Kids on the brink of their first birthdays are a bundle of contradictions: on one hand, they’re increasingly confident about expressing their emotions and asserting their independence, but they can also be clingy and shy around strangers, as well as strongly attached to emotional totems like toys or blankets.

Babies this age will often express some separation anxiety when mommy or daddy leaves for work (or even ducks into the bedroom for a quick nap) and act out loudly when they’re frustrated, but they also will soak up and show affection. You may notice your soon-to-be-one-year-old indulging in an increasing number of tantrums; this is unfortunately normal, and many parents joke that their child entered “the terrible twos” early. If your child doesn’t attain some of the milestones listed below, don’t panic, but do see your pediatrician if they seem emotionally withdrawn or incapable of receiving or giving affection.

By 8-12 months, most babies will: 

  • Act out when they’re frustrated (crying, throwing food and toys, etc.)
  • Indulge in occasional tantrums
  • Be afraid of, or at least shy around, strangers
  • Cling to one or both parents in unfamiliar situations, or even around the house
  • Carry around a “lovey” or “binky” for reassurance (usually a favorite toy or stuffed animal)
  • Experience separation anxiety when mommy or daddy goes to work (or even to the bathroom)
  • Be reassured by the sound of their parent’s voice
  • Crave attention from parents and caregivers
  • Enjoy cuddling, huddling and tickling
  • React with joy (jumping, laughing, squealing) when they see familiar people

By 8-12 months, most babies may: 

  • Play happily with other children, at least for brief periods of time
  • Be capable of amusing themselves by playing with toys or “reading” books
  • Start displaying a sense of humor (making silly noises and laughing when you notice)

By 8-12 months, most babies may even:

  • Not make a fuss when they’re left alone, or when their parents are out of sight

More in milestones:

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, December 2018


  • Most babies this age experience separation anxiety when away from their parents.
  • Don’t be surprised if your baby starts exhibiting a sense of humor.
  • Explosive tantrums (when your child doesn’t get his way) are perfectly normal.


  1. Mayo Clinic. Infant Development: Milestones from 10-12 Months.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Important Milestones: Your Baby at Nine Months.
  3. Medline Plus. Developmental Milestones Record – 9 Months.


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