Medically reviewed by a board-certified pediatrician 

Your young toddler gets better at walking and talking every day. They’re heading toward 18-month-old milestones and becoming their own little person—separate from you. With love and interaction, you can help them with these developments.

Your 18-month-old’s cognitive development and milestones

Between a growing attention span and endless curiosity, your little one will spend greater lengths of time figuring out how objects work. Expect them to throw, crumble, pull, bang, mouth, search, stack, and knock down everything around them. Thankfully, you’ll have a slight reprieve from all that chaos as an interest in a quieter activity emerges too—looking at picture books alone or with you.

As your toddler begins to understand what objects, such as brushes and spoons, are for, they may use these objects in play, pretending to brush a stuffed animal's fur or eating make-believe food. Get your camera ready because this is primetime cuteness. 

Your 18-month-old’s motor-skill milestones

Physical abilities at this age are all over the map. At one end of the spectrum are those who still tentatively cruise around a room, hanging onto furniture. At the other end are all-out runners. So, when it comes to considering 18-month-old milestones in this arena, be ready for anything. Their fine motor coordination has improved enough that they can manage complex moves like removing socks, handling a spoon, and even holding a crayon and scribbling. Just be sure to babyproof so they can explore safely.

Your 18-month-old baby’s communication skills

Language is another area where toddlers show wide differences. Most have at least a handful of words in their vocabulary. And those words tend to get heavy use. The single word "juice," for example, might stand for a whole sentence, depending on the context: "I want more juice," "I spilled my juice," or at the store, "Hey, let's buy some juice!"

As your child approaches 18 months, they'll pick up new words more quickly. Some toddlers start to use phrases, "good juice"; a few may even string together words that come close to a sentence, "Me see kitty."

Your 18-month-old’s social-skill milestones

With all these amazing developments also comes frustration. Your toddler will get ideas about what they’d like to do based on what they see bigger kids doing, or what they think they can do. But often, their skills aren't quite up to snuff or what they want to do is unsafe. Children at this age also struggle to verbally express what’s bothering them. It’s heartbreaking. Without real control of their emotions yet, they’ll likely cry or throw a tantrum when things don't go their way. 

Tantrums are a normal part of development, but happen more often when they’re overtired, hungry, or experiencing some kind of stress. Keep them on a regular schedule and try to stay calm. If that doesn’t work, try humor or distraction to ease your kiddo out of a tantrum. Soon they’ll be onto the next thing.

From walking to talking, they’re growing up before your very eyes. Your 18-month-old’s development keeps improving—but of course, that’s not all. As they continue to delight and amaze us with their progress, get ready for even more incredible developments in the next few months.