Information on Children Ages

8 months to 18 months



How are children learning about feelings and relationships?


How children think about and manage

  • themselves,
  • their feelings and behavior, and
  • their relationships

is what we call social-emotional development.

The development of these skills is as important in children’s success in school as are other skills, such as language and literacy and mathematics.

During the first five years of age, children are learning how to

  • manage their own behavior,
  • recognize, express and manage their feelings,
  • notice and respond in caring ways to the feelings of others,
  • interact with friends,
  • be a member of a group, and
  • develop close relationships with adults, including parents, other family members, and teachers.

Children learn these social-emotional skills in close relationships with adults through back-and-forth communication, shared experiences and nurturing guidance. Play is also central to helping children learn these skills. Through play, children practice their social skills, explore feelings, try on new behaviors and get feedback from others. Play allows children to learn more about themselves and others and develop their communication and interaction skills.

Social-Emotional Development


What is my child learning about himself and his feelings?

  • At 18 months, your child recognizes his name and can more reliably let you know what he needs using gestures, sounds and some language.
  • He can communicate hunger and sleepiness.
  • He can let you know if he wants to play, go outside, or do something himself.
  • He is excited about trying out his own ideas and may be starting to resist doing what you tell him to do, but you are still very important to him.
  • He wants to share his ideas with you, to be comforted by you, and to know where you are.
  • Because he can remember things so well, he also has a lot of feelings. If you take something away from him that he was playing with, he might cry for a long time, even though you offer him other interesting things to play with, because he still remembers that he was enjoying something else.
  • He is also beginning to see himself as separate from you, and so spends some of his time resisting your ideas. As soon as he learns to say “no,” he has a lot of uses for it. “No, I won’t get dressed.” “No, I won’t brush my teeth.” “No, I won’t be gentle with the cat.” While challenging for the parent, this flexing of his independence is helping him figure out that he is not the same as you—instead, he is a different and separate person from you.
  • He experiences many feelings at this age. He can be very excited, very sad, very frustrated, very loving, very happy, and may also begin to be fearful.

What is she learning about other people and relationships?

  • Your 18-month-old is very interested in people—both adults and children. She likes to be with familiar adults and takes a while to warm up to new people. She is often interested in other children and may show you by walking right up and playing alongside them, taking their toy or watching them from a distance. All of these demonstrate an interest in her peers, but she still has very beginning skills in actually playing with friends. Waiting for her turn is hard because she doesn’t really understand how time works, so she worries that she won’t ever have a turn.
  • While she is interested in the feelings expressed by others, and sometimes concerned to see someone crying, she still doesn’t understand other people’s feelings.  She often believes that people around her feel the same way she does, so she may be surprised when she hits someone and they start crying.

Tips to support your children learning about themselves as people, learning about their feelings and learning about other people

Learning about self as a person

  • Encourage him to do as much for himself as he wants to. Young toddlers love to participate, learn new skills and feel like they are helping.Giving your child opportunities to participate during routines helps him feel competent and encourages him to keep developing his skills.
    • He might help with dressing and undressing himself, feed himself, pour his own water from a little pitcher to his cup, help to wash the vegetables, put his toys in the basket or sweep the floor with a small brush.
    • It might take some more time for him to do these things himself, but spending this kind of time with him lets him know that you think he is capable.
    • It is helpful to divide these tasks into easier steps for him, for example, holding his pants while he steps in, or helping him find the hole in the shirt before he tries to put it on.
  • When he says “no,” or won’t do what you want him to, remember that he is practicing being his own person.
  • Even when you need to stop him or set a limit with him, you can let him know you understand that he has a good idea.
    • “I’m going to stop you from pulling the cat’s tail.” (limit)
    • “It seems like you are interested in the cat and her soft and long tail.” (stating his good idea)
    • “When you pull her tail, it hurts and she meows and runs away.” (giving him information)
    • “If you want to play with the kitty, you can touch her softly on her back or wiggle the string for her to chase.” (offering choices and another way to express his idea)
    • “Can you be gentle with the cat or shall I help you move to the other room and find something else to do?” (follow-through/offering two possibilities to keep the cat safe)

Learning about own feelings

  • Help her to understand her feelings by offering names for them (“I wonder if you are feeling . . .,” “It looks like you are feeling . . .”)
    • “I see you crying. It looks like you are feeling sad.”
    • “It can be frustrating when you try to stack the blocks and they fall down.”
    • “I can see how excited you are to go to the park.”
  • Help her to know what makes feelings happen.
    • “You fell down. I wonder if you are hurt and a little scared.”
    • “When you say good-bye to your mama, sometimes you feel sad.”
    • “You look so happy when you are playing with your brother.”
  • Help her find safe ways to express her feelings.
    • “If you are mad you can tell your friend, ‘I’m mad.’”
    • “If you are mad and want to hit something, you can hit this cushion.”
  • If she shows interest when other children are expressing feelings, you can describe to her what is happening.
    • “Lola just said good-bye to her daddy. She looks sad. Maybe she is missing her daddy.”
  • You can use books about feelings or photos showing feelings to name and talk about children’s feelings.
  • Have a mirror at your child’s level. She might be interested in looking at her face when she is having a certain feeling, or practicing making different feeling expressions.
  • When your child is fearful, stay close and offer comfort. Sometimes your child doesn’t want to be taken away from the scary situation, but wants you to be there to help. If she is afraid of the neighbor’s friendly dog, you can squat down next to her, hold her and talk about the dog. Often, your presence and some information and safe interaction will help her feel less afraid. If she wants to move away, take your cues from her. Sometimes taking a photo of the scary thing and letting your child hold and talk about the photo will help her with her fear.
  • Let her know that all her feelings are healthy and that you will listen to or acknowledge her feelings.Acknowledging your child’s feelings allows her to trust you with her feelings and not feel like she has to hide them from you.

Learning about other people

  • Take time in new situations to help your child adjust to new people. If a family friend will be watching him when you go out, invite her over the day before or a couple of hours before you go out to visit and play with him. The more familiar he is with the new person, the more comfortable he will be with you leaving.
  • When your child starts childcare, make sure he has time to get to know the new caregiver and setting.
    • Visit a few times and stay with him so that he can check in with you while he is exploring the new setting.
    • Get to know the new caregiver yourself, so you are confident in leaving your child with them.
    • Practice leaving your child for shorter periods at first, so that he learns that you will come back.
  • Provide opportunities for him to play with other children (at the park, with neighbors or family, in childcare or parent/child classes).
    • Remember that while he may be excited about other children, he doesn’t always know how to play with them, and there may be conflict over toys or hesitance to join the play.
    • Supervise him closely at this age when he is playing with other children. He may need help expressing his ideas and feelings and listening to the ideas of others.



How are children learning language?


Children are born ready to communicate and to learn language. Listening to the language of their families, children soon start to distinguish familiar sounds and to build a vocabulary of words they understand, even before they can speak. Children’s ability to understand language is called “receptive language.”

At first, young babies communicate through making sounds, e.g., crying, and through making gestures. As they approach toddlerhood, they begin to use a few familiar words and, by 4 and 5 years old, they have large vocabularies and follow the rules of grammar when they communicate using language. Children’s ability to use language to communicate their thoughts, ideas, and feelings is called “expressive language.”

As children are learning about spoken language, they are also learning about written language–through books, signs, and notes. Before learning to read words, children learn that print represents words and before writing, they learn to make marks and draw pictures. By the time they turn 5 they understand that letters make words and that words can make stories that they will learn to read. Many 5 year olds can also read and write their own name.

Language Development & Literacy


How does my child learn language?

  • In the second year of life, children understand a lot of words and they are developing the ability to speak more and more of those words
  • Often, when children are just learning to speak, only their family members can understand them. Their ability to pronounce words clearly is still developing and they are still learning the rules of communication, so they may have their own ways of saying certain words or phrases, for example, “googie” for “doggie,” “me frow it” for “I’m throwing it.”
  • Families naturally support their children’s language development, by responding to them in conversation using the correct form (for example, when the child says “googie,” the parent responds, “That is a big doggie!”). Interestingly, it doesn’t help children learn language when adults tell them that their words are wrong or ask them to repeat it until they get it right. Children are naturally motivated to copy your language and will learn the correct form over time from regular conversations with you.
  • At this age children often use one word to refer to several similar things. For instance, they might call cats, dogs, goats and sheep “kitties.” They recognize that they are all the same because they have fur and four legs, but they haven’t yet learned that the animals have different names.
  • Conversations with an 18-month-old might sound like this:
    • Child: Doggie?
    • Parent: There was a doggie at the park yesterday.
    • Child: Go park mama?
    • Parent: We can go to the park later if you want. We need to get dressed first. Do you think the dog will still be there?
  • Many of the things that you already do with your child help him or her learn to speak. Family members naturally talk about what is happening right now with children. This helps children to associate words with the things and experiences they are having.

Bilingual Language Development

How do children in bilingual or non-English-speaking families learn language?

  • Young children are very skilled at learning language and have the ability to learn two or more languages even before they begin school.
  • Families who speak a language other than English at home can use their home language as their primary language with children. Learning their home language helps children feel connected to their family and culture. They can learn English at the same time if the family is bilingual or they can learn English when they begin childcare or school.
  • Families support language learning by talking, reading and singing to their children in their home language. In this way children learn many language skills that will help them when they begin learning English.
  • Check with your local library for books in your home language.
  • Children who have this opportunity to become bilingual at an early age will benefit from the use of both languages throughout their lives.

Receptive Language

What is my child understanding?

“Receptive language” refers to all the words that children hear and understand, even before they can speak the words themselves. Children understand more words than they can speak.

  • Listening to what you say to them helps them learn words. When you say something and wait, they begin to understand how communication works.
  • Children listen to words that are spoken directly to them as well as to conversations that are happening around them.
  • They also pay attention to the tone of language and at this age begin to understand the meaning of tone as well as words. For instance, they can notice when your tone is excited, loving, frustrated, or scared and will eventually learn how to use tone in their own conversations.
  • Young toddlers can understand simple requests, especially when the adult uses a gesture as well. For example, the adult holds out his hand and says “Give me your shoe, please.”
  • Many of the things that you already do with your child help him or her learn to speak. Family members naturally talk about what is happening right now, what happened in the past and things that will happen soon with children. This helps children to associate words with the things and experiences they are having.

Expressive Language

Communication: Talking and reading

“Expressive language” includes all the sounds and words that a child makes.

  • Young toddlers use beginning words, crying, sounds, and gestures to communicate their feelings, needs and ideas.
  • Gestures include things like waving, pointing, reaching, and pushing.
  • Young toddlers may mix sounds and words together when beginning to talk.
  • When young toddlers start saying words, sometimes they just say a part of the word, like the beginning or the end of it, or they might make sounds that sound like the rhythm of the word.
  • They often use one word to express a whole idea. For example, “up” means “pick me up”; “uh-oh” means something spilled or dropped or broke; “mama” may mean “Where is my mama?”
  • Young toddlers repeat some of the words that we say to them, especially the last word that was said.
  • Even when children don’t say it right when they first start talking, they keep practicing until their words sound like yours.
  • Young toddlers are interested in books. They enjoy spending time with you looking at and reading a book. They watch you when you read, follow the pictures with their eyes, point to pictures, turn the pages and name some of the things in the book.

Here are some tips to support your child’s language development and interest in reading:

  • Tell your child what you are going to do.Your child is more able to learn language when it is connected to something he is experiencing.
    • “I’m going get your coat so we can go outside.”
    • “Here is your shirt. Do you want me to help you put it on?”
    • “I’m going to make you a quesadilla for lunch.”
  • When your child shows interest in something, offer words to describe what they are interested in. Your child is more interested in words that describe his interests.
    • “You just looked up at the sky. Did you hear that plane?”
    • “I see the rock you found. It is so smooth.”
    • “You’ve been digging in the sand for a long time. That’s a big hole.”
  • Talk about what your child is doing. This is like “show and tell.” At the same time your child is experiencing something, they are learning words to talk about it.
    • “You ran down the grassy hill so fast!”
    • “You filled up your dump truck with sand. Where will you take it?”
    • “You carried your backpack all the way from the car to the apartment!”
  • Talk about what you are doing. This is like “show and tell.” At the same time your child is seeing something, they are learning words to talk about it.
    • “I’m looking for my shoes.”
    • “I’m putting your food on the table. Can you push your chair over?”
    • “I’m checking to see if you need a diaper change.”
  • Use many descriptive words. This is a way that your child builds vocabulary.
    • “I’ll help you look for your favorite shirt—the one with long sleeves, a hood and a pocket for both your hands in front.”
    • “Here are your pinto beans. I mashed them and refried them so they would be delicious for you.”
  • Talk about the near future. This gives children a chance to make a mental picture about what is going to happen before it happens.
    • “Soon it will be time to brush your teeth, put on your jammies, read a story and go to bed.”
    • “Let’s get our shovel and watering can so we can go out and work in the garden.”
    • “After we finish getting dressed, we can read a book.”
  • Talk about the recent past. This offers children a chance to develop a mental picture—a memory of what has happened.
    • “We were singing and clapping in the car today.”
    • “You and your friend drew chalk pictures on the sidewalk today.”
    • “We said good-bye to mama. She went to work.”
  • Provide your child with books.If you have books available to your child, he learns that you value books and reading and he will also learn to value them.
    • Having books all around for your child will let her include them in different parts of her day.
    • Using small board books with young children allows them to participate in turning the pages more easily, but they are also starting to enjoy longer stories in paperback books, as well.
  • Read books to your child. This is your child’s first experience “reading” and the beginning step to her understanding that books hold stories, words, and information for her.
    • Read slowly so that your child will have a chance to listen to your words, examine the pictures and help turn the pages.
    • Often young children like to read the same books over and over.
    • This early experience with books can start a lifetime love of reading for our children.
  • You can make simple books for your child using photos of people and things he enjoys. These homemade books help her see that books can represent things that she knows about.
    • You can glue photos on paper, write words for your story, and staple, tie or tape the pages together.
    • Stories don’t have to be long. They can just be a few pages. “James likes to ride his scooter. He rides over to the kitty and gives her a pat. When he is done riding on the scooter, he goes inside for lunch.”
  • Talk about pictures and books with your child. Learning that pictures represent things is the first step to learning that letters can also represent things.
    • “I see stars in the sky. Do you see the stars?”
    • “I see lots of fish. What do you see?” (When your child points, you can name what they noticed.)
    • “Here is a photo of your abuelita and your tia.”



How are children learning about numbers?


Young children explore and begin to practice the skills needed for mathematics long before they enter elementary school. During the first years of life, children learn to count, recognize shapes and patterns, compare sizes and amounts, and recognize similarities and differences. Children develop these skills through their self-initiated exploration and play with materials and through simple interactions with adults. Everyday interactions such as adults counting fingers and toes, offering two pieces of banana, and arranging blue and white socks in different piles contribute to children’s growing math skills. Children begin to communicate about amounts of things by using words such as “more” and “bigger.”

As they grow older they learn to count a few numbers. They also build their understanding of quantity through activities such as putting plates and cups on a table. They become aware of how adults use counting in everyday life and learn about how to use numbers by imitating adults. Throughout the early years, most children are naturally interested in numbers. Fun activities that involve numbers strengthen children’s natural interest and encourage them to learn more about math concepts.

Number Sense


What are young toddlers learning about numbers?

Young children begin to practice the skills needed for arithmetic and math long before they enter elementary school. Most of these skills are developed through their self-initiated play with materials and through simple interactions with adults.

  • Young children are introduced to counting skills through everyday interactions such as parents offering them “three pieces of banana—1-2-3,” or suggesting that “we read these two books.”
  • Children between 8 and 18 months develop more ideas about the number of things. When your baby wants you to give her more bread, she will reach for it, say “mo,” or use sign language to communicate that she wants more.
  • If you offer her more food when she is full, she might shake her head “no.” When she is done eating she might say or sign “all done.” This shows that she is beginning to understand the concepts of “enough” and “more.”
  • Young toddlers are experimenting with small numbers of things. They know that they can usually only carry one thing in each hand, so they have a lot of practice understanding the number “two,” even before they can say “two.”
  • When playing with sand, she might put a little sand in one container and a lot of sand in another and describe the one with more sand as “bigger,” showing that she is beginning to think about size and comparison.
  • She might line up two or three cars in a row.

Tips for families to help children in understanding numbers:

Many of the things that families do naturally with children help them to develop their math and number skills. There are many opportunities in our everyday lives where adults are counting things and children are practicing numbers in their play. Here are some suggestions of things families can do:



How are children becoming skillful at moving their bodies?


  • Physical development and physical activity play an important role in health throughout a child’s life span. In particular, being physically active protects against heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It also contributes to mental health, happiness and psychological well-being.
  • Physical movement skills are a basis for other types of learning and allow opportunities for children to engage with others, to explore, to learn, and to play.
  • Physical activity prepares children for activities in later life, including fitness activities, organized sports, and recreation.
  • Infants, toddlers and preschool children are developmentally ready and very motivated to learn new movement skills. The preschool period is an opportune time for young children to learn fundamental movement skills. If children do not learn those skills during the preschool period, they may have difficulty learning them later, and their ability to participate in physical activities may be affected for the long term.
  • During the preschool years, children develop important movement skills. Those skills build on the physical development that happened for children in infancy and toddlerhood.
  • We now know how much children learn through physical activity outdoors in the natural world. It is important for adults to help children have opportunities for this kind of play, as many children spend a majority of their time in front of a television or computer screen instead of engaged in physical activity.
  • The more experience children have with physical activities, the more confidence they develop and the more willing they are to try new things and develop new skills. Children who spend a lot of time in front of the television or the computer may be less willing to try new physical challenges and may miss the chance to develop important physical skills.
  • Research highlights the benefits of experiencing nature for children and shows that children prefer spending time in natural settings. Further, we also know that access to green, outdoor spaces improves children’s thinking skills and their well-being and relationships.

Physical Development


Physical development for infants and toddlers includes learning skills such as rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, and running. Through these abilities, children are able to see and interact with their surroundings in different ways. Children’s physical development is related to their growth in all other areas. When a child pulls up to a standing position she can see the top of the table, and new opportunities for exploration of the magazines and cups on the table open up. When an infant begins to push a stroller, she learns about new ideas like motion. When she pushes the stroller over to another friend, who puts a baby in the stroller, she expands her social skills, as well.

Around 18 months, toddlers are able to walk, and many are running, as well. They are interested in climbing, throwing, carrying things around, pushing and pulling things, dumping things out of containers and exploring how everything works. Their muscles are developing, and they are able to carry heavier things. They have learned a lot about how their bodies move and have developed some coordination. They are able to do many things without falling and when they do fall, they are good at catching themselves and falling in ways that don’t seriously hurt them.

In the months leading up to 18 months, you may see toddlers:

  • Crawl on hands and knees
  • Crawl/climb up or down a few stairs.
  • Pull to a stand and walk around the edges of furniture, holding on.
  • Sit down from a standing position.
  • Walk unassisted.
  • Squat and stand up without holding on to something.
  • Throw a ball or other object.
  • Walk up or down stairs, holding on to a hand or railing (one step at a time).

Some of the things you might see an 18-month-old do include:

  • Running.
  • Climbing onto the couch.
  • Standing on one foot.
  • Walking sideways.
  • Pushing a stroller or small shopping cart.

Tips for families to support young toddler physical development:

  • Young toddlers are often newly mobile and eager to be on the move. They need supervision, as they are encountering many new things as they move around.In a safe environment supervised by you, young toddlers will keep trying to learn more complex physical skills.
  • As children are becoming mobile, it is useful for them to have low, safe things to pull up on and walk around. Couches and couch cushions placed on the floor can be an interesting obstacle course where they can walk from one thing to the next, holding on.
  • When they begin walking, it is important to make sure their area is free from sharp edges, since they fall as much as they walk.
  • Beginning walkers love to push things, including boxes, small strollers and carts.
  • Beginning walkers may still use crawling to get from one place to another.
  • Children at 18 months also love to climb and learn how to go up before they learn how to come down. If you have stairs, you may want to gate them off above the second step so that your toddler can practice climbing without going too high.
  • You can also use mattresses, cushions and low platforms for children to practice their climbing up and down.
  • When children are learning how to go up and down low platforms, they will sometimes bump their faces as they come down. Through observation, you may see that they will soon go back to the same place to try it again and after a few tries will change their approach so they don’t bump their heads again.
  • Young toddlers enjoy trying out their new skills outside, as well as inside. Even very short walks outside give children a chance to try out new surfaces for walking, watch the birds, and encounter what the community has to offer.
  • Children at this age also enjoy throwing. You can provide a variety of soft balls that they can throw and can even make small, soft balls out of socks or yarn.
  • Children also enjoy carrying things, such as small baskets or purses with handles that they can use to fill and carry—recycled water bottles, or other things they find. They love dumping as much as they love filling, so they may turn the container over as soon as they get it filled.Young toddlers are fascinated with how things move and change. Objects that they can move, re-organize, and put in different places give them important opportunities to learn.



What skills help children learn?


Young children develop many skills that help them learn and solve problems. These skills include the ability to pay attention, even when there are distractions, to observe, to ask questions, to gather information and to explore different ways to solve problems. These skills are called approaches to learning.

Young children learn to use math concepts such as number, shape, and size when solving problems. They use all of their senses to gather information, notice differences and similarities, and often make comparisons. They carefully observe people and things and form hypotheses and make predictions based on their observations. They also do simple experiments and evaluate the outcomes of their experiments.

Young children are naturally curious. Adults can encourage children’s curiosity and initiative by asking children open-ended questions, being responsive to their questions, and providing a wide variety of materials for them to explore. Such support strengthens children’s growing confidence as learners and willingness to keep trying to solve challenging problems.

Approaches to Learning


What skills do infants and toddlers use to solve problems?

One important problem-solving skill that infants and toddlers develop is the ability to pay attention to things they find interesting, even when there are distractions. For example, young infants can make eye contact with their family members even while there is music playing. Older toddlers can continue to stack a few blocks even when someone nearby is folding the laundry. This ability to concentrate on something helps them observe, gather information, build on their learning experiences and find solutions to problems.

  • Toddlers rely on familiar routines around them to help them organize their thoughts and behavior and focus their attention.
  • They like predictability and may expect favorite songs to be sung the same way every time (and be upset if someone changes the words).
  • Toddlers may insist on following the same bedtime routine every night.

In the months leading up to 18 months:

  • Young toddlers can usually pay attention to the adult’s voice even if there are other sounds in the room.
  • They can play with one toy or activity for a while.

Tips for families in helping children focus their attention: