Toddlers come in all shapes and sizes, but toddler development at 12-15 months typically has a few things in common. Here’s what your toddler might be doing, how you can help and when to see a child health professional.
Toddler development at 12-15 months: what’s happening
Behaviour, play and feelings
Your toddler is a busy little person. He’s spending a lot of his time working out what different things do, and what he can do with them. He’ll build small towers of blocks and knock them down, scribble with a pen or crayon, and drop pegs into a basket.
This is an important time for your toddler socially and emotionally.
After 14 months, your child might often show signs of separation anxiety. But she’ll also begin to show empathy – for example, she might look sad or get upset when she sees someone else crying. Empathy is about understanding how others might be feeling, and it’s an important part of forming relationships with people.
Communicating and talking
At this age, your child’s language development matures. His babbling starts to include real words. Your child might even name familiar objects – for example, a ball. But it’s not all words just yet – he’ll still grunt, nod and point to let you know what he wants. He might even point to people and things he knows when you ask him.
Your toddler might stand up without needing help from you or the furniture in these months, and will probably start to walk on her own. As she gets better at walking, she might climb stairs or even the furniture.
Moving helps your child build muscle strength for more complex movements like standing, walking and running. If you’re around while your child explores, it helps him feel safe and builds his self-confidence.
If your child isn’t walking on her own yet, try not to worry too much. Some children won’t walk without help until 15-18 months.
At this age your child might also:
Helping toddler development at 12-15 months
Here are a few simple things you can do to help your toddler’s development at this age:
Parenting a toddler at 12-15 months
Every day you and your toddler will learn a little more about each other. As your toddler grows and develops, you’ll learn more about what he needs and how you can meet these needs.
In fact, as a parent, you’re always learning. Every parent makes mistakes and learns through experience. It’s OK to feel confident about what you know. And it’s also OK to admit you don’t know and ask questions – often the ‘dumb’ questions are the best kind!
Your own physical and mental health is an important part of being a parent. But with all the focus on looking after a child, lots of parents forget or run out of time to look after themselves. Looking after yourself will help you with the understanding, patience, imagination and energy you need to be a parent.
Sometimes you might feel frustrated or upset. But if you feel overwhelmed, put your child in a safe place – for example, a cot – or ask someone else to hold her for a while. Take some time out until you feel calmer. You could also try going to another room to breathe deeply or calling a family member or friend to talk things through.
Never shake a toddler. It can cause bleeding inside the brain and likely permanent brain damage.
It’s OK to ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your toddler, talk to your spouse, a family member, friends or seek professional help.
When to be concerned about toddler development
See your paediatrician or General Practitioner (GP) if you have any concerns or notice that at 12-15 months your toddler has any of the following issues.
Seeing, hearing and communicating
Behaviour, play and feelings
Movement and motor skills
You should see a child health professional if you notice that your child has lost skills he had before.
You should also see your paediatrician or GP if you notice the signs of postnatal depression in women or postnatal depression in men in yourself or your spouse. Symptoms of postnatal depression include feeling sad and crying for no obvious reason, feeling irritable, having difficulty coping and feeling very anxious.
Children grow and develop at different speeds. If you’re worried about whether your child’s development is ‘normal’, it might help to know that ‘normal’ varies a lot. But if you still feel that something isn’t quite right, see your paediatrician or GP.
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