Child Development:
Your Growing Toddler 12-18 months

Unlike the first year, your toddler’s physical growth begins to slow down around the twelfth month. But their gross and fine motor skills begin to take off as your toddler learns how to do all sorts of things, from walking to climbing to throwing.

The First Few Challenges
The growth spurt that your toddler went through during her first twelve months has tapered off now. All of her growing will be slow but steady now until she is a teenager. Her arms and legs are still short compared to her head and trunk, but they will become more proportionate over the next several months. Her body is still quite fleshy and soft but as she becomes more active and her ability to walk increases, she will start to build up the muscles in her body.

Most toddlers take their first shaky steps between nine and 12 months. Since their legs lack sturdy muscles, their steps tend to be more wobbly and uneasy. As their legs become more muscular, their walk will become more steady and firm, allowing them to explore with more freedom than ever before.

As your toddler’s gross motor skills improve, he will learn how to crawl up and down the stairs as well as how to throw things. This new talent will provide him with lots of entertainment as he watches mommy pick up the thrown object and over and over again.

The mountaineer in your son will also be exposed as he learns how to climb. And climb he will: out of his crib, out of his high chair, onto the kitchen counter (what else could those drawers possibly be there for than to assist his climbing?) and anything else that seems even remotely scaleable. You can safely encourage his newfound climbing ability at home by having a small indoor slide that he can climb on. Or make a large pile of nice soft pillows and pretend that the two of you are climbing Mount Everest. If he’s really insistent on climbing, you may even want to enroll him in a toddler tumbler class.

Along with the climbing, you will also be able to notice the improved coordination and balance your toddler has as he walks backwards and bends over to pick up an object. By 18 months, his crawling up the stairs will have evolved into walking up those stairs, although a little help from you or the banister will still be necessary.

Along with the development of your toddler’s gross motor skills, her fine motor skills will have improved enough to allow her to properly hold smaller objects. While she’ll be able to properly pick up a crayon now, she will still hold it in her little fist when she is coloring.

By the time she is 18 months, her fine motor skills will have improved enough to allow her to place or remove small objects into or out of containers. This means she can help pick up her toys once she has dumped them out of the toy box.

Learn more about toddler development by chatting with other moms in our toddler forum.