He is approaching those terrible twos and has started the temper tantrums to prove it. Not so long ago he was a helpless little bundle and now he is becoming an independent being who insists he can do everything “self.” But what about all the wonderful things he has mastered in the past few months? It seems each day he demonstrates new talents. The milestones of this age are general guidelines to your little explorer's development, but there are some things he should have mastered at this stage.
1. Verbal Skills
You've tried to interpret her grunts, whines and other noises since she made her first adorable communicative sound. While those noises are delightful, it’s easy to become frustrated when you can’t understand what she is trying to say. Fortunately, the interpreting is nearing an end. As your toddler reaches 18 months, she should have a vocabulary of 10 or more words. If she isn't speaking at all yet, look for other cues that language skills are developing, such as pointing at objects she wants, showing understanding when you speak to her and using gestures and facial expressions to communicate. If she's not showing any of these signs, it may be a good idea to bring it up to your health practitioner at her 18-month checkup.
Most toddlers by this age have their feet planted firmly beneath them and can walk with relative coordination. However, as he begins to pick up speed to a running gait, his little legs get a little uncoordinated and so he spends a fair amount of time falling on his bottom. Fortunately, with just a single handrail to help keep his balance, he can manage his way up the stairs with little trouble at all. And stairs aren’t the only thing he'll be trying to climb right now; toy boxes, couches and small chairs are great for climbing too. If your toddler hasn't gotten mobile, it's possible that he hasn't had the motivation yet. It's also possible though that he may have hip problems, so it's a good idea to make an appointment to investigate.
3. Feeding Time
Those messy months of finger feeding are coming to an end. She is beginning to gain the fine motor skills necessary to wield a spoon with some coordination. Unfortunately, the mess at mealtime may continue for a little while as she masters the ability to keep the food on the spoon as she brings it to her mouth. If she's not feeding herself with a spoon, don't fret just yet. She may just like how quickly you can get the food into her hungry tummy. Keep encouraging self-feeding for the next few months.
4. Dressing Time
While all of those buttons are still a dressing time barrier for your 18-month old, he can now begin to help out at changing time. He should be able to take off his own socks, as you may have already discovered in the grocery store, and he should be able to remove other simple clothing items, such as hats, gloves and scarves. If he isn't showing any interest in undressing himself, don't worry because he'll likely figure it out by his second birthday.
5. Story Time
She has listened to your stories with enthusiasm but now she can take an active role during reading time. Your toddler should begin to recognize when a book is upside down at this stage and should be able to turn the pages of a board book for you because of her developing fine motor skills. If you ask her to identify the characters in the story she should be able to point to the correct picture with pride. All of these are precursors to language and reading skills. If she's not engaging in story time, try encouraging her participation. If you've been reading to her at bedtime, try adding some reading time during the day. She may be too tired at bedtime to put forth the effort.
6. Play Time
Now is the time to start admiring your toddler's artwork. Those fine motor skills have been developing and he can now produce beautiful scribbles for you. Those motor skills have also helped him with other playtime activities because he should now build a tower of four or five blocks. Don't be surprised when he loves to topple over his own towers though. While he still plays alongside other children rather than with them, he should be able to play symbolically with his dolls. When you play hide and seek with toys, he should also be able to understand that the toy is still there, just hidden.
- MedlinePlus: Developmental milestones record - 18 months
- Healthychildren.org: The Developmental Milestones of Early Literacy
- Your Child's Growing Mind: Brain Development and Learning From Birth to Adolescence; Jane M. Healy
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images