Toddler milestones – the stages of toddler development
Suddenly your baby has become a mini person, complete with the exciting milestones they’re starting to hit. Read on to find out what can you expect to happen and when
Walking and running
While some babies will walk at around 12 months, others take their first steps a little later, or even earlier. What’s clear is that between the ages of one and two years your little one will really get moving. ‘If you’re waiting for your toddler to walk, encourage them by placing favourite toys just out of reach, so they have to make their way over,’ says child development expert Dr Amanda Gummer, author of Play: Fun Ways To Help Your Child Develop In The First Five Years. ‘A child who’s already steady on their feet may also start running, often at around 15-16 months.’ Simple games of tag on the grass or a soft play area are great to encourage more running.
By 12 months, your toddler should be interested in picking up pencils or crayons, but may not necessarily understand about putting them to paper, so don’t be afraid to show them. ‘By around 14 months, they should be able to draw a line or scribble, and as they grow during the year, this line will become gradually more controlled,’ says Dr Gummer. Your child’s grip will change as the fine motor skills develop. At first, they’ll hold the pencil with the whole fist, and the thumb pointing up. By the time they’re nearly two, it will change to what’s known as a palmar grasp, where they hold it across their palm with their thumb and forefinger nearest the nib. ‘Offer up chunky crayons and pencils during this year as they’re easier to grip,’ says Dr Gummer.
Your baby has probably been babbling away for a while, but the second year is when they really start to pick up words. ‘Talk to your toddler as much as possible, not only in full sentences, but also pointing out specific words for items,’ says Dr Gummer. ‘If they starts talking about the dog or car on the road, say, “Yes, that’s a dog, isn’t it?” so they’re receiving clear feedback.’ At 12 months, they may have a vocabulary of five or six words, of which ‘mama’, ‘dadda’ and ‘no’ will probably feature heavily. By 18 months, they may have started putting words together to form basic phrases that serve certain wants or needs. By two years, your toddler should have a large vocabulary of around 200 words.
Many mums may have already tried some finger feeding with their babies, particularly if they’re doing baby-led weaning, where your baby feeds themselves soft finger foods. By 12 months, your independent-minded toddler may want to feed on their own. ‘They should be able to hold a sippy cup to drink, and be able to scoop up food with a spoon by about 14 months, although it may not always reach their mouth,’ says Dr Gummer. Encourage self-feeding by eating together at the dinner table, so your toddler can copy you as you use your knife and fork. By age two, they should be able to self-feed with a spoon.
From one to two years, your little one will develop their ability to play, both on their own and with you or other children. ‘Your toddler will be able to throw a ball by about 18 months, although catching takes longer,’ says Dr Gummer. Use large, soft balls or balloons to help your child develop co-ordination. ‘By 18-20 months, they will have started incorporating role play into their games and be able to take some direction when playing. Don’t be afraid to get down to the same level and role play together so they can follow your lead.’
By Hannah Fox