Your baby is now a toddler and at 18 months it’s exciting to see how quickly she’s learning and developing. She’ll have a mind of her own and will make her wants clear on everything from which clothes she wants to wear to what she wants to eat. She’s developing quickly and it can be difficult to keep up with where she is and where she is supposed to be. Don’t worry, there are some simple things you can do as a parent to help her develop the skills she needs and meet appropriate milestones.
It’s likely she’s walking confidently, tackling stairs unaided or pulling toys along behind her. She’ll be able to bend at the waist to pick things up and can squat down to examine things closely without falling over. She might be able to run, though she will bump into things on a regular basis. She’ll have a fascination with the world around her; beware of sudden stops as she pauses to examine things more closely.
Her fine motor skills will also be developing nicely. She’ll be able to open and close doors, providing she can reach the handle. She might enjoy stringing large beads together as her pincer grasp matures and she can already pick up small objects. She may also be at the stage where she can help dress, or undress, herself, including taking off her shoes, usually just as you want to leave the house.
Her cognitive skills are also developing. She’ll understand that something can still exist even though she can’t see it. She’ll also be able to understand the concepts of cause and effect, but only in the simplest of terms. She’ll recognize familiar faces, but repetitive games, such as peek-a-boo, will still appeal to her because her memory hasn’t developed to an adult level yet. You might find it frustrating when you find yourself telling her to stop doing something over and over again; part of this is her pushing the boundaries of her independence and part of it is a genuine inability to remember what you’ve told her before. She’ll take more interest in picture books and may be able to point to objects you name and perhaps even name some on her own. Her vocabulary is growing; talking to her will help her learn words even if it’s just describing the things around her. This will also help her learn speech pattern, sentence structure and taking turns to speak. In this stage you should start encouraging her to be a little more independent; giving her time to play alone or to help with tasks, such as feeding or dressing. Repetitive games are still good since she’ll need to practice her new skills. It’s important to give her time and encouragement to try, fail and try again.
Your toddler is moving towards greater independence and this is the ideal time to encourage it in a safe, comforting environment. Do this, and your reward is a happy, healthy child equipped with the skills to see her through the next stages of her life.