image001An 18 month old is not a baby anymore; instead, he or she is now a growing child with a distinct personality. Most parents will notice traits in an 18 month old baby that he or she wants to show all of his or her life.

Naturally, many parents will wonder if their child is developing normally. Fortunately, it isn’t that hard to keep track of the child’s development if you pay close attention to certain characteristics. The short descriptions below should tell you what to look for in an 18 month old baby’s development.

How Is Your Baby Developing at 18 Months?

1. Physical Development

Some signs the child is developing normally are:

  • The child’s first teeth, usually molars, appear. Some kids may also develop canine or “eye” teeth at this age.
  • The child should look more like a person than a baby. Baby fat should be disappearing, and the child’s proportions should start to normalize; that is, the body is growing faster than the head.
  • The child should be growing slowly and steadily gaining around an inch and three pounds a month.

2. Motor Development

A healthy 18 month old baby should be capable of a wide variety of physical movements, including:

  • Walking by himself or herself.
  • Being able to hold a cup or glass.
  • Having the ability to grasp onto things.
  • Having the ability to hold onto a spoon and perhaps a fork.
  • Pressing buttons, turning handles, and moving knobs. You may have to hide the TV remote control at this age.
  • Having the ability to perform tasks like stacking blocks or boxes.

3. Cognitive Development

Eighteen months is the time when you should start seeing thought patterns and reasoning on the part of your child. The child should demonstrate:

  • Imagination, including the ability to imagine threats from strangers or unusual situations.
  • The ability to absorb your actions and anticipate some of your movements, such as being able to locate toys you put away.
  • The ability to pretend and to mimic adults or things he or she sees on television.
  • The ability to recognize body parts and objects near him or her, such as the table, and point to them.

4. Social and Emotional Development

At 18 months of age, the child’s emotions and attitudes towards others will appear. A normal 18-month-old will:

  • Be very curious and constantly exploring the environment around him or her. He or she may start grabbing almost any object within reach and touching, smelling, or eating it.
  • Pay little or no attention to other children of the same age. Instead, he or she will focus most of his or her attention on adults or older children.
  • Like to show off to adults, sometimes to the point of tediousness for parents.
  • Be constantly mimicking the behavior of others.

5. Communication Development

Generally, 18 months is the age at which children begin to talk but not to communicate with words. An 18 month old baby should:

  • Be able to follow simple commands such as “come over here” or “pick that up.”
  • Know the names of people, pets, and objects around them. They are able to point to an object when asked.
  • Be able to understand quite a bit of spoken speech, but are unable to put it into words.
  • Speak sentences or carry on a conversation in their own language or jargon. The child might say things he or she does not understand.

Watch this video and learn more about your 18-month-old baby’s development:

How to Take Care of an 18 Month Old Baby

Eighteen months is a difficult age for parents because the child is not yet a preschooler but not a baby either. Here are some tips for dealing with this unique little individual.

1. Proper Feeding for an 18 Month Old Baby

Determining what an 18 month old baby can and cannot eat can be difficult. Here are answers to some questions about 18 month old baby’s feeding habits:

  • Can I give my baby whole foods now?

Unless he or she is lactose intolerant, the 18 month old child should be drinking whole milk. The child should be able to drink out of a sippy cup and not a bottle at this age. You may have to mix breast milk or formula with cow’s milk or soy milk to get children to drink it. Watch the child closely the first time you give him or her milk because some kids are allergic to it.

  • How much food should I give my baby?

An 18 month old child will need at least three ½-cup servings of milk or dairy products and several servings of carbohydrates (pasta, rice, or bread) a day. The toddler needs to eat a lot of protein in the form of beans or meat for healthy growth. The toddler will need quite a bit of iron, which he or she can get from fortified cereals. This is the age to introduce vegetables and fruit, but don’t push the matter, since toddlers sometimes dislike them. Ideally, the child should be eating several ounces of cooked, chopped leafy vegetables, such as kale or spinach, every day.

  • What foods should my child skip?

The main foods to avoid are fresh fruits, uncooked vegetables, candies, nuts, popcorn, and chunks of meat or cheese because these can pose a choking hazard. Be careful with cookies and some sweets, such as marshmallows, too. Try to avoid rich or highly flavored foods because they can upset the child’s stomach.

  • How can I deal with food allergies?

Food allergies are actually an important warning from the body. They indicate that the body might have a negative reaction to a food. Watch your child carefully as he or she eats, and observe if there are any foods he or she will not touch. Do not force the foods on the child; instead, find others he or she will eat.

2. Understanding Their Sleeping Patterns

An 18 month old should sleep around 11 hours a night and take a two hour nap each day, according to experts. Unfortunately, as most parents discover, it can be difficult to get a toddler to go to bed.

Try to make bedtime as calm as possible by turning off the TV and keeping the house quiet. A bath before bed can soothe and calm the child. So can telling stories, singing, or playing soft music.

One habit you should try to avoid is letting the child sleep in your bed. Many toddlers figure out how to get out of their cribs and snuggle in with you. Even though this can feel good, it isn’t necessarily healthy, so discourage it.

3. Pay Attention to the Child’s Health

An 18 month old baby is active but incapable of looking after his or her own health. Here are a few things you’ll have to do for the child:

Things You Should Pay Attention to

How to Do It

Dental health

Brush the child’s teeth twice a day with a small, soft toothbrush. Use a children’s toothpaste, and encourage the kid to spit it out after brushing. Don’t use the same toothpaste you use. You won’t need to take the child to the dentist yet.

Skin protection

This is one important area of toddler health that some parents neglect. When the child goes outside, he or she should wear a hat with a brim and sunscreen because toddlers sunburn easily. Use a sunscreen with a skin protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, and follow the directions.

Eye protection

On most days, the toddler will not have to wear sunglasses, but he or she may if you go out in the winter because of the glare from the snow. Usually a hat with a brim will provide the protection the child’s eyes need. Make sure the child eats plenty of green leafy vegetables and fruits for eye health.

4. Start to Think about Toilet Training

Now for the part that most parents dread: toilet training. Here are a few tips for toilet training for an 18 month old baby.

  • Let the child watch older family members to see how it is done.
  • Try starting toilet training, but don’t force the matter, because this can make things worse.
  • The time to attempt toilet training is when the child starts telling others that he or she has soiled his or her diaper.

5. Set Some Boundaries

An 18 month old child will require some discipline and boundaries because he or she is now old enough to get into trouble. Some tips for setting boundaries include:

  • Keep repeating warnings and admonishments. Most toddlers will need to be told several times not to do something.
  • Set a good example by demonstrating the behavior you want the child to emulate.

6. Learn to Play, Play to Learn

An 18 month old child will love to play and will be physically active. Give the child lots to do with such toys as walkers, learning toys, play sets, hand or finger paints, play dough, ride on toys, play sets, etc. Any toys that involve physical activities, such as putting things in and out, can help the child develop reasoning and physical skills.

7. General Tips to Take Care of Your 18 Month Old Baby



Make reward count

Do not reward behavior you don’t want to see, such as waking up for feeding in the middle of the night. Many parents reward behavior they don’t want by cuddling or soothing a child.

Watch the child closely around pets

An 18 month old child does not understand that a pet is a living being that needs to be respected. Never leave the child alone with a pet, because he or she might do something to provoke the pet, such as ride it or hit it.

Avoid checking on your child at night

Don’t go into the bedroom to check on the child in bed at night unless there’s a real sign shows that something is wrong. Even though such behavior is emotionally satisfying, it’s a waste of time.

Make sure your child’s wearing shoes

Make sure that the child wears shoes whenever he or she goes outside, even in the yard. The soles of the child’s feet are extremely soft and far more vulnerable to injury than an adult’s.