Toddler Development, 12 to 18 Months

See which milestones your baby should reach and learn how to spot developmental delays.

Development 12 to 15 Months

Your child may be crawling, standing, cruising (taking steps while holding on to furniture), climbing, and taking tentative steps with or without help. To stand, your child may pull herself up using a chair or table. Your child may be able to lower herself back down to the floor, but she may need help to safely sit. You can expect to see your child walk sometime between 11 and 14 months, but don't worry if this doesn't happen exactly on a timetable. Some children can take up to 17 months to walk. Just remember that children reach milestones at different times.

Your child will use her motor skills to explore the world. She will take objects apart, put them back together, and sort them by color and size. Choose toys in a variety of colors, textures, and shapes to encourage your child's motor skills. Blocks and stacking or nesting cups are excellent toys for this stage. Your child will begin to use her hands independently, holding one toy and playing with another at the same time. You'll notice that she will begin to poke, point, pick up objects using her index finger and thumb, and put objects into and take out of containers.

Encourage your child's motor skill development by placing a few toys on a chair or table so she can balance and reach for them, having her explore a variety of textures, like grass and carpet, outfitting her with nonslip socks or shoes to prevent falls, and allowing her to dress and feed herself and help with bedtime.

Development at 16 to 18 Months

By this age, your child has developed a heightened sense of curiosity, mobility, and independence. He can crawl up steps and stairs with ease and he can stand, sit, squat, and walk by himself without support, even though he may still be unbalanced. When your child starts running, he may fall, but occasional falls are normal and his balance will become steadier.

Your child is using his hands and fingers with greater skill, to stack blocks, explore toys with intricate features (like shape sorters and peg boards with hammers). Because your child has mastered the ability to relax his grip, he will practice this skill by handing or throwing objects to others, or dropping them and watching them fall. Play along by retrieving the dropped object and giving it back to him so he can drop it again. During meal times, he may also try out his fine motor skills by feeding himself with a fork or spoon without assistance.

Also between 12 to 18 months, your child will know his own name and imitate words and sounds he hears. He'll be able to say between two and 50 words and follow simple commands such as "Please put on your jacket." But keep in mind that, although your child can recognize and follow simple direction she may not always do so. He is starting to develop his own thoughts, and is making decisions about what he will and will not do. You may also notice your child imitating familiar situations and role playing. He may enjoy being around other children, but he may not interact with them. At this age, children tend to play side-by-side yet independent of one another, which is normal behavior.

As your toddler becomes more curious about his surroundings, create a safe environment by toddler-proofing your home. Common safety measures include gating the stairs at the bottom and at the top, covering up electrical outlets, and childproofing low cabinets and drawers.

Developmental Delays

Even though children develop at different rates, there are red flags to watch for that could indicate a motor skill development delay. Consult your doctor if your child:

  • Shows no interest in crawling
  • Consistently drags one side of the body while crawling.
  • Is unable to stand with support (at 12 months).
  • Is unable to walk by 18 months.
  • Doesn't walk heel to toe within a few months of walking.

Trust your parental instincts and talk to your child's doctor so any potential delays can be addressed early.

Copyright ? 2012 Meredith Corporation.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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