To be human is to constantly change and adapt, and there’s hardly a period of more turbulent and rapid changes in both a person’s body and mind than in the first year of their life. When we are babies, we go through all kinds of physical and mental changes in a very short period of time. This is all a necessary and incredibly important process of learning about both the world around us and about our own selves, and it provides us with invaluable data which will serve us through the rest of our lives.

A developing mind

If you are a parent of a newborn baby or are about to become one, it’s important to have a good understanding of the processes and changes that a baby goes through, while it quickly learns a great deal about how to navigate this complex and confusing world. While in the first six months, a baby’s actions, experiences, and mental processes are mainly instinct-driven, and are almost entirely focused on meeting the most primal needs (to eat, drink, and sleep, and to avoid physical discomfort), the second six months are marked by a noted shift in the baby’s focus. Its priorities are still its physical needs, but in the second half of the first year, the infant starts having other interests as its mind develops, and it starts recognizing (and paying more attention to) faces, voices, intonations, actions, and patterns.

This is the time period during which the baby becomes truly interested in the social game and starts its first attempts to take an active role in it, which is something that should be encouraged but also guided by the parents. The parents must pay close attention to the baby’s emotions and behavioral patterns and ensure to teach it the dos and don'ts of socializing and living among other people.

The role of the parent

Guiding a baby’s mental and emotional development in the first year may not seem like a particularly tough challenge, especially when compared to taking care of the infant’s physical needs, but the lessons you teach your baby at this early age will serve as an important blueprint that will lay the foundations for the child’s further development. For example, it’s during these months that babies learn the ability to be stubborn through crying and throwing tantrums, and the effectiveness of it. If you fail to show that the infant’s stubbornness would only work for so long, until you decide to assert yourself and refuse to pamper their next impulse, this will teach them that they can always have it their way, thus encouraging bad behavior in the future. Conversely, if you don’t show enough attention to the baby and spend time playing with them or even talking to them, this could lead to issues down the line, as the child may begin to develop feelings of insecurity and lack of confidence.

To avoid making any such mistakes, the responsible thing to do is to inform yourself about the pitfalls of being a parent to an infant and about the correct ways to care after the early development of your child. There are many good books on the topic that can help you, and there are also the options to participate in a child development class, or even consult a parenting coach - all valid and viable methods of gaining insight into the nuances of caring for the mental and physical development of your child (or children).

What to expect

Now, when talking about the period between the sixth and the twelfth month since the birth of a baby, there are certain specific things that you should expect from your child:

Stubbornness, assertiveness, and refusal

As already mentioned, this is generally the period when babies learn that they have agency in this world and have the power to get what they want through being stubborn, crying, throwing tantrums, and being grumpy. Again, a parent should be prepared for this and know that there will be a time and place when they must refuse the wishes of the baby, no matter how stubborn it may have decided to be about a particular thing.


Sometime after the first half a year, the baby starts recognizing the approval from its parents and other closest people and instinctively begins seeking it as a form of social reward. Once the child learns the value of approval, the parent has a powerful tool that they can use to guide the infant towards desirable behavior. It’s important to always make sure to show approval when the child does something good, as they will begin to associate the good behavior with the reward of approval.


One heavily discussed topic is whether a person’s personality is pre-determined or is developed during their childhood and early teens. The truth most likely lies somewhere in-between, so while a person’s upbringing plays a huge role in defining their character, there are some traits that seem to be predetermined. It is those personality traits that you can expect to see in your child as early as the second half of its first year. This is the time when the baby begins to show its “true colors” so to speak. It could be energetic and adventurous, stubborn and rebellious, or more inclined to seek closeness, especially with its mother. Whatever its personality, you can expect to see parts of it displayed even at such an early age. The important thing here is to understand that each baby is different, and those differences largely determine the best approach to rear the baby, which is why they must be identified and taken into account by the parents.

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Comment by Shantell on March 22, 2023 at 9:29pm

Great Post! I am well beyond these years! (My babies are 21 and 14 now) - But those early years are key!  "the lessons you teach your baby at this early age will serve as an important blueprint that will lay the foundations for the child’s further development." <------- This is a true statement! Take it to heart! I took those early years very seriously! I believe it made a difference in my boys lives!

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