Developmental milestones your baby should reach by 12 months old

By the time your baby is 12 months old, he or she should be able to do a variety of new things such as saying a few simple words and playing games.

Jade Elliott spoke with Carrie Martinez, Utah Department of Health, to discuss the important milestones your child should reach by 12 months old and tools to help parents on this episode of the Baby Your Baby Podcast.

Social and Emotional

  •  Is shy or nervous with strangers
  • Cries when mom or dad leaves
  •  Has favorite things and people
  • Shows fear in some situations
  •  Hands you a book when he wants to hear a story
  •  Repeats sounds or actions to get attention
  • Puts out arm or leg to help with dressing
  •  Plays games such as “peek-a-boo” and “pat-a-cake”


  • Responds to simple spoken requests
  • Uses simple gestures, like shaking head “no” or waving “bye-bye”
  •  Makes sounds with changes in tone (sounds more like speech)
  • Says “mama” and “dada” and exclamations like “uh-oh!”
  • Tries to say words you say

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Explores things in different ways, like shaking, banging, throwing
  • Finds hidden things easily
  •  Looks at the right picture or thing when it’s named Copies gestures
  • Starts to use things correctly; for example, drinks from a cup, brushes hair
  • Bangs two things together
  •  Puts things in a container, takes things out of a container
  •  Lets things go without help
  •  Pokes with index (pointer) finger
  • Follows simple directions like “pick up the toy

Movement/Physical Development

  •  Gets to a sitting position without help
  •  Pulls up to stand, walks holding on to furniture (“cruising”)
  • May take a few steps without holding on
  • May stand alone

What do you do if your baby is not meeting these milestones?

Video resources for 12 months:

Can parents get their baby on back on track on their own, or is this something they need a professional for?

Most of the time, children get the developmental skills they need when they are given opportunities to practice. Parents play a huge role in their child’s development, and often can help their child right away. For example, if your child’s screening showed a delay in language, you help your child right away, just by practicing this area of development.

However, sometimes your child may need professional intervention. In these situations, it’s best to work with your healthcare or childcare provider to get resources or referrals to professional agencies who are trained to help your child reach their developmental milestone needs.

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.