18 Month-old Toddler. Milestones and Signs of Delay.

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Dr. Sandro Cantoni. Pediatrician.

Reading time: 6 minutes

At every age, your infant and toddler play, learn, talk, and move. Seeing when and how it does these things is critical. Because from this you can know if the baby’s development is normal or not.

This observation of development can be done by any parent just fine. It’s not a matter of doing special investigations or tests, but just watching the baby’s movement and some simple daily activities. 

In fact, I believe that parents are the best people to check the baby’s development. Because they know him perfectly in all its facets. The parent can pick up on nuances of behavior that the pediatrician often fails to detect.

What are the developmental milestones?

The developmental milestones are the things that most babies do at a certain age.

Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t reach all the developmental milestones for his age right away.  

Every baby is different. Some babies develop faster, others are a little slower. But this is often normal. 

Some babies walk at 10 months, others at 18 months. 

The achievement of developmental milestones also depends on gestational age. If the baby was born one or two months premature, then he or she will reach the milestones one or two months later. 

If you think that your baby’s development is not normal, ask your pediatrician for a checkup. 

Don’t wait until the next checkup in a few months. Do the same if you have concerns about how your baby is talking, playing, acting or moving, or any other concerns.

Don’t wait. Make your doubts and concerns clear to the pediatrician.  

If there are problems, early detection and early intervention are critical. 

What are the developmental milestones for an 18-month-old toddler?

Motor skills

Your child stands on his own and has a good balance. He can walk unaided, forward and backward. He is starting to run, but cannot yet avoid obstacles. 

As he walks he is able to pull a toy that has a string on it. 

The child tries to climb on top of a chair and often succeeds. 

If he is held by the hand he is able to climb stairs.

If he drops a toy on the ground he can bend down to pick it up. Then he gets back up with the help of his hands. 

The child is able to make a tower of 3 cubes if you show him how to do it. 

He can hold a pencil in his hand, often in his favorite one, and tries to scribble on a paper. 

He picks up small objects with his thumb and forefinger.

Vision. Hearing. Communication.

The child sees well even at a distance. For this reason, he recognizes his parents even if they are far away. And when he is outdoors, he sees things he likes and points at them with his finger. 

He does the same thing if he wants something he likes, for example, a toy. He looks at the parent then points with his finger at what he wants, sometimes saying a word loudly.

The child likes to look at picture books and points to the pictures. He likes rhymes and may try to repeat or sing.

He begins to pronounce some simple words, 5 to 10. Then he shows that he understands many words.  For example, he touches his nose or ears upon request.

Tries to have a conversation when the parent looks at him and talks to him.  He utters the word “no,” and shakes his head. 

If the parent asks him for something simple, such as bringing him an object, the child often will do it. 

Intellectual Development and Play.

The child is able to use a spoon and fork, although he often drops food on the floor or table. He also holds a glass or cup with both hands and drinks quite well. 

He knows the concept of container and content and is able to put objects inside a box, and even take them out again. 

The child looks at objects but does not put them in his mouth. 

He explores the environment more and more actively. But he does not have much sense of danger, so it is necessary to be very careful.

The child is fascinated by the objects in the house and imitates simple daily activities, such as cleaning the floors. 

He likes to play alone as well but is very happy that a family member, such as a parent or older sibling, is nearby. He is able to play simple games, such as feeding a doll. 

The child understands what common objects are for, for example, if you give him a shoe he tries to put it on. Or he can put a phone to his ear. 

He can take off some clothes, such as socks and shoes, but can hardly put them back on. 

Social and Emotional Development

Il bambino inizia ad avere delle crisi di collera, di forte agitazione e stress, urlando e a volte buttandosi per terra. 

Gli piace esplorare il suo ambiente, o fuori in un parco, ma sempre se ha vicino un genitore. 

Spesso ha paura se una persona completamente estranea si avvicina a lui. Può capitare anche con il pediatra. E allora piange spesso durante la visita. 

Gli piace stare in braccio ai genitori e essere coccolato, manifestando la sua felicità.

18-month-old child. What are the warning signs for a possible developmental delay?

Call your pediatrician if your child has even one of these warning signs: 

Your baby is not walking.

He does not imitate some simple actions or sounds.

He seems disinterested, not reacting if a parent enters or leaves the room.

The child does not point with his finger to a toy or something that interests him. 

He speaks little, does not say at least 5 words. 

He seems to be regressing. Loses a developmental stage, or skills, that he had acquired. 

The child looks at you briefly or not at all but does not maintain contact with your eyes. 

He has poor facial expressions, does not smile at you if you smile back and try to play.

He does not respond or turns away if you call his name.

The child does not quiet down or smile if you pick him up or give him cuddles.

If your 18-month toddler has any of these symptoms or if you are worried, talk to your pediatrician or health care provider. Don’t wait. Early detection of a possible problem is crucial. Early treatment is critical.

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About the author

Hi. My name is Sandro Cantoni. I’m a Pediatrician. I work in the General Pediatric Clinic. Hospital of Neuchatel, Switzerland.

Notice. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. It does not substitute professional medical advice and is not health or personal advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health. Read the document Disclaimer.