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Baby development

Stages of Play: 13-18 Months Old

Climbing, taking steps and touching everything. How to keep your toddler busy.

Stages of Play: 13-18 Months Old

Want to know what to expect from your growing toddler? These guides share general timelines for developmental milestones and how to encourage new stages of play.

Before you start, learn how to calculate your baby's adjusted age based on their due date and birth date. Much of your baby's development is tied to time in utero, so babies born early may need time to reach full-term development.

What to expect at this stage

Cue the waterworks. Your baby is officially a toddler. How did this happen so fast? And speaking of fast, they’re starting to pick up speed.

Welcome to the busy season. It’s face-paced but tons of fun.

By this age, you may have a walker. Your toddler is now quickly cruising along furniture, and many have taken their first independent steps. Please don’t be concerned if your toddler is not walking until 18 months.

Remember, some babies meet their milestones at the early end of the range, while others follow more slowly.

Your baby may actively explore their environment and move through positions with ease.

  • Most toddlers start walking between 12 to 18 months (any time in this range is totally fine, but if your toddler isn’t showing signs of walking by 18 months, it is worth getting some additional support to help them along).
  • Your toddler will enjoy exploring, including walking up and down the stairs (with support).
  • If they haven’t started climbing the furniture (count yourself lucky), you might start to see that too.
  • Pushing and pulling wheeled toys and throwing and kicking a ball are fun activities at this stage. 
Little boy learning to walk outside on a path

How to incorporate play at this stage

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To help your toddler channel their energy, getting to know your local playground and indoor play gyms is good.

  • Simple indoor climbing sets can be a great first-birthday gift (if you have the space and budget).
  • Making obstacle courses at home is a great way to encourage development while allowing your toddler the necessary physical activity.
  • Most toddlers can squat efficiently or bend to pick up toys without falling.

Mealtime will still be messy, but your toddler will eat and drink more independently now. Mess is a good thing. It means they’re learning.

  • A child-size table and chair are an excellent alternative for snack and meal times, especially if your toddler starts to resist sitting in their highchair.
  • The grow-with-me toddler chairs are an excellent investment and will take you through the elementary school age.
  • Your toddler will start being more involved in washing their hands, wiping their face, and brushing their teeth.

Toddlers learn through experience, and allowing them the opportunity to do it themselves may reduce some resistance to having things done for them.

You may also notice that your toddler enjoys pretend play and likes to feed, dress, and care for their dolls.

Toddlers at this age still enjoy the hiding aspects of peek-a-boo, but they’re ready to expand to indoor games like hide-and-seek. You’ll hear them giggle up a storm as you search endlessly for them (in the silliest of places).

overhead shot of sensory bin
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Toddlers also enjoy quiet activities such as scribbling with crayons, playing with cars, building with blocks, and simple puzzles. Sensory play can offer hours of fun, too. Think Play-Doh, paints, shaving cream, sensory bins, and more.

Your toddler may also enjoy more complex cause-and-effect toys like wind-up toys (expect to wind them up repeatedly). Their attention span is longer, and they can usually play independently for about five to ten minutes.

Toddlers start to become more social at this age and enjoy being around other children—but don’t expect them to “play” or interact just yet. This is the age of parallel play or side-by-side play. They may also enjoy watching other children play.

Your toddler may also begin matching colors and simple objects, turn thinner pages in a book, point to a body part or specific objects, and also follow simple commands (i.e., “Come here,” “Sit on the chair,” etc.).

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Though they are developing more language and sounds at this age, their words are likely approximations and often point to things they want.

Has your little one passed the 18-month stage? Check out the rest of our stages of play guide covering 19 to 24 months and up to four years old.

This article was originally published on Mar 31, 2023

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