16 Month Old Baby

Guidelines for the Development of a 16 Month Old Baby

            Socially, physically and emotionally, babies are continuously growing; although all grow at different rates, there are some guidelines of expectations for development of a 16 month old baby.  It is important to use these growth markers as guidelines only, it is normal that some babies will function below and others will function over the guidelines.

            During the infancy stage, babies develop quickly.  They learn much by observation; mimicking facial expressions, noises and actions of their family members around them.  Born totally helpless and dependent, newborns have few skills in the early days other than to suck and communicate through crying.  Within a few months, the baby’s vision improves dramatically and begins to imitate what they see on their parents’ and siblings’ faces.  Midway through their first year, the baby has begun to mobilize through rocking, scooting or crawling as well as verbalize their feelings through sounds.  Towards the end of their first year of life, the babies have gone through radical changes in body size and development.  Still dependent on their families, they have mastered many skills including cognitive, verbal and hand/eye coordination.

            By the end of the first quarter of its first year, the 16 month old baby has become quite a unique character.  Most babies of this age are now very mobile; not only walking but also running everywhere they go.  Dancing is a favorite activity, and toddlers will adopt a variety of movements that they see others performing.  Little ones in this age group have now developed a sense of what they like and what they don’t like, and will be very demonstrative in announcing their choice.  They enjoy sharing experiences, and will happily take someone’s hand to take them where the baby wants to go.

            Rules should begin to be established and upheld with the baby at this age.  They have the ability to understand the word “no”, although expect them to rebel against it.  Children must live within boundaries and no age is too young to instill these boundaries.  Toddlers also crave routine; meals, naptime and playtime should all have the same daily timetables for the child to feel secure.  Speech is growing more and more understandable now with more words in their vocabulary, so patiently explaining rules and having them repeated back to the parent is a great exercise.

            Climbing is a big adventure for the 16 month old baby.  No height will be daunting; couches, beds, stairways, chairs and laps will all be a challenge that the toddler will try to overcome.  Rather than walking around a coffee table, the baby must climb on top of it and over it to reach the other side.  Be sure to monitor the child’s activities carefully at this stage; they are unable to gauge the wisdom of climbing and therefore may venture into unstable situations.  This is a valuable tool that develops their motor skills, so while it should be encouraged it must also be carefully supervised.

            A creative flair will also begin to emerge around this age.  Colorful connecting blocks can encourage this creativity in building structures as well as titillate their sense of colors.  Don’t be surprised that your attempts to help them build will be greeted by the baby’s sweeping motion to knock them down!  Cause and effect is the lesson to be learned with this activity.

            This is a crucial time of development for the toddler; exploring, challenging, overcoming obstacles and learning new skills at an exponential rate.  All babies develop at different levels, so rather than worry about skills your child has not yet developed, rejoice with him in the ones that he has perfected.  Enjoying each other is the best exercise between a parent and child.