The Eleventh Month: Emotional and Active

by Don Bower

Your baby continues to learn in the 11th month by imitating people and things around him. His knowledge aids his development.

Baby's Development

Physical Development

Most babies will stand alone sometime this month, a few will walk, and some will still require support to stand. Baby's skills in using his hands are improving. Hand-eye coordination is better. In fact, baby can probably now fill his spoon and get it into his mouth successfully -- at least part of the time!

Expect Some of These Developments:

  • Squats and stoops well
  • Sits in a chair with ease
  • May be able to untie and pull off shoes

Mental Development

Much of baby's mental development is learned through imitation -- at least partially. Do you notice your baby imitating you? This will help your baby learn to speak, dress himself and many other important skills. Your child has begun to develop a memory -- an essential ingredient to learning.

He may now be able to point to familiar objects when you name them, imitate something you did the day before and mimic your voice tones and inflections, if not your words. Your baby is not making fun of you; he is just practicing the things he hears and sees in his world.

Other Developments That Might Appear:

  • May be able to solve simple problems alone
  • Babbles short 'sentences"
  • Says a few simple words together, such as "bye-bye," "bow-wow"
  • Understands much of what is said to him -- regardless of what he can say

Now that your baby understands more words and the feelings behind words, you need to be careful of what is said around him, and how it is said. If curse words are used in baby's presence, don't be surprised if he repeats them and in the right situation. If your baby is "babytalked," he will learn the wrong way to say words and will have to unlearn his manner of speech later. So remember to speak clearly.

This doesn't mean that you should not imitate his sounds to encourage his efforts. Baby's speech will not be clear in the beginning. Don't worry; practice makes perfect, so just continue encouraging him to speak, and his speech will become more distinct.

Parenting Tips

Parent-Baby Learning Games

As baby becomes even more active, his games need to become more active, also. Try the following game as a forerunner to playing catch. Get baby's attention on a large, lightweight ball and roll it across the floor, slightly out of baby's reach. Now say, "Go get the ball and bring it to me." Praise and encourage your child for bringing you the ball, and play again! Saying "good job" or "try again" lets the child know you value him and can be patient as he learns.

Baby's Temperature

Your baby is able to express many emotions now and is able to determine the moods and emotions of others. He is beginning to view himself as a separate person, and beginning to differentiate among others. He will fear some people and trust others. He is beginning to relate to others. Perhaps the most disturbing change in baby is his temper and "no-ism." Some children may carry the "no's" to the point of tantrums, although usually not as early as 11 months. If you are having difficulties with tantrums now, or if you do later, perhaps the following suggestions will help.

Temper Tantrums

The first time a young child flings himself on the floor, kicking, wailing and screaming, can frighten a new mother or father into a variety of actions. A parent definitely should not give in -- just a little encouragement can go a long way in this type of situation, and the negative behavior can get out of control. Punishing will only confuse and frighten your baby, so another form of correction is needed.

What should a parent do? Although it is difficult, ignoring the negative behavior (as long as the child is not hurting himself) is probably best. When a parent doesn't respond, most babies will scream louder and kick harder. Finally, when no reaction from parent is gained, they calm down and resume normal activity. This is certainly a healthy solution to the problem.

Tantrums usually result when the baby feels frustrated, and he knows no better way to cope. Be sure to encourage his acceptable attempts at dealing with stress. Be sensitive to your child's frustration and help him find ways to cope before he loses control.

Parenting Mistakes

Many parents are concerned that they may make mistakes that will forever damage their child. It is important (and comforting) to remember that children are affected more by parents' feelings behind the words than by the words themselves.

Of course, some out-of-control parent behavior such as shaking or hitting an infant can result in permanent damage. In addition to possible physical injury, these behaviors teach the child to fear the parent. If a parent is able to relax, enjoy parenting, and express love for the child regularly, the child has a good chance to grow up as a secure, capable person.

Baby's Food

Your baby is more active now, so he may want to play at mealtime, as well as eat. Variety in foods may help keep him interested in eating. Eating applesauce with a spoon and something else with a child's fork is more interesting than just one option.

A drinking cup, instead of a bottle, may be used at mealtime. All the food and drink won't make it into his mouth, but learning-by-doing is a necessary step toward better muscle control and table manners. You may also notice that he becomes more interested in food when he can feed himself.

Safety Tips

Where do you keep the poisons in your house? Where are your household cleaners? Not under the sink, we hope! Now that baby is crawling, pulling open, getting into things and generally is a handful to manage, you don't need the additional worry that he might get into your toxic cleaners.

Safety latches on cabinet doors are helpful, but they are no guarantee when it comes to hazardous chemicals. Move anything poisonous up high -- better yet, lock it up!

Baby's Health

Some parents may be concerned by the way their baby stands. Many babies support themselves on the inner sides of their feet and ankles during the early months of standing. He needs this extra support for balance, but as coordination improves and ankles strengthen, this practice will be left behind. If he seems to stumble because of this practice, allow him to go barefoot so toes can be used for grasping.

When your baby has been walking for about four to six weeks, have your baby's doctor examine his feet and legs. Many potential walking problems can be corrected before they become serious.

Baby's Clothing

As your baby approaches his first birthday, appropriate clothing styles will look more like children's clothes than infant clothes. You will still be looking for washability, ease in dressing and features that allow clothing to grow with your child. Growth features include elastic waist, wrist and leg bands; one-piece garments with no waistlines; and adjustable shoulder straps.

If you decide to buy clothing in a larger size, be sure it is not so big that your child has difficulty moving. Too-long pant legs and sleeves can be frustrating and uncomfortable for active babies. If you plan to hem pants or dresses for longer wear, knit fabrics are less likely to show old hemlines than are corduroy or crisp cottons.

Reprinted with permission from The University of Georgia, Cooperative Extension Service.