Your baby at 18 months

toddler, baby, developmentAt 18 months the drive towards independence takes a tricky turn. Unless your baby has been born with the personality of a placid saint, she will have temper tantrums. But she will also be more loving, more inquisitive and more of a laugh.

Try not to take temper tantrums too seriously (easier said than done) and view them as a developmental stage (much as crawling) that she (and you) must go through.

Physical development

  • Walking

Your baby-turned-toddler is getting progressively better at walking, swinging her arms casually while looking around her. She can walk while carrying a toy, can sit down and stand up and may start climbing up the furniture. She may be able to walk for ten to 20 minutes or more. Enjoy it because by the time she's five she'll want to go everywhere by car.

Going upstairs, she will stagger up holding onto one of your hands. She can still be a liability when it comes to throwing herself downstairs. In the playground, she will climb up a small slide and slide down and probably trip up rushing round to do it again.

She'll like sitting on a small chair and she'll scribble with crayons and make lines on the wallpaper.

  • Hand-eye coordination

She has good eye hand coordination and can hammer plastic pegs into plastic holes with a plastic hammer. In fact her hand and eye coordination is so good she can see something and fool you by reaching for it while looking somewhere else.

She can pile three to six bricks on top of each other, but they'll still wobble. She will eat quite well with a spoon and try to feed you less well.

  • Toilet training

She may be able to ask for a potty when she wants to do a poo. Try to keep relaxed here, some children have regular bowel movements after meals and find toilet training a doddle, others find it much trickier.

Undressing is becoming a breeze and she'll do it at the most inconvenient moments, pulling off her socks and shoes and anything else that's easy.


  • Vocabulary

She has a vocabulary of between five and 20 words that by the end of the year will grow to around 200 words. These are mostly nouns such as car, juice, dog.

She may repeat words over and over, like ball, ball, ball, which probably means she'd be quite grateful if you passed it to her. She'll understand and if she's in the mood follow simple commands, but you'll have more luck with 'Come and get an ice-cream' than 'Let's go upstairs to bed'. Words like in, on, and me are just registering with her.

She can name parts of her body after a brief pause for dramatic effect, (particularly if you ask her in front of your friends) although lots of what she says may be indistinct. Resist the temptation to embellish what she says when translating for other people. She'll like pointing and naming things and it's good to praise her.

Gradually, she will progress from saying 'more' (this is something children tend to say a lot) to 'all gone' and other two word sentences.

Cognitive development

Problem solving is no longer beyond her. She will try to work out ways of getting things she wants, navigating child locks, squirming out of her car seat.

  • Sense of self

She becomes aware of herself as a separate and, in her eyes, incredibly important person... in fact, bless her, the most important person in the universe, whose needs are second to none. Obviously, this can cause a few problems if you refuse to bow and scrape to her all the time.

It's developmentally normal for her to consider that nobody else matters, so don't think less of her. Ask your relatives how generous and reasonable you were at one and half.

  • Memory

She's also beginning to get a memory - being able to recall what happened 24-36 hours ago.


One of the developments you won't be able to miss is her sudden contrariness. If you ask her to come to you, she will scoot off in the opposite direction for no apparent reason. Except there is a reason - she does it because she's learning that she can.

  • Tantrums

She may start having tantrums, which can be triggered by trivial events, or by you stopping her from stepping out in front of a bus. You'll know when you see one, but the ingredients are: screaming as if being murdered, flopping down, flailing around with her arms and legs and sometimes banging her head. A red face (both hers and yours) are essential.

What's in her mouth?
Watch out she's getting canines (useful for biting).

There are whole books written about tantrums, but the most important bit of advice we can give you is to remember that you're the adult and she's only one and a half. Her tantrum isn't naughtiness, she may be frustrated, tired, hungry, or just want out of the situation she's in.

She may want to do things for herself and you are stopping her because you're in a hurry or don't want her to tip food over herself. She's not going to be having tantrums when she can say what's wrong (or if she does they'll be more mild). However embarrassed you are, if this happens in the supermarket, remember that everyone looking at you did the same thing themselves when they were toddlers.

  • Clingy behaviour

She'll also get excited about things, sometimes really excited, giggling in that infectious way that makes your heart melt. She won't like to be separated from you much and will sometimes seem rather clingy. She'll be in love with herself when she manages to do something, like open the lid of a container, but be in despair if she can't - it's tough getting things in perspective as a toddler.


She likes investigating things, all the open packets in the cupboards with flour and spaghetti, all the CDs, anything she can push and pull and break. She will play at feeding her dolls.

  • Around other children

When playing in the company of other children she may do what's called parallel play, do much the same thing as them but not interact with them. Interaction may be earlier if she's already met other small children.

Children are often intrigued by other toddlers but have no idea what to do with them. Not all interactions are positive and you'll be lucky if you escape without your child doing something beastly and cold-bloodedly violent to another child. Often, it's a dispute over an object and she may pull the object brutally without even looking at the child. She may even bite and kick in anger.

While laughing it off will mean an automatic ban from playgroups and nurseries within a 100km radius, good old Doctor Spock is clear that biting and kicking are not a heinous crime as long as it's not habitual. You should tell your child off firmly but not hysterically, although she won't really understand what all the fuss is about.

Her deterrent will be that her behaviour made you, her lovely parent, upset. Don't think less of your child, we're not genetically programmed to be reasonable when someone has a toy we want more than anything else in the world.

She'll enjoy pulling and pushing toys, walker toys than she can sit on and move with her feet, water play (sticking her chubby hand into your glass of diet coke), big crayons and pencils she can poke her eye out with, and books.

She will love singing and nursery rhymes and may be able to play some fantasy games.


A word about our development calendar

Please remember, not all babies and children develop at the same time and in the same way, so our development calendar may not always match your child. Development milestones vary widely. It's not uncommon to have isolated pockets of late development, such as late walkers and talkers, and some babies are slower to develop because they were born prematurely or because they're twins (or triplets). But a minority of babies and children do have delays in development that may need specialist help. If you are at all concerned, go and see your GP. No health professional should ever trivialise a worry you have about your child. If your child has special needs, you can get advice from other parents in our special needs Talk forum. We've also got pages with advice about diagnosis, support and benefits, plus our Special needs webguide.

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Last updated: almost 2 years ago