Useful? Share it!

Your 18 – 21 month old – toddler development guide

Toddler Development Guide - 18-21 months oldNot content with walking around the house your little one is probably starting to climb all over it too. All your low furniture will be just another mountain to tackle and once they start climbing the stairs they’ll never want to stop!

If you do have a climber make sure you discourage climbing on cabinets, shelves, drawers and cupboards etc. You can buy anchors to secure furniture and TVs and this article has plenty more tips to help prevent toppling furniture accidents.

At this age, your toddler may be starting to string a few words together and will understand simple directions like ‘go get your cup’.

You might have to read these 10 tips for reducing toddler (and parental) tantrums as they might become more frequent at this age.

How is your toddler going?


At this age your baby has probably dropped a day sleep – so down to just one nap a day.

They will still need between 10-12 hours of sleep at night and although they might sleep through till morning the challenge will be getting them to sleep in the first place. Toddlers may not want to miss out on all the excitement and may start to resist bedtime. Oh, and be careful not to leave items in their cot as they will probably pile them up and use them to escape!

If your toddler has started to climb out of their cot you might want to consider moving them to a bed. Usually at this age a child is ready to sleep in a bed, though if they are still safe and happy in their cot you should not feel pressure to move them just yet. But if you’ve got a new baby on the way or if they are able to climb out of the cot then check out this article on moving a toddler from cot to a bed for tips on making the transition easily and safely.


If mealtimes are starting to become frustrating it might be that your toddler is going through a fussy eating phase. This is perfectly normal and many will grow out of it. It is hard, but it important to not give in to their fussiness.

One of the most frustrating parts of fussy eating is when you have a child who will not even taste or try new foods (or even food they previously liked). There are a few strategies you can use to tempt them – an easy one is to make sure they’re not too tired at dinner time – and we have plenty of tips in our article on encouraging your child to try new foods.


When you have young children it can sometimes feel as though you’re stuck indoors. But it is important to head outside each day. There are many benefits of outside play for children including the development of motor skills, balance and co-ordination as well as strengthening their muscles and bones. They do this by climbing over natural, uneven surfaces or, when they’re older, up into trees.

It is also good for their eye muscles and engages all the senses at once, encouraging creative play and exploration. Providing children with opportunities to play outside in nature without direct adult intervention allows for independent adventure and risk-taking. This helps children develop a sense of self-determination and confidence in their bodies, which grows resilience.

Time out in nature is also good for mental health. It helps reduce anxiety and lifts our mood. So it is not just beneficial for children, but for parents too!

Toilet training

Toddlers are generally not ready to be toilet trained until they are at least two – sometimes three – years old – although some children might start to show interest at this age. There’s no point pushing a child to toilet train before they’re ready – it will only prolong the process and cause you needless mess and frustration – but if they are showing signs that they’re ready to toilet train there’s no harm in encouraging them.

Whether you think your toddler is ready to toilet train soon or later, there are some things you can do now to help prepare them, which will make life a little easier when it is time. If you notice that they’re doing a pee or a poo in their nappy, ask them “are you doing a pee?”. This will help them to recognise when they are going as well as give them the words they need such as poo, pee/wee, wet, dry etc. Check out our article on 8 ways to prepare your toddler for toilet training for more tips.

SIGN UP: Have this in your inbox! Sign up to our toddler development emails

How are you going?

Do you feel like you’re constantly on the go? Life with a toddler can be full-on but you don’t need to be busy all the time. There will be opportunities through the day when you can grab a moment of peace – where you can lie down and read a book to your child or sit quietly with a cup of coffee while they nap. Grasp at these moments when they arrive and don’t feel guilty for having some down time. You need it and you deserve it.

Also take a moment to consider where you can cut back, to reduce this feeling of busy-ness. If you’re over-scheduling yourself and always rushing or catching up you’ll soon start to become stressed and anxious. Now is a good time to learn how to slow down, especially if you’re considering – or already pregnant with – another child as your hours will be even more precious when you’ve got a newborn and a toddler.

We have this great article from parenting educator Maggie Dent on 7 ways to be a back-to-basics parent it is a wonderful reminder on how to slow down and prioritise the simple but important elements of life and parenting, for your benefit and your child’s.

2 things to do when you’ve got a 18-21 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.

Post your comment

Comment Guidelines : Play nice! We welcome opinions, discussion and compliments. Especially compliments. But remember: the person on the other side of the computer screen is someone's mum, brother, nan or highly intelligent but opinionated cat. We don't tolerate nastiness or bullying. We'll delete disrespectful comments and any replies to them. more

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If you have a Gravatar, it will appear next to your comments. Read more about Gravatars here


Prove you're human ... *



TPS Health PhysiotherapyTPS Health has four clinics located at Morningside, Cleveland, Victoria Point and Lutwyche. We offer pre/post natal ...


back to top