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18-24 Months - Life with your baby

Development

Most children will have started to walk by now, and your child will be probably be doing some or all of the following: 

  • Climbing on furniture
  • Running
  • Increasing their vocabulary and sometimes putting two words together (‘new shoes’ or ‘teddy gone’)
  • Talking to their toys in imaginative play
  • Copying things that you do, such as using a dustpan and brush
  • Turning pages in a book
  • Trying to do things for themselves, such as brush their teeth or put their clothes on

Children develop at very different rates, so it isn’t necessarily a cause for worry if they aren’t doing these things.

Feeding

By this stage, your child will probably have grown out of baby food altogether and will eat smaller portions of adult foods. They may learn to use a spoon or fork themselves, though they will probably make a mess! You still need to avoid giving them foods they could choke on though, such as grapes, nuts or raisins.

Some parents, concerned that their child needs to follow a healthy diet, make the mistake of giving children low-fat products to eat and drink. Children need fat in their diet, so give them full-cream milk rather than skimmed milk. There is no need to avoid products like butter or yoghurt, and oil-rich foods such as avocado are very nutritious.

Your child will be drinking a lot less milk at this stage, and will probably be using a cup rather than a bottle. At mealtimes, offer water rather than fruit juice.

Health

Normally your health visitor will carry out a series of developmental checks at this age to make sure your child is developing. These will include:

  • Hearing and speech tests.
  • Dexterity tests (such as whether they can build a tower of bricks).
  • An assessment of their social development (the health visitor will probably watch them play and ask you questions about how they are progressing).

Make sure you ask your health visitor if you have any concerns or questions about your child’s behaviour or development.

Sleeping

Most babies still need a daily nap at this stage, but some stop when they get to about 24 months. At night-time, they still sleep for about 10-12 hours. Keep to a bedtime routine, including brushing teeth, nursery rhymes or songs and a story. At this age, many children love having a bedtime story, and there are plenty of books aimed at this age group. If bedtime is enjoyable, your child is less likely to resist going to bed. This is also often a nice time for dad or other family members to be involved.

By the time they get to two or a little bit older; you may consider moving them from a cot to a bed.  

Baby care

Most parents think about potty training their child as they approach their second birthday. That’s not to say that age is a good indication of readiness: it’s recommended that you aim for a fairly stable time in your toddler’s life. It’s also about whether you are ready to start this process. You need to be feeling fairly relaxed about the inevitable accidents that are likely to happen as you embark on potty training together.

Playing

Your child will probably start to enjoy more imaginative and creative games than previously. They might enjoy: 

  • Toys they can ride on, such as a pretend horse with wheels, or a toy car. 
  • Crayons – children’s fine motor skills are improving at this age, so they can scribble on a piece of paper. 
  • Dolls or small figures that they can put in imaginary situations, such as pushing them in a pushchair or giving them pretend food.
  • Lego. 
  • Children’s versions of adult household appliance, such as microwaves or washing machines. 
  • Soft balls to throw or kick around.

Taking care of yourself

Toddlers can be very exhausting. Your child may seem to spend all their time running around, tipping over the wastepaper bin, climbing onto tables, throwing their toys on the floor and generally causing disruption and chaos. Because children this age have no clear understanding of the difference between right and wrong, there is no point in getting angry with them for misdemeanours, such as throwing their food on the floor. You can reprimand them gently, but don’t expect them to remember from one mealtime to the next the difference between ‘good’ behaviour and ‘bad’ behaviour. Children learn best from example, so you can show them the way to behave by, for example, demonstrating the kind of behaviour you’d like to see from them, such as saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.