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A Child’s First Signs of Independence

Toddler Outdoor Play

There are big changes for children as they reach 18 months and gain ground on walking, talking and play. Those tentative first steps, clutched to furniture or a helping hand, are giving way to independent, quick and energetic dashes around the house. Their vocabulary is growing, as is their willingness to explore when familiar adults are nearby. While every child grows at his or her own rate, Help Me Grow offers the following developmental milestones as typical for an 18-month-old.

These markers help monitor a toddler’s progress:

  • Walks alone; begins to run
  • Says three or more single words*
  • Tries new things with familiar adults nearby
  • Points to one body part
  • Scribbles with a crayon or pencil
  • Shows interest in other children
  • Starts to imitate two-word phrases, such as “all done”
  • Points to show what he wants
  • Plays simple pretend, such as feeding a baby
  • Imitates your behavior
  • Enjoys books, stories and songs
  • Shows interest in a stuffed animal or doll

For an 18-month-old, parents and caregivers can take the following actions to encourage a child’s development:

  • Provide toys without small pieces
  • Hold the toddler and read simple stories
  • Set limits that are firm, fair and consistent
  • Encourage curiosity
  • Play games and sing songs with movements that the toddler can imitate

Developmental milestones help you understand what’s typical in a child’s development. To learn more about these milestones and how to encourage a child’s progress at different ages, visit helpmegrowmn.org.

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