Developmental Milestones for Your Child’s Second Year

Your child is growing and changing rapidly during their second year of life! It may seem like just yesterday, they were a tiny bundle of joy completely reliant on you for all their needs. But now your baby is growing up, and they’ll be excited to show you all the brand-new skills they learn as they get more and more independent!

It can be hard to keep track of all the different milestones they are hitting. That’s why we have put together this handy guide, outlining the developmental milestones your child should reach between their first and second birthdays. Plus, we’ll give you some tips on how you can help your child achieve their milestones.

And remember, every child is different. What comes easily to one child may take another child a little bit more practice, and that’s okay! If your child isn’t reaching their milestones by the ages listed below, they may just need a little more time. You can always talk to their pediatrician or one of our therapists if you have any concerns about your child’s development.

Your Child by 15 Months

After the exciting changes during your child’s first year, they’ll be ready to put their new skills to the test and learn even more about the world around them. By fifteen months, most children will achieve the below milestones in the following developmental areas:

  • May be able to walk pretty well without holding on to things for balance
  • Can pick up food more easily with their fingers and bring it to their mouth
  • If your child is more confident with walking, they may start trying to climb things like stairs or furniture
  • Can follow simple directions when you use words and a gesture (like saying “Give me the ball,” and holding out your hand).
  • Will point to things to ask for them or ask for your help
  • May throw things to show they are angry or upset
  • Starts trying to use a couple of words beyond “mama” and “dada” (such as “bye-bye” or “uh-oh”)
  • Looks at an object (like a favorite toy or food) when you call it by name
  • Enjoys stacking small objects like blocks
  • Imitates the way you hold things like a book or a toy phone
  • May start to play pretend, like pretending to sleep or initiating peek-a-boo
  • Understands routines that you have in place, such as getting a bath after dinner
  • May try to help you with things like sweeping the floors or handing you things that you need while cooking
  • Will show you their favorite toys or other objects around the house
  • Claps when they are excited or happy
  • Shows affection to you and other trusted people through hugs and kisses
  • Copies other children’s actions when playing
  • Hugs stuffed toys, dolls, or other comfort objects
  • Is comfortable with using a cup instead of a bottle
  • Can successfully drink from a straw
  • Will try to bite utensils and cups
  • Likes to bite or gnaw on harder foods like cookies or crackers
  • Is interested in trying new foods like fruits, yogurt, noodles, etc.

How You Can Help Your 15-Month-Old Reach Their Milestones

The time you spend with your child will help them grow and learn more easily. Here are some tips for what you can do with your child to help them reach their 15-month milestones: 

  • Now that they are exploring more on their own, make sure your home (or your child’s play area) is baby-proofed with dangerous or breakable items hidden away.
  • Reinforce their growing language skills by talking to your child every day. Tell them the names of objects, and praise them when they try to copy what you say.
  • If your child says a word like “wa” for “water,” respond to them using the correct pronunciation. For example:  if your child says “wa” and points to their cup, you may ask, “Do you want some water?” This will help them know that you understand them while modeling the correct words for them to eventually learn.
  • Give your child little responsibilities so they can feel like they are helping you. You may ask your child to help put dirty clothes in a laundry basket, grab their shoes or blanket before a trip, or other simple things they are able to do.
  • Take time to play! Playing with your child’s favorite toys, taking them on walks, and doing other physical activities together will help your child learn and grow.
  • Keep reading them stories. This will help them learn even more words, and it can be a great bonding time before naps or bedtime.

Your Child by 18 Months

After the first year and a half of excitement, your child has a better understanding of how things around them work and will try to handle more things on their own. By eighteen months, most children will achieve the below milestones in the following developmental areas:

  • Likes to scribble with large crayons, markers, or chalk
  • Tries to use a spoon on their own (and may be successful, if messy!)
  • Walks without holding on to the furniture or your hands
  • Can climb on and off furniture without help (like a couch or foot stool)
  • Likes to turn the pages in books that you read
  • Likes to press buttons and turn knobs
  • Has a lot of words to say and may start stringing words together (like “my ball” or blue truck”)
  • Can follow simple directions without hand gestures, like “Put that down.”
  • Points at things to show you, and may try to name the thing they’re pointing at
  • Looks at their hands with Plays with their toys in a more logical way, like stacking blocks or pushing a toy car back and forth
  • Copies the things you do, like wiping down surfaces or talking on the phone
  • May hide or hold on to you when a stranger is around
  • Starts playing more complex pretend games, such as feeding their favorite stuffed toys with a spoon or sharing their snacks
  • Can point to things that are close by in answer to your questions (such as “Where are your toes?” or “Where is your teddy bear?”)
  • Will hold out their hands for you to wash
  • Helps you get them dressed, such as holding arms up for a shirt to go on or off
  • Will move away from you to go play or explore, but will look back to make sure you are where they left you
  • May start saying “no” to things they don’t like or don’t want
  • Look at you for reactions when they do something
  • Likes to mimic your facial expressions and body language as a game
  • Can chew most solid foods when cut into small bites
  • Keeps most food in their mouth when chewing, even if they chew with their mouth open
  • Can chew and swallow successfully (without choking)

How You Can Help Your 18-Month-Old Reach Their Milestones

As your child grows, it’s important to take the time to play with them and help them learn. Here are some tips for what you can do with your child to help them reach their 18-month milestones:

  • Be patient with your child when they explore and make messes. They are learning!
  • Ask them simple questions throughout the day (like, “Where is your ___?”)
  • Give them choices, such as asking which of two shirts they want to wear, or asking if they want one snack or the other. This will help their language skills and help them feel more independent.
  • Don’t let your child spend unsupervised time with screens (like TV, tablets, phones, etc.). Video calls with relatives or friends are good for social skills, but your child shouldn’t be playing video games, watching lots of TV, etc.
  • Let your child practice using utensils and regular cups
  • Model the behavior you want to see in your child. For example, if you don’t want your child to yell when they’re angry, don’t raise your voice when you’re angry, etc.

Your Child by 24 Months

Another whole year has passed, and your child is still growing and learning every day! By their second birthday, most children will achieve the below milestones in the following developmental areas:

  • Can run for short periods of time without tripping or falling down
  • Walks up stairs either on their own or while holding onto a railing or your hands
  • Can kick a ball without falling down
  • Can hold something in one hand and use the other hand, like holding a container and using the other hand to eat snacks from it
  • Likes throwing balls and trying to catch them
  • Uses varying hand gestures aside from pointing, like blowing kisses or waving
  • Says two or more words together, like “More please” or “That’s my toy”
  • Understands a variety of different words and tries to communicate more with their words
  • Uses things like buttons, knobs, and switches on toys
  • Knows what will happen with interactive toys, like books that have sound buttons, and likes to cause those reactions
  • Plays pretend with their toys, such as tucking a “baby” into bed or cooking food in a pretend kitchen
  • Will enjoy repetitive behavior, like building a tower of blocks and knocking it down
  • May understand two-step directions, such as “Pick up your toy and put it in the box”
  • Looks at you to see how you react when something new or unexpected happens
  • Notices how other people are feeling and may pause or try to offer comfort, like a hug
  • Likes to be around other people, even if they do their own activities
  • May not want to play with other children but will enjoy playing alongside them
  • Doesn’t bite cups or utensils as much as they did, or may no longer bite at all
  • Is more able to feed themselves or drink from cups without spilling
  • Has more control over utensils like forks and spoons

How You Can Help Your Two-Year-Old Reach Their Milestones

Your two-year-old can do so much more now than they could a year ago, but they still have a lot to learn! Here are some tips for what you can do with your child to help them reach their two-year milestones:

  • Continue keeping your child on a routine as much as possible so they know what to expect.
  • Continue talking to them and modeling the language you want them to use. Your child will still be using baby talk, and that’s okay! They will learn the more you speak with them.
  • Let your child eat as much or as little food as they want to at mealtimes. Don’t force them to “clean their plate” before they can leave the table. This will help them understand their own hunger cues and develop a healthy relationship with food.
  • Make sure your child is getting enough sleep each night and at nap times. Two-year-olds should be getting between 11-14 hours of sleep per day, including naps, to help them grow and develop.
  • Let your child play and explore outdoors as much as possible. You can take them to the park, go on walks together, or just hang out in your yard. This will help them get a good amount of exercise and fresh air, and the outdoors is full of new things they can explore and learn about!
  • Give your child creative projects to work on, like coloring pages or watercolor paints. Giving them lots of praise for their art will encourage them to keep creating, which helps with their cognitive and motor skills.
  • Let your child help out around the house with simple activities, like bringing napkins to the dinner table or putting toys away at bedtime. This lets them feel like they are helping you and gives them a feeling of accomplishment.

There are so many fun things you can do with your child at this age. The more time you spend with them, the more they will learn and grow. Your encouragement and love will give them the confidence they need to keep trying and improving their skills. And if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s development, you should always reach out to their pediatrician or our pediatric therapists to get answers and advice.