Developmental Milestones for Toddlers Aged 12-24 Months

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The second year of your child’s life is an exciting one. Your little explorer is eager to discover and learn, and their little mind is forever trying to figure out how things work. While the first year had it’s special moments such as the first crawl, first solid feed and first night sleeping through, it’s this year that the real fun starts.

One of the major things you have to look forward to this next year is greater communication. From the age of 12 months, toddlers are becoming more effective at communicating, and while the words “No!”, “More” and “I want” can be infuriating at times, it’s lovely to know that your toddler is learning to have a mind of their own.

Toddlers between 12 and 24 months are like sponges, and often without realising it you are teaching them every day. There is little need for “structured play and learning”, as your toddler will get so much more out of watching you run your day-to-day life. Treasure these days of play, cuddles and exploring, and trust that this is exactly what your toddler needs for their development.

Motor skills

During the second year, your child’s motor skills develop at a rapid rate. They will want to touch, smell and taste everything, and this is a great learning tool. This eagerness to discover will lead them to hit some very important gross motor milestones, milestones such as:

  • Learning to walk and move forwards, backwards and sidewards
  • Jumping off a low wall or step
  • Depth perception and ability to focus on distant objects
  • Climbing stairs
  • Bending to pick up objects
  • Climbing playground equipment
  • Basic swimming skills like splashing and kicking
  • Improved balance and coordination
  • Pedalling a tricycle
  • Dancing
  • Drinking from a cup.

They will also likely hit a range of fine motor milestones, such as:

  • Starting to show a preference for right or left hand
  • Holding a pencil and scribbling with crayons
  • Replacing pegs in a peg board
  • Building towers and stacking blocks
  • Transferring water into different containers
  • Putting hands up when putting on a T-shirt
  • Feeding self with a spoon or hands
  • Manipulating playdough
  • Making rhythmic sounds on an instrument
  • Turning pages of a book
  • Learning to squeeze, slide, push and pull objects
  • Kicking and throwing a ball.

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Suggested activities you can do to help strengthen the development of motor skills include:

  • Going for regular walks
  • Encouraging climbing, balancing and dancing
  • Playing with puzzles, blocks, stacking toys and lacing materials
  • Playing musical instruments
  • Finger painting and crayon drawing
  • Dump and fill sand and water play
  • Playing catch and kicking.

Cognitive/language

Toddlers use a combination of gestures and sounds to let you know what they are thinking and feeling, and from 12 months old their language skills are growing by the day. At 12 months, your baby most likely has one or two simple words (mama, dada, milk etc), but by 18 months, this should have increased to around 20-50 words. By 24 months, your toddler should be able to put two words together, such as “more milk” or “my ball”.

Toddlers understand a lot more than what they can communicate. Listen carefully and their babbling, nonsense words, tones, rhythm and pauses make their language sound like real speech.

A toddler that’s encouraged is likely to hit a number of cognitive and language milestones between 12 and 24 months. These include:

  • Following simple instructions
  • Naming familiar objects
  • Understanding cause and effect and relationships between people and objects
  • Making two-word sentences
  • Imitating sounds and speech
  • Asking questions
  • Enjoying repetition
  • Understanding parts and wholes
  • Showing interest in the written word.

Suggested activities you can do to help strengthen the development of cognitive and language skills include:

  • Chatting with your child
  • Reading lots of books
  • Building on your child’s interests
  • Explaining what you are doing and looking for new words to explain things
  • Asking questions when you’re performing tasks or reading
  • Ignoring speech mistakes
  • Translating for your child but not speaking for them
  • Singing nursery rhymes and repetition songs
  • Playing with interlocking toys
  • Playing matching games
  • Looking at pictures and making animal sounds.

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Social/emotional

From 12 months toddlers begin to identify and respond to their own feelings, as well as understand others’ feelings and how to interact positively. Their social and emotional development will greatly depend on the people around them and the amount of love and attention they receive.

Between 12 and 18 months your toddler is developing their own identity. At times they can seem overly assertive, but this is them discovering that they have choice and independence. During this time you can expect:

  • A strong attachment to one particular person or object
  • Increased self awareness
  • A desire to get their own way
  • Signs of jealousy
  • Preferences for certain foods, toys and friends
  • Stranger anxiety
  • Tantrums.

From 18 to 24 months, you can expect:

  • a desire for company
  • interactions with other children
  • a desire for routine and security
  • difficulty sharing
  • independent task performing such as brushing teeth
  • an interest in older children
  • separation anxiety
  • defiant behaviour

Suggested activities to strengthen the development of social and emotional skills include:

  • providing similar or multiple toys in group play
  • playing imitation games
  • giving options and encouraging choices
  • talking about feelings (happy, angry, sad, hungry etc)
  • praising appropriate behaviour
  • listening carefully to your child and recognising their interests
  • dramatic role play
  • cuddles and hugs
  • introducing other caregivers
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At Bellamy's Organic, we believe a pure start to life means providing your little one with uncomplicated nutrition – good food that is straightforward, wholesome & nutritious. Our pursuit will always be to provide pure food that nourishes the gentle tummies of the little ones in our lives.