your child at 18 months

After spending 18 months out and about in the world, your little one is starting to develop a real sense of self. You'll notice they're more curious, more funny and more loving – but there may be the odd temper tantrum too. All children learn at their own pace, but you might mark these milestones after 18 months' development.

18 month old baby's development

walking and hand-eye coordination

Your little one is starting to lose their cute, round baby look to become a lean, mean toddling machine. Hand-eye coordination is better, so they'll start to enjoy jigsaw puzzles. They're getting really good at walking and running: although stopping is another story! They might confidently swing their arms as they walk, and they'll be able to carry their favourite toys from place to place.

You'll get plenty of exercise too, because they'll want to walk everywhere with you. Bring the buggy though: they'll only be able to go for 10 to 20 minutes before getting tired. They'll also be able to crawl up the stairs, and come back down backwards on their bottom. Stairs are a big hazard at this age, so keep that baby gate locked.

self-awareness and temper tantrums

Your baby can recognise their own reflection and refer to themselves by name. Yes, they've realised that they're their own person. Not just any person, mind you, but the most important one in the entire universe. A bit of selfishness is perfectly normal at this stage: unfortunately, so are tantrums. Lots of things can kick-off a meltdown, from strapping them into their car seat to refusing to let them eat grass.

Although your toddler is getting better at problem-solving, they're still not great at putting things into perspective. Meltdowns are never fun to deal with, but your little one will usually only throw a tantrum because they can't express themselves in words. Chances are they're feeling frustrated, annoyed, upset, tired, hungry, or just want to go home. Try not to feel too embarrassed. After all, screaming in the supermarket is just another rite of passage!

developing an attitude

Even the sweetest natured babies start to become rebels without a cause at 18 months. Ask them to do something, and they'll do the opposite. They're not doing it to wind you up: they're doing it because they've just realised that they can. This is the age where fights at bedtime start.

It's also the age where children start to get a bit clingy. They've realised that you're a different person from them, and so when you drop them off with grandma they might worry that you're not going to come back. Your little one wants to share their whole world with you, and will want you to be involved in everything that they do. It's really rather cute: especially when the giggle fits start!

babbling and playing

You're not going to be having long heart-to-heart chats just yet, but your little one's vocabulary is definitely growing. By 18 months they'll know about 20 words: useful ones, like "mama", "dada", "milk" and "car". They'll try to copy songs and nursery rhymes that you sing to them, and you might catch them babbling to their toys in a language that nobody else understands. Your child is still a bit too young to play with other children (this comes later, at around three years old) but they might do something called "parallel play" – sitting next to another child and playing beside them.