Advice for parents: 18 month old

18 month old girl with her finger in her mouth

Five to Thrive

Respond – Cuddle – Relax – Play - Talk

Do these five things each time you interact with your child from the time they are born and you will help to grow a healthy, strong and confident child.

You can also come along and see Five to Thrive come alive at your local Family Hub. Call 0161 788 0385 to find out more.

To find out more about more about each of the Five to Thrive expand the boxes below.


My brain grows better when you respond to me.

My brain works very slowly at first. But when you respond to me in the same way over and over again the connections you are helping to build grow strong. Then they can carry messages between the different parts of my brain more quickly.

Key milestones

  • I can go and play with new toys by myself but like to find a grown up that I know when I need them.
  • When I play with my favourite toys I am enjoying myself so much I don’t always hear you when you talk to me.
  • I can understand what to do when you tell me do one thing, such as 'Throw the ball' or 'Put the baby in the bed'.
  • I can walk upstairs when a grown up holds my hand.
  • I can hold a lidded cup in both hands and not spill too much drink as I put the cup to my mouth.
  • I can tell you when I need my nappy or pants changed.
  • I can tell you when I need to sit on the potty or go to the toilet.


My brain grows better when you cuddle me.

Before I was born I was more aware of touch than of any other sense, and I was safely held in a small space. Now I can move freely, but I still feel most safe when I am in contact with a grown up who loves me.

Key milestones

  • I will look worried if I hear someone I know crying or happy and excited if I hear a grown up that I know.
  • I like to play next to other children.
  • I can go and play by myself or with other children but when I am feeling tired, worried or upset I will find a grown up that I know.


My brain grows better when you relax with me.

I know that having a baby is stressful. But if you can find ways to relax when you are with me, you can make a big difference to the way my brain works.

Key milestones

  • Sometimes when I am playing with toys or sharing a story with you, I will talk to you about things that the toys and pictures remind me about.
  • I like to share stories with you and can find my favourite stories for you to read to me.
  • I have favourite rhymes and songs and join in with the actions and songs.


My brain grows better when you play with me.

When you play counting games, or singing games or action games, my brain builds connections that help me to make sense of the world around me and to have fun.

As I get older, playing with me and helping me to play on my own or with other children builds connections in my brain that make it possible for me to think and plan, to make sense of the world around me and to develop social skills.

Key milestones

  • I can play turn taking games, like rolling a ball back and forth, with a grown up
  • I am beginning to use my toys to pretend they are something else, such as pretending my teddy is a baby.
  • I know that when I move a chunky crayon or pen round, up and down and across, the marks I make on the paper look the same as the way I moved my hand.
  • I know that when you hide a toy under a blanket I will find it under the blanket.
  • I can sort out my toys and things so that all the same ones are together.
  • I try to put the shape pieces into a jigsaw board and sometimes match the right piece into the right hole.
  • I can build towers and long lines across the floor with bricks.
  • I know the order I need to use things to help me get ready at bedtime or to get dressed.
  • I know that when I see you with your coat we are going outside or when I see my cup and bowl on the table it is time to have a drink and something to eat.


My brain grows better when you talk to me.

When you talk to me I copy you. At first I can only make a few sounds, but the more you talk to me the more I can make sounds into words. I need you to tell me everything right from the start. I know nothing, so everything I learn in my life will be built on what you are teaching me now. Involve me in life by telling me about it.

Key milestones

  • When you read me a story I like to join in with the sounds that different characters and things make.
  • When you sing rhymes I join in with the actions and sounds that different characters and things make.
  • I use words that I have heard you say, such as 'Oh dear' or 'All gone'.
  • I am starting to say two word phrases such as 'want ball' or 'more juice' to tell you what I want or need.
  • I use lots of everyday words that are important to me, such as 'banana', 'go', 'sleep' or 'hot' to tell you things.

Activities for 18 months old

All the fun activities that you do with your child at home are important in supporting their learning and development and have a long-lasting effect on your child’s learning as they progress through school or nursery or at a childminder.

Personal, social and emotion development

Physical development

Communication and language

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