The Twelve to Twenty-Two Month Old: A Traditional Perspective

There are several posts under the “Baby and Toddler”  header that deals with toddler behavior and how to best live peacefully with a baby ages birth through three, but I thought I would highlight some traditional viewpoints of these ages again. (And whilst we have a traditional developmental perspective and realistic expectations for ages twelve months through age nine on this blog now, I still have the birth through twelve months to go!  Whew!)   We are also  going to circle around to loving guidance for the baby through age two in  several posts in the next several weeks or so.  It seems like there would not be a lot to talk about there, but since a 1994 (and yes, let’s hope that this has since  changed for the better in the past 16 years!) Canadian study showed that 19 percent of US mothers spank their under one-year-olds, I think we still have some work to do in helping mothers achieve an understanding of normal developmental behavior!!  If you need help with gentle discipline, suggestions as what to do about “defiance” and such, please do look at the “Gentle Discipline” header for a start.  There are also a lot of posts dealing with anger in parenting and just some general inspiration!

So here goes for the twelve to twenty-two month old, a traditional perspective.  Again, my main resource is “Your One-Year-Old:  12 to 24 Months” by Ames, Ilg and Haber, the Gesell Institute of Human Development.

Twelve Month Old:

  • Very lovable; friendly, sociable, typically adapts easily
  • May be creeping on hands and knees, pulling to stand, walking
  • Has pincer prehension – grasping objects between thumb and forefinger; they love to grasp and release things; they may try to stack a few blocks if you do it first
  • Baby loves an audience!  Waving bye bye, clapping, are all up there with fun things to show off for people!  Has a few words to show off as well!
  • May be down to one nap in the late morning (or not, in my experience with families!)
  • With eating of solids, may want to stand, may need toys to play with during meals
  • Tips for this stage:  you do not need a lot of toys, just time to spend with your baby and to be warm and joyful with your baby – they love to be sung to, rocked, held.
  • Your baby will also need time to explore on his or her own a bit.  Observe, but stand back a bit and let them be.  They are discovering things for themselves and don’t need you to point out every little thing for them!

Fifteen Month Old:

  • Many like to walk, and to be carried.  Sense of balance is not fully developed
  • Not especially cooperative, not especially social with other people
  • Wants what he wants when he wants it, independent,
  • May imitate household chores he has seen you do
  • Not typically interested in other children
  • Loves to empty and fill things, good at dumping things out
  • Will creep on hands and knees when in a hurry
  • Language is about a dozen words or so, although may imitate words you say inconsistently – can respond to more words than they say
  • Wants to do things for himself or herself but cannot really manage to do what they want to do
  • Motor drive is strong, tends to grab things, tries to feed himself with an upside down spoon, better at staying seated for eating but wants to self-feed and be independent
  • Typically down to one nap a day that takes place after lunch
  • Difficulty in dressing is to be expected
  • Tends to grab, scream, yell because he has strong needs that he cannot yet verbalize
  • May do well be wheeled around in a stroller for a walk or in a sling for a walk
  • Wakefulness at night common – RESPOND TO THEM! 
  • May resist bathing – try bathing together is my recommendation
  • Highest point/age for throwing things
  • Tip for this stage:  Do not press this baby too fast; neural pathways are still being laid down


Eighteen Month Old

  • Age of Disequilibrium – see back post here on disequilibrium: 
  • Easily frustrated; temper tantrums – even if you did  everything “right”, there would still be temper tantrums.  Needs a lot of gross motor outlets!
  • Wakefulness at night is common- RESPOND TO THEM!
  • Often needs help to be bodily moved rather than verbal commands.
  • Can walk and run but will fall, usually has arms up and out for balance, can stop and start well but has difficulty turning corners
  • Loves to go up and down stairs or to climb up onto large chairs or sofas
  • Does not think ahead at all, just is motor driven and runs around – the adult must think through the environment
  • Loves to lug, tug, push, pull
  • Short attention span; hard to “entertain” because the attention span is so short
  • Apt to drop whatever she  is handling; gross motor predominates over fine motor
  • Doesn’t like to have diaper changed,
  • Very little peripheral vision; will turn whole head to look at something
  • Language skills vary tremendously; may be starting to form two-word sentences; also gets very frustrated with speech because he often cannot express what he wants to; not all words are to communicate, but just to express words for the sake of the pleasure of making sounds and talking
  • The idea of “mine” is prevalent
  • Separation anxiety when mother leaves
  • Still lugs, tugs, pushes, pulls, probably can play for longer times outside than inside
  • Usually decrease in appetite

Twenty-One Month Old

  • Unpredictable – can act more like an eighteen month old or act more like a two-year old.  Get to know your child and if they typically run ahead with developmental stages or behind or right on cue.
  • May have difficulties falling asleep
  • May bite when frustrated; pushing and pinching may also occur
  • Walking in crowded areas, church, stores may be problematic- don’t be afraid to keep outings not related to the child to a minimum
  • Per The Gesell Institute’s “Your One Year Old”, this is often a difficult age for working mothers – the child wants to tell mother what has happened during his day and really doesn’t have the words for it and becomes frustrated.  As increased language comes in, this eases.  Hang in there, working mamas!
  • Not typically interested in other children
  • Girls’ speech more advanced than boys’ speech typically; still may lack the speech necessary to make wants and needs known leading to frustration
  • Great at taking off clothes and running around naked!


Sometimes I think the Gesell Institute books come off a bit negative; please read them for yourselves and pick from it what resonates with you.  I look at the child less from a strictly traditional viewpoint myself, but these are pretty accurate markers for the ages, so having an idea what to expect at different ages will be a big help to you and in your efforts toward gentle discipline.  Please see the gentle discipline header for more articles regarding how to handle “defiance” and different developmental stages.

Many blessings,


4 thoughts on “The Twelve to Twenty-Two Month Old: A Traditional Perspective

  1. thanks so much carrie- i really appreciate you synthesizing so much info. it always feels very pertinent to what our family is working with! i hope for you as much support as you give to others-
    liza (from the forum)

  2. Thank you for sharing this information. I gain SO much for your entire blog, but these posts on ages/stages are some of my favorites.

    Best wishes,

  3. Pingback: How To Best Support Your Child’s Development Ages Birth Through Three « The Parenting Passageway

  4. Pingback: This Will Keep You Busy: Links By Age « The Parenting Passageway

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.