Developmental Milestones for Typical 1-Year-Olds

By Amanda Morin
Email Email
Chat's logo Chat's logo

At a Glance

  • Between 12 and 24 months, most kids go from taking their first steps to being able to climb up the stairs.

  • A 1-year-old can typically communicate with some words and gestures.

  • One-year-olds often show affection for their caregivers but may be nervous about strangers.

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.

Gross Motor Skills

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

Fine Motor Skills

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

  • Drink from a sippy cup (or 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

Your child’s cognitive milestones are the ways he learns to think, explore, learn and solve new problems. A child between 12 and 24 months will typically:

  • Know the use of everyday objects, such as a spoon, a toothbrush or 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 his 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 he throws his cup on the floor

Language Milestones

Language at this age is not only about the sounds your child makes. It’s also about how ell your child understands what you say to him. And it’s about how he tells you what he wants and needs. Sometime between 12 and 24 months, a child 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 his arms when he wants to be picked up, point at things he wants and shake his 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 he isn’t meeting most of them, consider talking to his doctor. It might be helpful to have an evaluation to look at his 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.

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

Key Takeaways

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

  • If you’re concerned, talk with the doctor about whether your child should have an evaluation.

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

About the Author

About the Author

Amanda Morin 

worked as a classroom teacher and as an early intervention specialist for 10 years. She is the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education. Two of her children have learning differences.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Molly Algermissen, PhD 

is an associate professor of medical psychology at Columbia University Medical Center and clinical director of PROMISE.

Did you find this helpful?

Up Next

Stay Informed

Sign up for weekly emails containing helpful resources for you and your family.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Please wait...

By signing up, you acknowledge that you reside in the United States and are at least 13 years old, and agree that you've read the Terms and Conditions. Understood.org does not market to or offer services to individuals in the European Union.