Development at 12-18 months

Personal and Social Skills      

toddler child girl playing wooden toy blocks isolated

  • Enjoys having people clap
  • Shows affection or sympathy for others
  • Plays chasing and hiding games
  • Plays ball or other games with an adult
  • Shows specific wants by gestures and vocalizations
  • Becomes attached to favorite possession (blanket, toy)
  • Begins learning skills to become independent (removing garments, using a spoon or fork)
  • May have anxiety about parent leaving


  • Provide safe, peaceful environment.
  • Sing to child.
  • Make up songs to describe daily care routines.
  • Give child a washcloth and encourage child to “wash,” hug, and kiss a doll.
  • Let child help undress self.
  • Let child start feeding self with a spoon.
  • Ask child to show how big child is (help child raise hands high).
  • Take child on outings (zoo, park) and talk about the things you see and do with child.
  • Help child understand that although you may leave you will always come back.

Language and Understanding Skills

  • Points to body parts (head, foot) when they are named
  • Begins to say names of body parts
  • Points to several objects or pictures when they are named
  • Follows simple commands (“Sit down,” “let go”)


  • Encourage child to repeat familiar words.
  • While child is bathing or dressing, name body parts and encourage child to repeat the names.
  • Look at a picture book with child and help child name objects in the pictures.
  • Use simple cause and effect toys (busy box, jack-in-the-box).
  • Sing nursery rhymes and other children’s songs over and over again.
  • Do finger plays with child while singing songs (Itsy, Bitsy Spider).

Small Muscle Skills

  • Feeds self with spoon
  • Attempts scribbling
  • Stacks small objects
  • Builds tower of two or more blocks


  • Play game with blocks (stack them up, knock them down).
  • Encourage child to draw or scribble with a crayon or water-soluble marker.
  • Push, squeeze, and play with beanbags or soft sponge balls.
  • Encourage child to feed self with a spoon.

Large Muscles Skills

  • Walks alone
  • Throws a ball
  • Sits in a chair
  • Stoops to pick up an object


  • Hold child’s hand as child walks up stairs.
  • Allow child to walk and explore as much as possible, but always with supervision.
  • Provide pull toys and push toys for child to play with.
  • Roll and throw ball or bean bag with child.
  • Provide child-size furniture for child to use. Sturdy step stools or boxes can be used.

Roll a large ball to child and ask child to roll it back to you.