15 Months to 18 Months

Eating and Drinking


  • If your child is still taking formula, please remove it from their diet.
    • Simply finish whatever you have left in the home, and then don’t buy any more.
    • Toddler formula is not recommended.
      • It will blunt your child’s appetite.
      • All the nutrition they need will come from regular food.
  • Remove bottles if your child is still using them. 
    • Bottles are a known source of tooth decay in babies.
    • The longer you wait to stop the bottle, the more difficult the transition will be for your child. 


  • If your child is still breastfeeding, please feel free to continue for as long as you want!
    • Continue the daily vitamin D supplement for your child.


  • Provide a well-rounded diet with all the food groups.
  • Make sure the diet meets the age-based requirements of nutrients each day.
  • Encourage high iron-containing foods in the diet to prevent iron deficiency.
  • Honey and cow’s milk are now safe for your child.
    • Honey is an effective cough suppressant when your child has a cold virus.

Cow’s Milk

  • Wait to introduce cow’s milk until each of the following has occurred:
    • Formula is done.
    • Breastfeeding is done.
        • Starting cow's milk while they're still getting a lot of breast milk calories can decrease the appetite for solid foods.
  • Cow’s milk is not necessary, but whichever option you choose (see below), be certain it is fortified with vitamin D.

Vitamin D

  • Your child now needs 600 IU of vitamin D per day.
    • The vitamin D will come from vitamin D-enriched milk (cow, goat, almond, soy, pea, etc).
  • 16 ounces per day of whole cow’s milk provides the required vitamin D your child needs.
    • If your child won’t take all 16 ounces of milk per day from the sippy cup, don’t reintroduce the bottle.
    • Instead, just give a vitamin D supplement that evening before bed.
  • Limit milk to 20 ounces per day. Drinking more than 20 ounces per day will negatively affect your child’s appetite, which can cause nutritional deficiencies.
  • The milk should be given in a sippy cup.
  • The milk should be given throughout the day with meals and snacks, just like big kids and adults drink it.
    • First food of the day is breakfast, not milk.
    • Last food of the day is dinner, not milk.
  • Your child does not need juice.
    • If you do give your child juice, serve all natural 100% fruit juice and limit it to 4 oz/day.


  • Your child can now drink water freely.
    • Offer water throughout the day.
    • Don’t worry if they don’t want to drink, this simply means they aren’t thirsty.
  • Please note, the amount of water needed daily may vary by individual and may need to be adjusted depending on levels of activity and environmental conditions like heat and humidity.


  • We recommend 3 meals and 1-2 snacks per day.
  • Avoid letting your child “graze” on food throughout the day.
    • This will negatively affect the appetite and can worry parents that their child “doesn’t eat enough” at mealtimes.
  • Eat meals together as a family when possible.
  • Avoid distractions during mealtimes, which many parents use to get their child to eat more.
    • We want your child to pay attention to their own hunger level, rather than eating out of distraction.
  • Common distractions to avoid: TV, screens (phone/iPad), pets, music.
    • The most common distraction is often the caregivers themselves.
      • Imagine how distracting it would be to have Mom on one side and Dad on the other, both trying to convince you to eat more!
      • Instead, we recommend caregivers eat their own meals and converse with each other, allowing your child to pay attention to their own hunger level, and eat accordingly.
  • If your child cleans their plate, offer more!
    • Provided there are no distractions, you can trust your child to eat when hungry, and stop when full.
  • Avoid small, hard foods that can cause choking—nuts, popcorn, hot dogs, grapes, and hard, raw veggies.

Strategies For Picky Eaters

  • Most caregivers will experience concerns about picky eating between 12 and 36 months of life.
  • See our article on picky eating for more information.


Gross Motor Skills

  • Your child may be pulling up to stand and standing alone. 
  • Some children may be holding on to furniture and taking a few steps, commonly called “cruising.”
  • By 18 months, we would like to see your child take a few independent steps. 
  • Tips to encourage gross motor development at this age:
    • Find a safe way for your child to pull up to a standing position, and encourage them to do so.
    • Avoid using push walkers to “teach” your child to walk, unless instructed to do so by a medical professional (e.g. if your child sees a physical therapist).
      • They inhibit independent walking.
  • Avoid seats with wheels (i.e. baby walkers)
    • They are dangerous and also inhibit independent walking.

Fine Motor Skills

  • Your child is perfecting their pincer grasp and picking up small objects with two fingers. 
    • To further encourage this skill, allow your child to feed themselves at mealtimes, even if it means a bigger mess.
    • Offer your child a baby fork and baby spoon at meals.
      • Remember, this is just for practice, and we don’t expect them to use these correctly.
      • Most 18-month-olds are holding the spoon in one hand and eating with the other.
  • Demonstrate stacking two large blocks and then encourage your child to help you.
  • Encourage your child to put an object in a container, such as a block in a cup.

Language Skills

  • There are two “language explosions” in the second year of life (12-24 months).
    • The first half of the second year of life is about language comprehension.
      • At 18 months of life, your child will understand everything you say to them, but may not have many spoken words.
    • The second half of the second year of life is about language expression.
      • At 24 months of life, your child will have more than 50 words and will speak in 2-word sentences.
  • At 15 months, some kids try to say 1 or 2 words other than "mama" or "dada." 
    • Sign language and animal sounds count as words.
    • Your child may have their own “word” that they consistently use for something and that counts as well. 
      • An example of this is “ba” for bottles. 
  • Nonverbal communication is more important than speaking at this age.
    • You’ll notice your child looking at your face in unfamiliar situations, for example when they meet a new person.
      • These “check-ins” represent your child reading your facial cues to determine if they should be afraid or not.
    • You may notice your child does the following.
      • Looks at a familiar object when you name it.
      • Follows directions you give with both a gesture and words. (i.e. gives you a toy when you hold out your hand and say, "Give me the toy").
      • Points and grunts to ask for something or to get help.
      • Waves "bye-bye" or claps when excited.
  • Talk to your child all the time.
    • She should hear as many words as possible from the people she cares about.
      • This is best accomplished through interactive play with caregivers.
    • Reading books is always encouraged, but most babies will lose interest quickly, and that’s ok too!
    • Avoid “baby talk.”
      • Instead, pronounce words correctly, to teach your child to make sounds correctly.

Social/Emotional Skills

  • Your child will learn social cues from interactive play with caregivers
  • Children this age do not need social interaction with kids their age, but it sure is cute!
    • They are learning all the social skills they need from their attentive and loving caregivers.
  • Between 15 and 18 months you may notice your child does the following.
    • Copies other children while playing, like taking toys out of a container when another child does.
    • Shows you an object that they like.
    • Claps when excited.
    • Hugs a stuffed doll or other toy.
    • Shows you affection.

Other Guidance


Dental Care

  • Once your child’s first tooth appears, start brushing!
    • Dental decay in baby teeth can negatively affect permanent teeth and lead to future dental problems.
  • Apply a grain-of-rice-sized amount of fluoride-based toothpaste to a soft toothbrush.
    • Press the toothpaste into the bristles to prevent your child from sucking the toothpaste right off of the brush.
  • Most toothpaste specifically labeled for “babies” does not contain fluoride. 
    • Please make sure you buy toothpaste that does contain fluoride, even if labeled for “children.”
  • Brush teeth once in the morning and once before bed. 
  • It is normal for your child to resist having their teeth brushed. The following strategies may be helpful:
    • Allow your child to brush their teeth first then follow up by brushing their teeth for them. 
    • Make up a silly song about brushing teeth. 
    • Some children resist brushing less if brushing teeth while their siblings or parents are doing so as well.
    • If these methods fail, don’t be afraid to bring in another caregiver to restrain your child while you brush their teeth.
      • Sometimes it needs to be a two-person operation!
  • The best thing you can do to keep your child’s teeth healthy at 15 months is to remove bottles if you haven't already (see discussion above).
  • Thumb-sucking and pacifier use are fine.
    • These may cause the teeth to jut forward, requiring braces when your child gets their adult teeth.
      • If you're ok with that, so are we!
  • Plan your child’s first visit to the dentist at 2 years of age. 

Common Illnesses and Injuries

  •  In the first two years of life alone, most children have eight to ten colds.
    • Each cold can last for up to 3 weeks. 
  • Vomiting and diarrheal illnesses are common as well. 
  • Fever will accompany many of these illnesses. 
  • Falls and head injuries are the rule, not the exception.
  • Teething may continue to bother your child on and off.


  • Keep your child’s car safety seat rear-facing until your child is 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car safety seat’s manufacturer.
  • Please review our guide on childproofing for ways to keep your baby safe in your home.
  • Please review our guide on water safety for young children.