There will be times when you feel your baby is simply compelled to explore things that are not safe. The television, DVD and CD players, and power points – everything will hold endless fascination for them. Don’t feel as if your baby is being deliberately naughty or defying you by going back to these time and time again. They are still too young to know what they are doing could potentially be dangerous. For now, you will need to be vigilant and patient as they learn where they can play and what is out of bounds.
Block off areas in the house that are risky and aim to keep things simple. Gates, safety latches, childproof cupboards are all designed with families in mind.
Feeding and sleeping
If you are still breastfeeding, don’t feel as if you need to wean. There is a lot of strong, supportive evidence for continuing to breastfeed for as long as both a mother and her baby are happy to do so. If your little one has never accepted a bottle, then weaning onto one at this stage could be a challenge. You may have more success if you offer your baby fluids in a cup and avoid offering bottles altogether. If your baby is bottle feeding, continue offering formula until they are 12 months of age. Cow’s milk can be hard to digest and will not supply them with the balance of nutrients they need to grow. Follow on formulas are ideal for this age group as they have the correct amount of iron for good health.
Sleep patterns are more defined this month, with two fairly regular day time sleeps. Morning sleeps can be a time when a lot of babies are easier to settle, with fewer protests. Afternoon sleeps can vary, depending on what the rest of the household is doing.
This is a highly oral stage, so don’t think your baby is unusual if they want to suck and gnaw on the furniture and everything in a close radius. Unsuspecting visitors are likely to have their ankles closely examined, too.
At 11 months, your baby will have developed close relationships with their primary care-givers and the issue of stranger danger is common. Your baby’s trust will need to be earned over time and exposure, so don’t try to push them onto other people. There are very strong, biological reasons for why they behave as they do and our concept of them being polite won’t really make any difference for your 11-month-old baby.
Your baby may be walking at 11 months, but don’t worry if they aren’t even close. Every baby develops in a head to toe direction, and do so when they are ready. Try not to push your baby towards developing skills. It takes time, practice, confidence and coordination to learn what is involved in reaching a new developmental milestone. Try not to interpret your baby’s acquisition of physical skills as a sign of their intelligence. Although it can be tempting to do this, how and when they are able to move their body is not a sign of their academic potential.
Your baby will be pointing at lots of things this month and will be more easily understood by their body language. They will use each hand equally and will be fully ambidextrous. It won’t be until they are closer to pre-school age until it becomes obvious which will be their dominant hand.
Your baby will also be able to respond to simple commands such as “come here” or “get the ball,” but they won’t follow conversations, no matter how basic.
Your baby will be able to pick up small objects with their thumb and finger in a pincer grasp and will continue to put most things into their mouth.
Your baby has grown so much in almost a year that it will be hard to remember when they were tiny. If they can stand well, position them against a wall and pencil in their height. Doing this over a period of time will help you gain an objective idea of how tall they are getting. You may want to draw around their hand and put the date and age on it as well, or take a series of photos to record their comparative size.
Look at photos of yourself at the same age and compare the similarities. Leg shape, stance, even facial expressions can be eerily familiar as genes are a powerful influence.
Even though you may be tempted to discard your baby’s used clothing, consider donating it to a worthy cause. This may be your last or only child, but there are always families who are grateful for donations. Just remember to keep a few special items and store them well. Although it may seem eons away, you may want to pass these onto your children’s children.
Your baby will be spending so much time on the floor that it will pay to try and keep the floors as clean as possible. Get into the habit of washing your baby’s hands before they eat to try and minimize the transfer of germs into their mouth. There is good evidence to support plain soap and water, careful rising and drying hands as a major strategy in reducing infection. You don’t need to be obsessive, but just adopt some sensible precautions.
Avoid kissing your baby on the mouth or blowing on their food to cool it. Your oral bacteria is different to your baby’s and if you have tooth decay, it will be very easy to transfer this to your baby. If you are a smoker, make a point of not smoking near your baby. They will be at an increased risk of developing infections such as colds, ear and chest infections as well as asthma if they are exposed to passive cigarette smoke.
There is no need for immunisations this month. Baby’s next round will only be at 18 month. If it is autumn, think about your own immunity. Speak with your GP about having an influenza vaccine or a booster for whooping cough if you haven’t had one for a while.
Play and interaction
Get used to having a little person under foot now, and learn to dodge and weave your way around them. At 11 months, your baby will want to venture away from your side and explore their world. They will still, however, need to return frequently to you to feel secure.
Watch them as they crawl away, look back to you for reassurance and then go off again. If they get a fright or feel unsure, they will immediately look for you as their secure base. Sometimes it will be enough just to give them some verbal “It’s okay baby”prompts and a reassuring smile. There will also be times when you need to cuddle them and really help them to feel safe. Try not to interpret this kind of behaviour as being soft. The only way your baby can feel secure enough to push familiar boundaries and explore outside of their own little world, is if they feel safe enough to do this. You and their family are a major part of this process.
When in doubt about how to keep your 11-month-old entertained, a bath is always an option. Supervised water play at this age is wonderful and will keep them entertained for ages. If it’s summer, a cool bath can provide a welcome reprieve from the heat. A sandpit and a set of swings is another option for this age group and both will help your baby develop their gross motor skills. Invest in some play equipment for the garden and consider shade options as well.
What about mom?
Thinking about having another baby? Now is the time to boost your nutritional intake and ensure you are in a healthy state to conceive again. There is no ideal time period between siblings’ ages as there are simply too many individual factors to consider. If you and your partner are keen to try, then have a medical check-up beforehand. Don’t forget to take a folic acid supplement – the recommended dose before conception and in the first trimester is 400 micrograms per day.
You may have even had another baby by now, which means you are particularly busy. Try not to overlook your own needs by eating well, resting when you can and asking for help. Accepting all reasonable offers of assistance can make the difference between managing and struggling to get through each day.
Are you still feeling utterly absorbed by your family’s needs with little time to consider your own? This is a common experience even if it has been nearly a year since your baby was born. Treat yourself how you would like to be treated and consider yourself as being valuable and worthwhile.
If you have returned to paid employment, you may feel the all too familiar conflict of roles. Parenting versus profession, employee versus mommy – it can be really hard to find a workable balance. Guilt is a common emotion amongst working mothers, but it is also a drain on energy. Save it for what really counts.
Your sleep needs
Even if you’ve never been an early sleeper person, reinvent yourself this month. Follow your body’s signals that tell you it is time to sleep. Sleep plays such a vital and restorative function in our lives, but is often not given as much credit as it deserves in our busy lives.