Well Child Care, 12 Months


At the age of 12 months, children should be able to sit without assistance, pull themselves to a stand, creep on hands and knees, cruise around the furniture, and take a few steps alone. Children should be able to bang 2 blocks together, feed themselves with their fingers, and drink from a cup. At this age, they should have a precise pincer grasp.


At 12 months, children should be able to indicate needs by gestures. They may become anxious or cry when parents leave or when they are around strangers. Children at this age prefer their parents over all other caregivers.


  • Your child may imitate others and wave "bye-bye" and play peek-a-boo.

  • Your child should begin to test parental responses to actions (such as throwing food when eating).

  • Discipline your child's bad behavior with "time outs" and praise your child's good behavior.


At 12 months, your child should be able to imitate sounds and say "mama" and "dada" and often a few other words. Your child should be able to find a hidden object and respond to a parent who says no.


At this visit, the caregiver may give a 4th dose of diphtheria, tetanus toxoids, and acellular pertussis (also known as whooping cough) vaccine (DTaP), a 3rd or 4th dose of Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine (Hib), a 4th dose of pneumococcal vaccine, a dose of measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox) live vaccine (MMRV), and a dose of hepatitis A vaccine. A final dose of hepatitis B vaccine or a 3rd dose of the inactivated polio virus vaccine (IPV) may be given if it was not given previously. A flu (influenza) shot is suggested during flu season.


The caregiver should screen for anemia by checking hemoglobin or hematocrit levels. Lead testing and tuberculosis (TB) testing may be performed, based upon individual risk factors.


  • Breastfed children should continue breastfeeding.

  • Children may stop using infant formula and begin drinking whole-fat milk at 12 months. Daily milk intake should be about 2 to 3 cups (0.47 L to 0.70 L ).

  • Provide all beverages in a cup and not a bottle to prevent tooth decay.

  • Limit juice to 4 to 6 ounces (0.11 L to 0.17 L) per day of juice that contains vitamin C and encourage your child to drink water.

  • Provide a balanced diet, and encourage your child to eat vegetables and fruits.

  • Provide 3 small meals and 2 to 3 nutritious snacks each day.

  • Cut all objects into small pieces to minimize the risk of choking.

  • Make sure that your child avoids foods high in fat, salt, or sugar. Transition your child to the family diet and away from baby foods.

  • Provide a high chair at table level and engage the child in social interaction at meal time.

  • Do not force your child to eat or to finish everything on the plate.

  • Avoid giving your child nuts, hard candies, popcorn, and chewing gum because these are choking hazards.

  • Allow your child to feed himself or herself with a cup and a spoon.

  • Your child's teeth should be brushed after meals and before bedtime.

  • Take your child to a dentist to discuss oral health.


  • Read books to your child daily and encourage your child to point to objects when they are named.

  • Choose books with interesting pictures, colors, and textures.

  • Recite nursery rhymes and sing songs with your child.

  • Name objects consistently and describe what you are doing while your child is bathing, eating, dressing, and playing.

  • Use imaginative play with dolls, blocks, or common household objects.

  • Children generally are not developmentally ready for toilet training until 18 to 24 months.

  • Most children still take 2 naps per day. Establish a routine at nap time and bedtime.

  • Encourage children to sleep in their own beds.


  • Spend some one-on-one time with each child daily.

  • Recognize that your child has limited ability to understand consequences at this age. Set consistent limits.

  • Minimize television time to 1 hour per day. Children at this age need active play and social interaction.


  • Discuss child proofing your home with your caregiver. Child proofing includes the use of gates, electric socket plugs, and doorknob covers. Secure any furniture that may tip over if climbed on.

  • Keep home water heater set at 120° F (49° C).

  • Avoid dangling electrical cords, window blind cords, or phone cords.

  • Provide a tobacco-free and drug-free environment for your child.

  • Use fences with self-latching gates around pools.

  • Never shake a child.

  • To decrease the risk of your child choking, make sure all of your child's toys are larger than your child's mouth.

  • Make sure all of your child's toys have the label nontoxic.

  • Small children can drown in a small amount of water. Never leave your child unattended in water.

  • Keep small objects, toys with loops, strings, and cords away from your child.

  • Keep night lights away from curtains and bedding to decrease fire risk.

  • Never tie a pacifier around your child's hand or neck.

  • The pacifier shield (the plastic piece between the ring and nipple) should be 1½ inches (3.8 cm) wide to prevent choking.

  • Check all of your child's toys for sharp edges and loose parts that could be swallowed or choked on.

  • Your child should always be restrained in an appropriate child safety seat in the middle of the back seat of the vehicle and never in the front seat of a vehicle with front-seat air bags. Rear facing car seats should be used until your child is 2 years old or your child has outgrown the height and weight limits of the rear facing seat.

  • Equip your home with smoke detectors and change the batteries regularly.

  • Keep medications and poisons capped and out of reach. Keep all chemicals and cleaning products out of the reach of your child. If firearms are kept in the home, both guns and ammunition should be locked separately.

  • Be careful with hot liquids. Make sure that handles on the stove are turned inward rather than out over the edge of the stove to prevent little hands from pulling on them. Knives and heavy objects should be kept out of reach of children.

  • Always provide direct supervision of your child, including bath time.

  • Assure that windows are always locked so that your child cannot fall out.

  • Make sure that your child always wears sunscreen that protects against both A and B ultraviolet rays and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Sunburns can lead to more serious skin trouble later in life. Avoid taking your child outdoors during peak sun hours.

  • Know the number for the poison control center in your area and keep it by the phone or on your refrigerator.


Your next visit should be when your child is 15 months old.