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Milestones beyond 12 months

children of different ages

Children are constantly learning. The milestones from 0-12 months are jam packed. After the first year is when children really take off with their language, social and emotional development. This is the time when kids really start to show their personalities. Try to encourage their love of learning and new found independence. It can be frustrating and the term 'patience of a saint' comes to mind, but when you no longer have to wait on on your child hand and foot, you'll be glad of the effort!

18 months

Social and emotional

  • "Reads" board books on their own

  • Hands things to others


  • Strings words together in phrases eg. "up mama"

  • Points to things to indicate their wants

  • Follows 1-step instructions eg. "pick up the book"

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Brushes teeth with help

  • Scribbles

  • Plays pretend games eg. feeds a doll

  • Can drink from a cup and eat with a spoon


  • Walks alone

  • Starting to run

Be concerned if your child:

  • Doesn’t point to show things to others

  • Can’t walk

  • Doesn’t know what familiar things are for

  • Doesn’t copy others

  • Says less than 5 words and doesn’t gain new words

  • Doesn’t notice or mind when a caregiver leaves or returns

  • Loses skills they once had

2 years

Social and emotional

  • Takes more of an interest in playing with other children

  • Talks about themselves - likes and dislikes

  • Begins to show defiance and may tantrum - the 'terrible twos' are in fact a milestone!


  • Can use 50 single words

  • Can make 2-3 word sentences eg. 'want milk mummy'

  • Follows 2-step instructions eg. 'pick up the book and put it on the shelf'


  • Can name some familiar things

  • Can sing simple tunes eg. 'twinkle twinkle'

  • Build a tower of 4 blocks or more

  • Can identify several body parts

  • Might be ready for toilet training

  • May use one hand more than the other


  • Stands on tip-toe

  • Can throw a ball

  • Can kick a ball

  • Can walk downstairs, climb up & down furniture

Be concerned if your child:

  • Doesn’t use 2-word sentences eg. 'want milk'

  • Doesn’t know what to do with common things, like a brush, phone, fork, spoon

  • Doesn’t copy actions and words

  • Doesn’t follow simple instructions

  • Doesn’t walk steadily

  • Loses skills they once had

3 years

Social and Emotional

  • Copies adults and friends

  • Shows affection for friends

  • Takes turns and can share

  • Understands the idea of ownership - mine, his, hers

  • Shows a wide range of emotions including concern for crying friend

  • Dresses and undresses self


  • Follows 2 or 3-step instructions

  • Understands words like 'in', 'on' and 'under'

  • Can say first name, age, and gender

  • Names a friend

  • Says words like 'I', 'me', 'we' and 'you and some plurals eg. cars, dogs, cats

  • Talks well enough for strangers to understand most of the time

  • Uses 4-5 word sentences and can speak using 2-3 sentences


  • Can work toys with buttons, levers, and moving parts

  • Plays pretend games with dolls, animals, and people

  • Does puzzles with 3 or 4 pieces

  • Can draw a circle

  • Turns book pages one at a time

  • Builds towers of more than 6 blocks

  • Screws and unscrews jar lids or turns door handle

  • Ready for toilet training


  • Climbs well

  • Runs easily

  • Pedals a tricycle

  • Walks up and down stairs

  • Jumps

Be concerned if your child:

  • Falls down a lot or has trouble with stairs

  • Drools or has very unclear speech

  • Can’t work simple toys eg. simple puzzles, turning handle

  • Doesn’t speak in sentences

  • Doesn’t understand simple instructions

  • Doesn’t play pretend games

  • Doesn’t want to play with other children or with toys

  • Doesn’t make eye contact

  • Loses skills they once had

NOTE: If you have any concerns about your child’s development, speak with your doctor. A delay in one or more areas may indicate problems such as language delay, developmental delay, intellectual delay, and Autistic spectrum disorder. The earlier a problem is detected, the earlier your child can get the appropriate help they need. More information on childhood development can be found at


Related Children's Books

When I'm feeling scared
When I'm feeling angry
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by Trace Moroney

This series of picture books help children to understand feelings such as jealousy, anger, happiness and many more.

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