take the leap until 16 months old or later.
You’ll find that there are plenty things to do with your mini-me these days. They’ll want to spend lots of time playing with toys (and random bits and pieces, like your remote control or pots and pans), checking out their environment, copying you, going for walks and meeting other little ones. When you find a routine that works for both you and your baby, do yourself a favour and stick to it. That said, don’t feel like you have to be a slave to your routine: Make exceptions and be flexible so that you can get a coffee with a pal or go for a walk when the mood strikes.
If you haven’t already, you’ll soon hear those first words. The most common ones are—you guessed it—some form of “mama” or “dada.” Some kids focus on social words (think “thank you” or “bye-bye”), some are all about labelling objects (“doll” or “ball” or, for nursing moms, “boob!”), and some spit out siblings’ and pets’ names or favourite toys. If kids are using partial words (“wa” for water), that counts, too—the rest will come in time.
Tots at this age are great eaters: They’ll still want breastmilk or formula up to three to five times a day (a few ounces a day is more than enough), but they’ll also chow down on three meals of solid foods and at least a couple of snacks. You might have already introduced homogenized cow’s milk (the official recommendation is nine to 12 months, but your tot’s healthcare provider will talk it over with you). They should be trying lots of colourful fruits and veggies as soon as they can tolerate food with more texture. They’ll also enjoy breads and grains (try tiny cooked noodles, rice and soft breads) and protein (beans, eggs and chicken). Don’t even think about playing airplane or holding their sippy cup, though—these tots are into serving themselves these days, thank you very much.
If your kiddo gets about 12 to 16 hours of shut-eye each day (night-time sleep and naps), consider yourself very lucky. Babies this age usually take two naps (one in the morning and one at night), though some are ready to cut out some slumber and take an extra-long nap once a day. If you’re still working on sleep training, don’t give up. There’s still time to make sure that everyone in the house is catching enough zzzs.
Be sure to take notice of their personality shining through. While they’re still trying to figure out their likes and dislikes, this is the time that babies test themselves (and you) in order to learn. They’re also testing out their temperament, which (believe us) will continue to evolve.
You know how you’ve been spending every waking second making sure that your baby is happy, healthy and safe? Now that this first year is coming to a close, it’s a good time to focus on yourself (and your partner) again. Self-care isn’t just a buzzword these days. You’ll be a much better parent and partner if you get some me-time, doing things (non-parent-related) that make you happy. Try a 10-minute meditation, rewatch The Mindy Project, go for a stroll with a friend or take a much-needed catnap. If you’re not caring for yourself, it’s going to be hard to be a primo parent.
If you’ve opted for a 12-month leave from work, your time is nearly up. (You might’ve signed up for 18 months, in which case you still have time to figure out how going back to work will affect you.) How do you feel about leaving your kiddo? (Red flag! If you live in a major city and haven’t already signed your kid up for daycare, immediately stop reading this and get on it. Spots fill up very quickly, and some parents start putting their kids on lists before they’re even born.) If you are prepping to leave your tot in daycare while you head back to the daily grind, you might want to do a few trial runs to get ready for that first drop-off. (You may find that you’re dealing with separation anxiety and tears—and not just your kid’s.)
There isn’t a right or wrong answer here, but going back to nine-to-five is a decision you’ll want to weigh. For many parents, it comes down to finances. Child care can be very expensive (depending on where you live) and, depending on your salary (plus morning lattes, lunches out, gas or transit costs, parking and that new back-to-work wardrobe), you might be making just enough to pay your daycare bills. Maybe you want to talk to your manager about telecommuting or job sharing. Or maybe going back to the office isn’t for you and staying home with your baby is up your alley. Either way, you’ll have some thinking to do before your leave ends.
Remember, it’s not always about money. Lots of new moms decide to go back to work simply because they love their careers and it’s nice to return to some semblance of their lives before baby. They want to be stimulated and challenged, do what they’re great at and feel like more than someone’s mom. Whatever you decide, don’t let guilt enter the picture. If you choose to stay home, that’s cool. If you’re on the corporate ladder and don’t feel like leaving your hard-earned career is the right move for you and your family, you go, girl.
We know, we know: Your kid isn’t even a year. But you might already feel that biological clock ticking. If you’re thinking about adding to your brood, consider your physical and emotional health and well-being (are you suffering from postpartum depression?), the health of your bank account and the health of your relationship—baby number one can take its toll. There are a whack of pros and cons to having babies close together (think instant pals and built-in playdates), and they’ll be close enough to go to the same movies, extracurricular activities and camps. Plus, you’ll be out of diapers, strollers and car seats faster. The cons? Daycare fees (times two), back-to-back time away from your career and, if you’re breastfeeding, going a good few years as a human pacifier. Also, think about the added stress to your partner in crime (you already know that having a baby isn’t a cakewalk!). And, as if we actually have to mention this, two words: sleep deprivation.
If your kid is used to falling asleep with a bottle, it’s time to nip that habit in the bud. Try to transition around their birthday (try the “big kids use cups” approach by taking them to the store and giving them free rein to choose as many cool cups as they want). You can start weaning slowly by giving them a bottle a few minutes before bed and taking it away so that they can soothe themselves to sleep.
Weaning your baby from nursing is a very personal choice. It’s different for every parent, and you’ll know when you’re ready. Even though it might take several days and nights for them to get used to this new breastfeeding schedule (be prepared for this change to not only wreak havoc on your emotions but also alter your baby’s behaviour), it won’t take long for them to follow suit if you do it slowly (say, skip one feeding a day). Get more great tips here.
Hold your horses: It’s still a bit early for toilet training. If you think your little one is showing signs of readiness (wanting to sit on the toilet and trying to pee), your best bet is to start when your baby is about 18 months. But don’t assume that you’ll be free from buying diapers right away: Some kids don’t start toilet training until they’re two to four years old. Check out our potty-training parents’ guide for tips and tricks here.
You’re nearly at the one-year mark and now it’s time to party! Let’s be honest: It’s pretty easy to overdo it when it comes to celebrating that first birthday. Here are a couple of our favourite themes.
Does your tot have a favourite food? Why not theme his party around that? We used pineapples here, but watermelon, doughnuts or other foods could take on a fun theme. Easy-peasy. Get the instructions here.Photo: Tony Lanz
Paper snowflakes (including easy how-to instructions!), coffee filters and cotton balls all come together to create an easy DIY fete. Find more photos and full instructions here.Photo: Tony Lanz
Who doesn’t love storytime? The theme of this party is books and you can make it as simple or elaborate as you like. Read a few stories to wee guests and hold a book swap instead of hanging out a loot bag. Get more inspiration here.
Keep things bright and colourful with a balloon party. Source balloon-patterned plates and napkins and fill your party space with several bunches of helium-filled balloons. (Babies especially love shiny mylar ones.) Many cake shops will have teeny balloon cake toppers, too. Distribute a balloon to each kid as take-home loot. Get more balloon ideas here.Photo: iStockphoto
Here is our easiest theme—sprinkles! A boxed white cake gets a quick and cute makeover thanks to a number one-shaped cookie cutter. Make a big cake for everyone and a little one for your babe to Hulk-smash. Cut large circles out of coloured cardstock and affix them to the walls for giant polka-dot sprinkles. Voilà! Get the recipe at Kristine’s KitchenPhoto: Kristine's Kitchen via Pinterest
Let your little one shine on her special day with a simple twinkle-themed party. The super-easy, star-shaped sandwiches? Genius. (Just use a cookie cutter.) The party in the photo is lovely, but you can create an equally pretty fête with minimal effort—procure some star-shaped garland, add a bit of glitter and you’re done. Get more ideas from PopsugarPhoto: Popsugar via Pinterest
A Sesame Street party will be a big hit with your pint-sized partiers. How awesome is this Cookie Monster popcorn? Snoop around on the internet for Elmo fruit tray ideas. It’s so simple, you got this! Get the instructions at twosisterscrafting.comPhoto: twosisterscrafting.com via Pinterest
If your child squeals at the sight of suds and a bubble wand, then this party is for you. Choose round snacks (bubble-shaped!) and set up a fun activity station complete with bubble wrap for popping and stomping. Send wee guests home with their very own bottle of bubbles. Get more ideas at Catch My PartyPhoto: Catch My Party
Celebrate your little critter’s first year with a woodsy affair. We love the idea of repurposing animal stuffies as decor. Get everyone into the lumberjack theme by asking attendees to wear their best plaid flannel to the party. Tip: Little Debbie Swiss Rolls are the perfect forest-inspired treat, no baking required! Get more ideas at fantabulosity.comPhoto: Fantabulosity.com
We know you have a ton of stuffies at home. Now is the time to bring them out and use them as decor. Throw in some pine cones, a few pieces of flat birch bark (use them to display cupcakes and other party fare) and a bunch of Kit Kats on a plate (sticks!) and you’ve got yourself a woodland fete.
Get your star-shaped cookie cutters out and make pretty sandwiches, brownies and fruit. Make little crowns for the tots using card stock and elastic (to keep them on) and star-shaped magic wands for the kids to hold.