Movement Milestones for Your 18-Month-Old

18-month-old toddler practices climbing on the playground

When it comes to milestones, no two kids are the same. Your child may reach them a little earlier or later than others—and that’s OK! Around 18 months, you may see your toddler’s milestones picking up the pace—literally! Our experts share what to look for as your child starts moving at full speed, and activities to develop fine motor skills at this age.

As your toddler continues to grow, you may notice they’re moving faster and faster. Milestones to look for at this age include:

  • Walking more and more. At this age, your toddler should be taking steps without holding on to anyone or anything.
  • Running a little, or attempting to. There may be some tumbles along the way, but from this age on you might notice your child picking up speed.
  • Climbing. Your toddler is getting stronger. They might be climbing on and off furniture, stairs and playground equipment! Keep your child safe as they climb by following these home safety rules.
  • Throwing a ball. Around this age you may notice your child trying to throw a ball—though probably not in the “right” direction. That’s normal and OK. Encourage this milestone by tossing soft foam balls, beach balls and bean bags.

Your little one is achieving big things! Celebrate their growth by clapping, using a cheerful voice and singing. This tells your toddler they’re doing a great job and encourages them to keep trying.

18-month-old toddler practices throwing a ball outside.

There are several ways you can help your child meet these 18-month-old milestones. Try these:

  • Use toys to develop fine motor skills (or small body movements). Shape sorting and stacking toys help your child practice pinching and placing objects with their hands.
  • Boost gross motor skills (or big body movements). Play sets and tumble mats help your little one practice jumping, climbing and moving in new ways.
  • Head outdoors. Take your toddler outside so they can explore and discover new things. Encourage their curiosity by describing what you’re seeing. “That’s a big yellow flower. Let’s walk over there to see it.”
  • Be active together. Participate with your child in different activities that help them develop their motor skills. Children learn how to do things by watching others. When your child sees you having fun running around outside, climbing on playground equipment or tossing a ball, they will most likely want to join in and try too!
  • Show support. Your toddler may feel lots of emotions as they reach new milestones. Frustration, discomfort and excitement are all normal. Support your child as they process their feelings. Remember, you can never spoil a child by showing love and responding to their needs.

Your toddler is reaching new heights every day! Now that they’re starting to climb, they’ll be able to discover things that were out of reach before. Keep your child safe by following these safety tips:

  • Keep furniture safe and secure. As your toddler becomes stronger and more curious, they might pull or climb up on household items. Prevent tipping by anchoring furniture and TVs to the wall.
  • Always watch your toddler on elevated surfaces. When your child is on any elevated surface, such as a bed, couch or changing table, always watch them to prevent them from rolling or falling off.
  • Practice water safety. Drowning can happen in as little as 30 seconds. When playing near water, keep kids within arm’s reach!
  • Follow gun safety rules for families. Kids are naturally curious. As your toddler moves around, they will discover new things and want to explore them. That’s why it’s important to practice safe gun storage.
  • Check out more home safety tips for parents and caregivers.

Note: If you’re concerned about your child meeting their milestones, talk with their pediatrician.