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Developmental milestones for 1-year-olds

By Amanda Morin

If you have a 1-year-old, you know how busy they can be! Every day, your growing child’s life is filled with exploration and learning. Are you unsure what is typical for kids this age? Take a look at these developmental milestones and you’ll have a better sense of what to expect.

Physical milestones

Milestones for 1-year-olds include gross motor skills using big muscles to move the whole body — and fine motor skills  — using smaller muscles for little things.

Most 1-year-olds can:

  • Sit without leaning on anything or being held up

  • Belly crawl, scoot, or creep on hands and knees

  • Pull to standing and move, holding on to furniture

Between 12 and 24 months, children typically can:

  • Stand alone and walk, holding on to your hands

  • Stick out their arms, legs, and feet to help get dressed and undressed

  • Walk without help

  • Begin walking up stairs

As they approach age 2, children are typically able to:

  • Drink from a sippy cup (or a regular cup with help)

  • Use a spoon — clumsily — to eat

  • Pick up objects like Cheerios or raisins with thumb and one finger (known as “pincer grasp”)

  • Point, poke, and maybe even pinch

  • Put things into a bucket and take them out again

  • Scribble with a thick crayon or marker

Cognitive milestones

Cognitive milestones are the ways your child learns to think, explore, learn, and solve new problems. Children between 12 and 24 months will typically:

  • Know the use of everyday objects, such as a spoon, a toothbrush, or a phone

  • Start following simple directions such as “blow me a kiss” or “sit down”

  • Start simple pretend play, like feeding a stuffed animal

  • Point to their own head, eyes, ears, nose, or mouth

  • Make the connection between a word you say and a picture in a book

  • Show a reaction to familiar songs and stories

  • Start testing cause and effect, such as what happens when they throw a cup on the floor

Language milestones

Language at this age is not only about the sounds your child makes. It’s also about how well your child understands what you say. And it’s about how your child expresses wants and needs. Sometime between 12 and 24 months, children can typically:

  • Babble in a way that sounds like talking and try to “talk” with you

  • Recognize family members’ names and the words for common items (cup, ball, shoe)

  • Raise their arms when they want to be picked up, point at things they want, and shake their head no

  • Understand basic commands like stop

  • Say no, mama, and several other words

  • Express happiness, sadness, and frustration with different sounds or cries

Social and emotional milestones

One-year-olds have limited social interactions with other children. But your child may learn many social skills and ways to express emotion this year. Most 1-year-olds can do these things:

  • Smile and laugh in reaction to somebody else or when playing

  • Cry when someone nearby is upset

  • Feel comfortable exploring the room when a caregiver is nearby

  • Show affection to familiar people

  • Have mild temper tantrums when frustrated

  • Be nervous around new people and clingy with caregivers

Keep in mind that kids develop at different rates. Your child might meet some of these milestones a little earlier or a little later. But if your child isn’t meeting most of them, consider talking to your child’s health care provider . It might be helpful to have an evaluation to look at skills. Once you have a better idea of your child’s path of development, you can talk about early intervention strategies and other ways to help.

Key Takeaways

  • Kids develop at different rates — these milestones are just typical.

  • If you’re concerned, talk with a health care provider about whether your child should have an evaluation.

  • Early intervention can make a huge difference if your child needs help.

Related topics

Signs and symptoms Signs and symptoms

Did you know?

When people avoid reading or don’t follow directions, it might look like they’re just being “lazy” or “defiant.” But behaviors like these can actually be signs of learning and thinking differences.

More on: Signs and symptoms

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