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.
- Wait to introduce cow’s milk until each of the following has occurred:
- Formula is done.
- Breastfeeding is done.
- Cow’s milk is not necessary, but whichever option you choose (see below), be certain it is fortified with 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.