1 year old baby milestones: Development, growth, speech, language, and more

Updated Jul 12, 2024
1 year old development1 year old baby milestones: Development, growth, speech, language, and more | Huckleberry

Happy first birthday to your little one! As you reflect on how much your child has already grown over their first year, rest assured there’s so much to look forward to in the coming year as well. Between 12 - 24 months, children usually learn to walk, say their first words, transition to a mostly solid food diet, and so much more. 

In this article, we’ll take you through the milestones you can expect from 1 year old babies, give you a handy 1 year old development checklist, and provide useful tips to help ensure your little one is learning and growing as much as possible.

Editor's Note:

When we discuss babies and development at Huckleberry, we use their adjusted age (vs. actual age). Not all children will reach 1 year old milestones simultaneously — and that’s normal. There’s a wide spectrum when it comes to how fast toddlers grow and develop. While many children do reach these milestones between 12 and 24 months, this isn’t always the case. If you have any concerns or questions about your child’s development, reach out to their pediatrician.


IN THIS ARTICLE:

1 year old baby milestones at a glance

12 - 24 month old development milestones

1 year old development milestones checklist

6 development tips for 1 year old babies

Takeaway: Development milestones for 1 year olds

1 year old development milestones FAQ


Between 12 - 24 months, toddlers are going through many big physical, verbal, and emotional changes. 1 year old gross motor milestones include toddlers learning to stand and walk independently, giving them increased independence (and eventually speed!). On the 1 year old speech development front, 12 month olds are typically working on their first words. By 24 months, most toddlers have a vocabulary of 100+ words! 

Your little one will likely hit some banner milestones at 1 year, but keep in mind there’s a wide spectrum of normal for abilities like walking and first words. While it can be easy to compare your child to others, kids learn and grow at their own pace. However, if you do have concerns about your 1 year old’s development, be sure to communicate with their healthcare provider. 

At 12 months old, we recommend around 13.25 hours of total sleep in a 24-period. This typically looks like 11 - 12 hours overnight with 2 - 3 hours of daytime sleep split over 2 naps. Most kids can stay awake about 3.25 - 4 hours between sleep periods while on a 2-nap schedule. 

Most toddlers will then transition from a 2-nap to a 1-nap schedule between 14 - 18 months. This generally requires your little one to stay awake at least 5 hours before and after their one daily nap. Some signs that your child may be ready to drop to 1 nap include: resisting naps (especially the second one of the day), sudden night waking, split nights (where they can’t sleep for long periods overnight), skipping naps, and regularly getting less than 10 hours of sleep overnight when taking two naps.

During this 1-nap transition, it may take some time for daytime sleep to lengthen to 2 - 3 hours — this is common! Sleep is often bumpy during periods of change. In general, there’s also a wide range of normal when it comes to toddler sleep totals. These numbers are a rough guide and it’s best to pay attention to your child’s mood and energy levels when evaluating if they’re getting enough daytime and overnight sleep. 

You may also be wondering if 12 month olds can sleep through the night [1] at this age if they aren’t already. In general, if a 1 year old has strong independent sleeping skills, gets enough calories and is active throughout the day, and has a reasonable bedtime, they can likely sleep 11 - 12 hours overnight without calling out for assistance or needing a feeding. 

If you’d like personalized sleep guidance for your little one, consider submitting for a sleep plan through Huckleberry Premium. Our step-by-step plans are tailored to your child’s needs as well as your family’s goals. It’s never too late to improve sleep habits!

After their first birthday, babies can move away from depending on formula and/or breast milk as their primary source of nutrition. Solid food will make up most of their diet at this age and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) [2] recommends offering 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. This doesn’t have to happen overnight, though! A slow transition to a mostly solid food diet usually produces the best results. 

Breastfeeding offers benefits at this age as long as you and your child wish to continue nursing. Nursing sessions will likely slowly decrease as well as the goal is for your toddler to get most of their nutrition from solid foods. The AAP also recommends phasing out bottles [3] between 12 - 18 months in favor of using cups. Prolonged bottle feeding can lead to issues like cavities and skipping solid meals. 

At 12 months, it’s safe to introduce cow’s milk (or a milk alternative) to your little one. Cow’s milk contains important nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, zinc, and protein that will help your toddler grow and develop as they move away from a liquid diet. Whole milk is recommended for children under 2. The AAP suggests [4] up to 2 - 3 cups (16 - 24 oz) of cow’s milk per day for 1 year olds, though children closer to 12 months will likely drink less milk than this. 

In general, you may notice a sharp drop in your 1 year old’s appetite [2], causing them to eat less than they had been previously. This is normal and usually not a cause for concern. Around 12 months, a child’s growth rate slows and they don’t require as much food to meet their changing energy needs. 

You may be used to your little one growing quite a bit over the course of a month or two. However, during the second year of life, growth slows down [5] and your child may gain about 5 pounds and grow 4 - 5 inches in height over the course of the entire year. Most children have reached half of their adult height by the time they turn 2! 

Your toddler may change a lot in appearance this year and not look so baby-like. Their body proportions [5] and round bellies are beginning to change as they start to trim down and gain muscle due to their increased activity. It’s amazing to see how much your 1 year old physically grows and changes over the course of the year, though the fact that it’s happening so fast can be bittersweet! 

Also, note that it can be normal for your little one to grow more or less than this between 12 - 24 months. At well-child visits, your child’s doctor will continue to chart their height and weight gain to check that they’re growing at a regular pace. This helps doctors pinpoint any health trends that need attention. If you have concerns about your toddler’s health at 1 year, consult their pediatrician. 

Crawling: At 12 months, most little ones are doing some form of crawling [6], whether it’s classic hands-and-knee crawling or another version of creeping or scooting. And some kids never crawl! However, the AAP suggests [6] letting your child’s doctor know if they are not crawling by their first birthday or dragging one side of their body while crawling (for more than a month). 

Walking and running: Are you asking yourself, "When do babies start walking?" Well, your toddler is likely working on a version of walking! By 12 months [6], most children are able to walk while holding onto furniture (called cruising). They may stand momentarily on their own and some may even be able to take 2 - 3 steps without support at this age. 

The walking milestone has a wide range of normal and is generally expected between 10 - 18 months [7]. The AAP suggests [8] reaching out to your child’s pediatrician if they cannot walk by 18 months. 

By the age of 2, most kids are starting to run [8] and can also carry toys or pull them while walking. 

Changing positions: By 12 months, toddlers can typically get into a sitting position without assistance [6]. They can typically also transition from sitting to a crawling stance or a prone (lying on their belly) position.

Manipulating objects: 1 year olds can use their hands in exciting new ways [6]. At this age, toddlers can bang two blocks together, put objects into a container, take objects out of a container, and let go of objects voluntarily. As your child gets closer to the age of 2, they may be able to build a tower [8] of four blocks or more as hand-eye coordination continues to improve. 

Scribbling: Your little one’s first masterpiece is on the horizon! At around 12 months, most children try to imitate scribbling. By the time they reach the age of 2, your child will likely be able to scribble spontaneously.  

First words: If you’re anxiously awaiting your child’s first word, note there’s a large range of normal for 1 year old language development. Some kids say 2 - 3 words [9] by their first birthday but it’s perfectly normal if your little one’s speech is mostly gibberish at this age. If they are experimenting with sounds that have similar tones, intensities, and pitches to intelligible speech, those are signs your child is getting ready to talk. Respond to your toddler when they’re making these sounds — as if you’re having a conversation —  in order to encourage them to continue making them. 

Most toddlers are able to say several single words by 15 - 18 months [8]. Around 2, toddlers are usually able to use simple phrases (like “more milk”) and speak in sentences consisting of 2 - 4 words. They can usually say around 100 or more words [10] by their second birthday. If your child doesn’t speak 15 words by 18 months, the AAP recommends [8] bringing this up with their doctor. 

Gestures: By 12 months [6], your child will likely be able to use simple gestures like shaking their head for “no,” waving, and pointing. The use of gestures typically evolves over your baby’s second year. By the age of 2, little ones can usually use more advanced gestures [8] like blowing a kiss and nodding “yes.” 

Imitating: 1 year old speech milestones also include toddlers trying to imitate words [6] and gestures. This is part of their expressive language development and it’s pretty cute! 

Learning body parts: Toddlers are learning the names of their body parts around their first birthday. Between 12 - 15 months, most children can identify 3 body parts by pointing to them when you ask a question like, “Where’s your nose?” In this younger age range, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to say the name of the body part too.

People preferences: 1 year old emotional development means your little one may shed some tears when you leave. They may be shy around strangers too. Toddlers are developing preferences [6] for certain people at this age and it’s normal for them to be upset if you’re not with them. However, at this age, children are also starting to understand that when their parents leave, they always return. Typically separation anxiety begins decreasing around 18 months.

Favorite toys: It’s common for children to have favorite toys [10] at the age of 1. Transitional objects, such as a blanket or stuffed animal can help provide reassurance and make it easier for little ones to separate from their parents at night when it’s time to sleep.

Requesting parental attention: Toddlers are figuring out how to get your attention at this age. This could look like bringing you a book [10] when they want to hear a story or repeating sounds to get your attention. They are also typically starting to test parental reactions [6] to things like throwing food and crying when you leave the room.

Closer to 2 [11], children may look at your face to see how to react in a new situation and they will likely notice when someone else is hurt or upset. 

Keep in mind children don’t all learn and grow at the same rate. Most toddlers will reach these milestones by 12 - 24 months, but that may not always be the case as there’s a wide range of normal when it comes to growth and development. However, you know your child best and if you are concerned about your 1 year old’s developmental milestones, reach out to their healthcare provider. 

  • Does a version of crawling 

  • Walks while holding furniture 

  • May stand and take steps alone 

  • Gets into a sitting position without help

  • Manipulates objects with their hands 

  • Imitates scribbles at 12 months, scribbles spontaneously closer to 2

  • Experiments with noises that sound like intelligible speech

  • May say 2 - 3 words at 12 months, says 15+ words at 18 months 

  • Uses and imitates gestures 

  • Learns 3 body parts by 12 - 15 months 

  • Develops preferences for people and toys

  • Requests attention from parents using sounds and actions

Exposing your little one to lots of words is one of the best ways you can encourage their 1 year old speech development. You can do this by talking, reading, and singing as much as possible. Boost book time by pointing to objects and people and asking your child to do the same. Use songs like “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” to keep them engaged and teach them new words and body parts. Make learning language fun!

1 year olds are entertained by simple toys and games. You may be surprised by how much they enjoy putting blocks and toys into a basket and then dumping them out again. This activity can [12] also aid brain development and 1 year old fine motor milestones. Play will evolve as children get closer to 2 and begin to be able to sort shapes and colors [8]. 

It’s normal for your 1 year old to use an approximation when they’re learning a word (like “ba” for “ball”). However, when you’re responding to them, say the word correctly. For example, if your toddler says “wa-wa” for “water,” respond by saying something like, “Yes! You want your water.” Eventually, this can help them learn to say the word correctly too. 

Your little one can be a big “helper”! Try including them in simple household tasks to give them a sense of importance and also expose them to more words and how things work. Closer to the age of 2, children are learning to follow simple instructions [8] so small tasks around the house are a good way to promote this skill along with language comprehension. 

Supply your 1 year old with non-toxic, washable art supplies, and let them go to work! Closer to 12 months your little one may not do too much with markers and crayons but by closer to 24 months most children are able to spontaneously scribble. Be sure to date the back of your child’s artwork so you can look back and see how far they’ve come as their skills develop. 

It’s normal for toddlers to have unpredictable, erratic eating behaviors [2]. They may love a food for a week straight then refuse to touch it again. Or they may eat a gigantic breakfast and then hardly touch their meals the rest of the day. As frustrating as these things may be, they are normal eating patterns for 1 year olds! 

Your child’s diet will typically balance out over a couple of days if you continue to offer wholesome meals and try to avoid pressuring them to eat. Research shows [12] that pressuring children to eat often contributes to picky eating and can lead to further negative eating behaviors in the future.  

  • Your 1 year old is learning so many new skills! Most children at this age are already doing a version of crawling (though some never crawl) and are currently working on skills that will help them walk in the near future. It’s a big year for gross motor skills as by 24 months they will likely be running and able to jump too. 

  • 1 year old speech development typically includes your little one’s first word(s)! Young toddlers are expected to be babbling often and their sounds usually follow the patterns and tones of intelligible language at this age. They’re working on mimicking the way you talk! You may have some pretty animated “conversations” with your child at this age especially as they get closer to 2 and can usually say 100+ words and speak in simple phrases. 

  • The aim is for children to transition to a mostly solid food diet at around 12 months. This may coincide with a sharp drop in your little one’s appetite and that’s OK. At this age, a child’s growth slows and they don’t require as many calories per day as they did before. Continue to offer a wide variety of foods and let your child decide what and how much to eat. 

  • These are general guidelines for development from 12 - 24 months. It’s OK if your toddler isn’t doing all of these things between 1 - 2 years old as there’s a wide range of normal for most milestones. However, consult with your child’s healthcare provider if you notice any 1 year old developmental red flags or delays. 

If you’re curious about what lies ahead when it comes to development, check out what you may expect when your little one is a 15 month old. Take a look back at how far your baby has come by revisiting what they may have been like as a 9 month old.

1 year old development milestones FAQ

Q: What should a 1 year old be able to do?

A:

Most 1 year olds are able to stand and walk with support from a sturdy piece of furniture as they develop the skills necessary to walk alone. By closer to 24 months, children are usually able to walk and run independently. Expected 1 year old speech development includes your little one’s first word(s)! At this age, children are also working on gestures, learning body parts, and imitating sounds and movements. Over the course of the year, language typically explodes. By the age of 2, it’s expected that children will be able to say 100+ words.

Q: What are 3 major physical milestones by 1 year of age?

A:

By 12 months, toddlers are typically already able to do a version of crawling (though some babies never crawl) and cruise along furniture. The next expected skills are standing independently and taking their first solo steps. At this age, they’re likely to be able to manipulate objects with their hands. Most children are able to bang objects together and fill and dump containers.

Q: What does a 1 year old understand?

A:

At this age, 1 year olds understand that you are their primary caregiver and may be upset if you leave. They typically develop preferences for people and toys too. Closer to 18 months, they may understand simple questions like, “Where is the cat?” Around 24 months, they will likely grasp 2-step instructions like “Go to the kitchen and bring back your water.”

Q: How to help a 1 year old reach milestones?

A:

Exposing your little one to lots of words can help their speech development. Read, talk, and sing to them as much as possible! Try asking them questions about the things they see in books, encourage them to name body parts and objects, and have “conversations” with your toddler, even if they’re pretty one-sided for a while. Also, give your child opportunities to work on their independence [12] by letting them help with tasks like dressing and feeding themselves. This can also assist them with understanding how things work and can expose them to even more language.

Q: What milestones should a 1 year old have for pediatric visit?

A:

At your child’s 1 year old checkup, expect their doctor to chart their height and weight. They will likely ask if anything has changed since your little one’s last visit and want to know if you’ve noticed any 1 year milestone red flags regarding social, emotional, and physical development. They may inquire as to whether your child is walking, feeding themselves, drinking whole milk, and saying any words.

Note: The content on this site is for informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice from your doctor, pediatrician, or medical professional. If you have questions or concerns, you should contact a medical professional.

12 Sources

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  7. UPMC HealthBeat (2023). When Do Babies Start Walking? https://share.upmc.com/2022/08/when-do-babies-start-walking/

  8. American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Developmental Milestones: 2 Year Olds. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/Pages/Developmental-Milestones-2-Year-Olds.aspx

  9. American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Language Development: 8 to 12 Months. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/Language-Development-8-to-12-Months.aspx

  10. UNICEF (2024). Your toddler's developmental milestones at 1 year. https://www.unicef.org/parenting/child-development/your-toddlers-developmental-milestones-1-year

  11. CDC (2024). Important Milestones: Your Child By Two Years. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-2yr.html

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