Developmental Milestones For 1 - Year - Olds

by David Simon on Sep 20, 2022

baby under blanket

Children grow significantly across all development areas during their childhood. Each year, our little ones mature a bit more, and start to learn different necessary skills. And while every child grows at different rates, there are some big milestones that most children share. Some of these milestones are:

Emotional Social Development

1 year old is the age when your child starts becoming more wary of strangers, and have their own personal preference for certain people (such as parents, siblings, caretakers) or things (toys, stuff animals). At this age, they will also start to become excited to see other children and might even play alongside each other. 

Here are some emotional and social milestones to look out for:

Show interest in other kids

Most 1-year-olds would prefer to play next to other kids, instead of playing with them. This is called parallel play. However, they’d gradually begin to include other children with them during playtime. 

Kids this age can also be very possessive of their toys, and have yet to understand the concept of sharing. And parents should not insist they share with the other kids either. Instead, give them a few items that are off-limits from everyone else so they feel like they have some control over their play. 

babies playing alongside each other

React to emotions

Kids this age have learned to react to emotions, such as smiling or laughing to someone else while they are playing with toys. They’d also begin to show empathy, which means they might also cry upon seeing another child upset. This is more likely to be seen in children with siblings. 

Enjoy reading books 

Approaching the 1 year mark, babies love reading books with you. They enjoy looking at the fun colors and pictures in books, and this is also a great way to prepare them for preschool too. 

After their first birthday, kids’ vocabulary starts to grow through the process of learning about letters, shapes, colors, weather, animals, seasons, etc, all of which can be found in baby-friendly picture books.

A brief emotional social development checklist: 

  • Hands you a book when he wants to hear a story
  • Is shy around strangers
  • Puts out an arm or leg to help with getting dressed
  • Repeat sounds to get your attention
  • Has a favorite toy or thing 
  • Makes simple gestures like shaking their head as a “no” or waving “bye-bye”
  • Says simple words that has meaning, such as “mama” and “dada"

Language & Cognitive Development

A child’s language and communication skills develop greatly during their first and second year. They go from nonverbal communication to babbling to finally being able to say simple sentences in the span of a few months. During this time, toddlers will also grow a lot in terms of cognitive skills, as they will gradually understand more of what you say, and even follow simple directions. Here are some language & communication milestones to take note of: 

Becomes More Talkative

By the end of your baby's first year, they are still likely to rely on nonverbal communication, such as pointing, gesturing, or throwing items.

However, soon, the coos and screams will be replaced by distinct babbling sounds like "da” and "ma". They will slowly begin to put those sounds together to form recognizable, meaningful words like “mama” or “dada”. They will also be able to comprehend more of what you say, and might even react “no” to certain requests that they don’t want to follow. 

Before your child's second birthday, they will likely be able to say simple sentences with two to four words and point to simple objects when you name them. 

Follows Simple Directions

Around 18 months old, a child’s cognitive skills drastically improve. They can repeat actions by remembering past events and hold onto mental images of things that are out of sight.

This is also around the time they begin to be able to follow simple instructions, such as “put your toys away” or “ bring your jacket”. However, they may not always do what they’re told. 

Becomes More Independent

Children this age will try to become more independent in many ways, but of course they still rely on their parents for support. They may insist on trying to help dress themselves and may want to test out new physical skills.

At the same time, they’re still babies. So, they still have a tendency to be clingy and seek you out for comfort when feeling tired, scared, or lonely. As they get closer to their second birthday, you're likely to see some defiant behavior as they insist on doing what they want, even when you say "no".

A brief language & cognitive checklist:

  • Responds to their name
  • Tries to repeat words you say
  • Curious about everyday objects and how they work
  • Puts objects in and out of containers
  • Looks at the correct picture when it is named
  • Follow simple directions, such as “pick up your toys”
  • Explores things by banging, shaking or throwing

Motor Development

By the time a child is 1 years old, their gross motor skill will have developed quite significantly. They will begin to stand alone, or walk while holding onto the wall or furniture. Some might even take some of their first steps during this time. In terms of fine motor development, your child should be able to pick up small objects or food with their thumb and index finger.

Some noted development milestones are as follows:

Pulls themselves up to a stand

As mentioned above, your 1 - year - old should be able to pull themselves up and stand without support. 

Parents can help their child by holding their hands to keep their balance while they wobble about. Using a push toy is also a great idea to help them learn to stand and walk on their own. 

Takes their first steps

At 1 year old, most babies are able to walk, either while holding onto furniture or on their own. With that being said, their start time can vary. Some begin to walk at 12 months, while others might wait a little longer, at 14 months to 16 months. Our suggestion is to keep your camera ready and spring into action once you start seeing the signs. 

baby taking their first steps

Picks things up between thumb and index finger

This skill is usually referred to as the pincer grasp. It describes your toddler's ability to pick up objects with their thumb and index, or forefinger. This skill will certainly come in handy, especially when they eat or play with toys. This is also great preparation for preschool, which is when they have to hold a pencil. 

Plays with more concentration

Play is important to a child's development at this age. There are a variety of activities that they can engage in. Musical instruments are a fun choice, such as drums or maracas that your child can shake or bang together. Building blocks are also popular among children this age. They can learn to build towers with the blocks, and knock them down after they’re done. Another popular choice is simple puzzles, which is fun, educational, and will help promote their fine motor skills.  

Checklist for motor development:

  • Pulls up to stand
  • Walks on their own or while holding on to furniture
  • Picks things up using their thumb and index finger

Food & Nutrition 

At 1 years old, your child will begin to eat a wider variety of food, from soft - cooked vegetables to different kinds of fruit. During this time, moms can also choose to breastfeed them still or start weaning your baby. However, it’s important to remember that this is a gradual process, and shouldn’t be rushed or pressured. 

It’s also crucial to keep in mind how much you’re feeding your baby, and what you are feeding them. Babies at this age will benefit from a diet that contains healthy fats, such as those found in avocado, olive oil, fish, nut butters, and dairy. Parents should also try to avoid saturated and trans fats as much as possible, including fried foods, fast foods, and many packaged foods. It’s also a good idea to not season the food, or season it lightly, as too much sodium can be bad for your baby. 

Lastly, always be wary of food sizes, especially stuff that kids can easily choke on, such as a whole grape or popcorn. It’s recommended that parents cut up the food in small bites, and always stay close during meal times to prevent any choking hazards. 

A food & nutrition checklist:

  • Eats a greater variety of foods
  • Starts to eat on their own
  • Can thoroughly chew their food
  • Can drink from an open cup (with assistance if necessary)