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One of the great miracles of parenting is watching your baby slowly emerge into toddlerhood and then childhood. Every new skill is a triumph, and each thought and feeling is experienced as a new, exciting and sometimes frustrating new sensation. By the time your baby reaches 1-year-old, they have already learned a great deal. Your baby is likely cruising if not walking, saying a couple of recognizable words, and is increasingly responsive to a wide variety of situations.

But learning is hard work, especially when there’s so much to learn. As a result, beginning around their first birthday, many babies begin to demonstrate a new and powerful emotion: frustration. You may be familiar with the “terrible twos,” so it might not come as a surprise when your baby starts to show signs of frustration and even tantrums long before the second birthday. Just remember: this is a critical learning period that is part of your toddler’s journey to childhood.

By 12-15 months, most toddlers can:

  • Have temper tantrums in response to frustrating situations.
  • Occasionally cling to you and perhaps hide from strangers.
  • Begin to display a sense of humor. Your baby may laugh when you make a strange noise, play peek-a-boo, or pretend to chase across the room.
  • Experience separation anxiety, even for short separations.
  • Play happily independently for short intervals (usually no more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time).

By 12-15 months, some toddlers are trying to:

  • Assert their independence, sometimes by walking away from you.
  • Attempt to manipulate you by whining or crying.
  • Imitate your expressions, gestures and everyday routines (such as pretending to talk on the phone or make dinner in a toy kitchen).
  • Play on equal terms with older children.

By 12-15 months, a few toddlers can: 

  • Adopt a security blanket, stuffed doll, or other type of “lovey” that needs to be kept in close proximity.
  • Willingly share toys with friends and siblings.
  • Cling to one parent more than the other.

More in milestones:

Takeaways

  • It’s not unusual for a one-year-old to whine and throw tantrums.
  • Your 12-to 15-month-old may cling to you in unfamiliar situations and/or experience separation anxiety.
  • Around their first birthday, toddlers usually begin to display a sense of humor.

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Important Milestones: Babies at 18 Months.
  2. National Institutes of Health. Developmental Milestone Records – 18 Months.
  3. Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. Developmental Milestones.
  4. British Columbia Ministry of Health. Ages 12 to 18 Months: Social and Emotional Development.

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