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Home > My Child > Ages and Stages > 12 to 18 Months > Intellectual Development

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Intellectual Development: 12 to 18 months

Intellectual Development means being able to communicate, to think both creatively and abstractly, to pay attention, solve problems, and develop keen judgment and a lifelong readiness to learn.

Emerging Skills
  • Find an object by looking in one or two places - realize things exist when they are out of sight
  • Point to a specific object they want
  • Look and point to pictures in a book
  • Repeat enjoyable actions, such as clapping
  • Begin to recognize shapes
  • Begin to understand functions of certain objects (such as a spoon or a cup)
  • Begin to learn body parts, such as eye and nose
  • Participate in familiar games
  • Find out more about What to Expect from your baby, 12 to 18 months.


    Through the comfort and responsiveness of an adult, babies will learn how to handle their emotions and how to seek help when needed.

    Parents Can:
  • Spend time reading board books and looking at photos
  • Child Will:
  • Enjoy the close, one-on-one time spent with you listening to simple stories
  • Begin to turn pages and point out pictures
  • Remember and anticipate certain pictures and events

  • Parents Can:
  • Use his bath time routine to label body parts; use songs to demonstrate what body parts do
  • Child Will:
  • Learn to point to different body parts by name
  • Learn that his body parts are separate from your body parts

  • Parents Can:
  • Encourage their baby to feed herself by providing dry cereal, small crackers or other small food in a cup or small bowl
  • Child Will:
  • Practice small motor coordination and control
  • Practice independent and self-help skills if she wants to
  • Explore food using sight, touch, taste and smell

  • Play

    Through opportunities for play, babies will experience joyful, free, spontaneous moments of fun while learning about themselves and others.

    Parents Can:
  • Provide any series of containers that can be nested one inside the other
  • Child Will:
  • Learn about size relationships among objects
  • Practice solving problems through trial and error experimentation

  • Parents Can:
  • Play simple pretend games with dolls and teddy bears
  • Child Will:
  • Begin to reproduce nurturing actions that he has experienced
  • Begin to initiate simple play events

  • Parents Can:
  • When dressing, hold up her socks and say, "Socks go on your feet. Show me your foot." Repeat using other body parts for other clothing articles
  • Child Will:
  • Learn to point to her different body parts
  • Practice matching words for different parts of her body
  • Develop a positive sense of self and body image

  • Teach

    Through routines and emotionally and physically safe and secure environments, babies can learn how to think, solve problems and communicate.

    Parents Can:
  • Encourage their baby to match pots and lids
  • Child Will:
  • Enjoy banging pots and lids together and making noise
  • Begin to appreciate different sizes of round objects

  • Parents Can:
  • Cut a hole in a big box and encourage their baby to crawl through the "tunnel"
  • Child Will:
  • Learn how to move his body through space
  • Learn to match words such as "in" and "out" with how his body moves around objects
  • Enjoy hiding, and controlling peek-a-boo on his terms with you

  • Parents Can:
  • Point out familiar objects when reading books or looking through magazines. Find the same objects in your house and label them
  • Child Will:
  • Learn the names for familiar objects
  • Match real objects with those that are two dimensional

  • Social Development: 12 to 18 months
    Emotional Development: 12 to 18 months
    Intellectual Development - Language: 12 to 18 months
    Intellectual Development - Problem Solving: 12 to 18 months

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