Your toddler is 18 months old!
Kids this age are total attention hogs, so don’t be shocked if your toddler turns up the volume every time you begin an adult conversation. She’s also into exercising her independence—though it may not seem like it when she’s clinging to your leg at day care drop-off. Miss Independent is more likely to express herself through words like “mine!” and “now!” and by refusing to be strapped down in any manner. (Hello car seat battles!) Let your toddler buckle in a stuffed animal friend before climbing in the car seat—it might make her feel better about buckling up too.
Your growing 18-month-old is probably full of energy, and she's using it to work on a ton of physical skills.
18-Month-Old Weight & Height
How much should an 18-month-old weigh and measure? According to the World Health Organization, average weight of an 18-month-old is 23.4 pounds for girls and 24.1 pounds for boys. Average height of an 18-month-old is 31.8 inches for girls and 32.4 inches for boys.
Parents tend to wonder, What should my 18-month-old be doing? Here are some milestones your 18-month-old may have hit or may be working on:
• Walking. Most 18-month-olds aren't just walking—they're running. Soon he may begin to jump. But he still probably asks to be carried when you're in crowds or taking a longer jaunt.
• Speech. Most 18-month-olds can say about 10 words, with half being able to say 20 or more. Soon, your child might start saying two-word phrases. Pointing to an item she wants will soon turn into asking for the thing by name.
• Teething. A toddler's upper cuspids tend to break through between 16 to 22 months, so brace yourself for another round of teething.
• Potty Training. A few toddlers at this age might show signs of readiness to start potty training. If she tells you she has to go, she wants her dirty or wet diaper changed, she's interested in the potty, she can pull her pants up and down, and/or she stays dry for at least two hours in a row—these can signal readiness to try potty training. But don't rush it; it's much more common for kids to be ready to ditch the diapers between ages 2 and 3. It simply won't work if you start before your child is mature enough.
Your independence-seeking 18-month-old may be exhibiting some challenging and pretty odd behaviors. Tap below for advice on dealing with:
• Tantrums. Even though your kid's language is developing by leaps and bounds, he still can't communicate everything he wants to say, and that can lead to some meltdowns. Keep stressful situations, such as a trip to the supermarket, short—and make sure he's well-rested and fed beforehand.
• Separation Anxiety. We’ve all done it: the sneak-away-without-saying-goodbye-once-the-sitter-arrives tactic. But in order to avoid having your child think you could disappear at any time, always acknowledge your departure. Other effective strategies? Set her up with an activity as you’re leaving—and keep goodbyes firm, but lighthearted.
• ADHD. So your 18-month-old is impulsive, hyperactive and has trouble paying attention? Parents might begin to wonder if their child could be showing signs of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) but the fact is, it's too early to tell. Most kids this age exhibit these behaviors. It’s only if they don't grow out of them that it may indicate something more serious, like ADHD. Of course, bring up any concerns with your doctor, but know that a true ADHD evaluation is still at least a couple years away.
• Autism. At the 18-month checkup, your child's pediatrician will likely ask you a series of questions about your child's behavior to look for signs of autism. Signs may include unusual movements (such as flapping his arms), not making eye contact and interacting atypically with others.
How to Discipline an 18-month-old
Want to get your toddler to behave? Remember that toddlers are simple creatures. Positive behavior should be rewarded; negative behavior shouldn't. Set limits and stick to them. And remember that your child doesn't fully understand how to "be good" just yet. Be patient and find ways to teach them how.
Eighteen-month-olds seem to have mild illness after mild illness. Some common health questions parents have at this age include:
• My 18-month-old has diarrhea. What should I do?
• My 18-month-old is constipated. What should I do?
• My 18-month-old has a fever. What should I do?
• What should I do about my 18-month-old's cough?
• My 18-month-old baby is throwing up. What should I do?
• What should I do about croup in an 18-month-old?
Getting a good night's sleep is important for your toddler's growth and brain development.
How Much Sleep Does an 18-Month-Old Need?
Most 18-month-olds need around 11 to 12 hours of nighttime sleep, plus a nap of about 1.5 to 3 hours, for a total of about 13 to 14 hours of sleep per day. Every kid is different, but your child's schedule may look something like this:
18-Month-Old Sleep Schedule
18-Month-Old Sleep Training
At 18 months, doctors recommend kids fall asleep in their bed on their own, without special comfort measures, like rocking from mom and dad or a special song playing on the tablet. That's because if he wakes in the middle of the night, he'll need to know how to put himself back to sleep without the extra help.
Not quite there yet? It's not too late at 18 months—especially if your child is still sleeping in a crib. But know that he might be extra-sensitive to it now that he's gained some independence and has a better understanding of time away from you than he did as a young baby. Go slowly setting up a routine where your toddler consistently goes to bed while sleepy, but still awake. If he's used to being with you at bedtime, gradually create some distance each night, until you completely remove yourself from his room.
18-Month-Old Sleep Regression
Regression can happen when a formerly good sleeper suddenly begins waking more, throwing her parents for a loop. A bout of teething or illness could be the cause, or maybe a trip or holiday where her sleep routine changed. To get back to the usual snoozing routine, it's important to know the root of the problem, so you can find the right solution to help your child get through it. Stick with the usual bedtime routine and set limits that will help your child get back on track.
18-Month-Old Won’t Sleep
Some nights it seems like you just can't get the kid to sleep. But the truth is, kids need sleep and they will eventually sleep if given the proper cues. Wind things down before bedtime—turn off the TV, music and devices; give her a soothing bath; read calming bedtime stories. And keep the routine consistent: one book, two kisses, one refill of water, then lights out, for example. Don't let your kid stall or delay.
18-Month-Old Climbing Out of Crib
Climbing is fun! Can you blame your 18-month-old for wanting to climb out of his crib? Some savvy parents catch their toddlers pulling a jailbreak and effectively scare them into never trying it again; others simply can't stop them. Once it becomes clear your child isn't staying put, it's really more likely they'll get hurt falling while climbing than they would if they rolled off a low bed. Then it’s time to convert the crib, or bring in a toddler bed or big-kid bed with rails. Some parents choose to put the crib mattress on the floor to prevent falls.
18-Month-Old Night Terrors
A night terror is defined as a crying or screaming episode where the child never really wakes, so is unresponsive. Don't try to wake your child during a night terror; just do your best to calm him back to sleep. And be sure his sleeping space is safe to avoid injury if he flails or walks around.
The good news is these seemingly wild sleep disruptions are only upsetting for you. Kids don't even remember them! And kids grow out of having them around age 9. There's no known cause of night terrors, but stress, changes in routine and overtiredness can contribute to them. So try to stick to a calming bedtime routine, and put your child to bed early, so he can get a full night's rest.
When it comes to eating and drinking, this age is all about transitioning: Your child probably isn't eating much "baby food" anymore, and drinks whole milk instead of breast milk or formula. Most 18-month-olds can drink from a regular cup, and about half can drink from a straw cup.
How Much Should My 18-Month-Old Eat and Drink?
One- to 2-year-olds should be eating much like you do: three meals per day, plus two snacks.
Aim to give your child about three 8-ounce cups of whole milk per day if she doesn't get calcium from other foods. But don't force her to drink it if she's refusing.
If you're weaning an 18-month-old from breastfeeding, remember to go slow. Drop one daily nursing session for at least three to seven days before dropping the next. If you go too fast, you could risk plugged milk ducts and infection. Plus, it's a transition that could have an emotional effect on your child, so she may need a little extra comfort while weaning.
What Should My 18-Month-Old Be Eating?
Continue to offer your child a variety of foods at each meal and during snack time. Most toddlers should eat about ¾ to 1 cup of fruits and veggies, ¼ cup grains and three tablespoons of protein per day.
Looking for some tasty and nutritious meal inspiration? Check out these food ideas for an 18-month-old:
18-Month-Old Feeding Schedule
*A toddler's serving size is about ¼ of an adult's
18-Month-Old Won’t Eat
Toddlerhood is known for picky eating, so try not to worry too much if your child is turning down nutritious foods and eating what seems like half a bite for dinner. They're not growing as quickly as they did in their first year, and let's face it, saying “no” to eating is part of exercising her newfound independence. The best you can do is to keep offering nutritious food options, choosing and preparing food together, and modeling healthy eating behaviors for your child.
You can bring up any worries about growth or weight gain with the pediatrician at the 18-month checkup.
Should an 18-Month-Old Take Vitamins?
If you're concerned your tot isn't getting enough nutrition in his diet, ask the pediatrician about supplementing with vitamins. Some toddlers take a multivitamin and/or an iron supplement. Fiber gummies are commonly given to prevent constipation, but they're rarely needed: fruits and veggies can usually do the trick to keep an 18-month-old's digestive system on track.
Activities for an 18-Month-Old
Eighteen-month-olds are very fun to play with. Singing, reading books and having a dance party together helps your child learn and is great quality bonding time for you both.
Things to Do With an 18-Month-Old
Fun activities, games and toys for an 18-month-old include:
• Singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” 18-month-olds tend to love finger play with fun songs and rhymes.
• Reading board books. Your increasingly independent child will probably start to look at and page through books on her own.
• Playing music. Time for a toddler dance party! Eventually, your little one may start to sing along.
• Playing catch. Your child may soon be able to learn to throw a ball overhand.
• Blowing bubbles. Head outside for a little fresh air and bubbles—they're a no-fail way to make a toddler smile.
• Playing hide-and-seek with a toy. Your child is now able to clearly remember an object, even though she can't see it.
18-Month-Old Baby Checklist/Tips
• Take your toddler to his 18-month checkup.
• Schedule your toddler's 2-year (24-month) checkup.
• Your child may need a final dose of the HepB, DTaP or IPV vaccinations if she didn't already receive them.
• Keep up the tooth brushing. Your tot might start to want to do this on his own. Encourage the independence but make sure you're helping, so you can be certain teeth are thoroughly cleaned.
• Have cleanup time together. Your child will begin to learn where items belong and can soon put toys away herself.