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Toddler girl reading a newspaperEric is approaching 18 months and such “milestones” always make me ask myself two questions:

1. How does he measure up?
2. How can I help his development?

I have a rule to never trust just one source of information and usually it pays off, because several sources offer different views and are almost like different pieces of one puzzle. Googling my way through and reading parenting books I came up with a list of things to think about. There are sides to toddlers’ development – physical, social and intellectual – and as silly as it sounds, there are checklists to go through to make sure your kid is progressing well.

Physical development is pretty easy to check just by observing the way your child plays and moves. By 18 months the gross motor skills should include:

  • walking and running
  • crawling up and down the stairs (or even walking up and down holding onto something)
  • throwing objects (not very successfully)
  • kicking a ball (missing a lot)
  • climbing on objects (in and out of his stroller, onto the kitchen bench, etc)
  • picking up and holding a crayon in a fist while coloring
  • stacking blocks
  • In terms of intellectual development, there is so much your kid can understand by 18 months:

  • Understands much more than can say
  • Has 5 words to express needs/wants/feelings (apart from Mama/Dada), such as “give”, “take”, “where”, “food”.
  • Eric got us puzzled when he started to say “la”, clearly referring to food – that turned out to be “lunch”.

  • Says “yes” and “no” or shows, with a nod and a shake of a head.
  • Understands forms and colors (answers the kind of questions “where is the red cup” correctly)
  • Identifies objects on pictures and in real life correctly (Ask “Show me a plate” and he should point at it)
  • Memory skills develop – he tries to insert and turn a key in the lock, puts veggies in pots mimicking Mommy’s cooking, etc.
  • Follows basic directions – come here, sit, let’s go, bring me, give me and the like
  • Imitates animal sounds
  • Uses own name (answers the question “Who’s Eric” by saying “I” or pointing at himself)
  • Social skills are just as important .

  • By 18 month toddlers get more independent and start to ask for toys or foods at mealtime instead of just going along with what you give him.
  • Many toddlers can feed themselves by 18 months or at least hold a spoon and get some food in their mouth without spilling everything on the table.
  • When given a chance to play together, at 18 months kids may or may not interact, but will sure watch each other.
  • In my next post I will tell you about what I am doing already and what I am planning to do to promote Eric’s development. Meanwhile, here is a question for you:

    Do you think that these periodical assessments are important or do you choose to not worry about them? What are your sources of information, what parenting books / websites do you recommend?