Baby Developmental Milestones: 15 months – 5 years

Welcome back! Here is the continuation of the previous blog. I would strongly encourage you to read the previous one, since it will have some very important disclaimers.

15 months: First Steps!

At 15 months, most babies can copy other children while playing, show you an object he or she likes, claps, and shows you affection. This is also when their vocabulary starts expanding somewhat, where he or she tries to say other words besides “mama” or “dada”. They might also be able to follow simple directions followed with gestures, for example: holding out your hand and saying, “give me the toy”.

As for using objects, most babies at this age try to use things correctly, like a phone or a book. They also begin stacking objects together. In terms of movement, this is the magical age where most babies take their first steps (see previous blog about the magic of the first step), as well as using his or her fingers to eat some food.

At this age, continue encouraging your child to speak by completing some of his or her words, as mentioned in the previous section. You can also tell your baby the name of objects while handing it over to them. If they attempt to say the word, offer encouragement, and repeat it one more time. They may be babies, but they are now at an age where their motor skills as well as coordination are being developed. Try letting them doe a few small things on their own, like get their shoes or put snacks in a bag. This will help them attach words and directions to objects, as well as encourage them to move their bodies more.

18 months: Communication

At 18 months, most babies can use gestures effectively, like pointing at something to show you or putting out their hands for you to wash them. Their coordination has gotten better, and they may lift their foot or push their arm through a sleeve to help you dress them.

They might also be able to say two or three words besides “mama” and “dada”, as well as understand simple instructions without the help of gestures. At this stage they may also start copying you, like sweeping with a broom or putting dishes away. The inner artist of every child starts shining through, where they begin scribbling and drawing at this age.

Physically, here is where they start walking without holding anything or anyone, a big step for every child. In addition, they can climb on and off a couch without help, introducing babies to a different perspective, as well as access to other objects such as the remote control. They even begin feeding themselves and drinking on their own but are still prone to spilling.

As for you, mum, start giving more positive attention to “wanted behaviours” and give less to no attention to those you don’t want to see. The positive encouragement will let the baby know what to do and what to avoid doing. Now would also be the time to start teaching your child about other people’s feelings and how to respond. For example, when you see another sad baby, say “That baby looks sad. Let’s bring him a toy”.

2 years: Second Birthday!

Your baby is now 2 years old and look at all the progress he or she already made! Now they can move around in the world, and even understand it a bit. That is something to celebrate.

At this age, they can read expressions and feel for others, like noticing someone sad and pausing or looking sad as well. They also anticipate your reaction to new situations. Children also can recognize objects and point at them when asked, as well as saying at least 2 words together.

Their gestures have become more advanced; they can blow a kiss and nod yes. They can now use both hands for two different tasks, for example holding a container with one hand and removing the lid with another. They love buttons and switches and can play with more than one toy at the same time.

Physically, they can now run, kick a ball, walks up a few stairs, and eat with a spoon. Now would be a good time to emphasize proper pronunciation of words and making sure they hear how they are said properly. This will require a lot of patience and repetition, but it will be worth it in the end!

This is also the age where your child bight fight with other children because they do not want to share and don’t know how to solve problems. Watch you child closely and be ready to step in and show him or her how to deal with the situation. This will teach them how to share, solve problems, and take turns when playing. Allow your child to help around the house by carrying light and nonfragile things to the table or bringing an empty cup to the sink.

30 months: Interacting with the outside world

Children at 30 months old usually get more cooperative and talkative. They can now play with or next to other children, as well as follow simple routines like cleaning up toys when play time is over. In addition, he or she can now get your attention by calling you when they want to say or show you something.

They are now capable of saying around 50 words and can use action words in very simple sentences like “Doggie run”. They can recognize and name objects as well as say words like “I”, “me” or “we”.

Pretend-play begins here, where most children start feeding their toys blocks or other objects as if it were food. As well, they show the beginning of problem-solving like standing on a chair to reach something. He or she can now follow two step instructions instead of one.

Physically, they use their hands in a more advanced way like turning doorknobs or unscrewing lids. They can now undress loose clothing, like an open jacket or loose pants, jump off the ground with both feet, and help turn book pages during story-time.

Now would be the time to encourage your child to play with what they want and follow their interests in that regard. Continue showing positive attention to “wanted behaviours”, encouraging the child to continue doing them. In addition, start giving your child choices when it comes to food and clothing. For food, aim for something simple and healthy, and only provide 2 or 3 choices so it is easier for them to pick.

3 years: Third Birthday!

Children this age continue to play with other children or begin to do so and will calm down without their mother or father within roughly 10 minutes. You can now have a back-and-forth conversation with them, as they can now understand “what” what” “where” and “why” questions, as well as actions happening around them.

They can now say their name when prompted, in addition to being understood by others most of the time. It took 3 years, but now you can put your job as a baby-translator behind you. They can now draw circles when you show them how, in addition to heeding your warning about touching like touching the stove or an electric wire.

Physically, they can now string big objects together, like large beads or macaroni, as well as putting on loose clothing by him or herself, in addition to gaining the ability to use a fork.

Now would be the time to encourage problem-solving. Instead of solving the problems for your child, ask them questions and help him or her to understand their problems and think up solutions. Talk with your child about their emotions and help them explain them, and then show how to deal with them. For example, if your child is sad or stressed, tell them to hug a favourite toy or to take deep breaths.

Regarding rules, try not to go overboard. Set a few simple ones your child can follow. If he or she breaks the rules, show them what to do instead. As usual, if they follow the rule, congratulate them.

4 years: Fourth Birthday!

During this age, children begin to pretend to be someone else during play, for example they pretend to be a superhero or a teacher. They also begin to ask to play with other children or friends when there is no one around. Their emotional intelligence also increases, where they comfort others who are hurt or sad. They might also begin to avoid heights and danger, meaning you don’t need to worry as much about your child. Children may also begin changing their behaviour depending on where they are. For example, if they are in a library they will be quieter.

Their vocabulary also increases during this age, where they can say at least simple four-word sentences, sing parts of a song or story, talk about what happened to them during the day, and answer simple questions like “What is a coat for?” They can also name more than one colour and can narrate parts of stories they know well. In addition, their artistic skills develop even more with them being able to draw three or more body parts.

Physically, they can play catch, serve themselves food or water (with supervision in case something falls), unbutton clothing, and hold a pencil or a crayon between their fingers instead of a fist.

Now you can prepare your child to be more open to meeting and interacting with new people by role playing with him or her or reading stories. While reading stories, ask them questions about what happened in the story and encourage them to guess what happens next. Finally, ask him or her about the shapes, colours, and sizes of things around them or things they have seen. This will help them learn more vocabulary to use, as well as develop their perception skills.

5 years: Happy Fifth Birthday!

The final year of significant milestones for babies. I would like you to take a moment to really appreciate and celebrate the progress that has happened in 5 years. Divided up into a list, it might all seem long, but babies learn a surprising amount in a short period of time.

Now, your child can follow rules and take turns playing with other children. They might sing, act or dance, and even help you with simple chores like clearing the table.

They can also make up and tell short simple stories with at least two events, and answer questions about stories you just read or told them. Their conversational skills have also developed, where they can keep a conversation going with more than 3 back-and-forth questions and can use words about time like “morning” or “tomorrow” in sentences. They can now count to 10, name and write some letters in his or her name. Physically, they can now hop on one foot.

Now the child might start to talk back to feel a bit more independent as well as to test what happens. Try limiting the attention you give to negative words, as well as find activities where he or she can take a leadership role like deciding what he or she wants to wear. Make a point of noticing good behaviour and praising it and continue emphasizing the behaviour you want to see.

For language, ask your child about what he or she is doing and encourage them to expand on their answer by asking “why” and “how”. This would also be the time to get your child puzzles and mind games that encourage putting things together and problem solving.

And this is the end! Thank you for sticking around till the end of this very long blog post. Although this blog only stops at 5 years, raising a child does not stop there. Continue to encourage them to learn more by asking questions and keep them involved so they feel that they are important and gain confidence in themselves. If you have further questions or concerns, raise them to your doctor or health provider.

Good luck and enjoy these moments! This is often going to be a sleepless and exhausting period for you as a mother or care provider, but it will also hold the most fun stories and fond memories in your heart.

Sources: Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Healthline.