Physical Development at 12-18 Months Old

toddler walking

When a child reaches 12-18 months old, it is an incredible period in their development as they transform from a baby into a toddler and start showing marked increases in their physical development.

If the toddler has started walking, their confidence will be growing and they’ll start to move more freely and with speed. At this age they naturally want to test their newly developed physical abilities and try new things such as by picking objects up or pushing them across the room. At this age it’s crucial that you keep a close eye on them as they will have an incredible enthusiasm to move and discover, but haven’t yet developed a strong sense of danger. You’ll often have to stop them climbing and crawling into new places that may not be safe for them to explore just yet

What Developmental Milestones they’ll be Experiencing

Walking is obviously one of the most notable landmarks in a child’s physical development, but there are lots of other milestones to look out for.


Walking unassisted is a major achievement for children. Following this they’ll develop the muscles to be able to walk or crawl upstairs. This should always be done with assistance until they’re strong enough. If your child cannot walk yet, don’t worry it’s not unusual for children not to walk until they are 18 months old.

Eating and Drinking

Around this age they’ll start to be able to drink from a cup themselves and pick up small pieces of food to eat on their own. As they progress they’ll eventually develop the ability to eat independently with a spoon.


If they’re playing with building toys they’ll be able to stack more pieces. They’ll have increased their ability to use push and pull toys, and may also have the ability to squat down or bend over to pick up a toy without falling to the floor. Around this age, children will have increased dexterity and strength in their arms and may be able to roll or throw a ball at you so you can play together.

How to Help with Physical Development

Try to encourage further physical development to help them progress. You can do this by creating an environment that helps activity and providing the right toys for one year olds to play with. If you buy them balls to play with, get them in different sizes and weights so they can kick or throw them to work on more muscle groups. If they throw a ball to you don’t forget to engage with them and throw it back – remember, practice is key for helping children to develop physically. As their dexterity and muscle control increases, they’ll be able to play with a wider range of toys including ones they can take apart and toys with handles that can grip.

Another idea is to create a simple, fun obstacle course using boxes and chairs for them to play on and practice moving across. Playing around the garden is good for this as well as long as the environment is safe. Finally, a great way to encourage physical development is by playing music and dancing. If you find that your toddler smiles and laughs when you play a song, then try dancing along to it! They’ll join in and have loads of fun whilst improving their physical development.

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