Time is flying by and your baby is already 18 months old!
Every game and activity is now a chance to study, and your toddler is learning all the time about how things work. If you look at your child while he plays, you’ll notice he is very focused. He can use things he knows from the past to find solutions during game time. Children are usually interested in games that are appropriate for their age - games for younger children might bore them very quickly, but if the game is too progressive they might also not play. Children at this age are especially attracted to games with springs, switches, buttons and handles. You might not know what your child can or cannot do at this age, but there is no need because they do! If you give them a variety of activities to choose from, they will choose the ones that challenge them but not the ones that are completely out of their reach.
Motor skills - At the age of 18 months, your child should be able to walk on their own. If they see a target at the other end of the room, they should be able to reach it by walking there without assistance. They can also walk up and down stairs with a helping hand or railing. After all the time and effort you put and all the love you give your child daily, most children can finally learn how to show you their love by giving you a kiss! When you think about it, it is not as simple as it seems - pressing lips together and bringing them to a kissing position is a sign of control of the mouth muscles.
At the age of 18 moths, your child can already build a tower of 3-4 books and towards the age of two - even higher than that. They should use both hands while building and not always prefer one hand over the other. They should be feeding themselves with their hands and with a spoon and should also be able to drink alone from a cup, although sometimes they might still spill some on themselves.
Language - Your child now knows more than 10 words, and towards two years of age they know close to 50 words and can put 2 words together to make a short sentence.
Social skills - Imitation is a big part of the learning process at this age. Instead of randomly picking up objects around the house, they now understand their purpose. They can brush their hair with a hairbrush, babble into the telephone, steer the wheel in their toy car and push the car forward and backward. In the beginning, they will only play on their own, but with time they’ll invite others into their world. They might play with a doll, “read” you a story or hold a toy phone to your ear. Since imitating others is such an integral part of their development, you must be very cautious about your own behavior at this stage. Your behavior and things you say can be repeated to you by your child over and over while they’re learning. Older siblings are also an important part of this process. Toddlers copy the behavior of their older siblings and you can use this to your advantage.
In the upcoming period, your child will improve in hiding games. If you take a ball or other toy from your child and put it in your pocket, your child will remember it long after you have already forgotten. The same way they understand an object is hidden even when they can’t see it, they will now understand that you will come back even if you’re not around all day. If you show your child exactly where you are when you’re not with them - at work or the supermarket - they will be able to imagine you there. This could make the separation easier and help with the separation anxiety if your child suffers from it.
Cognitive - Your child is the boss - they will tell you what part they want you to play in their activities. Sometimes they’ll bring you a game and want you to play with them. If you respond to their hints, you will provide the support they need to keep on learning. They now understand how some things work, but still don't understand the concept of cause and effect. For example, they might understand that if they leave their toy car on a hill it will roll down, but not what will happen if it lands in the middle of the street. Although they might understand that doors open and close, they might not realize that they shouldn’t put their fingers in the crease. Even if they learned the lesson once the hard way, don’t assume they’ll remember it in the future. It’s possible they won’t connect the pain they feel to the events leading to it and even if they do they might not remember it until the next time it happens. Until they’re a little older and understand more, you need to stay alert to keep them safe and sound.
As we mentioned before, each child has their own pace of development, and there’s nothing to worry about if your child doesn’t do everything mentioned. When should you make an appointment to see a doctor? Here are a few examples:
If your child isn’t walking at the age of 18 months
If your child only walks on their tiptoes or doesn't develop a normal gait after a few months of trying
Can’t say “mama” or “dada”
If your child doesn’t make eye contact
If your child prefers to play with themselves and isn’t interested in others
Doesn’t know the use of household objects such as a phone and a fork at 15 months
Can’t follow simple instructions at the age of 2 years
Can’t push a toy on wheels at the age of 2 years
If you feel like your child is having a harder time than others in motor, social or language skills, you should make an appointment with your pediatrician.
Last updated: May 2017
Authors - Judah Freedman BA MED, Dr. Yair Sadaka MD Ph.D., pediatrician, Pediatric neurologist
American Academy of Paediatrics
The Israeli ministry of health