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Toddlers' Cognitive Development From 12-18 Months


toddler with mom


You may not be able to see it as clearly as physical growth, but your baby's brain is developing just as quickly.

Here's what you can expect in terms of cognitive development between the ages of 12 and 18 months.

Cognitive Milestones

At this age, a child typically:

  • Realizes things still exist even when he cannot see them. 
  • Finds things in pictures when asked. 
  • Learns about the world by touching and moving objects. Your toddler may fit things into holes, mix and dump sand, or stack items and knock them down. 
  • Expects events to follow routines and be predictable. 
  • Follows simple directions, such as "Come and show me the ball." 

Play and Activity

In addition to playing with toys and books, encourage your toddler to make music and dance with shakers, pots and pans.

You can also support your toddler's cognitive development by:

  • Talking about events and people your toddler remembers. 
  • Counting things together in books and then finding those things in your home. 
  • Pointing out colours and shapes. 
  • Giving your toddler simple directions: "Put your truck and doll in the toy box, please." 
  • Making special books with your toddler and enjoying them together. 
  • Reading books with your toddler and encouraging her to talk about and point to the pictures. 

Other Cognitive Milestones

Between 12 and 18 months your toddler may also:

  • Group similar things, such as socks, shoes, or blocks. 
  • Use imagination in play. For example, your toddler may move toy trucks around on the floor. 
  • Handle playdough, crayons and paints. 
  • Show understanding of some colours and shapes. 
  • Show increased memory skills by asking for something you took away earlier.

Resources and Links:
HealthLink BC: Cognitive Development, Ages 12 to 24 Months

Last Updated: April 10, 2013