If you have an 18-month-old at home, you may have a lot of questions about your child's development. It's an exciting time as your little one is becoming more independent and curious about the world around them. But as a parent, it can be frustrating and anxiety-inducing to keep track of their emotional and physical development.
As a preschool teacher, I have had the pleasure of observing many children (including my own) reach 18 months and beyond, and I want to share some important milestones that you can expect during this stage of development. From language to motor skills, let's dive into the world of 18-month-old milestones. Plus, if you need some toddler home-friendly organization tips, be sure to check out this post.
What should an 18-month-old be able to do developmentally?
Walk and run with more control:
Your child may have started walking a few months ago, but at 18 months, they will have more control over their movements and can walk and run more confidently.
Use simple words:
You may have noticed that your child is starting to say a few words like "mama" or "dada." At 18 months old, they should be able to say at least 10 words and understand simple instructions.
Understand cause and effect:
Your child may enjoy putting things in and taking them out of containers to see what happens. They are starting to understand that their actions have consequences.
At this age, your child is starting to understand other people's emotions and may show concern when someone is upset.
Play alongside other children:
Your child may start to show an interest in playing with other children, but they may not be ready for cooperative play just yet.
Feed themselves with a spoon:
Your child may be starting to self-feed with a spoon but don't be surprised if they still prefer to use their hands.
Remember, every child develops at their own pace and some may reach these milestones earlier or later than others. The most important thing is to support and encourage your child as they explore and learn about the world around them. Keep in mind that developmental delays are not uncommon and if you have any concerns, it's always best to talk to your child's pediatrician or a child development specialist.
How can parents encourage communication development in an 18-month-old?Talk to your child:
Engage in conversation with your child and ask them questions. Even if they don't respond verbally, they are still listening and absorbing language.
Reading to your child helps them develop language skills, vocabulary, and comprehension. Choose books with simple stories and bright illustrations to keep their attention.Sing songs and recite nursery rhymes:
This helps your child develop their memory and language skills, as well as their understanding of rhythm and melody.
Encourage playtime with other children:
Social interaction with other children can help your child learn new words and practice their communication skills.
Use gestures and facial expressions:
Your child may not understand all the words you're saying, but they can still understand the meaning through your gestures and facial expressions. Use hand gestures and facial expressions to help convey the meaning of the words you're saying.
What kind of gross motor skills should an 18-month-old be able to practice?
Firstly, your 18-month-old should be able to walk steadily, although they may still stumble or fall occasionally. They should also be able to climb stairs with assistance, either by holding onto a handrail or an adult's hand. Running is another skill that they should be starting to develop, along with the ability to kick a ball or throw a soft object.
Additionally, an 18-month-old should have better control of their body movements. They should be able to bend down to pick up toys without falling over and be able to squat to play or pick things up from the ground. They should also be able to walk backward and turn around without losing their balance.
It's important to encourage your child to practice these gross motor skills through play. You can involve them in games that involve running, jumping or hopping. Provide them with opportunities to climb and play on safe structures such as small slides or a climbing frame.
What types of fine motor skills can an 18-month-old child exhibit?
This is when your child uses their thumb and forefinger to pick up small objects like Cheerios or beads. This skill is necessary for feeding themselves and playing with small toys.
Your child may be starting to make marks on paper with crayons or markers. This is an important precursor to writing and helps build hand-eye coordination.
Your child may be able to turn pages in a board book or lift flaps to reveal hidden pictures. This helps develop their hand strength and coordination.
Your child may be able to stack blocks or cups on top of each other. This improves their hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness.
Your child may be able to string larger beads onto a shoelace or string. This helps develop their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
It's important to remember that every child develops at their own pace, so don't worry if your child isn't exhibiting all of these skills just yet. Encouraging playtime with age-appropriate toys and activities can help foster the development of fine motor skills.
Try providing your child with toys that require them to use their hands and fingers, such as building blocks or play dough. You can also practice these skills with your child during everyday activities, such as having them help with meal prep or folding laundry. Also, I have a wide range of sensory boxes that are great to keep your little one busy with some supervision.
What type of social and emotional development should an 18-month-old have?
At 18 months old, your little one is likely beginning to show some signs of independence and self-awareness. Here are some milestones you can expect to see in their social and emotional development:
Your toddler may become upset when you leave them, even for a short period of time. This is a normal part of their development and shows that they have developed a strong attachment to you.
Your child may start to show concern for others when they are upset or hurt. They may try to comfort them by patting their back or offering a hug.
Your toddler may start to recognize themselves in the mirror and understand that they are a separate person from you.
Playing with others:
Your little one may begin to engage in parallel play, where they play alongside other children but not necessarily interacting with them. This is the first step towards social play.
Your child may start to express their emotions more clearly, such as laughing when they are happy or crying when they are upset.
How can parents help an 18-month-old learn about self-control?
At 18 months, children are just starting to understand their own emotions and how to regulate them. Here are some tips on how parents can help their 18-month-old learn about self-control:
Children learn best by watching their parents. Try to model self-control by regulating your own emotions and reactions. For example, if you get frustrated, take a deep breath and stay calm.
Use positive reinforcement:
When your child shows self-control, praise and encourage their efforts. For example, if your child is playing nicely with a toy, say “You’re doing a great job sharing and taking turns.”
Establishing boundaries and rules can help your child learn self-control. For example, if your child is hitting or biting, say “No, hitting hurts. Use your words instead.”
Giving your child choices can help them learn self-control. For example, ask “Do you want to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt?” This gives them a sense of control and can help reduce tantrums.
When your child is about to lose control, redirect their attention to something else. For example, if they’re upset about leaving the playground, say “Let’s go look at the ducks over there.”
Remember that learning self-control takes time and practice. Be patient with your child and keep reinforcing positive behaviors.
What should an 18-month-old understand about language?
By this age, your toddler should understand and use around 20 words. These words may include common objects such as "ball," "milk," and "book." They can also understand simple commands such as "come here" or "give me."
Your toddler is starting to understand more complex language such as "no" and "stop." They may also understand simple questions like "Where's your toy?" or "What's that?"
Your toddler is starting to understand the meaning behind words and phrases. For example, they may understand the difference between "up" and "down" or "in" and "out."
Your toddler is also starting to use language to communicate their own thoughts and needs. They may use simple sentences such as "More juice, please" or "I want toy."
It's important to remember that every child develops at their own pace, and some children may be more advanced in their language skills than others. The first five years are important, but fun -- I wrote all about it here. However, if you have concerns about your child's language development, don't hesitate to talk to your pediatrician or a speech therapist.
They can offer guidance and support to help your child reach their language milestones. Additionally, you can support your child's language development by talking to them often, reading to them, and providing them with opportunities to interact with other children and adults.
18 months is a significant age for your child's development. Your toddler is learning new skills and gaining independence, but they may also experience frustration and tantrums as they navigate this new stage.By understanding your child's milestones and providing them with positive reinforcement and guidance, you can help them reach their full potential. After all, 90% of your child’s brain develops by kindergarten. Remember to be patient and supportive, and don't hesitate to seek professional help if you have concerns about your child's development. With your love and support, your child will continue to grow and thrive.