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Your Child's Development: 15 Months

Toddlers this age are learning to express themselves to get what they want. Your little one may point to an object and say a word — and, in turn, you respond.

But 15-month-olds understand more than they can say, which can lead to frustration and tantrums when a child isn’t understood and doesn't get their way. Tantrums are a normal part of toddler development. Help avoid angry outbursts by distracting your little one with an interesting toy or game, and keep your cool when they do happen.

Doctors use certain milestones to tell if a toddler is developing as expected. There's a wide range of what's considered normal, so some children gain skills earlier or later than others. Toddlers who were born prematurely may reach milestones later. Talk with your doctor about your child's progress.

Here are some things your toddler might be doing:

Communication and Language Skills

  • indicates what they want by pulling, pointing, or grunting
  • says 3–5 words (besides "mama" and "dada") and uses them correctly
  • combines sounds and words in speech-like patterns
  • points to a body part when asked ("Where's your nose?")

Movement and Physical Development

  • walks and may run stiffly
  • squats to pick something up
  • drinks from a cup
  • stacks two or three blocks
  • make marks or scribbles with crayon on paper

Social and Emotional Development

  • shows affection to caregivers with hugs and kisses
  • shows empathy (may look upset if someone is crying, for example)
  • may repeat actions if they get a reaction
  • acts more independently

Cognitive Skills (Thinking and Learning)

  • understands and follows simple commands
  • imitates activities, such as sweeping a floor
  • begins to engage in problem-solving activities, like simple shape puzzles

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Every child develops at their own pace, but some signs could indicate a delay in development. Talk to your doctor if your child:

  • doesn't use consonant sounds ("ba, da, ga") or other vocalizations to express needs
  • doesn't show affection (hugs, kisses)
  • doesn't show interest in other children

If you ever notice that your child had skills but has lost them or shows weakness on one side of the body, tell your doctor.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2021