18 Month Old Baby Facts
Your baby is turning into a full-fledged toddler right before your eyes. They’re developing all kinds of new skills and interests while becoming increasingly independent.
You’re proud of all that your child can do, but you can’t help and notice other toddlers around their age. First, there’s your neighbor, whose 18-month old baby is talking in full sentences, while your toddler still says just single words. Perhaps you’re experiencing the dreaded 18-month sleep regression while your friend is not.
Then, there’s your co-worker, who is bragging about potty training her 18-month-old. Your child is nowhere near ready to potty train (and neither are you for that matter!)
Is your child behind or are these other kids just advanced? Should you be concerned? What’s normal? What are the 18-month-old baby milestones?
Below is a comprehensive list of 18-month-old baby milestones. These are generalizations. Some 18-month-old babies will be far ahead while others won’t be.
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You may find your little one can do most of these things, but not all. This is perfectly normal! Keep reading for information on when you should be concerned and ways to encourage milestone development.
1. Gross Motor Skills
Your 18-month-old baby should display gross motor skills include the following:
- Your baby should be walking by themselves and able to pull toys while walking.
- They may be able to walk up steps (with or without assistance) and run.
- They can bend over to pick up a toy.
- They can throw and kick objects like balls.
- Your child may begin trying to climb out of their crib.
If your child is not walking by 18 months, you should contact your pediatrician so that you can get them the intervention and support they need to meet this important milestone.
If you notice your child attempting to climb out of their crib, this may be a good time to switch from a crib to a toddler bed in order to prevent serious injury.
2. Fine Motor Skills
Your 18-month-old baby should display the following motor skills:
- Your child should be able to drink from a cup and eat with a spoon (even though it may be messy!)
- They should be able to help undress themselves.
- They will be able to hold a crayon and scribble.
- Your child should be able to stack two or more objects.
- They should be able to manipulate objects between their thumb and index fingers to do a variety of tasks.
Encouraging your baby’s fine motor skill development at this age can be a messy endeavor! Tasks such as stacking blocks, putting pegs in holes, and feeding themselves all contribute to developing these important skills.
3. Language Development
18-month-old baby milestones for language development include the following:
- Your child should produce speech-like sounds.
- They should be able to say between 10 and 20 words.
- They will repeat words that they overhear adults saying.
- They should be able to communicate “no” by shaking their head.
- They should understand what it means to put an object “in” something or “on” something.
Your child’s language will start to explode at this age. Although there is a wide variance in how many words an individual child can say around 18 months, the normal target is 10 to 20 words.
If your child is saying less than five words, doesn’t attempt to copy adult speech, or loses old skills, you should bring this to your pediatrician’s attention.
At this age, kids love nursery rhymes with hand motions, reading board books, and dancing along to simple songs. These activities all encourage language acquisition
Remember, if you do nothing else, read, read, read with your little one. It’s never too early to start!
4. Social and Emotional Development
18 month old baby milestones for social and emotional development include the following:
- Your child may show a fear of strangers and/or start having baby nightmares.
- They may be clingy to a parent or other caregiver.
- Your child will explore new places or objects with a parent or caregiver nearby.
- They will show affection to family members and other people they know well. If your baby isn’t affectionate, hang in there.
- He/she may begin throwing temper tantrums.
- Your baby starts laughing at things they find funny. Check out our guide on how to make your baby laugh.
Around 18 months, children begin to learn about their own independence and start to test boundaries. This 18-month-old baby milestone can be quite concerning for some parents. You may see an otherwise compliant child start to say “no” frequently or have temper tantrums. Baby anxiety may also peak during this age.
These are normal parts of development and not a cause for concern. If, however, your child does not seem to notice when a parent or caregiver leaves or returns, doesn’t point or show things to others, and/or loses old skills, consult with your pediatrician.
5. Physical Development
18 month old baby milestones for physical development include the following:
- The soft spot on your child’s head should be closed at this age.
- Your child is able to control the muscles that help them urinate and produce a bowel movement (although they may not be ready for potty training).
- Your child is growing at a slower pace than earlier and may have a decrease in appetite.
- Your child will be getting their upper cuspids around this age (teething round two!)
6. Cognitive Skills
18 month old baby milestones for cognitive skills include the following:
- Your child is able to follow one-step commands.
- They should be able to mimic everyday activities they observe as they engage in pretend play.
- They should understand how ordinary objects around the house are used.
- Your child should be able to point to various body parts when prompted.
- They should be able to point to an object that grabs their attention.
Kids at this age love to mimic parents and caregivers. Providing them with toys to mimic adult activities is a great way to foster pretend play. Toys such as tea sets, kitchens, vacuum cleaners, workbenches, shopping carts, and baby dolls all accomplish this.
Additionally, kids at this age will love playing hide-and-seek with a favorite toy or using crayons to scribble.
Try to avoid using the TV or computer screens as a teaching tool at this age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding TV time for kids under the age of 2. Children at 18 months often don’t understand that images they see on a screen are equivalent to those same images in the real world.
These 18-month-old baby milestones are a great way to measure how your child is developing and to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie. When you have your 18-month check-up with the pediatrician, they will probably ask you about some of these milestones to make sure your child is developing appropriately. They may also ask about your 18-month-old’s sleep schedule.
In fact, at 18 months old many pediatricians will screen for autism by asking about social/emotional behaviors and language development.
Whether your child needs extra support or not, seeing your child meet their 18-month-old baby milestones is a rewarding experience for every parent.