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At one, your child will be making dramatic physical progress – but there’ll be plenty of fumbles, stumbles and tumbles along the way.

What to expect

Babies typically graduate from crawling to running by about 20 months. At this age, your child might hold his hands out to the side or poke his belly out for balance. His gait can be a bit awkward and clumsy, and he’ll probably fall pretty often, too.

Your child might use her new mobility to push and pull toys, dance to music and climb on furniture. One-year-olds also show improved hand and finger coordination, but your child will still fumble and drop objects a lot.

Motor skill development

Typically developing babies will progress from crawling to ‘cruising’ (moving from place to place while standing and holding onto a support) to walking by around 15 months. They’ll be running by around 20 months.

Your baby will kneel, creep up stairs (and will walk up them by the end of the second year), and enjoy push-and-pull toys (for example, a toy lawnmower or a train with a pull-string).

You can stimulate your child’s locomotor skills by providing an open area where balls, push-and-pull toys, wagons and other equipment encourage free movement. You can also help by providing low climbing structures, ramps and steps.

Around the 13th month, your baby will pull himself up to a standing position. He’ll then learn to move his hands and body away from his support and stand alone by around 14 months. He’ll then steadily improve his balance through cruising, then walking. By the 15th month, your baby will bend down from a standing position to pick up an object.

Your baby will maintain her balance while sitting and manipulating a toy. She’ll also be able to stay balanced in a kneeling position while rotating her head.

Your child will grasp and release a ball. By the end of his first year, he’ll be able to kick a small ball forward.

Many children this age have a keen interest in tiny particles, such as crumbs. Your child might use her ‘pincer’ grasp (using her thumb and forefinger) to pick them up and bring them to her mouth. (A few children can use their fingers in this way at eight months, but many aren’t able to do it until nearly 15 months.)

Children use their hands to experiment with objects by turning them in all directions, banging them and bringing them to their mouths. Your child will also enjoy feeling different textures – for example, bricks, walls, tiles, wood, rocks and water.

During the second year, typically developing children can scribble on large sheets of paper with oversize crayons. Children this age often shift drawing and painting tools from hand to hand and draw in strokes.

By two, your child can hold cutlery. He’ll handle a cup well with minimal spilling, and can feed himself crackers and other finger foods. He’ll be able to turn the pages of books and magazines, but might not turn them one at a time.

Your two-year-old will clap her hands, be able to build a tower of six blocks, and play games that involve putting rings over a peg.

By two, your child might start to push his feet into his shoes, and his arms into his sleeves. Over time, he’ll become more involved in dressing and undressing himself.

Health practices

By the age of two, your child might try to brush her teeth – but she’ll still need you to do a follow-up clean.

At around 20 months, your toddler might stay dry for longer periods of time, and begin to have bowel movements at predictable times each day. He might also become curious about the bathroom habits of others.

At this age, your child can be taught about the importance of handwashing.

You know your child best. If you have any worries about her development, talk to your doctor or another health professional about your concerns.
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  • Last Updated 18-02-2011
  • Last Reviewed 16-04-2012
  • Acknowledgements

    © 2002-2006 Public Broadcasting Service.  Reprinted from with permission of the Public Broadcasting Service.