Your little gymnast can climb on and off the couch or chair—all without your help.
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You’re halfway through your little one’s second year, and they’ve somehow become a tiny person—right before your eyes. Now, your 18-month-old can more easily communicate with you and share more of their thoughts and feelings, both big and small. It’s a fun (and challenging) time, as they start to foster more independence, which always comes with growing pains. But with you championing them as they hit these big milestones, mama, they’re sure to find their footing.
By keeping track of what milestones your 18-month-old is working on achieving, you can support their development and consult with your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns. Here’s what to expect this month.
18-month milestones at a glance
This month, your toddler may be walking and talking, “helping” you with chores, and pointing to show you things they’re excited about. As for sleep, they may drop down to one longer midday nap, and may be getting more efficient at feeding themselves, which means lots of snack requests are probably headed your way (so many snacks!).
Related: 10 of the best store-bought snacks for kids
An in-depth look at 18-month milestones
Read on to find out what you need to know about 18-month-old development this month to best support your toddler’s growth.
18-month developmental milestones
Here’s what The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say about 18-month-old milestones.
(Editor’s note: The 18-month milestone guidelines were written to reflect the behaviors that 75% or more of children exhibit at a certain age. Note that milestones are not a perfect metric: It’s key to speak to your pediatrician if you have concerns about your unique child.)
- Your toddler may copy you doing chores, like mopping or sweeping the floor
- Playing with toys becomes more pronounced, like pushing a toy car to make it go
- At 18 months, your tot may try to say three or more words besides “mama” or “dada”
- Your little one can understand simple directions, like, “Go find your shoes!”
- Your child can walk by themselves, without holding onto your hands or other objects for support
- Coloring just got more fun—your toddler can scribble with a crayon!
- They’re getting more efficient at feeding themselves with their fingers or a spoon, and working on drinking from a cup without a lid
- Your little gymnast can climb on and off the couch or chair without your help
Social and emotional
- They’re more comfortable moving away from you now, but still check to make sure you’re nearby
- Your tot may point to show you something they find interesting
- When it’s time to wash hands, they know to hold their hands out for you to wash them
- They may use objects they way they were intended, like “reading” pages of a book
- Your little love may help get themselves dress by pushing their arms through their sleeves
Related: 12 sensory toys to stimulate your 1-year-old, according to a child development expert
Your toddler’s sleep at 18 months
Though your toddler might act older than their 1.5 years, they still require plenty of sleep: 11 to 14 hours, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. That can be broken up into a continuous 10-hour stretch (at least) at night and now, one nap during the day. The single nap may be new: many toddlers drop their morning nap around this time.
Ready to drop a nap? How to tell
Here are the 3 signs your toddler is ready to drop a nap, according to sleep consultant Rachel Gorton.
- One or both of your child’s naps has gotten significantly shorter for a minimum of two consecutive weeks
- Your child has been completely rejecting the second nap for two or more consecutive weeks
- Your child is starting to experience night wakings, trouble falling asleep at bedtime and/or early risings
If your child is showing the signs above, swapping out their morning nap for a longer afternoon nap (in the range of 1.5 to 2.5 hours) might be warranted. Just aim for their nap to be around midday or in the early afternoon so there’s still a long-enough wake window before bedtime.
Feeding a 18-month-old
Your little one is getting pretty good at feeding themselves, and may even be able to use a spoon solo. Keep offering a wide range of colorful foods to ensure they’re getting a varied diet, though they may start to show some strong food preferences around this time. Keep holding off on offering your kiddo foods and drinks with added sugar—AAP recommends avoiding added sugar for kids under 2.
The AAP recommends the following feeding amounts for 18-month-olds:
- 1 ounce of meat, or 2 to 3 tablespoons of beans
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetables
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of fruit
- 1/4 slice of bread
As a general guideline, for kids between the ages of 1 and 3, a serving size should be approximately one-quarter of an adult’s, AAP notes.
If you’re aiming to breastfeed until at least age 2, aligned with the new AAP guidelines, we have tips on how to make extended breastfeeding happen if that’s a goal you’re striving for—and it’s still working for both of you. Cow’s milk is also a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals.
Related: 8 brain-developing foods even your pickiest eater will love
18-month-old health & growth
Your almost-2-year-old is getting so tall! Though you’re not going to see rapid growth now as you did in their first 12 months (which means you won’t have to change out their clothing sizes as quickly), you’ll likely see a moderate increase in both height and weight at their 18-month well-check this month.
How much does the average 18-month-old weigh?
According to the WHO:
- A 18-month-old boy in the 50th percentile weighs 24 pounds (10.9 kilograms)
- A 18-month-old girl in the 50th percentile weighs 22 pounds, 8 ounces (10.2 kilograms)
How tall is the average 18-month-old?
According to the WHO:
- A 18-month-old boy in the 50th percentile is 32 ¼ inches tall (82.3 cm)
- A 18-month-old girl in the 50th percentile is 31 ¾ inches tall (80.7 cm)
Activities for 18-month-olds
Looking for a few fun activities to do with your 18-month-old? From art to dancing, here are a few fresh ideas to encourage their sensory and motor skills development.
Color their world: Got a cardboard box lying around? Hand your toddler a few crayons or kid-safe markers and help them turn it into a spaceship, castle or car.
Dance party: Toddlers may love exciting, upbeat music they can move their body to. Create a playlist of movement-based or fast-tempo songs and jump around together.
Chore time: 18-month-olds love helping you around the house, and giving them pint-sized jobs can boost their confidence. Ask them for their help sweeping, weeding or washing the dishes, while you’re close at hand, of course.