Major motor skills

DevelopmentAn 18-month-old infant walks unaided, bends down to pick up objects without overbalancing, and is starting to climb.

Fine motor skills

Children of this age can drink unaided; feed themselves with a spoon; shows hand preference (e.g. left or right hand); can scribble with a pencil; and enjoys picture books, turning several pages at once. If demonstrated, they should be able to build a tower of three cubes.


Children will often repeat words and jabber loudly. While they should be using 6–20 recognisable words, they will understand many more. They should be able to show their own or a doll’s hair, eyes, nose, shoes, et cetera on request.

Vision and hearing

Children should demonstrate everyday visual competence for near and far.

Social achievements and play

Children will often imitate activities and attempt to sing. The caregiver will report they are very demanding of attention and dislike being left behind. They begin to indicate toilet needs and begin to copy domestic activities.

When to be concerned

Tell your doctor if an 18-month-old child:

  • Does not show attachment to caregivers or preference for familiar people;
  • Is not walking;
  • Regularly appears not to listen when being talked to; or
  • Is not beginning to use any meaningful words.

More information

Developmental milestones in childhood For more information on developmental milestones in childhood, including recommended health check-ups and childhood immunisation, see Developmental Milestones.


  1. Sheridan M. Birth to Five Years: Children’s Developmental Progress (2nd edition). Australian Council for Educational Research; 1997.
  2. Parenting and Child Health: Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service. Child development: 0-3 months [online]. Adelaide: Government of South Australia. 11 September 2008 [cited 31 October 2008]. Available from URL: HealthTopics/ HealthTopicDetails.aspx? p=114&np=122&id=1963
  3. Slater A, Hocking I, Loose J. Theories and issues in child development. In: Slater A, Bremner G [eds]. An Introduction to Developmental Psychology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing; 2003, 34-63.