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Baby development: Your fifteen-month-old

Learning through play


Posted: 16 August 2007
by Maria Muennich

Mobility
By now your 'baby' has probably moved on to toddlerhood: Most babies will have taken their first steps by now, although a few may still need support to walk. Once your child has started walking he quickly develops in confidence and balance, and soon the plodding steps turn into a scoot. On the plus side this means that he can take himself from room to room without relying on you. However, the same independence can sometimes be the source of frustration for both of you when you're out and about and he'd rather be wandering about, poking, pulling and carrying anything he can find, than sitting safely in his pushchair.

Sand play
As your toddler's sense of self develops he's quite likely to express himself by going the way he wants to go in - which might be any way but the direction you'd like him to go. Some time around now he may also respond to a suggestion, request or reproach from you by turning on his heels and toddling quickly away. Watching him trundle off round the nearest corner can give you quite rush of pride at first, though pride may turn to exasperation as you chase after him with his socks!

Many babies will now also have started climbing. First targets are often chairs and sofas, stairs or up on your knees. At this stage he might be ready to enjoy sit-and-ride toys, though he'll probably enjoy his push-around toys for quite some time yet.

Communication
Communication between you and your toddler is improving daily: Ask him whether he wants to eat a banana and he'll probably be able to let you know whether he's more interested in eating that kiwi over there. Ask him if he knows where his shoes or hat are and he may set off looking for them. Speak nice and clearly to him to give him the best chance of understanding.

Most babies are using at least a few words and plenty of babble by the time they are fifteen months' old. First words are usually nouns, but if your little one hasn't found the joy of saying 'no', 'yes' and 'more' yet then he probably soon will.

Most toddlers of this age can also follow simple instructions or requests and he's probably now understanding the concept of putting something back. Of course, he may not always want to do what you ask, even when he understands! Have we mentioned the word 'no' yet?

Mealtimes
If in the last few months you've been encouraging your little one to try feeding himself, then you'll now be noticing how much more control he has gained over his spoon. He by now knows exactly what his spoon is for and (while he might still enjoy waving it around or banging it on the table now and then) he'll mainly use it to shepherd food into his mouth and to stir the contents of his dinner dish.

15-month-olds may also enjoy trying to eat with a special baby fork and some may already have the fine motor skills needed to spear small cubes of vegetables.

At play
You've probably noticed that your toddler can occupy himself for longer stretches of time now. This not only gives you a bit of breathing space, but is also important to him for developing his powers of concentration and sense of independence.

At this stage he'll be spending a lot of time using his hands to explore objects, seeing how they work, fit together or fit inside one-another. He's probably already getting to grips with toys that fit, stack or post, and around this time he should also be able to start enjoying junky jigsaws with pegs. Playing in a sand pit with spades, buckets and moulds will give him plenty of opportunity to experiment with form and function.

Don't be too surprised if he's now spending less time playing with all those age-appropriate toys in the chest and more time occupying himself with ordinary household items. The vacuum cleaner, wallet, computer, pens, keys - anything that he sees you use frequently - will be of especial interest to him. He's keen to copy you, of course, and to see how things work. Many of these things could be hazardous for him, such as coins in a wallet, but you could try giving him safe versions to explore: Fill an old wallet filled with visiting cards, let him cook an imaginary meal with pots and plastic containers or give him his own set of baby-safe keys and let him 'unlock' his toy box or a laundry basket. If you've given your toddler his own cupboard in the kitchen then remember to change what's in it now and then to keep his interest.

What you can do
You can encourage your toddler's speech development by continuing to talk to him, explain things to him and, of course, giving him plenty of opportunity to respond. Listening to your child as he attempts to communicate with you will encourage him further. Your child learns through imitation, so if you'd prefer that he didn't use 'no' too much, then try avoiding using it yourself when talking to him and find other ways of asking him not to do things. Likewise, if you want him to grow up using plenty of pleases and thank yous then do make sure you use them yourself, not least to him.

If your baby doesn't attend a nursery or other child-care group then it's a good idea to get out to playgroups, courses or the playground together at least a couple of times a week: Toddlers learn a lot from each other and spending time with other children will also help to develop his social skills. As your children become more independent you'll also have more of a chance to use the opportunity to catch up with other parents.

NB: All babies develop at their own pace and some will reach developmental landmarks more quickly than others. This timeline is meant only as an approximate guide for parents. Premature babies will develop more slowly than full-term babies and can be expected to develop in line with their age calculated from their due date. If you are worried about your child's health or progress consult your doctor.

Developing baby

Still not walking? - If your 15-month-old isn't yet walking then be assured that you're not alone?

Toddler toys - See how other parents rate their toddler' toys or review your own.

Fruit and veg - How to make sure your child gets his five portions a day.

Blogging your baby's development - Keeping a diary of your baby's development is a great idea, on ThinkBaby you can keep an up-to-date online blog that you can email to your nearest or dearest or print out later for yourself, so why not start your own?

Mum and dad

Working parents- You might feel over-stretched but being there's plenty of good things about being a working parent.

Get support- You can join in the discussions and share parental experiences and advice with other ThinkBaby members in the baby and toddler forum folders.

Other months of age

Newborn | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15


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