While reading this information, please keep in mind that all children are unique. Although the sequence of development is practically the same for all children (for example, most children learn to crawl before they learn to walk), each child’s rate of development is different. There is a wide variation in normal development. Some children reach developmental milestones earlier than others. Some reach them later than others. Rarely does a delay in reaching a developmental milestone mean that there is a problem. In most cases, delays turn out to be normal. Remember that premature infants generally reach developmental milestones later than other infants of the same birth age. Parents with questions or concerns should contact their children’s health care provider.
Highlights in Physical Development
Hands / Grasp
By fifteen months most children begin to use a spoon to feed themselves. Some will enjoy trying to spear food with a fork. Most will also be able to scribble on paper with a crayon when shown how. They become more interested in manipulating toys with moving parts and pieces.
Crawling / Standing / Walking
At about fifteen months of age most children are able to walk by themselves. As children get better at walking, they generally stop creeping and crawling. Young children will keep their feet wide apart when they’re walking. During the period from fifteen to eighteen months, most children learn how to raise themselves to a standing position without help and without using furniture to pull themselves up. Those that master walking enjoy running, sometimes on tip-toes!
Highlights in Cognitive / Language Development
By fifteen months of age most children are able to say “hi” or “bye-bye” or “thank you” or something similar. Most will be able to indicate their wants by using words, by pointing, and by using gestures. Fifteen-to-eighteen-month olds’ vocabularies grow daily. Most children this age have a vocabulary of four to six words, including names, and may begin to combine two words. Soon their utterances increase in length and complexity. They typically understand more than they can verbally communicate, and this can cause frustration at times.
Highlights in Social / Emotional Development
During the period from fourteen to twenty-four months, negativism begins in many children. Many children this age will become possessive about their belongings, they may resist following directions, and the word “no” will become a favorite. Children this age often start testing their wills against those of their parents and caregivers. Although this is often a trying time for parents, negativism is a perfectly normal stage in development. Children are becoming aware that they are separate beings from their parents, and they simply want to test this new discovery in as many ways as possible. Most parents are relieved to know that negativism generally declines as children approach their second birthdays. (But it may come back again in the teen years!!!)
Self- confidence begins to emerge during this period of time, as well. When frustrated, children this age may do well with having choices to make, which gives them a sense of control. For example, do you want to use the green spoon or the yellow spoon to eat your yogurt? And, there may not be anything wrong with selecting a spoon for each hand!
Department of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Children’s Hospital.