18-month-old health & growth guide
Can your kiddo get any cuter? It’s hard to see how. At 18 months, they’re taking on the world even more, working on feeding themselves, dancing to music and “reading” on their own. Halfway through their second year, your tot is very interested in learning all they can about their environment—but on their own terms. You might notice a bit more need for independence starting around now. (Cue: Lots of big feelings.) But remember, it’s all healthy and developmentally normal. Here’s what else you need to know about your 18-month-old’s health and growth this month.
Related: 18-month-old baby milestones
Who’s that kid feeding themselves? Your bub may now be able to use a spoon solo, thanks to some developing fine motor skills. With their newfound skills may also come some strong food preferences, but keep offering a wide range of colorful foods to ensure they’re getting a varied diet, even if they don’t eat everything on their plate. Also try to hold off on offering foods and drinks with added sugar—AAP recommends avoiding added sugar for kids under 2.
For kids between the ages of 1 and 3, a serving size should be approximately one-quarter of an adult’s as a general guideline, AAP notes.
The AAP recommends the following feeding amounts for 18-month-olds:
1 ounce of meat, or 2 to 3 tablespoons of beans
1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetables
1 to 2 tablespoons of fruit
1/4 slice of bread
If you’re aiming to breastfeed until at least age 2, aligned with the current AAP guidelines, we have tips on how to make extended breastfeeding happen if that’s a goal you’re striving for—and it’s still working for both of you. You may have dropped several feeding sessions by this point, but even just one daily feeding session counts. If breastfeeding isn’t on the table, cow’s milk is also a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals for your growing toddler.
Related: 8 brain-developing foods even your pickiest eater will love
Kids at 18 months may need at least two small snacks during the day to hold them over between meals. Snacks are a great way to get in some extra protein, fat and veggies if they’ve been more particular about their plate at mealtime lately.
Nutrient-dense toddler snack ideas
Sliced fruit (such as bananas, strawberries, grapes, or watermelon)
Plain Greek yogurt sweetened with honey
Soft cheese cubes and whole grain crackers
Homemade mini applesauce muffins
Sliced turkey wrap
Nut butter (such as peanut or almond) spread on apple slices or whole grain crackers
Cottage cheese with diced fruit (like peaches or pears)
Remember to always supervise your toddler while they are eating and ensure that the food is cut into small, safe pieces to avoid choking hazards. It’s also important to consider any potential food allergies or intolerances your toddler may have when introducing new snacks.
Related: 10 of the best store-bought snacks for kids
Essential Snack Cup
More than just a simple snack cup, this three-piece container can be used for feeding, steaming veggies and food storage. The brilliant design features a snackable top that can be used cook and strain, as well as a full-coverage lid than doubles as a suction cup base when you need a little more mealtime security. According to one reviewer, “As a former nanny and preschool teacher and as a mom I have tried all the snack cups ever invented … and this snack cup is the absolute BEST.”
For babies up to 2 years of age, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using the World Health Organization (WHO) weight and length charts.
The WHO growth charts for babies 0 to 2 years are based on what is standard for a predominantly breastfed infant. According to the organization, the WHO charts reflect growth patterns among children who were predominantly breastfed for at least 4 months and were still breastfeeding at 12 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends continuing to breastfeed for at least two years, as long as it benefits both mother and baby.
How much does the average 18-month-old weigh?
Though you’re not likely to see rapid growth now as you did in their first 12 months (which means they won’t sail through clothing sizes as quickly), you’ll probably see a moderate increase in both height and weight at their 18-month well-check this month. Your almost-2-year-old is getting so tall!
According to the WHO and CDC:
A 18-month-old boy in the 50th percentile weighs 24 pounds (10.9 kilograms)
A 18-month-old girl in the 50th percentile weighs 22 pounds, 8 ounces (10.2 kilograms)
What factors contribute to an 18-month-old baby’s weight?
Your baby’s weight may be related to several different factors, including how much they’re eating, their assigned sex and their activity levels.
Assigned sex at birth: Males tend to weigh slightly more than females.
Daily food intake: The amount your child eats at each feeding may factor into their weight, as well as if they’re still breastfeeding or drinking cow’s milk.
Activity levels: From walking to climbing and tumbling, physical activity helps build strong muscles and bones—which means your tot’s activity levels may factor into their overall weight.
In the past three months, your tot may have grown about an inch in height.
How tall is the average 18-month-old?
According to the WHO and CDC:
An 18-month-old boy in the 50th percentile is 32 ¼ inches tall (82.3 cm)
An 18-month-old girl in the 50th percentile is 31 ¾ inches tall (80.7 cm)
What factors contribute to an 18-month-old baby’s length?
While it’s true that genetics have the biggest influence over your baby’s future height, a few other factors can come into play, too. How active they are, nutrition, sleep quantity and overall health, as well as their assigned sex at birth all have a role (boys tend to be slightly taller than girls, for example).
Do you suddenly feel like your little one is outgrowing their clothes overnight? One of our go-to pajama brands has figured out the sorcery to keep them in rotation. All their sleepwear from newborn through size 12/14 is designed to be extra flexible in sizing, fitting up to 3x longer than other brands. With extra length (easily roll up any extra), foldable foot cuffs on their zippies, and super stretch for longer wear they’re always money well-spent.
Growth charts and percentiles
Your pediatrician knows better than most people that measuring a wiggly toddler is difficult, to say the least. It can be tricky to get an accurate measurement of their height and weight at this stage, which is why it’s so important to refer to your child’s growth chart to ensure that they’re on a good path.
It’s that overall growth curve that the doctor will examine—not the hiccups along the way. Just remember, all babies grow at different rates. Rest assured that your child is healthy whether they fall in the 5th or 95th percentile, AAP says. Percentiles just provide an example of how a baby’s growth may be compared to that of other babies who are the same age and sex, too.
Once you get your child’s updated height and weight percentiles, here’s what those numbers signify: If your baby’s weight is in the 65th percentile, that means that 35% of babies of the same age and sex weigh more, and 65% weigh less.
When should I worry about my baby’s growth?
It’s a sure thing that if your child’s pediatrician is concerned about your 18-month-old’s growth, they’ll let you know. But growth metrics are just one factor in the overall picture of a child’s health. Also key? Whether they’re meeting or approaching their developmental milestones, their feeding and sleeping habits and social skills all play a role. If you’re worried about something, bring it up with the pediatrician at your child’s next appointment.
18-month-old baby sleep
Though your 1.5 year-old might say otherwise, they still require plenty of sleep: 11 to 14 hours, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Aim to help them get a continuous 10-hour stretch (at least) at night and (this is new!) one nap during the day. At 18 months, many toddlers drop their morning nap in favor of a longer midday snooze.
What sleep looks like at 18 months:
Your child may be taking 1 nap per day
Your child may no longer be waking at night
Your child may be awake for 3 to 4 hours at a time
Is your toddler ready to drop a nap? Here’s how to tell
Here are the 3 signs your toddler is ready to drop a nap, according to sleep consultant Rachel Gorton.
One or both of your child’s naps has gotten significantly shorter for a minimum of two consecutive weeks
Your child has been completely rejecting the second nap for two or more consecutive weeks
Your child is starting to experience night wakings, trouble falling asleep at bedtime and/or early risings
Rolling the morning nap into a longer afternoon nap may be necessary if your child is showing the signs above. (You might relish a longer reprieve in the middle of the day, too.) Aim for their snooze session to be around midday or in the early afternoon so they have a long enough wake window before bedtime.
Diapering an 18-month-old
The earliest that experts start to recommend potty training is around the age of 18 months. And the success there mostly depends on your kiddo. Are they able to stay dry during naps? Are they showing interest in potty training? Some children may be ready now to start working on this new skill, but for others, it’ll be much later, and that’s all normal. You can start in a low-pressure way by setting out a toddler toilet in your bathroom, having some conversations about it and letting them get used to the idea of sitting on it.
The Montessori approach to toilet learning also encourages starting to have your child stand up for diaper changes and having the child push down and pull up their pants by themselves. These small steps can make for an easier transition down the line.
Perfect for the early days of potty training, the BABYBJORN Potty Chair is a classic for a reason. The Swedish design has been a best seller for ages, helping little ones and their parents find comfort, confidence and toilet training success. (My oldest is 16 and he had one!)
It’s sized just right for toddlers, sitting directly on the floor and calming any fears of the “grown-up” toilet. The high back and armrests make it inviting to relax and stay awhile while the groove-free construction and removable inner potty is super easy to keep clean.
As an added bonus, it comes in a wide variety of soft neutral colors that won’t clash with your bathroom decor.
Caring for an 18-month-old
Here’s what to know about vaccines, baths, safety and care for your growing babe.
Vaccines for 18-month-olds
At your child’s 18-month well-check, they’ll be due for a few vaccinations if they didn’t receive certain booster doses at their 15-month well-check.
Your baby will likely receive the following vaccines at their 18-month checkup:
Hepatitis B (HepB) – If they didn’t get the 3rd dose at 6, 9 or 12 months
Diphtheria, tetanus, & acellular pertussis (DTaP) – 4th dose between 15-18 months
Inactivated poliovirus (IPV) – If they didn’t get the 3rd dose at 6, 9 or 12 months
Hepatitis A (HepA) – If they didn’t get the 2nd dose at 12 or 15 months
The CDC has recommended that flu and Covid vaccines be an annual part of the routine childhood vaccinations offered to kids: Talk to your pediatrician also about whether your child is due for a flu vaccine and a Covid vaccine, based on seasonality and when they had their last booster. The flu and Covid vaccines can help prevent severe illness or hospitalization in your child should they contract the viruses. If you have questions or concerns, be sure to speak with your child’s healthcare provider.
Wondering how often you should bathe your 18-month-old? A few times a week is suitable, or more if they really need it. Young children still have sensitive skin that can dry out with too much soap exposure, so aim to use a mild soap or opt for a plain, warm water bath if they’re not that filthy.
Related: 14 bath safety tips for babies and kids of all ages
Your tot may not yet be able to take full responsibility for their dental hygiene at this age, but they can start to recognize that brushing their teeth in the morning and night is a very important part of their day. Help them get excited about brushing by letting them pick out a fun toothbrush and finding a toothpaste they like. Let them take the first pass, but be sure to follow up with a quality check once they’re finished. And if you haven’t yet made that first dentist appointment, now’s a good time to seek out a pediatric dentist near you.
Infant-to-Toddler Toothbrush Set
Easy for little hands to hold as they practice, we love this top-rated (and adorable!) toothbrush from Dr. Brown’s. The included flouride-free toothpaste is great as they’re learning with a subtle strawberry flavor that’s perfect for little ones.
Remember how long it took to try to wrangle your 6-month-old into a onesie? These days, your toddler may be able to help get themselves dressed—or even handle some parts of the process themselves. From pushing their arms through their sleeves to pulling up their leggings, this developmental milestone doesn’t feel like a major deal but is secretly a real game-changer. Let them take more ownership of the process by asking them to pick out a top and pants or place their pajamas in the hamper or pick out a pair of matching socks for the day. They love to help!
Some shyness at this age is right on target, developmentally speaking, as your toddler starts to both seek a little independence from their parents but also wants to make sure they’re constantly nearby. They might seem timid around new people and might exhibit a bit of separation anxiety when you leave. Toddlers don’t fully understand the concept of time and the assurance that you’ll be back to see them later. Singing the song “Grownups Come Back” from Daniel Tiger can be helpful, as can reading books about saying goodbye.
Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Mama Travels for Work
Along with this sweet story, there’s a special count-the-days activity—a paper chain with one loop per day—to help children remember when their parent or guardian is coming home.
The Kissing Hand
This classic story offers little ones a tangible reminder of their parent’s love–even when you’re apart.
A note from Motherly on self-care while caring for a 18-month-old
Managing the mercurial moods of a toddler can be draining, especially as you’re their safe space, mama, and the person they feel most comfortable with in expressing their feelings—all of their feelings. Make sure that you’re taking time for yourself these days, as recharging through some solo time is super important to showing up for your tot again later when they need you, which they will. Find a way to incorporate more joy into your day—whether that’s picking out a bouquet for yourself at the grocery store, watching a movie after bedtime you’ve been excited to see, booking a babysitter so you can get your nails done, or just taking a walk after dinner.
And if you’re struggling more than usual lately, reach out to your primary care provider, who may be able to recommend a therapist or other mental health support. There are people out there who want to help.
Related: 4 online therapy platforms that are ideal for busy moms