17-Month-Old Milestones for Your Baby
Walking. Babbling. Laughing. Crying. Who is this full-fledged toddler who replaced your tiny baby? With a 17-month-old child, you should have a good appreciation for how quickly life can change. And while there are challenges that come with most every stage, there are also so many wonderful things to discover while watching your little one grow.
Your 17-Month-Old’s Behavior
As active as your toddler is physically (which is to say: very!), they are just as busy on mental and emotional levels. One thing that’s important to keep in mind during this emotionally volatile stage is that all feelings are great. They make us human! Although some actions are unacceptable—like hitting, fighting, saying mean words—the emotions that drive them shouldn’t just be ignored.
That’s why your response to your toddler’s giant feelings makes such a difference both in the moment and throughout the rest of their lives. Instead of dismissing their pain or teaching them to bottle up negative emotions, you can help model how to vent feelings in a positive way.
If your 17-month-old, for example, is very angry that a toy was taken away from them, you can respond by showing them how to shake their head, stomp their feet, and say “no, mad!” This may seem counterintuitive, but by giving your child the words and healthy actions to express their emotions they can learn to work through them!
Your 17-Month-Old’s Development
Between the quickly outgrown clothes and height updates from the pediatrician, you can easily see just how much your toddler is sprouting physically. Make no mistake about it: Their brain is developing just as rapidly. That requires fuel, too! Yes, your toddler’s brain needs proper nourishment from a healthy diet. But, it also needs nourishment from sensory activities, primitive conversations, unstructured playtime, and more.
Sure, it may seem like your busy bee is ping-ponging around the room from one thing to the next. That’s just how their brain works right now! When you want to do a calmer, more focused activity, be strategic. If you want your 17-month-old to sit on your lap for storytime together, schedule the snuggle session for a time when they are fed and slightly worn out. Otherwise, you might just set yourself up for failure when your fussy, hungry, tired toddler protests by the second page.
Speaking of storytime: Keep expectations in check. Early toddlers do best with board books that have plenty of pictures—and don’t just stick to the script. You can make the reading experience into a game by talking about what you see and asking them follow-up questions. (“Look, a cow! What sound does a cow make? Can we say ‘moo’ together?”)
Speech and Language at 17 months
At 17 months, your little one should be saying more words as each month passes. Some speech and language milestones that most 17-month-olds hit include:
- Understanding simple phrases
- Enjoying being read to
- Following one-step directions accompanied by a gesture
- Responding to simple questions with a shake of the head
- Saying two to three words to label a person or object (even if they’re not clear)
- Attempting to imitate simple words
- A vocabulary of about four to six words
Motor Skills at 17 Months
Your tornado-like toddler has plenty of energy and the desire to physically challenge themselves. By 17 months, you can start thinking about channeling that energy into practicing some functional life skills. A few ways they can “help” and have fun, too:
- Ask them to pull clean clothes out of the dryer.
- Give them a bowl to stir while you’re working in the kitchen.
- Get a “busy board” with zippers, locks, latches, and more.
- Keep a child-size broom and dustpan near your own.
Getting a head start in with all of this is a win-win scenario: Your child will become more enthusiastic about helping you out and flexing their independence. You can avoid arguments about chores down the road since they are already eager to lend a hand. And many early childhood educators report these types of functional life skills are just as important as academic knowledge for students entering a classroom setting.
Your 17-Month-Old’s Sleep
You’re probably no stranger to sleep regressions by now—for better and worse. Fear not. You both can get through this!
- Take a look at common causes of toddler sleep regressions: the bedtime timing is off, your child feels anxious, they are dependent on a parent’s presence, they are overexcited, or something is bothering them. Start by addressing the most obvious trigger and work from there.
- Keep them on track for a solid nighttime snooze during the day. That means enjoying plenty of fresh air, daylight, and healthy food during waking hours. Then, stay consistent with the wind-down routine before the lights go out.
- Resist the temptation to curb naptime. Your 17-month-old needs a stable nap during the day. And, sleep begets sleep—which means that a good nap can actually contribute to a better night of sleep.
- Try “twinkle interruptus” (aka, patience-stretching) with bedtime: Get to the end of your toddler’s bedtime routine and then act as if you remembered something that needs your attention out of the room. Say you’ll be back in just a few seconds, leave, and then come back as promised. Extend the amount of time you leave the room until your child falls asleep before you come back.
Your 17 Month-Old’s Health, Growth, and Milestones
There might be a lot of activity in your mini’s mouth right now! Between 16 and 22 months, upper canines typically erupt. Starting at 17 months you may also see lower canines show up. And the first molars often make their debut between 13 and 19 months, too! (Read more on when to expect teeth!)
While you don’t have any routine doctor’s visits this month, you’ll be gearing up for your tot’s 18-month well-child appointment next month. This is a big one because it’s when you’ll also review developmental milestones with your pediatrician.
17 Month Milestones
As you prep for your next doctor's visit, 18-month developmental milestones to look out for include:
- Gesturing (like putting hands out for you to wash them)
- Looking at a few pages in a book with you
- Pushing arms through sleeves or lifting a foot to help get dressed
- Saying three or more words besides “mama” or “dada”
- Following one-step commands without gestures
- Imitating you doing chores
- Playing with toys in a simple way
- Walking independently
- Climbing on and off sofas/chairs
- Drinking from a lid-free cup
- Self-feeding with fingers
- Trying to eat with a spoon
17 Month-Old Height and Weight
17-Month-Old Milestones: Final Thoughts
Whew! As you can see, your busy little toddler’s brain is just as on the move as they are! The result: lots of challenges, but lots of adorable moments, too. And, of course, there’s a big range of what’s considered “normal” right now, but if you have any questions about your 17-month-old’s development, give your pediatrician a ring!
- The Happiest Toddler on the Block, Dr. Harvey Karp, MD
- Stanford Medicine Children’s Health: Age-Appropriate Speech and Language Milestones
- Mayo Clinic, Language Development: Speech Milestones for Babies
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Important Milestones, 18 Months
- World Health Organization: Child Growth Standards, Length/Height for Age
- World Health Organization: Child Growth Standards, Weight for Age
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.