Where did the time go? Your tiny newborn is now a toddler who amazes you with smartness and keeps you on your toes with seemingly unlimited energy. You’ve already marvelled at all those baby development milestones your little one passed in his/her first 12 months of life, and now, as he/she hurtles towards his/her second birthday, many more exciting milestones await.
Your 13-15-month-old toddler: Big milestones to expect
Just like baby development milestones, there are exciting and significant milestones to look forward to in your child's toddler years. Do keep in mind that only up to 75% of children may be able to do these things by a certain age - they are not set in stone and every child will achieve these at own pace. If you are concerned about your child’s development in any way, please speak to a paediatrician.
Significant milestones at age 13-15 months include1:
In addition to all the development you can see and hear, like movement and words, there is a lot more that is happening with your toddler’s growth from within that is equally amazing.
Children’s brains develop rapidly from birth through age three. It is during this period that huge amounts of activity between neurons occur with information transmitting at a very fast pace. Because of this, your little one’s brain can capture information and experiences more efficiently than later, when this neural activity slows down.2 During this period, your child’s cognitive growth should be fostered by loving relationships with caregivers, a healthy environment, and proper nutrition.3
Specifically, in the second year, your toddler’s brain is also rapidly being “wired” for language and communication. As the months progress, you’ll notice an incredible expansion in your little one’s skills in these areas, and this also improves when a process in the brain called myelination increases. This enables the brain to carry out more complicated tasks. Additionally, complex cognitive abilities like self-awareness are developing, enabling your toddler to experience and be aware of his/her own emotions and those of others.2
Growth in your child’s social and emotional skills (linked to the brain development described above) will result in more beneath-the-surface milestones, including1:
- Copying what other children do when they play, like taking a toy out of a box.
- Hugging stuffed toys or dolls.
- Clapping when excited.
- Smiling or laughing when someone else is happy and crying or being sad when someone else is sad.
- Displaying affection in the form of hugs, kisses, and cuddles.
A note on safety
As your child becomes more independent, mobile, and curious about people, objects and surroundings, you will need to take extra precautions to ensure safety.
Double-check on all the baby-proofing you might have done earlier in the year, ensuring sharp edges are still covered and no-go zones like the kitchen are still barricaded. Heavy items like TVs, cupboards, and bookshelves should be firmly secured to the wall to prevent them from toppling over onto your child. You should ensure that items such as chemicals, sharp objects, and medicines are locked away in a cupboard to which your toddler has no access. Remember to never leave your child alone while eating, in the bath or when outside. Do remind all caregivers of your little one about these safety procedures too.
Nurturing your child’s development
There are many things you can do to nurture your toddler’s development.
Reading and talking to your child is one of the best ways to encourage the blossoming of language, and communication abilities and set the foundation for literacy skills. You can strengthen your child’s knowledge about different colours, shapes, sounds, animals, and objects through reading. By selecting the relevant books – for example, those about emotions and empathy – you can also bolster your child’s social and emotional development.
As your toddler gets more confident on his/her own two feet (literally!), you can nurture physical development in a few ways. Encourage your child to strengthen fine motor skills and creativity by offering crayons (along with paper) or finger paints – just watch that little Picasso blossom! Bring your child outdoors to the playground or park so that he/she can practice walking and running while strengthening gross motor abilities.
With all these activities, do ensure that your toddler gets adequate sleep and proper nutrition to replenish energy and nurture holistic growth and development, including that of the brain. Most of your baby’s brain development happens during sleep. The brain experiences heightened activity during sleep, setting the stage for how your little one will learn and grow. Your baby at 13-15 months needs around 14 hours of sleep a day.4
By now, your little one probably has around 8 teeth, meaning that he/she can bite and chew better. Enhance your child’s diet by providing a wide variety of foods and textures. To build independence and fine motor skills development, you can encourage self-feeding. Be ready to provide help and encouragement when needed so he/she does not get frustrated. Keep your child hydrated with enough water.
Your child’s diet5 should include foods rich in:
- Proteins and iron for physical growth, e.g., fish, chicken, and lean red meat
- Calcium for bone and teeth development, e.g., yoghurt, milk
- Vitamins and fibre for immunity and overall health, e.g., vegetables, fruits, legumes
- Carbohydrates for energy, e.g., wholegrain bread and rice
- Choline and DHA for brain development, e.g., eggs and formula milk
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Important Milestones: Your baby by fifteen months. Accessed on 3rd March 2022 from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-15mo.html
2 The Urban Child Institute. Baby’s Brain Begins Now: Conception to Age 3. Accessed on 4th March 2022 from http://www.urbanchildinstitute.org/why-0-3/baby-and-brain
3 Australia Early Development Census. Brain development in children. Accessed on 4th March, 2022 from file:///C:/Users/Admin/Downloads/Brain%20Development%20in%20Children.pdf
4 Pacheco, D and Wright, H. Babies and Sleep. The Sleep Foundation. Accessed on 1st March, 2022 from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/baby-sleep
5 RaisingChildren.net.au. Dietary guidelines in pictures: children 1-2 years. Accessed on 4th March, 2022 from https://raisingchildren.net.au/toddlers/nutrition-fitness/daily-food-guides/dietary-guide-1-2-years