1-Year-Old Child Development Milestones

Your child's growth and development at age 1

During the 12 months between ages 1 and 2, you'll watch your baby start to become less like an infant and more like a budding toddler. You'll witness a physical transformation as your 1-year-old begins to master new motor skills that helps them gain a bit of independence and you'll likely begin to see a unique personality begin to emerge. 

Physical Development

This is what you need to know about 1-year-old development.
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The 12-month mark will likely reflect some big changes for your child. In a short amount of time, they're likely to go from crawling to walking, and before you know it, trying to climb stairs and navigate through your home without any assistance. 

Key Milestones

  • Gross motor skills: Most babies take their first steps before 12 months and are walking on their own by the time they're 14 or 15 months old.
  • Fine motor skills: By 18 months, your little one can likely drink from a cup, eat with a spoon, and help get undressed. 
  • Major highlights: Between ages 1 and 2, you'll likely see your child go from struggling to walk to learning how to kick a ball and begin to run. 

Parenting Tip

Your 1-year-old won't understand which objects are stationary and which aren't safe to hold onto. As they begin learning to walk, folding tables, delicate breakables, and stacked items that can topple can all pose a danger so it's important to remove unstable objects they may try to use for balance. Now that they're on the move, it's also easier to access different parts of the house, so brush up on your baby-proofing as well.

Emotional Development

Your 1-year-old will begin to try and become independent in many ways. They may insist on trying to help dress themselves and may want to test out new physical skills.

But, they're also likely to be clingy and seek you for comfort when feeling tired, scared, or lonely. By the time your child turns 2, you're likely to see some defiant behavior as they insist on doing what they want, even when you say "no."

Key Milestones

  • Reacts to unfamiliar situations or people with shyness or nervousness
  • Copies other people
  • Shows fear in some situations

Parenting Tip

Dealing with separation anxiety can be tough. Avoid "sneaking away" when your child isn't looking, to escape a meltdown at daycare.

Disappearing unexpectedly may make your child's anxiety worse in the long-term. Instead, give a kiss and promise you'll return shortly. Dragging out your goodbye too long will make it worse too, so try to keep your routine short and reassuring. 

Social Development

While you may notice your 1-year-old become a bit more wary of strangers, you'll also see an amazing desire to interact with others, especially siblings and regular caretakers. Your child might become excited to see other children.

For the most part, 1-year-olds prefer to play next to other kids, as opposed to with them. But, you may see your child begin to include other kids in play at times. 

Key Milestones

  • Hands you a book for storytime
  • Plays games like "peek-a-boo" and "pat-a-cake"
  • Shows preference for parents or certain caregivers

Parenting Tip

Your 1-year-old won't understand what it means to share and may be very possessive of their own toys. Don't insist they share with the other kids.

Instead, give them a few items that are off limits from everyone else so they feel like they have some control over their play. 

Cognitive Development

You'll likely see some big changes when it comes to your child's cognitive development. Between 12 and 24 months, your child is likely to be able to name items in a book, like cat or dog. 

They will also be able to play simple make-believe games and show an improved ability to follow your instructions. 

Speech & Language

At the end of your baby's first year, they are still likely to rely on nonverbal communication strategies, such as pointing, gesturing, or throwing items.

But the coos and screams of the early baby talk will give way to distinct babbling sounds like "da," "ba," "ga," and "ma." Your child will slowly begin to pull those together into recognizable words, and all the while, comprehend more of what you're saying. 

Before your child's second birthday they will likely be able to say simple sentences with two to four words and point to simple objects when you name them. 

Play

Play is important to your child's development at this age. Your 1-year-old's newfound dexterity will make them eager to investigate nearby objects.

Shaking or banging musical instruments and playing with toys that have levers, wheels, and moving parts are all popular at this age. Blocks are always a good choice, especially when your child gets to knock down a tower you build together. 

When it comes to the best toys for 1-year-olds, push toys can be a lot of fun. Look for sturdy items that will help your little one maintain their balance as they begins testing out new motor skills. 

Key Milestones

  • Responds to their name
  • Follows very simple instructions and requests
  • Understands "no"

Parenting Tip

The best way to help your child develop verbal skills at this age is to talk to them constantly. As you dress them, talk about the color of the clothes, the feel of the fabric, the name of the body part you're touching.

Name items that you use every day, like towels, cups, the car, dolls, etc. Try to be consistent and avoid using cutesy names, such as "toesywoesy" for toes. This "labeling" will help your child learn the names of objects and actions and prepare for speaking on their own.

Other Milestones

Your 1-year-old may become more assertive physically. Children at this age don't understand that other people have feelings too so they may hit without realizing it's hurting someone else. 

You can support your child's budding independence by offering choices. Hold out two different toys and let them pick which one they wants to play with.

You'll likely see problem-solving skills begin to improve as they figure out how to manipulate toys or how to put a block inside of a box. The memory skills will begin to improve as well. 

When to Be Concerned

While all babies develop at slightly different rates, you should talk to your doctor if your child isn't meeting certain milestones or if you notice potential developmental delays.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends talking to your doctor if by 18 months your child:

  • Can't walk
  • Doesn't point to show things
  • Loses skills they previously had
  • Doesn't copy others
  • Doesn't have at least six words
  • Doesn't gain new words
  • Doesn't notice or mind when a caregiver leaves or returns

A Word From Verywell

Your 1-year-old may try to help you when you're feeding them or insist on trying to wash their own hands. They want to eagerly participate in whatever you're trying to do. It's an important time to pay attention to what you're role modeling because your child will imitate what they see.

It can also be a trying time as your little one may insist on taking their shoes off a dozen times in a row or may learn how to scream to get your attention. But, it can also be a great time to watch your child learn new skills every day. 

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