Toddler Development: Your 18-month-old

Toddler Development: Your 18-month-old

Isn't he an adorable little mommy's helper? It's all hugs and kisses and big smiles at this stage of toddler development! Enjoy it to the max, because tantrums and "no" are waiting just around the corner...

Look at that big fellow following you around the house! He's your own little shadow, and loves to join you in whatever you are doing. But be aware, patience is a virtue your little one does not yet possess. He firmly lives in the present, or even more immediate: in the right now. 

Toddler Development: Your 18-month-old

18 Month Old Development and Milestones: Is Your Tot on Track?

Physical Development

At 18 months, toddlers typically weigh between nine and 12 kilograms. They are between 76 and 84 centimeters tall. Of course, all toddlers develop at their own pace, so your little bub might not be within these stats. That's okay!

You will really see the toddler development at this point, if you think back to his first birthday. By now, your little one is walking, and possibly running, although his coordination is still a work in progress. He walks upstairs if you hold his hand and is able to crawl down backwards. He might even be starting to jump!

He will probably have developed a preferential hand, so you finally know if he is right-handed or left-handed. There is no good or bad in this, so just let him be. If you are not sure yet, don't worry. Your bub is grabbing everything in sight, so you will soon notice which hand he prefers!

He has also discovered how to stack blocks, and might be able to build a tower of two to four blocks high. The fun part is making it fall down again!

Other fine motor skills are showing themselves too: your little one likes to scribble on paper, especially if he often sees you write notes or lists. His scribbling is mostly marks and patterns, do not expect any sort of drawing to emerge!

If you want to help him develop agility in his fingers, you could string large wooden beads together. He'll need a bit of help from you, but will love to wear the result. It's a good way to again show him different shapes and colors as well.

All this activity means that your tiny toddler has a hard time slowing down. Nap times can be a struggle. A lot of children switch to one nap around this time, and some even drop their nap, though that is a little earlier than usual.

Bedtimes too can be a struggle. This might be because your little one is so excited he has a hard time relaxing enough to fall asleep. It could be that he is transitioning to one nap. Or it could mean that he actually needs more sleep during the day! You know your bub best, so trust your instinct. And it's a good excuse for a long cuddle!

Disrupted sleep and changing sleeping patterns may also mean early wakings. Pay a little extra attention to little one's sleeping habits, and if you need to adjust the schedule. The schedule he gets on now, will probably last him through the rest of his toddlerhood.

If he shows interest in going to the bathroom, you could consider potty training. However, there is no rush. Most children do not gain full bladder control until after their second birthday.

Cognitive Development

At 18 months there is so much to be had with your little one!

Your bub loves to sing, and he loves it when you sing for him. He adores clapping along and making the movements. Rhythm sticks or little drums are also great favorites at this age, although a sense of rhythm is still lacking.

Listening to stories and pointing at pictures is another lovely, educational activity. Your tiny tot might be able to put together large puzzle pieces into the correct holes, especially if you two have practiced together a few times.

Sometimes he plays on his own for a few minutes. Watch him use common household items for pretend play, such as making a call, working on a computer, reading a book or having a drink. Yes, all things that you do regularly! He is imitating your actions.

He loves to make animal sounds to his cuddly toys and is usually able to match sound to animal.

You may even notice stray socks and hats around the house. Your toddler is learning how to take off his clothes! If you go on holiday to colder climes, keep an eye on his gloves or mittens. Often, parents will find a way to attach these to the coat so as not to lose them!

Social and Emotional Development

They don't call them mama's little helper for nothing! Your tiny tot loves to help you with tidying, sweeping, or getting things from the fridge when you're cooking. It makes him feel proud and accomplished if you praise his efforts.

There are ways to involve an 18-month-old in the daily chores. He could help you take the leaves of the spinach, or put the carrots you cut into a bowl. He could put laundry into the machine, or help you sweep up stray crumbs after snack time. He loves to watch you, so take the time to show him what you're doing.

But remember, his attention span is still very short! So if he's had enough, let him quit and get on with another game. Praise him for his efforts, and correct without anger when he gets it wrong.

Model the behavior you want your bub to show. He learns by example. This can be anything, from doing chores to social norms like sharing!

Your little toddler can say about ten words right now, and one of them is definitely "mine!". He is marking his territory, which is part of normal toddler development. In the same way, he expects you to set the boundaries for him as well.

You might be seeing the first signs of tantrummy behavior, such as refusal to get into the stroller, being finicky about food or interrupting you endlessly during talks with friends or while on the phone. All of this is his need to establish boundaries.

Try to be firm with him; clear rules make for a predictable environment and this in turn makes him feel safe.

Make sure you tell your little one you love him. He does not automatically know this! Cuddles and kisses are a huge part of his

Speech and Language

Listen closely! By now, your bub can probably say a few words. Ten words is the average at this point in toddler development. These include his words for mommy and daddy and names of other caregivers.

Other words early words could be 'no', 'mine', 'don't want', and favorite things or objects, like 'milk', 'ball' or 'cat'.

Your bub is able to understand many more words than he speaks! He can point to common objects if you name them and identify body parts. He could also recognize people in pictures and on screen.

Some toddlers even begin forming two word sentences, but most are still soaking up vocabulary by listening attentively.

Describing what you see when you take a walk together, or reading to him are good ways of expanding his vocabulary.

You will notice his growing memory when he begins to protest if you skip pages! Yes, he does recall the story, and he wants you to read it properly.

Health and Nutrition

It's time for another set of immunizations. It's time for three boosters: DTaP (diphteria, tetanus and pertussis or whooping cough), the five-in-one, which includes poliomyelitus, and the Hib for haemophilus influenza type b. 

As your child is exploring his boundaries, you could be facing struggles around food and dinner time. A good rule of thumb is to let the parent decide what and when food is served, but the child decides how much to eat.

At 18 months, his taste is rapidly developing. What he likes one day, he could very well hate the next. Make sure his food is healthy. If he eats little one day, he will usually make up for it the next!

Tips for Parents

This is a time to take stock of your little one's toddler development. All children develop at their own pace. Some are babbling away with their first two word sentences, others prefer to point and just say "mommy" or "daddy".

Some toddlers already know exactly what they want, while others prefer to calmly go along with the flow.

None of this is any indication for their future development or education. Legend has it that Einstein did not begin speaking until three years old! Have a look at our articles on developmental red flags to find out more about early warning signals. But if you are concerned, make sure to consult your pediatrician.

A few red flags you could watch out for: if at this stage your child is still not walking at all and cannot stand upright without help, you might want to consult your pediatrician. Similarly, if he doesn't crawl and is still choking on food or coughing, it could be worth looking into. Let a specialist check it out if you feel unsure!

Your toddler’s previous month: 17 months

Your toddler’s next month: 19 months

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