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12-24 month old milestones

A wild year: What developments to expect from 12 to 24 months

Recently, one of my colleagues wrote a blog post about all the fun milestones kids go through in their first year of life. But what comes next? Hang on tight, the next 12 months are another fun ride for kids and parents. 

A quick note of caution to start. As my colleague wrote in the first year milestone blog, kids develop on their own time schedules. These are just general milestones many kids reach in their second year of life. Your child’s pediatrician is the best source for whether or not your child is meeting age-appropriate milestones. 

Here’s what to expect.

12 to 15 months

If your child wasn’t walking, they probably are by now. Time to make sure you have gates up and child proofing done around the house because these kiddos are busy and curious! Other things your toddler may be doing: 

  • Starting to gain a bit more independence.

  • If they are newer to walking, they may begin to prefer walking over crawling as a way of getting around. If they are already comfortable walking, they may try running.

  • Crawling up on furniture or stairs. Keep an eye on them at all times! They might be able to get up on furniture or crawl upstairs, but getting down is another skill they might not have mastered yet and will need oversight from a parent or a responsible older sibling. 

  • Drinking from a sippy cup and feeding themselves with their hands. 

  • Language may be forming. Words like “mama,” “dada” and the sometimes unpopular “no!” may roll off their tongues. 

  • Toddlers will initiate signs of affection like hugging and kissing. 

15 to 18 months

As they continue to grow and develop, kids really want to show you all they can do. 

  • Begin using utensils to feed themselves.

  • More gross motor skill development such a deliberately throwing a ball (or other object).

  • Using and understanding language. Kids can understand and react to simple instructions. They may also have about 15 words at this point.

  • Strong emotions can come out. This means anything from expressing frustrations through tantrums to developing strong attachments to people they love, expressed through hugs, kisses and cuddles. 

18 to 24 months

Get ready for fun. There is so much going on in these six months. 

  • Talking may be more developed. Kids will still use a mix of babble and real words, but they will likely add a new word or two each week. Around 2 years old, they may have short sentences. But don’t be alarmed if your child doesn’t have a lot of words. Like I said, kids develop at their own pace. They may be working on other skills instead of talking. 

  • Recognizing objects and body parts by pointing at them should develop during these six months. 

  • Separation attachment peaks around 18 months and then often tapers off. My colleague wrote this informative blog on managing separation anxiety in kids

  • Playing gets more sophisticated: building towers with blocks, kicking or throwing a ball back and forth, scribbling with crayons (watch out for your walls!) or playing simple games of make believe, such as pretending to drink out of a tea cup. 

  • Taking off and putting on clothes or slip-on shoes can begin closer to 24 months. 

How to help your kids

I like to encourage parents and caregivers to try a few ideas to help their kids during this year: 

  • Encourage safe exploration and free play.

  • Build language through reading, singing and playing word games. Also, simply talking to your child about everyday things will help build their vocabulary. 

  • Continue working on good hygiene habits, such as good hand washing with soap and brushing their teeth. 

  • Give choices, encourage appropriate behavior and set limits consistently. 

  • Provide materials, such as stacking and nesting toys, lacing materials, musical instruments, finger paint and crayons. Even old cardboard boxes provide play opportunities for kids. 

  • Provide nutritious food and family meal times. 

  • Build empathy by showing affection and being responsive to needs. 

  • Involve your child in tasks to encourage involvement and give them the foundation to do things for themselves. 

  • Limit screen time and don’t use it as a substitute for interaction with other people. 

  • Maintain routines with flexibility. Parents who demonstrate flexibility encourage flexibility in kids.

  • Continue well-child check-ups. This is really important. It’s in these well-checks that my colleagues and I make sure your child is developing on track and, if not, we can provide resources to help your child and family.