From baby to toddler – how babies develop from 13 to 24 months

This year your baby turns into a fully-fledged toddler, clocking up many awesome milestones. Here’s our month-by-month guide to development from their first birthday to birthday number two

From baby to toddler – how babies develop from 13 to 24 months

Now your child’s second year has begun, what can you expect next? Milestones in year two begin with walking, climbing and talking. Later, your tot will move on to complex achievements like kicking a ball and scribbling with crayons. You can also look forward to your little one developing skills in pretend play and, by about 24 months, socializing with other children. And did we mention tantrums…? Be prepared for the ups and downs with our expert guide.

Your child at 13 months

Testing boundaries

Over the next couple of months, you may notice your little one trying to assert independence in all sorts of ways – from shedding socks and other easy-to-remove items of clothing, to suddenly becoming a fussy eater.

Fussy eating

If your child is increasingly picky about food, you’re not alone. Most children go through at least one fussy-eating stage, and toddlers can rapidly cycle through likes and dislikes. Patience is your best ally (a food refused today could be gobbled up in a week or so). Find some tasty toddler meals to try.

Focus on you: time out

As ever, it’s important to take time out for you when you can. With a bit of me-time under your belt, it’s easier to breeze through any toddler trials. Why not try to find time for a relaxing bath.

Your child at 14 months

Walking skills

Children who take their first steps between nine and 12 months will be just starting to get the hang of it. Don’t worry if your baby takes longer – it’s down to the individual – but if you do have any concerns about your baby’s development, talk to your GP or health visitor. Make sure you child-proof your home to help them practice walking skills in safety. Barefoot is best if possible – babies grip with their toes. Patience helps, too. Tots who are poorly, or who’ve had their confidence knocked by a fall, may put walking on hold until they’re steadier. But once those first wobbly walks get going, encourage your little one to walk with you. It’s great exercise, and safety reins mean you can ensure they stay close by. For walks outdoors, use sunscreen and a hat or glasses to help protect their skin and eyes.

Playtime fun

Making proper playmates isn’t really on the cards until your toddler is about two or three. But you can encourage their social development now by getting started with playdates. Just don’t expect lots of give and take for the time being. Two toddlers will often sit happily side by side, playing independently, but it will take time before they get used to sharing. You can stave off problems by keeping prized possessions out of sight. Having a toy or two especially for playdates can also help.

Focus on you: getting out

Life with a boisterous toddler can be full on but if you’re feeling overwhelmed don’t be tempted to lock yourself away. Research shows that just five minutes of fresh air can help lift mood and self-esteem – vital resources for getting through tough times. So, try to soak up nature any way you can – even if it’s just a once round the park with the buggy.

Your child at 15 months

Protecting little teeth

Whether your tot has just started cutting teeth, or already has eight or more, it’s important to care for those early pearly whites. By encouraging good dental habits now, you can help protect your child’s milk teeth against decay and help make way for healthy adult teeth. Time to buy toothbrushes and toothpastes that will get your little one brushing. You may have heard tooth decay described as baby bottle tooth decay. Decay can be caused by long-term exposure to sweet liquids including fruit juice, milk and formula. Guard against this by offering water and other sugar-free drinks in a sippy cup rather than a bottle. While your baby is still cutting teeth, don’t forget to capture that gummy grin on camera. If you want to get creative with your photos, get inspired by some very clever takes on the photobook.

New developments

Around now, babies do all sorts of interesting things – building their vocabularies, starting to entertain themselves and asserting their growing independence. If your baby’s new-found sense of self is expressed by getting messy, you’ll want plenty of outfits on hand to cope with multiple changes of clothes. Stock up on hard-wearing fashion. Somewhere between 15 and 18 months, their grasping skills will come on so much that they may even be able to build small towers of blocks. Consider buying blocks and other building toys to encourage this – just be warned that your baby may enjoy banging them together more than anything.

Your child at 16 months

Fine motor skills

Babies spend a long-time developing control over the tiny muscles in their hands and fingers – their fine-motor skills. These are the skills that let them feed themselves, for instance, or scribble. Now’s a great time to let your little one loose with some drawing materials – stock up on crayons and chalks. 

Pretend play

Your baby’s imagination also comes on in leaps and bounds around this time, and pretend play starts to emerge. This is an important time in your toddler’s development. Your little one needs to do plenty of exploring and playing to learn – the Department of Health advise that children who can walk on their own should be physically active every day for at least three hours, indoors or outdoors, spread throughout the day.

Battle of wills

Soon, your child’s growing sense of self may transform once-easy routines into new challenges. But with some creativity, a few toddler tantrums can be sidestepped. Take bath time, for example. Tots may act up on hair-washing days but try some clever tactics (like squirting the shampoo onto a flannel to keep suds away from eyes) and peace may return – for now. Remember that the battles are a normal part of development. Another way to sidestep struggles is to let your little one take charge now and then. Is there a showdown each time you go to strap them into the car seat? There’s a chance you can break the stalemate by letting your toddler get in independently and even attempt to do up the straps. (Although, naturally, you’ll have to ‘check’ them carefully.) 

Your child at 17 months

Your child’s personality

You’ve probably known for some time that your toddler is one of a kind. But as your tot gets more communicative – and more determined to express likes and dislikes –you’ll really see personality emerge. Personality has a bearing on milestones, too, such as switching from a cot to a bed. Particularly daring 17-month-olds may already be itching to try a ‘big girl’ or ‘big boy’ bed – but there’s no hard-and-fast rule about when yours will be ready. Around 18 months may be right for some toddlers, but others may not make the move until they’re around three and a half. Learn to recognize signs your toddler could be ready for a bed or a cot that converts to a bed, and explore our range of nursery furniture.

Getting active

If your toddler is always on the move, well done. The Department of Health says under-fives who are walking should be physically active for three hours a day. Rolling, climbing and moving around indoors all count, as do outdoor play and walking – and running away from you! Walking to the park or shops is a great way to get more active time into their days. There’s plenty of active rainy-day fun to be had, too – especially if your toddler appreciates a good tune. They’ll probably love dancing along to your favorite songs. Keep the tunes – and the moves – coming with musical toys from our wide selection of electronic learning toys.

Your child at 18 months

New motor skills

It's been one and a half years since you welcomed a tiny baby into the world. Your child has come so far! In the next six months, you’re likely to witness some pretty impressive new milestones – like kicking and throwing a ball. Spending time playing outdoors with your toddler can really help bring on the motor skills. Give your little one plenty of encouragement by praising all efforts (however offtarget!). At this age, children need plenty of active fun to help them develop, so it’s also worth giving some thought to how you can make outdoor play safe. At 18 months, your toddler may already be walking, saying simple words and making some pretty impressive bids for independence. There’s still so much to learn, of course, but their growing confidence may have you thinking ahead to one of the next big steps – potty training.

Potty time?

Parents typically start potty training between 18 months and about four years old, although most don’t start till their child is two or three. As ever, each child is different, and you’ll want to take a cue from your own child’s development. If you’re considering it, see our handy guide to potty training – it will help you spot tell-tale signs that your child is ready to try, and gives you some clever tips for getting started and trouble-shooting, too.

Why not explore what you’ll need for the process – from toilet trainer seats to nappy pants and pull-ups.

Your child at 19 months

Encouraging talk

Toddlers like to try out new words – but they don’t always get them right at first. ‘Doh’ could be an attempt at ‘dog’, for instance. Replying, ‘Yes, that’s a dog,’ is a positive way to reinforce the right word. Keep listening, responding and encouraging – even if every new animal your child meets is a ‘dog’! Between now and two, your child may also start using simple phrases or basic sentences like ‘Carry me!’ You’re probably mastering some new skills too – like tackling tantrums.

Brain development

One milestone is easy to miss amid the excitement of talking and walking – but it’s no less important. As toddlers sharpen their memory and observational skills, they start to notice when things are out of place. Encourage this development with simple shape-sorting games and puzzles. When your child gets frustrated with a puzzle, remember that life’s little struggles are learning opportunities. Your encouragement will help, but you should probably resist the urge to jump in and finish the puzzle.

Family mealtimes

If meals are becoming a struggle, try our tips for fussy eaters. Leading by example is one of the best ways to get them to eat well. So maybe it’s time to consider getting a booster seat to bring your toddler to the family table.

Your child at 20 months

Physical skills

When it comes to motor skills, your toddler will probably start picking up the pace –literally! Toddlers who’ve been walking a little while may begin to break into short bursts of running. Other developments at this stage can include climbing and throwing or kicking a ball. That’s not to say those things will come easy. It takes time to learn not to trip over a ball, for instance, or to avoid obstacles while running. Stand by to soothe bumps with our range of first aid products. You can also help your little one avoids mishaps by making play environments safer when you can. Active toddlers also need plenty of hard-wearing outfits to keep up with their always-on-the-go lifestyle. That means durable fabrics that are machine-washable but also soft enough for delicate skin.

Potty ready?

No doubt you keep hearing that every child is different. Well, that’s especially true when it comes to development milestones such as potty training. At 20 months, some toddlers will already have the bladder control they need to try out a potty. But others will need more time.

Bedtime routine

With so much to learn, a day can really tire a toddler out. A sound night’s sleep is just the ticket, but overtired toddlers often need a little help drifting off – stick to the bedtime routine to help them relax. 

Your child at 21 months

Personality traits

As your little one approaches two, you may have a little Miss or Mr. Confident on your hands. Confidence helps toddlers nurture new skills and learn more about the world. Let them explore, but you can still do things to make sure they’re safe. Confidence can come and go, too. Clinginess, which may first emerge from as early as six months, can last well into your child’s third year. Even a toddler who’s grown in confidence can become clingy again when they face a big change, such as going to nursery.

Learning new habits 

Bring on the ‘big kid’ skills! Toddlers this age can make giant leaps towards caring for themselves. With your encouragement and support, your little one may soon be able to put on and take off some of their clothes and start to take over their own handwashing and toothbrushing (although you’ll still need to supervise). Your toddler may also surprise you by being helpful. Putting toys away and tidying up books and magazines are easy chores – and they may love doing them! Little ones often like things to be ‘just so’. That goes for day-to-day routines, too. Consistent times for eating and sleeping may help children feel safe and secure – and this can mean a calmer, happier toddler. 

Your child at 22 months

Word games

'Twinkle, twinkle little…?’ Toddlers who know their nursery rhymes may be able to add in the ‘star’ at the right place by now. Your little one may also begin saying short sentences like, ‘Bye, Daddy,’ and starting to build up their vocabulary.

Family meals 

Your increasingly communicative tot may enjoy being part of sociable family meals by now. You may even want to try inviting a playmate from your little one’s nursery for lunch or tea – eating with friends can be a great way to get fussy eaters interested in food. A special bowl, plate and spoon can help turn eating into a welcome event for your toddler. But don’t assume your child is picky if they reject a new taste on the first try. Toddlers learn to like foods gradually, so be prepared to offer a new food several times to help lay foundations for a healthy appetite.

Managing emotions

Around this age, toddlers tend to let their feelings show more and more. It’s difficult for little ones to manage complex emotions like anger. But if you acknowledge that you understand how your child is feeling (especially in the middle of a public meltdown), you’ll be helping a great deal. Even offering an encouraging word when they’re frustrated by a puzzle or game can help them learn to deal with their feelings. Play is serious stuff for toddlers. Time spent playing with you is especially important to help your child grow and develop. It can be hard when you’re busy, but it’s worth putting aside time where you can.

Your child at 23 months

Playtime skills

As your toddler’s coordination develops, you may notice them getting more ambitious. Building a six-block tower, for instance, could soon be within their capabilities. Perhaps it’s time to look at construction toys – they’re a brilliant way to develop their creativity and problem-solving skills. You may also have noticed your little one pretending to talk on the phone, or to feed a toy. It’s usually you that your child is imitating when they play make-believe – they may like nothing more than pulling everything out of the kitchen cupboard and pretending to cook. Pretend play is important for your child’s imagination, social skills and brain power. It’s probably a while since you first showed your toddler how to grip a crayon. Little ones this age still love scribbling, but they can surprise you with their skill as their line drawing develops. To keep artistic efforts off the walls (most of the time!) keep a ready stock of materials – backs of envelopes and cardboard packets will do for paper, and look out for affordable art essentials. Another thing that’s developing is your child’s sense of identity. It’s still works in progress but understanding how a sense of self develops can help you understand why children break your rules.

Coping with colds

And if you’ve soothed a sniffle or two lately, we’re not surprised – children under two catch 8-10 colds a year. Speak to your Boots pharmacist – they can offer advice on all sorts of health niggles. Our non-contact thermometer is perfect for keeping tabs on a fever without disturbing them.

Your child at 24 months

Development to look forward to

Your child is two! Happy birthday! Well done for seeing them through two years of amazing firsts and quiet little achievements. In the year ahead, you can look forward to more leaps in physical and intellectual development – their language, memory and imagination will be coming on strong. By three your toddler will have mastered up to 200 words. They’ll be able to stand on tiptoes and turn while running. They may even be pedaling a trike by birthday number three.

Growing imagination

Play continues to be an important way to support their development. There can be a flipside to imagination, though. Between ages two and three, children can develop a heightened fear response, often to situations or creatures they’ve imagined – which can lead to worries at bedtime. Something for comfort can be useful, such as a favorite toy or a nightlight.