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What Your 18-Month-Old Should Be Doing

When Harry was 18 months old, I was feeling pretty confident as a mom. We found our rhythm and I felt like I really “knew” who he was as a person when his personality started shining through. This was also the time that he started changing so much, exploding from a baby into a toddler.

He had definite desires to be outside, preferences for toys and food and people. He was running and climbing and sure on his feet, but I felt that his speech lagged behind. I started researching milestones he should be reaching and was able to voice my worries to our pediatrician.

This time period can be worrisome just because there is so much growth, but it is also the most exciting stage for your toddler. Here is a what your 18 month old should be doing:

  • Growing, growing, growing 1 of 10
    18monthsold

    What should your 18-month-old know? What should he be doing physically? Click through for a complete guide to toddler development!

  • Shots and doctor visits 2 of 10
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    At the 18-month-old check-up, the doctor will check your child's height and weight and head circumference. Depending on the vaccine schedule you follow, your child may start the MMR vaccines for Measles, Mumps, & Rubella. He will also receive the chickenpox vaccine and, depending on the time of year, the flu vaccine.

    The big change this visit is the autism screening - you will most likely fill out a long questionnaire where you check off answers and your doctor will go over any concerns that show from the quiz.

    Source: kidshealth.org

  • The language explosion 3 of 10
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    The beloved language explosion! It's around 18 months old that your child should start putting 2-3 words together to form tiny phrases and sentences, like "More juice!" or "No like!"  She should be saying around 20 words by 18 months and double that number by her second birthday.  She should also be able to identify body parts and objects - for example, when you say "Where is your nose?" she should be able to confidently point to her nose.

    If your toddler is not reaching these milestones and you suspect she struggles with speech, contact your pediatrician for his opinion and a speech evaluation. Speech therapy is a fantastic, non-evasive therapy to help guide the speech process. You can also encourage speech by reading regularly, not using baby talk, and narrating everyday life to expose her to new words and expressions. 

    Source: kidshealth.org

  • Feeding and nutrition 4 of 10
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    While the AAP recommends breastfeeding until 12 months of age, the WHO recommends nursing until two years of age in combination with table food.

    Table food should be served with all food groups represented - make sure he's getting enough fruits and vegetables and protein. Table food should also be served with a hefty dose of patience and understanding. Many 18-month-olds go on food strikes, food jags where they only eat a few things, and meals can often take a very long time.

    Source: aap.org, who.int, whattoexpect.com

  • No more morning nap 5 of 10
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    I know, that morning nap is the perfect way for mom to recharge but it is completely normal and expected for your 18-month-old to drop her morning nap. This can be a rough transition for some, but it usually leads to a long afternoon nap instead of two short sleeps. To help the transition, I kept my son occupied through his usual morning nap and moved up lunch about an hour. That way he was down for his regular nap about an hour and a half later than normal. As he got older, we shifted times around until he was lunch at noon, nap by 1pm.

    Overall, your toddler should be getting an average of 12 hours of sleep per day, including nap(s).

    Source: whattoexpect.comkidshealth.org

  • Car seat safety 6 of 10
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    While legally he can turn to face forward in his car seat at one year and twenty pounds, the AAP recommends that children remain rear-facing until two years of age or until the maximum weight of rear-facing. At 18 months, he should be in a five-point harness convertible carseat. 

    Source: aap.org

  • Physical milestones 7 of 10
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    Physically, your toddler should be able to run and throw a ball for gross motor skills.

    For fine motor skills, she should also be able to hold a crayon and scribble, hold a utensil to eat, and stack blocks.

    Source: kidshealth.org, webmd.com

  • Separation Anxiety 8 of 10
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    She may show stronger separation anxiety around 18 months old. While she's enjoying new independence, she still yearns for the security of mom and dad. Just be patient with this stage, but firm. We introduced Harry's lovey at this stage as a constant companion let that stuffed animal be her security when you can't be there.

    Source: whattoexpect.com

  • Social skills 9 of 10
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    She's still very much into "parallel play," meaning she may be in the same room as her friends but not exactly interacting with them in play. Two toddlers may both be playing cars, but not playing the same imaginary game together. This is also the time imaginary play begins, so toy kitchens and phones and cars are the perfect interactive toys. Play might end up in tears as toddlers struggle to communicate with words, often leading to hitting and biting. 

    Source: webmd.com

  • The start of tantrums 10 of 10
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    Stubbornness is a huge part of being 18 months old - she's starting to test boundaries and isn't advanced enough in speech, so this leads to a lot of crying and tantrums as an outlet of frustration. At this age, distraction is still a solid technique, along with making a simple rule that she can understand, such as "We can't go to the park until you put on your shoes." 

    Source: whattoexpect.com

As always, this varies by child. If you have concerns, please see your pediatrician.

photos: istockphoto.com

More by BA:

Disney movie quotes for my kid to live by.

What your 3 year old should be doing

What your 2 year old should be doing

Top 9 Toddler Parenting Books

Tips for camping in the fall with a toddler.

Beth Anne writes words & takes pictures at Okay, BA! You can also find her on the Twitters & Facebook.

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