What is happening during your toddler’s 12-15 months
Behaviour and play
Your toddler spends a lot of time working out what different things do, and what she can do with them. She’ll build small towers of blocks and knock them down, scribble with a texta or crayon, and drop pegs into a basket. Toddlers love exploring. And if you’re around while your child explores, he feels safe and has the self-confidence to try new things.
This is also an important time for your toddler socially and emotionally. You might notice your toddler playing alongside other children now. Your child might often show signs of separation anxiety. But she’ll also begin to show empathy – for example, she might look sad or get upset when she sees someone else crying. Empathy is about understanding how others might be feeling, and it’s an important part of forming relationships with people.
Communicating and talking
At this age, your child’s language development matures. His babbling starts to include real words. He might name familiar objects – for example, a ball. But it’s not all words just yet – he’ll still grunt, nod and point to let you know what he wants.
At 1-2 years, your child will learn to use and understand more words and more types of words. At first she’ll understand mostly nouns. Generally they start from the names of things nearby, for example, common objects like ‘cup’ or ‘doll’; body parts like ‘tummy’ or ‘foot’ food like ‘apple’ or ‘rice’. Eventually she’ll understand a few verbs – for example, ‘eat’ and ‘run’. Adjectives come next – for example, ‘big’ and ‘sweet’.
At around 12 months, your child will start using words to communicate with you. His babble will start turning into real words. At around 15 months, your child will point to things further away and ask you to name them. Language development includes learning to use words and sentences. Your child might also enjoy saying the same word over and over.
Being active helps your child build muscle strength for more complex movements like standing, walking and running. Your toddler might stand up without needing help from you or the furniture in these months, and will probably start to walk on her own. As she gets better at walking, she might climb stairs or even the furniture.
If your child isn’t walking on his own yet, try not to worry too much. Some children won’t walk without help until 15-18 months.
At this age your child might also:
·point to her body parts, favourite toys or familiar people when you name them
·drink from a cup – probably with some spills! – and use a spoon
·follow simple instructions – for example, ‘Please give me the block’
·try to help when you’re putting on her clothes, often by holding out her arms for sleeves or putting her foot up for shoes
·hold a crayon and possibly scribble with it after you show her how.
Helping toddler development at 12-15 months
1.Give your child lots of hugs, cuddles and kisses: empathy and positive attention are good for your child’s emotional development. Positive attention is when you respond to your child with warmth and interest. It helps your child feel secure and valued. But remember that your toddler is still learning how his emotions work and how to get along with others.
2.Playing is an important way for your child to find out how things work, so make time for both indoor and outdoor play. Open-ended toys are great for play – try blocks, pegs, balls, ice-cream containers and cardboard boxes. Your child will also still love playing games with you, like pat-a-cake or peekaboo.
3.Talk with your toddler: naming and talking about everyday things – body parts, toys and household items like spoons or chairs – develops your child’s language skills. At this age, you can teach your child that an ‘apple’ can be a ‘big apple’, ‘red apple’ or even a ‘big red apple’.
4.Build your child’s talking and communication skills by listening and talking back to her. You can copy what your child says – for example, if she says ‘mama’, you say ‘Yes, I'm your mama’. This encourages two-way conversation and also makes your child feel valued and loved.
5.Read with your toddler: you can encourage your child’s talking and imagination by reading together, telling stories, singing songs and reciting nursery rhymes.
6.Encourage everyday skills like using a spoon, drinking from a cup and taking off a hat. These skills involve both small and big muscle movements, as well as your toddler’s ability to think about what he’s doing.
7.Encourage moving: this helps your child build muscle strength, which is important for more complex movements like walking and running. Making your home safe means your active toddler can move about without getting hurt.
When to be concerned about toddler development
See your paediatrician if you have any concerns or notice that at 12-15 months your toddler has any of the following issues.
Seeing, hearing and communicating
·isn’t making eye contact with you, isn’t following moving objects with his eyes or has an eye that is turned in or out most of the time
·isn’t interested in sounds
·doesn’t respond to his name when called
·isn’t babbling or using single words
·isn’t trying to let you know what he wants
·isn’t using gestures like waving or pointing.
Behaviour, play and feelings
·doesn’t seem to understand you
·isn’t showing her emotions and feelings.
Movement and motor skills
·can’t stand even when holding on to you or the furniture
·uses one hand a lot more than the other.