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Growth and Development, Ages 12 to 24 Months


Topic Overview

What kinds of growth and development occur during ages 12 to 24 months?

Your child's rapid brain development between the ages of 12 and 24 months causes amazing changes to happen—such as talking, walking, and remembering—as he or she enters the toddler years.

The changes that happen in this period are often grouped into five areas:

  • Physical growth. Expect your child to grow about 3 in. (7.6 cm) to 5 in. (12.7 cm) and gain about 3 lb (1.4 kg) to 5 lb (2.3 kg).
  • Cognitive development. This is your child's ability to think, learn, and remember. Your child will start to remember recent events and actions, understand symbols, imitate, imagine, and pretend.
  • Emotional and social development. Toddlers form strong emotional attachments and often feel uneasy when they are separated from their loved ones. Around the same time, toddlers typically want to do things on their own or according to their own wishes. This sets the stage for conflict, confusion, and occasional breakdowns.
  • Language development. At 15 to 18 months, a typical toddler understands 10 times more words than he or she can speak. By the second birthday, most toddlers can say about 50 to 100 words.
  • Sensory and motor development.Motor skills develop as your child's muscles and nerves work together. Toddlers gain control and coordination and become steady walkers. Climbing, running, and jumping soon follow.

Why are routine medical visits needed?

During a well-child visit, the doctor examines your child to find out whether he or she is growing as expected. The doctor will ask you questions about the new things your child is doing, such as saying any words or walking. The doctor will also give your child any needed immunizations and may check for signs of autism.

Schedule routine checkups for your child. Talk to your child's doctor about when to make these appointments.

When should I be concerned about my child's growth and development?

Talk to your doctor if your child is not reaching normal growth and development milestones. But keep in mind that every child develops at a different pace. A child who is slow to reach milestones in one area, such as talking, may be ahead in another area, such as walking. Usually it is of more concern when a child reaches developmental milestones but then loses those abilities.

See your doctor if your child makes repetitive motions or odd movements or has not bonded well with others, especially caregivers. Also, watch for signs of hearing problems, such as not reacting to people or loud noises.

Do not hesitate to talk to your doctor anytime you have concerns about your child, even if you are not sure exactly what worries you.

How can I help my child during this period?

You can help your child grow and develop by understanding a toddler's need for independence and allowing safe exploration. It helps your child become confident in trying new skills when you are patient and provide unconditional love. Also, recognize that your child can be easily overwhelmed by all the new things he or she is seeing, hearing, learning, and doing. Help your child to get plenty of rest and quiet time. Schedule well-child visits with a doctor to keep track of your child's growth, development, and overall well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about growth and development:

Developmental milestones:

Seeing a doctor:

Ongoing concerns:

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