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Well Child Care at 12 Months


Usually your baby no longer needs baby food at this age. Give your baby table foods cut up into very small pieces. It’s important for your toddler to eat foods from all food groups: protein foods, fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products. Most 1-year-olds have 2 or 3 snacks each day. Cheese, fruit, and vegetables are all good snacks. Avoid foods that can choke your child, such as candy, hot dogs, popcorn, and peanuts.

When your child is 1 year old, your child can start drinking cow’s milk. Give whole milk rather than low-fat or skim milk. Almost all toddlers need the extra calories in whole milk until they are 2 years old. Serve milk at all meals. If you are still breast-feeding, you may choose to keep breast-feeding or you may wean your baby at this time.

This is also the time to wean your child completely off the bottle and switch to an open-rimmed cup. Although a sippy cup has the advantage of reduced spills, it can affect the position of your child’s teeth and is more likely to cause decay.

Your child will not grow as fast during the second year of life and may eat less. Trust his appetite.


Some children start walking before their first birthday and some later on. Watch your child closely as he becomes able to explore new places. Shoes protect your child’s feet but are not needed when your child is learning to walk indoors. Bare feet help your child balance with his toes. If your child needs shoes to walk outside, choose shoes with a flexible sole.

Pointing to things and saying what they are called helps your child learn new words. Let your child to touch things while you name them. Regularly talk to your child. You can describe what you are doing or what your child is doing. And be sure to listen to your child. You may not always understand what he is saying, but it helps to pause when you are talking so that he can say something back to you. Smile and praise your child when he learns new things. Your child enjoys knowing that you are pleased that he is learning.

Reading and TV

Read to your child every day. Children who have books read to them learn more quickly. Choose books with lots of pictures and colors.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not allowing children under 2 years old to watch TV at all. Watching TV keeps children from playing and interacting with people. Children need to be active because it helps their brains and bodies to develop.

Dental Care

It’s important to take care of your child’s baby teeth because they help your child chew food and speak clearly. They also help save space for the permanent teeth that will come in later. You can help care for your child’s teeth by following these tips:

  • Avoid sugary foods and limit juice to help prevent cavities. One cup of juice a day is enough.
  • Brush your child’s teeth with water twice a day. Use a child-size toothbrush with soft bristles. Once your child learns how to spit out toothpaste, you can start using fluoride toothpaste.
  • Start flossing your child’s teeth after all baby teeth are in.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider or dentist if your child still sucks a finger or pacifier or still uses a sippy cup. These habits can cause problems with permanent teeth.

By 1 year of age your child should start seeing a dentist every 6 months or as often as the dentist recommends.

Safety Tips

Child-Proofing Your Home

  • Install safety gates to guard stairways.
  • Lock doors that lead to dangerous areas like the basement or garage.
  • Check drawers, tall furniture, and lamps to make sure they cannot fall over easily.
  • Remove or pad furniture with sharp corners. Keep sharp objects out of reach.
  • Put safety latches on cabinets.
  • Cover unused electrical outlets with outlet covers to keep your child from sticking things into the outlet.
  • Throw away cracked or frayed electrical cords.
  • Keep cords out of reach, especially for coffee makers, irons, or other hot devices.
  • Keep all electrical devices in the bathroom unplugged and put away.

Choking and Suffocation

  • Keep cords, ropes, or strings away from your baby. Ropes and strings around your baby’s neck can choke him.
  • Keep plastic bags, balloons, and small hard objects out of reach.
  • Use only unbreakable toys that don’t have any sharp edges or small parts that can come loose.
  • Store toys on shelves or in a chest without a dropping lid. Small children can get trapped inside a toy chest.
  • Don’t let your baby sleep in a bed or on a couch, and don’t sleep with your baby.


  • Make sure windows are closed or have screens that cannot be pushed out.
  • Do not use a baby walker.
  • Don’t place furniture near windows or on balconies. Don’t underestimate your child’s ability to climb.
  • Always buckle the safety belts or straps when your baby is in an infant carrier or shopping cart.

Car Safety

  • Use an approved toddler car seat in the back seat with your child facing toward the back of the car.
  • Never leave children alone in a parked car, even for a few minutes. Children are at risk for heat illness and injury when left alone. Always check to make sure your child is not still in the car when you leave your car.

Water Safety

  • NEVER leave your baby or toddler in a bathtub alone.
  • Stay within arm’s reach of your child around any water, including toilets and buckets. Keep toilet lids down, never leave water in an unattended bucket, and store buckets upside down. Infants and toddlers who have completed swimming programs are still not safe from drowning.


  • Keep all medicines, vitamins, cleaning fluids, and other chemicals locked away. Dispose of them safely.
  • Keep the poison center number on all phones.

Fires and Burns

  • Use the back burners on the stove with the pan handles out of reach. Do not allow children to play on the kitchen floor while you are cooking or baking.
  • Turn your water heater down to 120°F (49°C) or lower.
  • Install smoke detectors. Check your smoke detectors as often as recommended by the manufacturer or at least once a month to make sure they work. For all detectors that use batteries, replace batteries at least once a year or when they are low.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen.


  • Children who live in a house where someone smokes have more respiratory infections, like colds, flu, and throat infections. Their symptoms are also more severe and last longer than those of children who live in a smoke-free home.
  • If you smoke, set a quit date and stop. Ask your healthcare provider for help in quitting. If you cannot quit, do NOT smoke in the house or car or near children. It helps keep your child healthy and sets a good example.


Immunizations protect your child against several serious, life-threatening diseases. At the 12-month visit, your child will get any shots or vaccines recommended for your child at this age. For example, your child may have:

  • Flu shot
  • Measles/mumps, rubella (MMR) shot
  • Chickenpox shot (varicella)

Bring your child’s shot record to all visits with your child’s healthcare provider.

Your child may have a fever and be irritable for a few days after the vaccines and may also have soreness, redness, and swelling in the area where the shots were given.

Ask your healthcare provider what symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them.

Next Visit

Your child’s next visit should be at the age of 15 months.

Written by Robert Brayden, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2013-10-03
Last reviewed: 2013-10-03
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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