Important Milestones: Your Child By Eighteen Months

CDC’s milestones and parent tips have been updated and new checklist ages have been added (15 and 30 months). Due to COVID-19, updated photos and videos have been delayed but will be added back to this page in the future. For more information about the recent updates to CDC's developmental milestones, please view the Pediatrics journal articleexternal icon describing the updates.

How your child plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves offers important clues about your child’s development. Developmental milestones are things most children (75% or more) can do by a certain age.

Check the milestones your child has reached by the end of 18 months by completing a checklist with CDC’s free Milestone Tracker mobile app, for iOSexternal icon and Androidexternal icon devices, using the Digital Online Checklist, or by printing the checklist pdf icon[1MB, 2 Pages, Print Only] below.

“Learn the Signs. Act Early.” materials are not a substitute for standardized, validated developmental screening tools.

What most babies do by this age:

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 him 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 herself with her fingers
  • Tries to use a spoon
  • Climbs on and off a couch or chair without help

Other important things to share with the doctor…

  • What are some things you and your child do together?
  • What are some things your child likes to do?
  • Is there anything your child does or does not do that concerns you?
  • Has your child lost any skills he/she once had?
  • Does your child have any special healthcare needs or was he/she born prematurely?
Download CDC’s free Milestone Tracker App

Concerned About Your Child’s Development?
Act Early.


You know your child best. Don’t wait. If your child is not meeting one or more milestones, has lost skills he or she once had, or you have other concerns, act early. Talk with your child’s doctor, share your concerns, and ask about developmental screening. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for general development using standardized, validated tools at 9, 18, and 30 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months or whenever a parent or provider has a concern.

If you or the doctor are still concerned:

  1. Ask for a referral to a specialist who can evaluate your child more; and
  2. Call your state or territory’s early intervention program to find out if your child can get services to help. Learn more and find the number at cdc.gov/FindEI.

For more on how to help your child, visit cdc.gov/Concerned.

Tips and Activities: What You Can Do for Your 18 month old
18 month old - Shows affection to familiar people

As your child’s first teacher, you can help his or her learning and brain development. Try these simple tips and activities in a safe way. Talk with your child’s doctor and teachers if you have questions or for more ideas on how to help your child’s development.

  • Use positive words and give more attention to behaviors you want to see (“wanted behaviors”). For example, “Look how nicely you put the toy away.” Give less attention to those you don’t want to see.
  • Encourage “pretend” play. Give your child a spoon so she can pretend to feed her stuffed animal. Take turns pretending.
  • Help your child learn about others’ feelings and about positive ways to react. For example, when he sees a child who is sad, say “He looks sad. Let’s bring him a teddy.”

Click here for more tips and activities

Special acknowledgments to the subject matter experts and others who contributed to the review of data and selection of developmental milestones, especially Paul H. Lipkin, MD, Michelle M. Macias, MD, Julie F. Pajek, PhD, Judith S. Shaw, EdD, MPH, RN, Karnesha Slaughter, MPH, Jane K. Squires, PhD, Toni M. Whitaker, MD, Lisa D. Wiggins, PhD, and Jennifer M. Zubler, MD.

Sincere gratitude to Natalia Benza, MD and José O. Rodríguez, MD, MBA for their thoughtful review of the Spanish-language translation of these milestones.