There's not a parent in the world who hasn't been struck with awe by how quickly developmental milestones occur during a child's second year -- and who hasn't occasionally wished that they'd slow down just a little. "Within this amazing year, the baby who was dependent on you for everything evolves into an independent little person," says Craig Ramey, Ph.D., coauthor of Right From Birth: Building Your Child's Foundation for Life (Goddard Press, 1999).
Yet even as we marvel at our child's accomplishments, we're also constantly checking out other babies. Indeed, there's often a terrified part of us that fears our own child is lagging behind. "Parents are often puzzled, and concerned, by the huge developmental differences among children of the same age," says Dr. Ramey. At 15 months, whereas one child could be tearing around the playground, another could be taking her first wobbly steps. The good news is that both scenarios are perfectly normal.
"Much of this variability is physiological," says Dr. Ramey. "Before you can walk, for instance, your coordination, leg muscles, and sense of balance all have to develop. For each child, these body parts -- including the brain -- grow at their own unique rate."
The majority of parents, then, need not fret. "Fifty to 75 percent of children hit their milestones between 1 and 2," Dr. Ramey notes, "so don't worry if your child isn't precisely on time." Here are the basic breakthroughs you can expect -- and celebrate -- during this developmental boom year.