Child development at age 12 months
and older

After its 1st birthday, the child is considered a toddler. Size and shape of children can vary, and so do the capabilities of toddlers – every child is unique. At this stage, children generally become more mobile and independent. The latter also expresses itself in the ability to speak – one-way communication finally turns into two-way communication.

Toddler at playground
Baby's body development at age 12 months and older

Baby’s body

When it comes to locomotion, at 12 months and older, babies finally reach a stage close to autonomy: children can walk, run, and climb stairs on their own. This also enables them to take part in other activities such as helping with simple household tasks, and eating and drinking on their own. 
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Baby’s mind

This stage in life is characterised by language learning and establishing social relationships with people other than their caregivers. Children also learn to deal with more complex situations and to solve problems on their own. 
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Two babies bonding with each other
Baby's mental development at age 12 months and older
Family with toddlers having lunch together
Nutrition at age 12 months and older


The energy requirement of a child constantly grows in relation to its age. From 12-23 months of life, it already needs approximately 900kcal per day (WHO, 2009). However, food choice should not solely be based on its energy level, but more importantly, should be in line with the vitamin and mineral supply required for healthy growth and development. Critical vitamins and minerals to highlight at age 12 months and older include vitamins B and C, zinc, and fluoride.
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  • Baby's body

    At 12 months and older, the child normally has developed enough that it:

    • squats and stands, maintaining balance on its own;
    • starts to be able to walk on its own and eventually to run at a slow pace;
    • begins to be able to walk backwards, once it has learnt to walk freely more comfortably; 
    • is able to climb stairs and small obstacles;
    • uses its hands to hold toys and play, holds paper in place to draw, and after a while is able to turn pages;
    • tries to wash its own hands and face;
    • uses spoons to stir and to eat, and is also able to use cups or small bowlsto drink by itself;
    • is able to build towers (e.g. with cubes or boxes) with increasingly more items and height; and
    • helps family or caregivers in simple household tasks.

    (Bartolotta and Shulman, 2010; UNICEF, n.d.; University of Pittsburgh, 2015)

  • Baby's mind

    Major milestones at 12 months and older include:

    • using gestures to communicate (e.g.  shaking their head to say “no” and nodding to say “yes”);
    • eventually replacing crying with verbalising when needing attention;
    • rapidly learning language – initially, the child is able to speak and understand just a few words, which progressively develops into forming small sentences and expressing their own ideas; 
    • starting to be able to name objects – after a while, the child is able to match animals and their corresponding sounds, and even to name several body parts; 
    • recognising family, caregivers, friends, and also their own belongings;
    • developing friendships and connections with other children;
    • listening quietly to stories, music, and TV; 
    • initially looking to the caregiver for help, but then beginning to solve problems on their own when faced with new situations and problems; 
    • showing pride and satisfaction when accomplishing things on its own;
    • starting to act independently and unpredictably and being able to combine two related objects (e.g. a spoon and a bowl to eat).

    (Bartolotta and Shulman, 2010; UNICEF, n.d.; University of Pittsburgh, 2015)


More about babies' natural growth path