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Growth and Development, Ages 12 to 24 Months - What to Expect

General growth and development

Children usually progress in a natural, predictable sequence from one developmental milestone to the next. Children who are 12 to 24 months of age make gains in five major areas: physical growth, cognitive abilities, emotional and social development, language skills, and sensory and motor development.

  • Physical growth, although slower than in the first year of life, continues at a steady pace. In the second year, toddlers gain an average of 3 lb (1.4 kg) to 5 lb (2.3 kg) and grow an average of 3 in. (7.6 cm) to 5 in. (12.7 cm) Also, teething continues with the eruption of the first molar teeth camera.gif.
  • Cognitive development is a child's increasing skill at thinking, learning, reasoning, and remembering. A toddler begins to recall past events, understand symbols, imitate, imagine, and pretend.
  • Emotional and social development during the second year is characterized by strong emotional attachments to parents. Your child may feel uneasy and cry when he or she is separated from you. During this time, toddlers typically develop two conflicting feelings: wanting both independence and reassurance from their parents. Although their emotions change often, toddlers' personalities and temperament are becoming more defined.
  • Language development rapidly progresses. At 12 months, many children can say a few words. And they jabber often. At 15 to 18 months, a typical toddler understands 10 times more than he or she can put into words. Speech begins with one- or two-syllable words, such as "mama." This progresses to short two-word sentences, such as "no peas" or "walk dog," sometime between 18 and 24 months. By 24 months, most toddlers can say at least 50 words.
  • Sensory and motor skills advance as your toddler starts walking and moving around. Climbing, running, and hopping soon follow.

Although most children reach milestones, such as walking and talking, by a specific age, it is important to remember that development happens at an individual pace. Also, many children tend to make progress in one area, such as talking, while another skill, such as walking, levels off. If your child has a slight delay in an area, it does not always mean there is a problem. But be sure to talk to your doctor anytime you have a concern.

Milestones by age

By 12 months (1 year) of age many children are walking without help or by holding onto furniture ("cruising"). Most children will have a few teeth and like to put almost anything in their mouths that they can. And many children will say a few words and practice a lot of sounds. Your child may like to "flirt" with you and other caregivers.

By 18 months of age—look out!—most children are walking with ease and anything within reach is fair game. Your child may like to press buttons, move handles, and turn knobs. You may notice your child pretending to "feed" a toy or a similar act that he or she sees. Most children understand 10 times as many words as they can say, including the names of some people, body parts, and objects. Many children can often point to an object in a book when asked.

By 24 months (2 years) of age most children feel excited, confused, and scared about their emerging independence. Temper tantrums may start happening regularly. Children may start thinking in more complex ways, such as recalling events that happened days earlier. A child's make-believe world gets bigger as he or she may have play "events" rather than just one act. For example, he or she may pretend to be a mommy or daddy and care for a baby by changing a stuffed animal's diaper and feeding it a bottle. Most children say at least 50 words and use two-word phrases. Not only can most toddlers walk, but they also can run—and go up and down stairs.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 19, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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