Toddler development and milestones: your 20 month old

Toddler development and milestones: your 20 month old

It's time to break out the paint! Your toddler's creativity and imaginations are blooming. You are his guide in this stage of toddler development of his exciting and sometimes scary journey.

Just four months away from turning two! Your little one suddenly seems to be growing up too soon! Look! Your child's independence has started becoming more evident. He will also want to take off his own clothes!  

All children develop at their own pace. Some are placid little angels, some are little whirling dervishes. Some toddlers speak in whole sentences, other toddlers still prefer sign language.

None of this is any indication of their future development or education. It is often said that Einstein did not begin speaking until three years old!

20 Month Old Development And Milestones: Is Your Tot on Track?

Toddler development and milestones: your 20 month old

Physical Development

Stairs pose no threat to your little walker! Up and up he goes, and with a little help, he can get safely down again as well. It seems your little one is in a hurry and he much prefers running to walking these days. If he's a dancer, you might even catch him skipping! 

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

  • Boys
    – Height: 84.0 cm (33.1 inches)

    – Weight: 11.3 kg (25.0 lb)
  • Girls 
    – Height: 82.8 cm (32.6 inches)
    – Weight: 11.0 kg (24.4 lb)

Your child’s head circumference* should be:

  • Boys: 47.7 cm (18.8 inches)
  • Girls: 46.6 cm (18.3 inches)


  • Standing on one foot is an important step in physical toddler development. See if your little one can do it if you hold his hand. Balancing on his own is still hard enough on two feet, let alone one!
  • He will also will try to climb on different furniture in the house.
  • In fine motor development, your tiny tot should be able to draw lines. Not straight and clean ones, but a big bunch together. That is, if you manage to sit him still long enough!
  • He does love making shapes though, and painting. Finger paint is great to practice his coordination. Since children love to paint themselves even more, you could either give him a bib or just take his clothes off! For an even easier clean up, try letting your tiny tot paint in the bathroom or on the balcony.

When to Talk to Your Doctor:

  • This is the age kids fall and get bruised a lot, as they are still trying to get the grasp of things. But if your child is crying incessantly for hours, or if the area has swollen, it is best to go to the doctor to check for any severe injuries that need medical attention.

Cognitive Development

Your little one's brain is constantly buzzing, learning new things and exploring his surroundings. As his imagination is blooming, you might notice he gets more fearful. As he is able to imagine things that are not right in front of him, he is also able to think of scary stuff.

Take his fears seriously. He does not yet know how to differentiate between what is real and what is imaginary. He relies on you to help him make sense of his thoughts and fears. Let him know that he can always come to you and be safe in your loving arms.


  • His attention span is still very short, so even if he is very afraid, you can usually distract him after a quick cuddle.
  • Your toddler loves to muck about with sand, water, leaves and mud. It's time to designate play clothes! Put him in these clothes when you know you'll be going out and he'll get dirty, so you won't worry too much.
  • He also adores water play, so keep a stack of plastic bowls and boxes in the bathroom for him to play with.
  • Look how he imitates you. His favourite one will be picking up things and throwing it!
  • He will also play during meal times, and imitate you, by trying to feed that doll or teddy!

When to Talk to Your Doctor:

  • If you see that there is too much aggression or if he is unable to express himself during any activity that he is into, please do visit a doctor.

20 month old development

Social and Emotional Development

Children learn best when they feel secure and loved. Comfort your child when he needs it, and, for now, go easy on the expectations! All children develop at their own pace, and whether they hit their developmental milestones right on time, earlier or later, research has shown that by school age all children are pretty much on the same level.


  • Be prepared for the onset of tantrums. Your formerly placid little bubba may turn into a little banshee if he doesn't get his way! Crying, flinging himself to the floor, screaming, kicking, biting, are all part of this stage of toddler development.
  • The most important thing is to stay calm yourself. Your little one has not yet learned self-control. He needs you to show him the right behaviour.
  • To encourage him to behave well, try not to give in (too often) if he stages a public demonstration. Instead, take him to a quiet place so he can calm down.
  • Most of the people looking at you will be feeling compassion. After all, we have all been there!
  • It is hard to understand where the tantrums come from. Often it'll be frustration over things that to grown-ups are not important at all. Other times, it's tiredness, or hunger, or too much excitement.
  • When it comes to playdates, short and sweet is the way to go. Be sure there are enough toys for all children, because at this stage of toddler development, your little one has not yet mastered the skill of sharing. A few kids that drop by regularly suits your tot better than big, festive gatherings.

When to Talk to Your Doctor:

  • Maybe you are wondering if your toddler's behaviour is getting out of control. One in four toddlers is sensitive and has difficulty adjusting to change. These children will be more prone to tantrums. If you think this applies to your child, have a talk with a childhood developmental specialist to find the right strategies for your situation.

Speech and Language Development

The average toddler knows and speaks 15 words at 20 months, but the average toddler does not exist! So look at your little one, and follow his lead. If you do worry, speak with your paediatrician.


  • Your tot might be beginning to ask questions, with the upwards inflection at the end of the sentence. He might be even saying two-word sentences, such as "Baby milk," or "Ball throw."
  • You might notice he prefers words and names to pronouns, and calls himself "baby" or by his own name. This is because pronouns are still tricky to manage, whereas words like "mummy" and "daddy" and "baby" are clearly defined.
  • He will be more than excited to learn new words. Try and teach him at least 10 new words from a picture book.
  • Avoid saying "NO" to everything, it will lose its importance. Try using more affirmative sentences. That's what they will learn in the future as well.

When to Talk to your Doctor:

  • If your toddler is not using any words at all by now (if not sentences), it is best to visit the doctor to check for any speech delay issues.

Health and Nutrition

Around 90% of the child's brain usually develops in the first five years of their life. Have you pondered what would happen if your child had a very happy and healthy first five years?

Nutrition plays a very important role in brain development, and though your tiny one will make it very difficult for you to feed him the best, it is not really impossible!

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

  • Boys: 925.7 Kcal/day
  • Girls: 899.0 Kcal/day

To meet their daily nutrition needs, it should be composed of especially the following:

  • Protein

Your 1 year 8 month old child will need at least 25g of protein. Introduce your tot to sources of protein such as poultry, seafood, dairy, beans, nuts and seeds, eggs, and tofu. They can finish up an entire egg or even a small chunk of meat.

  • Fruits and vegetables

Colourful food items will help get your toddler's attention. Make sure in a day, your toddler eats at least one whole fruit (50-100 grams), a bowl of veggies in any form, or 1.5 cups of vegetables and 3 cups of fruits.

  • Grains

Introduce up to 3 ounces of grains in your child’s meals. One ounce of grains equals one slice of bread, one cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or half (1/2) cup of cooked pasta or cooked cereal.

  • Milk/Dairy

You child will require around 400-700ml of breastmilk. You can choose to switch it up with milk, cheese or 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; 3 cups for girls
  • Vegetables: 1.5 cups for boys; 1.5 cups for girls
  • Grains: 3 ounces for boys; 3 ounces for girls
  • Proteins: 25g for boys; 25g for girls
  • Milk: 16 to 24 ounces for boys; 16 to 24 ounces for girls
  • Water: 1200 ml for boys; 1200 ml for girls


  • For a 1 year and 8 month old, it is very easy to fall sick, and they easily recover from sickness as well. But worry not, this is only helping them build their immunity.
  • When you see that your child is suddenly scratching, or inactive, it's best to check their body temperature.
  • He will also try to pick up and eat anything and everything he can get his hands on. Make sure the food he eats is healthy, fresh and nutritious.


Vaccination schedule

To find out what vaccinations your child should have gotten up to now, and check if this schedule is up-to-date, click here. As of 18 months, these immunisations should have been introduced to your child:

  • DTaP – 1st booster: Immunisation against Diphtheria, Pertussis & Tetanus
  • IPV – 1st booster: Immunisation against Poliomyelitis
  • Hib – 1st booster: Haemophilus influenza type b vaccine
  • MMR – 2nd dose : Immunisation against Measles, Mumps & Rubella

Even with a complete vaccination record, your child might still catch colds, the flu and other common illnesses like Hand Foot and Mouth disease. If your child shows signs of severe discomfort, including vomiting, diarrhoea or very high fever (over 38°C/100.4°F), you should consult a doctor.


  • Do read up about hand, foot and mouth disease. Find out what it is, and what you should do if your toddler has it.
  • After a vaccination, do offer breastmilk and liquids more often—some children tend to eat less during the 24 hours after a vaccination.
  • Pay extra attention to your child for a few days after a vaccination.

When To Visit The Doctor:

  • If you see something that concerns you, such as prolonged pain at the injection area, a rash or a fever. Do note that these symptoms usually goes away pretty soon.
  • Complains constantly of headaches or other aches.
  • Has been vomiting or has diarrhoea for more than two days.

Treating Common Illnesses

To manage the three most common medical issues in kids–fever, cough, and cold–try the following:
  • To treat fever in kids

Try using children’s ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Never give a child aspirin as that could lead to Reye’s syndrome — a life-threatening illness that affects the liver and brain. You can also give your child a sponge bath with lukewarm water and do dress him/her lightly.

When it comes to treatment of cough and cold, the The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (DFA) does not recommend over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for children younger than 2 years old. It is always advised to seek the opinion of the paediatrician.

  • To treat coughs and cold in kids
    • Try placing in a humidifier near your child’s bed. This moistens the air and helps prevent the drying of their nasal passages and throat.
    • Use saline drops or spray to moisten nasal passages for infants with stuffy nose. Clean their nose after with a bulb syringe or any other suction tool meant for infants.
    • Give your child plenty of fluids such as water and milk.
    • Try feeding chicken soup that helps to reduce inflammation.
    • Do NOT use medicated vapour in children under two years of age.

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. 


Republished from TheAsianParent Singapore


Source: Toddler Development and Milestones: Your 1 Year and 8 Month Old

Reference: CDC

READ: Special Bonding Moments You Can Do with Your Toddlers

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