The first birthday. It’s a major milestone, celebrated with lot of smeared cake. All that baby proofing, sleep deprivation, and re-acquaintance with the stuff that comes out of human orifices has all paid off! So, sit down and enjoy some of that cake smash, parents of a one-year old, because there is plenty to prepare for in the next year.
If parents have been following the recommended pediatrician schedule for well-child checks, last year was a seemingly endless parade of doctor’s appointments and immunizations shots. There’s still plenty to do in the next year, but at least the doctor’s visits drop off for a bit.
After the 12-month visit, parents can look forward to scheduled well-child checks at 15, 18 and 24 months – half the amount of appointments as in the previous year.
There are some more vaccinations parents should expect as well. There’s a lot of concerning information out there about vaccinations, but recently there has been a resurgence of deadly childhood disease, and the American Academy of Pediatrics and Center of Disease Control still recommend the full gamut of vaccinations, and on the suggested schedule.
“Your pediatrician will recommend a schedule for vaccines,” explains Elizabeth Murray, M.D., a pediatric emergency physician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. “There’s well regimented, approved schedules that should be followed, since those are tested by the CDC for safety.”
Parents can also expect a lead screening. Concerns about water are certainly prevalent today, but the greatest risk factor for children is the house in which they live. Houses built before 1978, that haven’t had proper treatments done to abate lead paint exposure, can put a child at risk for lead poisoning and the associated health and developmental difficulties.
In addition to checking what milestones the child is reaching (which will also probably be discussed at the 12-month well-child check), parents may want to be familiar with the developmental milestones of the next six and 12 months. Not to fret about whether or not their child is reaching them – many kids develop at their own pace, and not every milestone may be hit at exactly the same time – but to allow parents to see what kind baby proofing they need to do as their kid learns to do more.
“As far as safety is concerned, I always say think at least a developmental step ahead,” says Murray. “If your child at one is starting to walk, then things need to be safety proofed up to at least twice their reach.”
It makes sense. From the first birthday to the second, a kid will learn to walk, stand on tiptoes, and climb furniture by themselves. It stands to reason some of those milestones will be achieved when their parents are occupied or distracted. Parents should always keep medicines up and away in a secured cupboard or container, and clear the countertop of knives, container or canisters that can spill or be pulled off and shatter. Junk drawers contained lighters, batteries or scissors will need to be to be secured. Even seemingly innocuous items like paper clips can be dangerous to a kid who still tends to investigate with their mouth.
Safety locking depends on the ingenuity of the child – each child is going to be different. Parents need to engage in what the child is showing they can do, or what they are thinking about doing. It’s all about planning one step ahead.
Bedding will also need to be updated. By one, the crib mattress should be as low as possible, to thwart any accidental falls or deliberate escapes. The SIDS risk is greatly reduced, but parents will want to check their child’s abilities for determining what sort of bedding to use. Stairs still represent a risk – maybe a bigger one, since one-year-olds are significantly less stable as nascent walkers than cruising crawlers. Baby gates should be installed at the top of stairs, as well as rooms that are off limits.
Going Out and About
It’s important for parents to remember, too, that friends’ and relatives’ will not necessarily be baby-proofed to the standard a child may require. This is the age of exploration. Kids will require close supervision even in houses they have previously visited. The year between the first and second birthday is much different than the one before. Parents need to supervise their child closely or designate someone specifically to do so at family gatherings. Holiday parties, BBQs, family reunions and pool parties all represent a unique set of threats to curious, mobile babies. Large groups of adults are prone to a diffusion of responsibility – with so many people are watching the kids, no one is. Nothing can replace direct supervision. Parents shouldn’t count on someone else to watch out for their child.