18 month milestones are signs of complex physical and cognitive developments for your toddler. She’s on a first-name basis with several common household objects and watches adults closely to imitate their actions. Physically, her increasing motor skills allow her to stack small objects, walk with push-and-pull toys and climb stairs and low surfaces. It’s amazing, considering not long ago she could only lie on her back and babble. Read on to learn more about what you can expect with your toddler’s 18 month milestones.
Cognitive Development & Milestones
She understands that every object has a name and may ask you for introductions with an inquisitive point of her finger. If you ask her to point to her feet, she might know that they’re under her knees; 18-month-old toddlers can probably identify at least one body part when asked.1 She’ll also imitate you, and you may find her pretending to talk on the phone while you’re in the middle of a call. Don’t be surprised if she repeats what you say!
At lunch time, she might pretend to feed her stuffed animal, and remember that her favourite cookies are in the cupboard.2 Participating in her pretend play will help her remember names of objects and what they’re used for.
Physical Development & Milestones
Large Muscle Development
If she's started walking, you probably can't get her to stop. She’ll probably be shaky at first, so make sure she has a safe place for walking practice. As she feels more confident, she'll be able to jump and walk up a single stair with a rail or climb onto a low chair. She may want to repeat the same activity 20 times, and that’s fine as long as she’s safe.
You can toddler proof your house similar to when she was learning to crawl – pad table corners, secure open cabinets and keep harmful objects out of reach as she learns to navigate home on two feet. Encourage independent walking practice by letting her hold onto your finger and provide lots of praise.
Small Muscle Development
Soon she'll be able to stack blocks, scribble, and place a few pegs in a pegboard. Give her large, easy to grasp crayons and sheets of paper to scribble on—it's great for improving her eye-hand coordination. If her development is ahead of schedule, she may try to draw a circle or a vertical line. She’ll also be able to hold and eat with a spoon by herself, and drink from a cup, allowing her to be a more active participant during mealtime and have the opportunity to learn eating habits by copying siblings and parents.
You can also introduce large muscle activities into her small muscle development, such as Follow the Leader with hand motions, Simon Says and dress up.5 These physical activities not only strengthen her motor skills, they’re great for memory, too and can be made easier or more challenging depending on how comfortable she is. You may have a Simon Says household champion on your hands!
How Can Nutrition Help?
Without adequate nutrition, your toddler’s muscles may be weak and slow to develop. Toddlers need to be fed more often than adults to keep up with the demands of their fast-growing bodies. Be sure yours is getting her fill of nutritious, balanced meals and snacks every day.
Each toddler grows and develops at his or her own pace; don’t be worried if she doesn’t show all the 18 month milestones outlined above. That being said, how she plays, learns, speaks, acts and moves are important clues about her development. If your toddler can’t walk, learn at least six words, or is losing skills she once had, please consult your pediatrician.6