13 to 18 months

“I’m outta here!”

When baby wants to make a break for it.  –Anitasethi Ph.D

Description: When baby wants to make a break for it

As your 17-month-old becomes more mobile, he won’t want to be defined. The little guy who was content to watch the world pass by his stroller would now rather get our and push (which is a challenge when you can’t see over the top). Car seats, back carriers, even hand-holding all become barriers to freedom. “Early on, babies love to be swaddled,” says Alice Carter Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. “As babies grow, most toddlers will become very distressed if they are restrained.” Your little guy also has all sorts of new muscles and abilities, and he knows intuitively that the only way to strengthen those important skills is to practice, so he wants to get up and move. Making things worse, a formerly comfy space may suddenly feel restrictive because of how fast he’s developing.

To balance your toddler’s need to burn energy and your job to keep him safe, plan errands after playtime so he’s ready for a break. Try easing car-seat frustration with a distraction before strapping him in. (I have two surprises in my bag. Do you want to the red or the blue?”) Music might help too. Experiment with different genres to see if one hits the spot (wow, that peppy Katy Perry truly is a sensation). If pop stars don’t do the trick, try a musical toy that plays different songs to distract and give him a sense of control.

9 to 12 months

Pop a squat

Description: 9 to 12 months

At about 11 months, your baby develops the leg and trunk strength to squat to pick up a toy and pull herself up again. This is a big deal to your little gal. “Seemingly simple and mundane motor actions such as squatting and standing are real accomplishments,” explains Karen Adolph Ph.D., professor of psychology at New York University who studies infant motor development.

Says Adolph, “To change position on purpose reflects planning.” Multiple steps are required in order to squat, retrieve a toy a stand up to inspect it. Pulling up is the real challenge, involving lots of muscles, but gravity is on her side when it comes to squat. “In the beginning, infants just plop down,” she says. “Later, they squat or sit in a more controlled fashion, at first using their arms to break the fall and later using their legs.” She’ll need to hold onto furniture (or you) as she does these happy aerobics.

What you can do:

Keep your house safe, furniture steady and ensure there’s nothing dangerous to grab. “There’s no need to litter your floor with objects to encourage the squat/stand transitions because infants will do it spontaneously,” Adolph adds. Oh, and keep that camera ready – her first steps will follow soon. – A.S.

5 to 8 months

Dress for success

Description: 5 to 8 months

Now that your-8-month-old is sitting, reaching and maybe even making the first moves toward crawling, he may no longer love his look. Some babies are particularly sensitive to clothing and may become uncomfortable from seams or certain textures. If your baby is resistant to contact in many situations (not just when he’s dressing), let your pediatrician know. Physical contact is paramount for babies’ development, so your doc will want to work with you to figure out why yours isn’t just loving it. Otherwise, opt for the stretchiest, softest fabrics you can find so he can move about at will. Tight necklines and elastic pinch chubby bellies and chunky thighs, and skip dresses with sleeves that tug or lots of layers. – A.S.

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