Toddler development and milestones: Your 16 month old

Toddler development and milestones: Your 16 month old

Are you wondering what your 16 month old development and milestones this month? We're here to help you get prepared for all these exciting developments.

Did you notice your 1 year 4 months old tiny tot go “vroom vroom” with his/her toy car? You’re watching the birth of your little one’s imagination! This is the next stage of cognitive toddler development.

Your child’s inner life is no longer confined to what he/she sees in front of his/her eyes. This is the beginning of games, stories, a rich fantasy life, as well as creativity and problem solving.

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

Toddler development and milestones: Your 16 month old

Physical Development

At this stage, your child’s median length and weight* should be as follows:

  • Boys
    – Length: 80.2 cm (31.6 inches)
    – Weight: 10.3 kg (22.7 lb)
  • Girls
    – Length: 78.4 cm (30.9 inches)
    – Weight: 10.2 kg (22.5 lb)

And your child’s head circumference* should be:

  • Boys: 47 cm (18.5inches)
  • Girls: 45.9 cm (18.1 inches)

This is also the time to grow eyes in the back of your head and to always have your ears out on stalks. Where is your little one? What is he/she up to? Did you just hear the box of blocks hit the floor? Again?

Your 1 year 4 months old angel is working hard on his/her toddler development by climbing, running, reaching, grabbing and throwing. It can be exasperating, especially as his/her tidying away skills still leave a lot to be desired.

If your little one is a confident walker, this is the time that he/she will begin to take those waddling skills to the next level. Your toddler might attempt to walk with toys or stuffed animals in his/her hands and give them to you. Or he/she could try to walk backwards!

Your toddler loves nothing better than to take a walk outside with you, inspecting plants, flowers and watching cars, buses and trains pass by. Other favourite places include the beach to play with sand, toys and dip in the ocean, the pond to watch turtles and fishes, the park to throw a ball or even just the playground downstairs.

While your child might be too small for the playground climbing equipment, he/she will be thrilled to see all the “big” two- and three-year-olds climbing and sliding. And it’s by watching them that your toddler will also learn.


  • You might have your heart in your mouth as your toddler “explores” but do let your little one do this within safe boundaries. Running, walking and even taking a small tumble are all great for your toddler’s motor skill development, including balance.
  • Give your child lots of scrap paper and crayons or finger paints. Using these fine-tunes those fine motor skills (such as your child’s pincer grasp, needed later for writing) and encourages creativity in your little one.

When to see a doctor

If your child,

  • Is not even attempting to cruise or walk.
  • Loses physical skills he/she once had.

Cognitive Development

Between 16 and 18 months, it is time for the next stage in cognitive toddler development. You will see a shift from from copying actions to symbolic play. This means that your little one goes from grabbing your phone to make a pretend call to using blocks or spoons as a phone to pretend to make a call.

It is adorable — and it is a major development. This is the birth of imagination. Your little one now has the ability to imagine things that are not really there and play with those imaginary things.

But although his/her mind may be growing stronger, your child’s attention span is still very short! Typically, toddlers of this age can only focus for a few minutes at a time and are easily distracted. This works to your advantage too, as we’ll explain in the section on social and emotional development!

So how do you sit a toddler down for the recommended daily reading of 10 to 20 minutes? A bedtime story can be a lovely bit of quiet time after a busy day, but there’s no need to stretch it beyond your bub’s patience level.

Ways to make it more interesting for him/her are letting your child turn the pages — yes, he/she can do that now! Don’t worry if your toddler doesn’t follow the story closely. At this point, your child may be much more interested in pointing at the pictures and commenting on those. Follow your little one’s lead, and let yourself be swept away by his/her enthusiasm.


  • If you would like to instill a love of reading from an early age, try to read more often instead of longer in order to hit your target minutes. For instance, you could read a book after waking up in the morning, when you get back from work and again before bed. Each book will only take a few minutes.
  • Also, make sure your bub sees you reading! At this age, it’s all about show not tell.
  • As you interact with your child, make sure you speak out the names of objects. Then, ask your child to show these same objects. You will be amazed at how good your child’s memory is, even if he/she may not be able to say those names yet.
  • Big blocks are a great way to promote cognitive development in your child. Encourage him/her to stack them high, while you count. Or you could point out the colours or shapes of the blocks to your child as he/she plays with them.

When to speak to a doctor

If your child,

  • Is not interested in playing.
  • Is not even saying basic words like “mama” and “dada”.
16 month old development and milestones

Image source: Shutterstock

Social and Emotional Development

Your 1 year 4 months old little one might like other people — he/she could even be a bit of a social butterfly — but your child does not like sharing. He/she does not like sharing toys, snacks or even attention. your toddler’s focus is still firmly on him/herself and his/her own needs.

So don’t worry if your angel doesn’t readily give up his/her toys to somebody else — even if he/she wasn’t playing with those in the first place. Remember, just a few months ago your toddler had a hard time understanding that you and he/she were separate people. (In fact, sometimes it seems as if he/she still doesn’t quite believe it.)

There’s light on the horizon however. The birth of imagination also means that your 1 year 4 months child can begin to imagine how other people feel. In other words, he/she will begin to understand emotions and show empathy.

This is where you play an important role by beginning to label your toddler’s emotions by saying things like: “You are crying, you are sad,” and “You are laughing, you are happy!” By understanding how he/she feels and using his/her newfound powers of imagination, your little one can begin to understand that other people feel the same.

There’s nothing quite like that moment when your toddler first throws his/her arms around you to comfort you when he/she sees that you are sad.

If your little one is developing a strong attachment to one parent, don’t give in to his/her preference. Make sure that your little one spends time alone with both of you. Although your bub may protest or even cry when the preferred parent leaves, he/she will be alright within minutes of you leaving. Let the other parent send you pictures to make sure your little one is okay.

This is when your bub’s short attention span works to your advantage. He/she might miss you, but is easily distracted with a game or a song. The same goes when your toddler is sad or upset. You can acknowledge his/her feelings and quickly move on. This even works if you do it in the early stages of a tantrum.


  • Your baby needs to feel loved and be loved. Don’t hold back on the “I love yous”, hugs, kisses and cuddles!
  • Don’t force your baby to share his/her toys (and affection!) with others. He/she will do this at the right time, when he/she is comfortable with it.
  • Peek-a-boo is still a wonderful game to switch on your baby’s “happy” emotion!
  • It’s okay to say “no” to your baby in a gentle yet firm tone and voice, especially if he/she is trying to push his/her boundaries, or do something that may be dangerous.

When to see a doctor

If your child,

  • Is non-responsive to your affections.
  • Is unusually scared of or alarmed by others.

Speech and Language Development

Yes, your 1 year 4 months old toddler is learning how to hold a conversation! He/she might not be making much sense yet, but your little one is trying to tell you things and listen to your response. Notice how he/she imitates your own style of communication?

Unfortunately, that also means your child is imitating saying “No.” Sometimes you even catch him/her doing the very thing he/she just said “No” to! This is because your tiny tot is experimenting with words and their meanings.

“No” may mean “Not this second, but I’m fine with it the next second.” Or it may mean “I like the sound of this word NO so I’m going to say it a lot even if I really do want to do what you’re asking.” Or it may mean “No, I really don’t want that.”

Your little one is trying out his/her influence in the world. How much authority does he/she have? What things does he/she get to decide? Does he/she get to choose whether or not to wear shoes outside? Does he/she get to choose whether or not to take a bath? It’s up to you, mummy, to set clear boundaries for your child and to help him/her understand his/her place in the world.


  •  Your tiny tot might not be talking yet, but you can be sure he/she understands a lot more than you think. He/she is a little sponge soaking up all the words and knowledge he/she can. Watch what you say as your little one is listening and learning!
  • Talk to your baby in proper language, using the correct names for items and body parts. Avoid “baby talk” as much as possible.
  • Reading is by far one of the best ways to help your child’s speech and language abilities develop.
  • Sing fun songs to your baby. This is another great way of teaching him/her new words.

When to see a doctor

If your child,

  • Is not responding to you at all when you talk, sing or read to him/her.
  • Does not babble or say “mum” or “dad”.

Health and Nutrition

By the age of 1 year 4 months, your little one should be eating around four small meals per day (one ¾ to full cup/bowl per meal), plus breastfeeds, and one to two snacks if needed, in between meals.

Typically, the calorie intake for boys and girls of this age are as follows:

  • Boys: 854.5 Kcal/day
  • Girls: 827.8 Kcal/day

Your child’s nutrition should be composed of the following:


Protein is essential for your little one to grow up tall and strong. As part of a balanced and healthy diet, your child needs to eat around 25 grams of protein every day. This is equal to one slice of wholegrain bread with peanut butter; or a child-palm-sized piece of lean red meat like lamb or beef; or a female-palm-sized piece of chicken, turkey or fish; or three to four tablespoons of lentils or black beans; or one to two dice-sized cubes of cheese.


Your child needs about three cups of fruits every day. Fruit is important to keep your child’s digestive system healthy and also strengthen his/her immune system. Some good options are avocado, papaya and banana. Make sure you cut the fruit into bite-sized chunks before serving. A great way to offer a variety of fruits in one go it to cut them up and mix up the pieces to make a fruit salad.


Serve your child 1.5 cups of vegetables every day as part of a balanced and healthy diet. As with fruits, the greater the variety the better for your child’s development. Try pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato, as well as dark green vegetables like broccoli, greens, spinach, kale, and romaine lettuce.


Feed your child about 3 ounces or about 85 grams of grains every day. This equals one to one-and-a-half slices of bread, or one cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or half (1/2) cup of cooked pasta or cooked oatmeal, or one cup of rice. You should give your child wholegrain/wholemeal options as much as possible and avoid white, processed foods like white bread or pasta.


Your child now needs around 400 to 700 ml (16-24 ounces) of milk a day. If you’re still breastfeeding, well done and keep it up for as long as you can. If you have switched to fresh cow’s milk, note that toddlers should always drink full-fat milk. Other good sources of dairy (for strong bones and teeth) are cheese and yoghurt.

In a nutshell, here’s what your child needs every day (refer above for what the amounts look like):

  • Fruits: 3 cups for boys and girls
  • Vegetables: 1.5 cups for boys and girls
  • Grains: up to 3 ounces for boys and girls
  • Proteins: 25g for boys and girls
  • Milk: 16 to 24 ounces of whole milk for boys and girls (your child does not require formula milk anymore)
  • Water: 1200 ml for boys and girls


  • Not all children are hungry upon waking up, especially if they had a large meal the evening before. Breakfast could be up to two hours after waking up.
  • Eating habits can be erratic at this age. One day, your child might devour three bowls of porridge, the next day he/she only takes a few spoonfuls. This is completely normal and you shouldn’t worry about it.
  • Don’t worry too much in general about your toddler’s eating habits. As long as your bub is active, happy and growing well, he/she is doing fine even if it seems your toddler is not eating all that much. Also, watch out for teething!
  • It is important to have regular meal times and snack times. Toddlers have small stomachs, so they won’t eat a lot at each sitting. But they do need regular topping up.
  • Try to stock up on healthy, filling snacks, such as crackers and fruit. And limit the sweets, as these don’t help them grow. They make lovely special treats though!
  • Limit the amount of salt and sugar your child consumes. Fizzy drinks should not be on your toddler’s menu at all.

When to speak to a doctor

If your child,

  • Throws up or has frequent runny stools (or blood in stools) after eating.
  • Is not gaining weight according to his/her growth chart.
  • Breaks out in a rash after eating.

Vaccinations and Common illnesses

Your child should have got the following vaccinations by now:

  • BCG
  • Hepatitis​ B (1st, 2nd and 3rd dose)
  • DTaP (1st, 2nd and 3rd dose)
  • IPV (1st, 2nd and 3rd dose)
  • Hib (1st, 2nd and 3rd dose)
  • Pneumococcal Conjugate (1st and 2nd dose)
  • Diphtheria (1st dose)
  • Meningitis C
  • MMR – 1st dose & 2nd dose: Immunisation against Measles, Mumps & Rubella
  • Pneumococcal Conjugate – 1st booster: Immunisation against Pneumococcal Disease

Parents do note that following MMR vaccination, some children develop a fever and rash one to two weeks later or swelling of the glands of the neck after three to four weeks. To read more about your child’s vaccination schedule, click here. You could also speak to your child’s paediatrician about giving him/her the flu vaccination.

When it comes to illness, expect your little one to contract common colds, coughs, throat and tummy irritations, and even conditions like chicken pox and Hand Foot Mouth disease, quite frequently. Since your little one is still quite young, it’s best to consult a doctor at the first sign of any illness for advice.

However, you can try some gentle home remedies to ease certain common symptoms, like steam inhalation for a blocked nose (always with you holding your toddler on your lap to prevent burning), or a soothing honey and ginger mix for an irritated throat.


  • If the doctor prescribes antibiotics, ensure you finish the course even if your child seems better.
  • Avoid buying over-the-counter cough medications for your little one.
  • Never overdose on fever medications, like paracetamol. Strictly stick to the prescribed dosages, while sponging your child in-between doses to control the temperature.
  • Have a first aid kit at home and brush on on your basic first aid knowledge.
  • Practice strict hygiene at home, especially hand washing.

When to see a doctor

If your child,

  • Is not at his/her target height or weight,
  • Is constantly getting ill .
  • Breaks out in strange rashes, or has unusual lumps or bumps on his/her body.


*Please note that development milestones vary from child to child. If you have any concerns regarding your little one’s growth, do not hesitate to consult your paediatrician. 

*Disclaimer: This is the median length and weight, and head circumference according to WHO standards.


Reference: Toddler development and milestones: your 1 year and 4 month old

Source: Web MD

READ: Hindi nakakatulong ang baby talk sa development ng bata

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