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Your 12 – 15 month old – toddler development guide

Toddler Development Guide - 12-15 months oldYour baby is now a toddler – an exciting time for them and an exhausting time for you.

Everything will excite a young toddler, who can now explore the world from an upright position. They can get around faster these days which means you’ll need all your energy to make sure you get there first!

Your toddler’s physical growth will slow down but their mental growth and language skills will take off. At this age, toddlers will start to play more complex games and will use a lot of non-verbal communication, especially pointing, to let you know what they are thinking (or wanting to eat).

Your toddler is probably practicing the skills needed to start walking (if they haven’t started already). By the time your little one turns 15 months old, they will probably be walking alone – with legs apart and arms held high to maintain balance.

You might have some more teeth on the way soon too. So look out for teething signs – sorry it isn’t over yet!

How is your toddler going?

Sleep

At this age it is recommended that children sleep for 11-14 hours a day. Usually they will still be having two naps but it won’t be long before they start to drop one (usually some time between 14 and 18 months of age). Typically the morning nap becomes later and later and the afternoon nap is dropped.

It is important to follow your toddler’s lead – be sure to watch for the tired signs and be flexible if they’re not tired at their ‘usual’ naptime – they may be preparing for the transition to just one nap.

Feed

Now that your baby is more than 12 months old, they should be eating pretty much the same food as the rest of the family. But how much food should they be eating? How many serves of fruit is too many for a toddler each day? What are the recommended serving sizes? Check out our article on how much food for toddler – recommended standard serves and portion sizes for more information.

Of course, your toddler won’t be too concerned about what is ‘recommended’ and their appetite will vary as they grow (or even day to day). The best you can do is be consistent, continue to expose them to a range of nutritious foods and model healthy eating yourself. If you’re worried about your child’s nutrition and fussy eating we have an article on how to cope with your toddler’s food refusal.

A toddler will also still benefit from being breastfed and if you and your baby are happy to continue you should not feel pressure to wean this early. In addition to its nutritional content, breast milk contains antibodies which help build your child’s immune system and protect them from illness. For more tips and advice check out our article on breastfeeding a toddler.

Play

At this age toddlers are starting to explore the world around them. It is important to encourage this curiosity (when it is safe of course, not when they’re exploring electrical cords or cleaning supplies!) and give them safe, but exciting, places to explore – inside and out.

Don’t be afraid to let your child get messy! Messy play is actually very beneficial for a child’s development. Mess is essentially new textures. The more textures a child learns about, the better their fine motor skills which is the coordination and use of the smaller muscles of the hand and feet. Let your child play with ‘mess’ including sand, rice, play dough, foam and shaving cream. Another great idea is sensory play with water. For more ideas check out this article – why should my child have messy play – written by an occupational therapist.

A good present for a one-year-old is a four-wheeled riding toy. By 15 months of age they will probably be able to ride it and push themselves along but until then they will enjoy using it as a push toy.

For a quieter activity check out our list of 10 awesome books for children from birth to 18 months.

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How are you going?

You’ve probably learned this already, but parenting is quite a challenge and parenting a toddler comes with a new set of challenges. On some days – many days – it will feel like you’re living in a constant state of frazzled! That’s why it is so important to look after yourself. Give yourself a break, hop in a bubble bath, head to the shops alone and come back with a renewed sense of joy. This article has some awesome and practical tips on how to practise self-care when you’re a busy parent.

It is also important to have realistic expectations about what life is like as a parent. When there’s a mismatch between expectation and reality you can feel depressed, anxious and resentful. Very often, as parents we put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect, when there really is no such thing! It is time to count our blessings and give ourselves a break every now and then!

3 things to do when you’ve got a 12-15 month old

Please note: All children are different, these are generic guides and aren’t a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to contact your health care provider.

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