Developmental milestones for 1-year-olds

By Amanda Morin

Developmental milestones for 1-year-olds, milestones, baby walking

At a glance

  • Young toddlers are constantly learning and growing.

  • They reach new milestones every few months.

  • Some 1-year-olds have delays in their development.

If you have a 1- to 2-year-old child, you know how busy toddlers can be at this age. Every day is filled with exploration and learning. But you may not be sure what skills are typical for kids this age. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a list of milestones, which it updated with many changes in 2022. The agency moved some of the milestones to different age ranges, which some experts question.

The CDC milestones below can help you know what to expect. If your child isn’t meeting them, it can point to possible developmental delays. If you have concerns, be sure to talk to your child’s health care provider.

The CDC milestones below can help you know what to expect by 12 months15 months18 months, and 24 months.

You can also learn more about: 

At 12 months

Social/emotional milestones

  • Plays games with you, like patty-cake

Language/communication milestones

  • Waves “bye-bye”
  • Calls parent “Mama,” “Dada,” or another name
  • Understands “no” (pauses or stops when you say it)

Cognitive milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Puts things into a container, like a block in a cup
  • Looks for things they see you hide, like a toy under a blanket

Movement/physical milestones

  • Pulls up to stand
  • Walks holding on to furniture (“cruising”)
  • Drinks from a cup without a lid while someone else holds it
  • Uses thumb and pointer finger to pick things up

By 15 months

Social/emotional milestones

  • Copies other children while playing, like taking toys out of a container when another child does
  • Shows you an object they like
  • Claps when excited
  • Hugs stuffed doll or other toy
  • Shows you affection (hugs, cuddles, or kisses you) 

Language/communication milestones

  • Tries to say one or two words besides “Mama” or “Dada,” like “ba” for “ball” or “da” for “dog”
  • Looks at a familiar object when you name it
  • Follows directions given with both a gesture and words. For example, giving you a toy when you hold out your hand and say, “Give me the toy.”
  • Points to ask for something or to get help 

Cognitive milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving) 

  • Tries to use objects the right way, like a phone, cup, or book
  • Stacks at least two small objects, like blocks

Movement/physical development milestones

  • Takes a few steps without help
  • Uses fingers to feed themselves some food

By 18 months

Social/emotional milestones

  • Moves away from you, but looks to make sure you are close by
  • Points to show you something interesting
  • Puts hands out for you to wash them
  • Looks at a few pages in a book with you
  • Helps you dress them by pushing arm through sleeve or lifting up foot

Language/communication milestones

  • Tries to say three or more words besides “Mama” or “Dada”
  • Follows one-step directions without any gestures, like giving you the toy when you say, “Give it to me.”

Cognitive milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Copies you doing chores, like sweeping with a broom
  • Plays with toys in a simple way, like pushing a toy car 

Movement/physical development milestones

  • Walks without holding on to anyone or anything
  • Scribbles
  • Drinks from a cup without a lid and may spill sometimes
  • Feeds themselves with their fingers
  • Tries to use a spoon
  • Climbs on and off a couch or chair without help

By 24 months

Social/emotional milestones

  • Notices when others are hurt or upset, like pausing or looking sad when someone is crying
  • Looks at your face to see how to react in a new situation

Language/communication milestones

  • Points to things in a book when you ask, like “Where is the bear?”
  • Says at least two words together, like “More milk.”
  • Points to at least two body parts you name, like nose or toes
  • Uses more gestures than just waving and pointing, like blowing a kiss or nodding yes

Cognitive milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Holds something in one hand while using the other hand; for example, holding a crayon box and taking out a crayon
  • Tries to use switches, knobs, or buttons on a toy
  • Plays with more than one toy at the same time, like putting toy food on a toy plate

Movement/physical development milestones

  • Kicks a ball
  • Runs
  • Walks (not climbs) up a few stairs with or without help
  • Eats with a spoon

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, talk to your child’s health care provider

It might be helpful to get an evaluation to look at your child’s skills. That lets you talk about early intervention strategies and other ways to help.

And take a look forward at developmental milestones for 2-year-olds

Key takeaways

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

  • If you’re concerned, talk with a health care provider about having your child evaluated.

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

    Tell us what interests you

    Share

    About the author

    About the author

    Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.