18 months development checklist: what you should know.

At 18 months, your toddler begins to soak up information and make strides in their development.

Adult and Child Therapy Center has put together a 18 months development checklist of milestones that they should be starting to reach. This will give you an overview of how your child’s development should be progressing.

Not all children reach their milestones at the same time so please bear this in mind. This is a framework to help you understand the direction their development should be going and also some helpful tips for you to help them along their way.


  • Engages in early play, i.e. handing objects of interest to play-partner/pretend play
  • Has tantrums
  • Makes strange with unfamiliar people
  • Shows a range of emotions
  • Attempts to get an adult’s attention


  • Responds to simple instructions (with 1 step), i.e. “where’s the doggie”
  • Identifies familiar objects, i.e. ball, spoon
  • Shakes and nods head to say “yes” and “no”
  • Points to request
  • Uses some words or word approximations, i.e. “baba” (bottle)
  • Tries to imitate vocalisations and sounds
  • Understands “no”
  • Points to items of interest

Identity and Belonging

  • Can sometimes get upset when leaving a familiar adult, i.e. parent
  • Shows affection towards familiar people, i.e. siblings/parents
  • Enjoys interacting with familiar people

Exploring and Thinking

  • Looks for another person’s attention
  • Engaged in simple functional play, i.e. building blocks
  • Points to at least one body part
  • Shows interest in “scribbling”
  • Stands and walks alone
  • Tries to walk up steps
  • Drinks from a cup
  • Eats with a spoon

18 Months Development Checklist

If your child is doing all or some of the above, we have created an action plan to help you support your child with their development:

  • Expose your child to new people and places
  • Use motivating activities to encourage smiling, laughing etc. i.e. peek-a-boo, bubbles, tickling. Reinforce and praise them for their responses, imitating their facial expressions
  • If a toy falls out of reach, wait for your child to react before picking it up
  • Label items/common objects in your child’s environment to develop understanding
  • During pretend play give your child simple instructions, i.e. give me the spoon, reinforce your child for following the instruction
  • Keep motivating items that your child wants out of reach, encourage them to reach and point towards the item before giving it to them
  • Augment ‘no” with a gesture by shaking your head
  • Create opportunities for you to “leave” your child
  • Begin by leaving them for short periods, when you return, greet your child to let them know you have returned
  • Interact with your child regularly, use an animated expression and tone
  • Play simple games that motivate a response, i.e. tickling, peek-a-boo etc.
  • During play, create obstacles for your child, i.e. place motivating toys in containers, pause an activity, wait for your child to attract your attention before helping them
  • Sing “head, shoulders, knees and toes”
  • Provide your child with opportunities to colour and draw. Use chunky crayons/pencils that will be easy to grip
  • Praise attempts to stand and walk

All the information above has been put together by the Multi-Disciplinary team at Adult and Child Therapy Centre.

We are dedicated to providing support to young children and their families throughout their child’s life and want to ensure that parents have as much information around their child’s development as possible in order to gain a better insight to their child and how best to support them.