It’s so exciting to watch your toddler’s development, but it’s easy to worry if they’re not walking and talking at the ‘right’ time.
Here’s roughly what developments to expect and when.
At a glance
- Social skills
The average age for first steps is around 12-13 months, but plenty of toddlers don’t walk until nearer 18 months – and occasionally nearer two years old. As soon as they’re steady on their feet they may start running, though will probably have difficulty changing direction at the same time. Many adore climbing from 14-15 months and will turn every piece of furniture into their version of Mount Everest. By 18-20 months most can kick a ball but can’t yet jump.
Their first words can come any time between nine and 18 months; the average is 11-12 months. At 18 months they should have around 10-20 words, rising to at least 50 by their second birthday, when they will also begin to put two words together (‘bye bye mummy’). If you’re worried your toddler is falling behind, it’s worth talking to your health visitor who will have advice for encouraging your toddler’s language.
A 12-month-old doesn’t really interact much with other babies, but by 18 months will have probably progressed to playing alongside them but not yet ‘with’ them. It’s too early to expect them to share toys. They will imitate others’ behaviour from around 20 months and can also follow two-step instructions (‘bring me your hat and put it on’). They’re getting more dextrous too: by 18-20 months they may be able to take off some clothes, with help. By aged two they understand if they are a girl or boy. Between 18 months and two years most will begin to show a couple of the signs of readiness for potty training, such as hiding themselves away to do a poo. Most start potty training at two to two and a half years.
At 12 months toddlers have usually perfected the pincer grip so they love practising it by fiddling with details, levers and moving parts of toys. By 16 months they may be able to stack a few bricks; taller towers come nearer 20-22 months. By 17 months most are enjoying pretend games like tea-parties.
Almost all toddlers have their first tooth by their first birthday (though a few will still be waiting). By now many will have the front four teeth on bottom and top, with the canines (pointy teeth) and molars emerging at around 16-20 months. The second set of molars usually appears around two years old. They will have all 20 baby teeth at two and a half to three.
By 12 months most toddlers are pretty adept at finger feeding, and may be able to use a chunky spoon and fork by 15 months, with sometimes spectacular effects. Food should get gradually lumpier until they’re eating normal family food by 17-18 months. They should be happy drinking from a cup, not a bottle, from 12 months. All toddlers are unique and develop at different paces – don’t forget, they haven’t read the books! But if you’ve got concerns, do talk to your health visitor or GP. Read more about Toddler Development Anxiety.
You can also see more about your toddler's development with our milestones chart.