Development of a 16-Month-Old Baby

Children develop motor, language, cognitive and sensory skills at their own pace, but there are typical developmental milestones you can look for at different ages to see how your child is doing in each of these areas.

At 16 months, your child is leaving infancy behind and becoming a toddler. She is always busy and typically on the go, walking, crawling, climbing, touching and learning to do things for herself.


Your 16-month-old child can understand directions such as "look" and "come" and may begin to hold basic conversations. He is good at saying "no" and prefers to do things his way rather than your way.

He is watching you and will sometimes imitate the way you do things. If you approve of the way he does things, he will do them repeatedly. Your toddler is not quite ready to read, but he loves to have you read to him as he points to pictures and turns the pages in a book. He can scribble with a crayon or pencil, roll a ball back and forth with you and can put two or three blocks on top of one another. He can use a spoon to eat, but he will be messy and spill things. A 16-month old child is too young for toilet training but can let you know when he needs a change of clothing or diapers.

Self Awareness

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A 16-month-old child is exploring her world, discovering new things and developing life skills that will help her build self-confidence and become more independent.

All of her activities are helping her learn how to feel comfortable in her immediate surroundings and in the world at large.

She is just now becoming aware of her own abilities, and while she may resist your attempts to help, she needs guidance, simple rules and limits. She may feel frustrated and angry when she cannot easily accomplish a task and tantrums may result.

Time Frame

There is a range of expected ages within which your child will typically develop new skills.

He will most likely be walking well on his own between by the time he is 15 months old and will learn to walk backwards and up steps between 16 and 18 months. A few months later he will be able to kick a ball and jump in place. Between 16 and 24 months, he will start to string words together into basic phrases and sentences. Children often develop skills at a younger age and may also experience delays in one or more areas. There is usually no reason for concern but if your child has not mastered expected skills by the later end of the range, you may want to speak with a pediatrician to see if any type of intervention is necessary.


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According to the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families, parents play an important role in child development. Your can help your rapidly developing 16-month old by establishing a routine and being consistent about mealtimes and nap times, discipline and setting limits for unacceptable behavior and modeling and rewarding good behavior. A 16-month old child needs to be taught the boundaries between what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior so she can learn from her mistakes. To help reinforce language skills, regularly read out loud to your child. Interact with age-appropriate toys and games that reinforce the cognitive and motor skills she is developing at this stage.


Safety is a huge concern for parents of a child who can walk, climb and explore the world on his own.

Accidents occur easily at this age because a 16-month old child often acts spontaneously and without full understanding of what she is doing. At this stage of development, your strict supervision and awareness of safety precautions are essential in and outside of your home.