Little A is fast approaching his eighteenth month on this Earth. Which is crazy. It seems like he’s been a part of our family forever. The fourth Musketeer, always willing to go along with our hare-brained schemes with a smile.
Little A remains a joy. He smiles and laughs and loves his big brother with all his heart. When Little A is happy, he’s exuberant. And when Little A is sad, he’s despondent. Our youngest child is quite dramatic, honestly. He lays down when he’s sad. Right in the middle of the floor. He likes it if one of us lays down besides him and talks about why he’s sad. When he’s done with all his feelings, it’s back to playing.
My youngest son has spent last eighteen months honing the cutest ways to gain the most attention. And I ain’t mad at him. Read on to get a peek at his typical daily schedule and the milestones we’ve been working on.
DITL of Little A
These are approximate times, as Little A isn’t the most reliable of schedule keepers. It isn’t so much that we do everything at the same time every day, but more that we always follow the same order and flow of activities.
- 6 am: Wake up with the sun cuz why not?
- 6:30 am: Breakfast
- 7-8 am: Play and get ready
- 8:30-am: Morning activity! Sometimes it’s the library, sometimes it’s the playground. Even when we don’t go out, there’s some kind of structured play activity or running around in the back yard.
- 11:30-1 pm: Lunch, cleanup, story
- 1-3 pm: Nap
- 3:30 pm: Snack time!
- 4:00-6:00 pm: Play time! We try to wear them out before dinner—lots of wrestling and jumping. Josh and I will do a 15-minute HIIT workout to get the boys jumping with us.
- 6:30 pm: Dinner
- 7:15 pm: Bath, cleanup, get ready, story
- 8:00 pm: Bedtime
18 Month Milestones
*Most* 18-month-olds have reached these milestones. However, I’m no doctor. If you have any concerns, see your pediatrician. If your pediatrician takes a “wait and see” attitude, kindly and fiercely persist.
- Walking alone
- Squatting to pick up item from floor, rising with item
- Possibly running, going up stairs, jumping
- Pull toys while walking
- Throwing a ball (maybe kicking)
- Starting to climb
Little A has always been ahead in his gross motor development. Which means he has most of the skills, aaaalllll of the confidence, and no sense of danger (or enough awareness of his body in space). We call him Danger Baby.
Josh and I have been concerned about the turn-out of his left leg and his overall abundance of “W-Sitting.” Little A completed a thorough and professional evaluation at Reid. The therapist was also impressed with Little A’s gross motor abilities. Little A will have monthly appointments to monitor his progress.
We encourage these strengths in Little A by dropping toys in front of him and asking him to pick them up (this also strengthens his hips, which decreases “W-sitting”), playing running/jumping/climbing games, and throwing lots of balls.
- Eat with a spoon
- Confident pincer grasp
- Stack at least two blocks
- Hold a crayon
- Scribble a bit by self
- Helps in dressing self
- Can put a very simple, knobby puzzle together with you
- Drink with a cup
- Pouring water into objects
- Points to objects
Little A is not as ahead in fine motor development as he is in gross motor. He can do most of these skills, just not as proficiently. And he’s not as interested in these activities, of course (just as any of us don’t really like to do the things we’re not naturally gifted at).
He’s getting more into puzzles lately, which is good. I should do more to provide him with drinking from a cup and feeding himself with a spoon time. It’s just so damn messy.
- Starts to freak out more than usual around strangers
- Seems to really understand hugs and kisses, though, and wants to give them to family members. A lot.
- It’s just a roller coaster of emotions, cuz this is when the tantrums start, too
- Enjoys the transaction of handing objects back and forth in play: “Oh, for me? Thank you. Here ya go!” Repeat ad nauseum.
- Will explore alone more, but wants to be able to see caregiver with a look over the shoulder
- Parallel plays with peers, will bite them
- Really, really likes having emotions validated, i.e., “Little A is sad about being told ‘no.'” In fact, just that sentence stops 98% of meltdowns. Swear.
Oh, my, our youngest son feels things. All of his emotions are just… right there. Little A seems to be ticking off these boxes just fine. We were at the doctors office last month, having an innocent conversation with the nice receptionist. Little A clung to me and whimpered as if she were about to lunge across her desk and slit our throats. He’s always clinging to us lately, in fear of strangers or in a big hug.
He wants to play with his brother; he also wants to bite or push him when he’s mad. We’re working on it with redirection and feeling validation. Little A is open to the interventions and has quit biting as much. There’s still the pushing though.
Speaking of feeling validation, it has worked wonders in decreasing tantrums and increasing emotional awareness. I’ll dedicate an upcoming article to this practice and break it all down.
- Says at least 6 words
- Does some nonverbal communication like shaking head and pointing
- Responds to questions like “where’s binky?” by getting or pointing to binky
- Shows some receptive communication skills, like understanding the question “where’s binky?” and/or qualifiers like “in,” “off,” “on top.”
- Attempts imitation of mouth movement
- Spontaneously says new words occasionally (and then never again, amirite?)
- Makes speech like intonations. Like, I may not exactly understand what Little A is saying but I can tell it’s a question because the pitch of his voice rises as he babbles.
- Tries to sing along to music and songs
Little A interacts with this particular scale a bit differently as he understands and uses American Sign Language. His big brother is nonverbal (diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder a bit after age two) and (sometimes) uses sign language to communicate. Little A has been exposed to ASL since birth and knows many signs. He may only say six words, but he can sign almost all the animal names.
His real strengths lie in nonverbal communication, receptive communication, and imitation. Little A loves to point, shake his head, follow directions, sing along to lullabies, and babble like a boss. We bolster these skills by lots of interactive play: asking questions, lots of narrations, giving directions, imitating Little A’s attempts at nonverbal communication, etc.
- Points to body parts
- Points to show something of interest to another
- Scribbles alone
- Knows the uses of things, i.e., if given a brush will attempt to brush hair, at least a little
- Follows one step directives-“sit down, please,” “put book up, please”-even inconsistently
- Imitates upon command, attempts imitation at frequently seen household tasks
- Plays pretend: feeds a baby doll a bottle, makes toy cow figurines say “mooo” and walk around, etc
- Shows some problem solving skills: if Little A is attempting to force the wrong shape in the wrong cut-out in a shape sorter, he can realize his mistake and try another cut-out.
Little A’s compliance in following directions was noticed in his evaluation at Reid. It’s great at home; I don’t have to throw diapers away anymore. He just recently got into pointing, which is cute and exhausting. There are sooo many things to explain in a grocery store. Little A loves his baby doll and does more puzzles.
We participate in this newer interest since it will help his cognitive development. The shape sorter is gotten out as well. I try to bring home new toys from the library that come apart and can be put back together. These kinds of toys can also help develop cooperative play between the boys.
When I dust or sweep, Little A gets his Melissa and Doug little broom or rag and joins me. I praise him while we sweep, hoping he’ll continue. We ask Little A about his body parts all the time and this has translated into his own maniacal interest in knowing where our bellies are.
Not To Be A Debbie Downer Or Anything
Most pediatricians look for signs of autism and other developmental delays at the 18-month check-up. If reading this article makes you feel anxious, bring up your concerns to your pediatrician. Everything will be OK.
What were some of your toddlers’ early epic meltdowns? How did you deal? What are some of your favorite toddler activities? Let me know in the comments below. If you found this article helpful, smash that share button.