• Tip Sheet

9 to 18 MONTHS

Older babies are ready to explore their world and are becoming more mobile. They show strong attachment to the adults in their life and a fascination with other kids their age. They practice communication by babbling and they understand and can respond to a growing number of words.

Kids This Age May:

How You Can Help Them Develop:

  • Creep on hands and knees or hands and feet, pull to a stand using furniture for support, cruise while holding onto furniture, or walk without support.
  • Allow and encourage them to move to get what they want, such as a toy that is out of reach.
  • Provide simple toys with wheels like toy lawn mowers for support as they experiment with standing and walking.
  • Place a stacking ring on the post or use two hands to pick up a big truck, but only one hand to pick up a small one.
  • Provide a variety of safe toys with pieces that come apart, fit together, and stack.
  • Turn the pages of a board book.
  • Provide books to help them develop smaller muscles in their bodies (e.g., using fingers to turn pages or point).

Kids This Age May:

How You Can Help Them Develop:

  • Develop the ability to engage with adults. They may seek reassurance from parents when unsure if something is safe or watch and then help grandma as she prepares snack.
  • Talk with them to describe your interactions.
  • Ask if they want to help (e.g., provide a spoon and bowl to them while you prepare dinner).
  • Join them on the floor to play.
  • Start to understand how others are feeling. They may try to hug a crying peer or bring their own special blanket to a peer who is crying.
  • Talk about another child's expression of feelings (e.g., "Mia is laughing because the puppet is so funny.").
  • Show and talk about how you care and comfort other children (e.g., "Jake feels better when I pat his back").
  • Start to understand how to respond to other people. They may play in ways that involve taking turns, such as rolling a ball back and forth.
  • Provide opportunities for them to listen to conversations and watch adult interactions.
  • Describe to them what they are doing (e.g., "You are telling me you want me to play ball with you").

Kids This Age May:

How You Can Help Them Develop:

  • Develop close relationships with adults in their lives. They may snuggle with mom, dad or other close caregivers when feeling tired or grumpy.
  • Respond to requests for comfort and engagement with hugs, smiles and laughter.
  • Provide good-bye routines that are similar every time.
  • Point to or indicate parts of the body when asked.
  • Play naming games about parts of the face or body while holding them or while looking in the mirror.
  • Clap and bounce with joy after making a handprint with paint.
  • Recognize and support their attempts to do things on their own.
  • Use comfort objects, such as a special blanket or stuffed toy, to help calm down.
  • Seek to be close to a parent or caregiver when upset.
  • Recognize when they have comforted themselves. For example, say, "You found your bear and made yourself feel better."
  • Choose one toy when asked, "Which one do you want?" even though the child really wants both.
  • Give a choice between two acceptable options (e.g., "Would you like to wear the blue socks or the white socks?").

Kids This Age May:

How You Can Help Them Develop:

  • Go to a cubby when their teacher says that it is time to put on coats to go outside.
  • Cover up the doll when an adult says, "Cover the baby with the blanket."
  • Look at a plate of crackers, then at the adult, and communicate "more."
  • Use two words together, such as "Daddy give."
  • Expose them to language by talking and reading together.
  • Use both new and familiar words or sign language and repeat these words in different settings.

Kids This Age May:

How You Can Help Them Develop:

  • Build a tower with the big cardboard blocks and kick it over to make it fall, then build it and knock it down again.
  • Provide cause and effect toys, like jack-in-the-boxes or spinning tops, and toys with moving parts, like cars, and show the child how they work.
  • Respond positively to their success in making something happen (e.g., clapping and saying, "You did it!").
  • Imitate simple actions that they have seen adults doing; for example, they might take a toy phone out of a purse and say hello as a parent does.
  • Provide household items or toys that they can use to imitate adult behavior, like plastic cups, bowls and spoons, toy brooms or dolls.
  • Go to the sink when an adult says that it is time to wash hands.
  • Talk about what they are seeing, hearing and doing or what you are doing with them. (e.g., When washing their hands, talk about turning on the water, getting the soap and rinsing.)
  • Allow them to help wipe their hands and face.

Kids This Age May:

How You Can Help Them Develop:

  • Bring a small stool over to reach a toy on top of a shelf, having observed an adult do it.
  • Encourage them to solve problems. For example, say, "You are working hard on that puzzle." Help only when they show that they need it.
  • Anticipate and participate in the steps of a nap routine.
  • Establish a daily schedule so they can begin to anticipate routines.
  • Provide consistent songs or games that link to a specific activity, such as the same song at naptime or the same game prior to lunchtime.

Videos: 9 to 18 MONTHS

9 month milestone video.
Used with permission, Minnesota Department of Education.

12 month milestone video.
Used with permission, Minnesota Department of Education.

18 month milestone video.
Used with permission, Minnesota Department of Education.

Note: It is important to arrange for regular health and developmental exams with a health care provider. These are usually part of a well-child visit and can include vision, hearing and oral health screenings.

Questions? Concerns?

The Guidelines describe how a typical child develops but it is important to understand that each child learns and develops at his or her own individual pace. Since each child is different, caregivers should talk with a health care provider or other trusted professional about any questions or concerns. For more information about questions or concerns you may have, please contact us.