Toddler playing


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Your baby’s development: 18-24 months

If your child is heading towards their second birthday, there’s one thing your life won’t be and that’s boring. Here are some of the many things that will be happening around this exciting developmental stage.

What your toddler might be doing at playtime

  • Making you laugh with their imaginative games for their teddies or dolls (Ma and Lillard, 2017).

  • Scribbling on paper (or walls) with crayons and turning pages in a book by themselves as their motor skills improve.

  • Trying their little hands at some Lego.

  • Choosing toys they can ride on or copying things you do using kids’ versions of household items.

  • Throwing or kicking a ball around (ideally a soft one). (WHO, 2006; NHS Choices, 2016)

What your toddler might be doing at mealtimes

  • Eating small portions of adult food, instead of the baby food they might have had before (First Steps Nutrition, 2018).

  • Loading up on fat. They might be older now but toddlers need fat in their diet. It’s good to give them full-fat milk, butter, yoghurt and other oil-rich foods like avocado (NHS Choices, 2018).

  • They’ll probably be drinking their milk or water (avoid fruit juice) from a cup instead of a bottle (NHS Choices, 2015).

  • Getting a little fussier. Your toddler is exerting their independence so don’t be surprised if the pasta they used to be obsessed with is off the menu for now (Belsky and Nezworski 2015).

  • Causing chaos and launching food across the kitchen (Murray, 2014). Feel free to tell them ‘no’ gently but it’s pointless getting angry with them because have no clear understanding of what’s right or wrong yet (see toddler tantrums).

What your toddler might be doing at bedtime

  • More than likely, your toddler will sleep for 10 to 12 hours at night and most will still nap in the day. Don’t worry if your child follows a different routine, babies vary so much. Plenty of toddlers go through difficult sleep phases.

  • They’ll love having a bedtime story. If bedtime is enjoyable, your child is less likely to resist going to bed. This is also often a nice time for partners or family members to be involved.

  • Keeping to a bedtime routine, including brushing their teeth and listening to nursery rhymes, songs or a story.

What they might be doing the rest of the time

  • Trying to assert their independence. They might do things like brushing their own teeth and insisting that they’re the ones who get that arm through their jumper.

  • Building on their walking skills by running and climbing on everything from sofas to kitchen work surfaces.

  • Increasing their vocabulary and making mini sentences as they put two words together, for example ‘water gone’ or ‘mummy’s shoe’

Further information

Our helpline offers practical and emotional support in many areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700.

You might find attending one of our Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

Click here for more information on tackling toddler challenges.