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Children & Young People's Emotional Health

Emotional Development 6-12 Months

Between six and twelve months of age, babies grow and develop rapidly. 

Your baby may be learning to roll over, sit up, crawl or walk. All of these changes bring new feelings for you both. Babies learn best when you give them the space and time to explore and creating safe and stimulating environments is important. 

During this time your baby might show signs of being ready to try food. You might have a variety of feelings about this as it marks the beginning of a new stage.

This may be a time when you start to think about leaving your baby with other caregivers. It is important to think about how to do this in a way that feels safe for all of you. 

You can access a free interactive online course which helps parents, families, carers and professionals feel more confident when looking after their children and young people.

Read more about the course

Dive Deeper

Separation Anxiety

At anytime between about 9 and 12 months, you may notice your baby or toddler becoming more aware of where you are in the house. You might also notice that your baby prefers to be with you as parents. This is because babies start to understand that their parents are not always close by. This is a new experience for your baby, who until now has had a sense that they are a part of you and not a separate little person.

You can help to reassure your baby when they are struggling with separating from you. Try playing games like Peek-a-boo. This is a simple way for your baby to begin to understand that even if they cannot see you - you come back.

  • To start off with do not leave your baby for long, try telling them that you are just popping into the kitchen to get a drink, then return quickly and comfort them if they are distressed.
  • Prepare your baby for separations by talking to them and telling them what is going to happen. Don't just slip away when you think they might not notice.
  • Make a point of saying hello to your baby when you return. This will help them to learn that if you go away, you will also come back.
  • Keep surroundings as familiar as possible. If your baby is starting at nursery or being cared for in a new environment, make a few short visits there before they start. This will ensure they get to know the people who will be caring for them and become familiar with the surroundings.

Overall, the best thing you can do as a parent when you are going to separate from your baby is to reassure them that you will soon return.

Read more about separation anxiety

Relationships

Positive relationships give babies a sense of comfort, safety, confidence, and encouragement. They are the foundations to learn the skills to form friendships, communicate emotions, and to deal with challenges. Strong, positive relationships also help children develop trust, empathy, compassion, and a sense of right and wrong.

Starting from birth, babies are learning who they are by how they are treated. Through everyday interactions, parents, relatives and caregivers send babies messages like: You’re clever. You’re good at figuring things out. You’re loved. You make me laugh. I enjoy being with you. These messages shape a baby’s self-esteem.

Be patient during the tough times. When you can support babies even at their most difficult, you are letting them know they can trust and rely on you. This makes them feel safe and makes it more likely they will learn to calm themselves as they grow.

Play

Play is how a baby learns to make sense of their world. 

As your baby learns to sit and move around their view of the world changes.

Babies need you to watch over them as they explore, wait whilst they look at, touch and interact with things around them. Show curiosity and interest in what they are doing. Play along with them.

Find out more about play ideas and why play is important

Shelf Help Books

All Shelf Help books can be reserved for free from any Norfolk library, or online. The books are available to borrow for up to six weeks.

  • The Little Book of Treasure Baskets: Little Books with Big Ideas by Ann Robers

Who can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

For adults Qwell provides free, safe and anonymous mental wellbeing support for adults in Norfolk and Waveney from a professional team of qualified counsellors.

For 11–25 year olds Kooth is a free, confidential and safe way to receive online counselling, advice and emotional well-being support. 

Childline - Children and young people under 19 can call 0800 1111 for free support.

Young Minds Parents Helpline - Call 0808 802 5544 for free Mon-Fri from 9.30am to 4pm.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.

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