Caring for Your 15-Month-Old
- Communication and Social Development
- Demonstrate how to use words. Help your child find words for their feelings (“Are you hungry?,” “You look sleepy”), and label items (“This is a spoon,” “Look at your pretty hair”).
- At this age, toddlers like to feel they have some control, but too many choices can be overwhelming. Try offering two parent-approved choices when available. For instance, let your child choose a blue shirt or a red shirt, or an apple or banana.
- Your child may still be anxious around new people. Offer comfort when this happens. Don’t force the interaction.
- Language Development
- 15-month-olds often know several words (3 words other than names). The more words your baby hears, the faster he or she will learn. Talk to your baby, and prioritize face-to-face interaction. Reading to your child will also promote language skills.
- Toddlers love to use their hands. Sing songs with hand motions and begin to let your child scribble.
- Books should be a part of your everyday naptime, playtime and bedtime routine. Your child will point at pictures, turn pages and bring books to you to read. Smile and answer when he or she speaks or points.
- If you ask a question, wait for a response from your child. Your child can follow simple stories and will often be calmed or distracted by books when you are waiting or riding in the car.
- At this age, whole (not skim, 1 percent or 2 percent) milk is appropriate for your child, unless your doctor instructs otherwise.
- Encourage, but never force, your baby to eat three meals a day, plus two snacks (usually mid-morning and mid-afternoon). Offer a cup (rather than a bottle) to your baby during mealtimes.
- As a parent/caregiver, it is your job to offer age-appropriate healthy food choices during regular mealtimes. It is up to the child to choose what and how much to eat. If your child will not eat what you give him or her, it is suggested not to give him or her other food. He or she will eat at the next mealtime. Avoid giving juice. Do not give soda, tea, coffee or flavored drinks.
- Encourage regular mealtimes for your toddler, preferably together with the family.
- Some high-risk foods, including nuts, popcorn, hot dogs, whole grapes and hard, raw vegetables, can present a choking hazard for your toddler. Take care to avoid offering these.
- Regular, easy-to-pass stools at least once daily are normal at this age.
- As your child’s diet expands, you may find that the stool pattern changes. Ask your doctor if you are concerned about the consistency or frequency of your child’s stooling.
- Routines and Discipline
- Toddlers are curious about their environment and touch and explore almost everything. Instead of yelling “no” when they touch something inappropriate, try to distract them. Say “that’s dangerous” or “ouch” and redirect their attention to a safer item. Never slap or hit your child; it will teach him or her to hit others.
- Remember to praise your child for good behavior.
- Set reasonable limits and be sure that, when using discipline, the priority is to teach and protect your child, not to punish.
- Put your child in bed awake, avoid electronics in the bedroom.
- Predictable routines help your child feel safe. Try to make your toddler’s bedtime around the same time every night, perhaps with a calm bath and a book.
- Most toddlers transition to one mid-day nap between 15 – 18 months.
- Oral Health
- To best care for your toddler’s teeth, be sure there is fluoride in the water. Use a toothbrush to clean your child’s teeth twice a day. Children under 2 years of age should use a “smear” of fluoride toothpaste.
- Your toddler should visit a dentist as early as 12 months of age.
- Try to eliminate bottles and move toward cups only. Do not let your child fall asleep with a bottle of milk or juice, as this can rot the teeth. Begin to eliminate pacifier use.
- Toddlers explore endlessly. They grab and pull at anything that looks interesting to them. A freestanding lamp, or a bookshelf or TV that is not secured to the wall can tip over and present an injury risk.
- Do not let the handles of pots on the stove hang over the side of the kitchen countertop. From the vantage point of a toddler below, these can be tempting to grab.
- Keep matches, cigarettes and lighters locked safely away.
- If you have a gun in your home, be sure the ammunition is kept separately from the weapon and that these are both kept locked and safely stored.
- 15-month-olds can usually get around on their own. Be sure you have the top and bottom of stairs blocked with gates to prevent falls. Cover electrical outlets and tuck away loose cords. Be certain doors leading out of the home are locked.
- Keep your child away from space heaters, fireplaces and fans, as these can all be dangerous.
- Be sure that you have safety guards on home windows, especially those on the second floor or higher.
- Toddlers put just about everything in their mouths. Batteries (especially “button” type) and magnets pose great danger to children if swallowed. Keep these items out of your baby’s reach.
- Chemicals (like lawn and cleaning supplies) and medications can be tempting for little ones to explore. Be sure these are locked away, in their original containers, out of reach from your toddler’s curious hands. The number for Poison Control is 1-800-222-1222. Be sure your home has working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Toddlers this age should ride in a rear-facing five-point harness car seat in the back seat of the vehicle until at least 2 years of age, or they have reached the maximum allowable height and weight limits of the car seat.
- Never leave your toddler unattended in a car.
- Never leave your toddler, even for a few seconds, in or near a body of water without supervision. This includes a bathtub, toilet, wading pool, swimming pool, lake or ocean.
Your child is starting to understand more than they can say. They want to be independent at times, but may have tantrums and meltdowns when they are upset. They will have tantrums less often when they are able to let you know what they want through language. Tantrums mean your child is overwhelmed and needs your help to regain control. Stay calm and use a warm supportive voice.
Help your child communicate. Encourage your child to use sounds, gestures and words even if you think you know what your child is trying to tell you. For example, they may take your hand and lead you over to a book and point. Respond by saying, do you want that book?
Make time for yourself and your partner.
This document contains general parenting information based on American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations and is not meant to replace the expert advice of your pediatrician.