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Your Child at 18 Months


How your child plays, learns, speaks, acts and moves offers important clues about your child’s development. Developmental milestones are the things most children can do by a certain age. Check the milestones your child has reached by the end of 18 months and talk with your child’s doctor at every visit about the milestones your child has reached and what to expect next.


What Most Children Do at This Age:

Social / Emotional

  • Likes to hand things to others as play
  • play small buttonMay have temper tantrums
  • play small buttonMay be afraid of strangers
  • Shows affection to familiar people
  • play small buttonPlays simple pretend, such as feeding a doll
  • May cling to caregivers in new situations
  • Points to show others something interesting
  • Explores alone but with parent close by

Language / Communication

  • play small buttonSays several single words
  • play small buttonSays and shakes head “no”
  • play small buttonPoints to show someone what he wants

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Knows what ordinary things are for; for example, telephone, brush, spoon
  • Points to get the attention of others
  • Shows interest in a doll or stuffed animal by pretending to feed
  • play small buttonPoints to one body part
  • Scribbles on his own
  • play small buttonCan follow 1-step verbal commands without any gestures; for example, sits when you say “sit down”

Movement / Physical Development

  • play small buttonWalks alone
  • play small buttonMay walk up steps and run
  • play small buttonPulls toys while walking
  • play small buttonCan help undress herself
  • Drinks from a cup
  • Eats with a spoon



Act Early by Talking to Your Child’s Doctor if Your Child:



  • Doesn’t point to show things to others
  • Can’t walk
  • Doesn’t know what familiar things are for
  • Doesn’t copy others
  • Doesn’t gain new words
  • Doesn’t have at least 6 words
  • Doesn’t notice or mind when a caregiver leaves or returns
  • Loses skills he once had

Tell your child’s doctor or nurse if you notice any of these signs of possible developmental delay for this age. For more information, go to www.cdc.gov/concerned or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).


Help Your Child Learn and Grow 

What You Can Do for Your 18-Month-Old

You can help your child learn and grow. Talk, read, sing and play together every day. Below are some activities to enjoy with your 18-month-old child today.


  • Provide a safe, loving environment. It’s important to be consistent and predictable.
  • Praise good behaviors more than you punish bad behaviors (use only very brief timeouts).
  • Describe her emotions. For example, say, “You are happy when we read this book.”
  • Encourage pretend play.
  • Encourage empathy. For example, when he sees a child who is sad, encourage him to hug or pat the other child.
  • Read books and talk about the pictures using simple words.
  • Copy your child’s words.
  • Use words that describe feelings and emotions.
  • Use simple, clear phrases.
  • Ask simple questions.
  • Hide things under blankets and pillows and encourage him to find them.
  • Play with blocks, balls, puzzles, books and toys that teach cause and effect and problem-solving.
  • Name pictures in books and body parts.
  • Provide toys that encourage pretend play; for example, dolls, play telephones.
  • Provide safe areas for your child to walk and move around in.
  • Provide toys that she can push or pull safely.
  • Provide balls for her to kick, roll and throw.
  • Encourage him to drink from his cup and use a spoon, no matter how messy.
  • Blow bubbles and let your child pop them.


Learn the Signs. Act Early.

Learn the Signs. Act Early.

For more resources and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call 1.800.CDC-INFO (232-4636). 

Or Visit the CDC's Website

Content provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program. The milestone checklist is not a substitute for a standardized, validated developmental screening tool.

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