Skip to main content

Your toddler’s development: 12 – 24 months

Your toddler’s constantly learning: moving in new ways, controlling hands and fingers and finding out about other people. They’re growing quickly and getting more and more independent. Here are some tips on how to help your wee one to learn, practice and develop their first movement skills.

Getting moving

Photo of a baby crawling and smiling

Photo of a baby crawling and smiling

Your toddler’s learning to move in new ways, so they can...

  • get around on their own – crawling, shuffling and then walking
  • walk backwards
  • pull a toy around
  • carry a big toy when walking
  • bend down to pick something up and stand up again without holding on – though it’s a bit wobbly sometimes
  • start to run
  • stand on tiptoe
  • kick a ball
  • walk up and down stairs.

You can help by...

  • Understanding that the world is an exciting place when you are growing up – your tot can't wait to find out more about it.
  • Making sure surroundings are safe and that you keep an eye out for your toddler as they won't yet have a sense of danger. Our page on making your home safe has lots of tips.
  • Realising that going to the shops is a real adventure – your tot may want to climb up steps or stop to climb on a wall. Try to be patient with them and share in the excitement.
  • Helping your toddler develop physical skills – for example, by standing a short distance away and letting them walk to you or by helping them come down the stairs safely.
  • Giving your wee one toys and other things from around the house that allows them to practise new skills. Our page on choosing toys for one year olds has some suggestions.  

Hands and fingers

Toddler playing with stacking toy

Toddler playing with stacking toy

Your toddler’s learning to control their hands and fingers, so they might…

  • pick up tiny things like crumbs between fingers and thumbs
  • grasp toys (but find it hard to let go)
  • try to put blocks on top of each other
  • scribble with a crayon or a marker.

You can help by...

  • Providing lots of healthy finger foods, so they can feed themselves.
  • Giving your little one a spoon to hold during meal times – even though it’ll probably result in a mess.
  • Taking your time when you dress them, and letting them put both arms through the sleeves if they want to!
  • Not getting too upset at your wee one if they scribble on the wallpaper or other places they shouldn’t. Instead, calmly explain that paper is for drawing, not the walls, and show them where to find pieces of paper in the future.
  • Providing blocks so they can try to build a tower (and playing alongside them).

Learning and imagination

Photo of a toddler getting toys out of the baby box

Photo of a toddler getting toys out of the baby box

Your toddler’s figuring out basic concepts, so they might…

  • help you while you’re trying to dress them in the morning
  • use one thing as something else – so a banana can become an impromptu phone
  • recognise themselves in a photo
  • start to like being around other people
  • want to be like you or a brother or sister
  • push, hit or bite in moments of frustration.

You can help by...

  • Giving them simple but real jobs to do, like tidying away their toys.
  • Playing games of pretend, but not taking over.
  • Letting your child be around you as you do things, like cooking or tidying up.
  • Showing your little one family photos and talking about each photo.
  • Letting your child have friends around to play – but don’t expect them to understand the concept of sharing. You will need to provide two toy cars! Our page on making friends has some tips that can help.
  • Understanding that if your little one lashes out it’s because they have strong feelings. Try showing them better ways to get what they’re after. Our page on coping with parenting has some suggestions.

Last updated: 25 Aug, 2022