The Ultimate Guide to Your 16 Month Old – We’re On The Move!

By  Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH | Updated - 1 April 2021

So you have a 16 month old little adventurer! This is an exciting, active and wonderful age full of walking, running, climbing and speaking!

One of my favourite months, it is the beginning of your toddler's independence as they will start to use more words and show signs of developing imaginative play!

At 16 months old, their curiosity will know no bounds and you will have to keep a close eye on your little explorer as they develop their problem-solving skills and figure out how the world works! (they will not quite have a sense danger just yet!)

16 Month Old Toddler

This can be quite a busy and exhausting month, but it’s worth every second to see your little one grow and become their own little human!

16 month old at a glance

So here’s a quick glance of what to expect from your 16 month old!

16 Month Old At A Glance

Food

As a general rule, your 16 month old should be having 3 meals a day and 2 healthy snacks with about 400ml of milk included in these meals or as a drink. 

Don’t worry if your toddler eats less one day they will make up for it the next. If you are encouraging healthy eating habits by offering a varied and nutritious diet your toddler will be getting all the nutrition they need.

It is important to remember that when you introduce a new food, your toddler may not like it the first time around. Research has shown that some toddlers can be offered a new food up to 15 times before they decide to like it!

Top Tip

Never make mealtimes a battleground. It is a fight you will never win.

Sleep

Most 16 month old toddlers need about 14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period with 12 hours of being taken at night with the rest taken in 1 or 2 daytime naps. It is not unusual for toddlers of this age to have dropped their morning nap.

Physical Development

The biggest physical development for this age is learning to perfect the art of walking! As they become more confident they will move more quickly and may also be able to manage short bursts of running. 

Your 16 month old will also now be able to build a tower of 2-3 blocks, will want to turn pages in a book and may start to draw with a chunky crayon and start to be able to fit a round shape into a shape sorter successfully.

Mental Development

16 month old toddlers are very sociable and are fascinated by others. However, they will not like to share and play with other children just yet. But they should happily play alongside other toddlers. 

Your little one's problem-solving skills will be developing at a rapid rate at this point too. They will want to copy what you do and try it out for themselves as they learn cause and effect.

In terms of language development, your toddler will still understand far more than they can vocalise and although they will be able to say a few recognisable words, their communication will still rely heavily on pointing and gestures to let you know what they want. I would expect a 16 month old to know about 7-15 words.

16 month old development milestones

Your 16 month old will be hitting all sorts of milestones this month and their mind is growing at an amazing rate! 

Here are some KEY Milestones to look out for this month!

Fine Motor 

  • Can build a tower of 1-3 blocks
  • May put a circular shape into the correct hole in a shape sorter
  • Will want to turn the pages of a book

Gross Motor 

  • May start to walk sideways and backwards
  • May run for short periods
  • Squats down to pick things up
  • Will crawl up stairs and may come down on bottom if shown
  • Will try and carry large objects that are too heavy for them

Social

  • Is self-centred and will not want to share
  • Will copy actions such as waving and playing peek a boo

Emotional 

  • Will initiate displays of affection
  • Will respond to kisses and cuddles
  • May experience separation anxiety
  • Becomes aware that they are their own person with a sense of self
  • Will show signs of self will and defiance as they test boundaries

Language 

  • Will say between 7-15 recognisable words
  • Will say ‘no’ a lot!
  • Will still use gestures and pointing to communicate

Play 

  • Will begin simple pretend play with dolls, teddies, toy phones or miniature kitchen items, for example
  • Will enjoy cause and effect toys with lots of knobs and buttons
  • Likes push and pull toys
  • Will enjoy finger painting, water play and sand play
  • Plays with musical instruments especially things they can bang

How to support your 16 month old’s development

Your toddler is now a confident walker and will want to continually discover their new world through movement and exploration. The best way you can help them do this is by: 

  • Offering a safe and stimulating environment.
  • Offering a variety of play activities throughout the day that allows them to explore their newly developed skills. 
  • Expose them to new play mediums. Children this age will love to play with water, sand and even finger paint with supervision. 
  • Toddler proof the home. This will avoid your little one getting into dangerous situations and becoming repeatedly frustrated.
  • Sing lots of nursery and action rhymes. Toddlers this age love repetition and copying.
  • Read lots of books. Toddlers will want to turn the pages of the books you read together and will look at books alone. They will love to point at objects on the page and will have favourite books they want to read over and over again. Books that make sounds or have different textures are great for this age.
  • Play musical instruments. Children of this age love music, they like to bang drums, shake shakers and bash on a xylophone.
  • Get outside every day. Fresh air is great for your toddler. They will sleep better if they have spent time out of doors and being in large spaces where they can explore the natural world safely is great for their development.
  • Be a good role model. Your toddler will be aware of everything you say and do now so setting a good example is the best way to teach them how to behave towards others and how to behave in general.

Click here to jump down to discover my FAVOURITE 16 month old activities to get your child thriving!

Milestone Checklists

Many parents will also find a milestone checklist a very useful tool to track their child’s development and it's never too late to start using one!

I am a HUGE fan of developmental milestone checklists, I think they provide parents with a wonderful tool to make sure their baby is developing as they should. However, I could never find one that was detailed enough for my needs... 

That’s when I decided to design my own template for my own studies and that's what I'm now sharing with you! This checklist is SUPER easy to use and will follow your child’s journey from birth to preschool.

It is perfect to go into your baby folder or to be stuck on the fridge! 

The most helpful part of this list is that it becomes a living diary of all your baby’s milestones with dates achieved and images that you can look back on with fond memories or use for medical purposes (let's hope you never have to!). 

If you would like to learn more about milestone checklists, click here to head over to my Milestone Checklist Article or enter your email below to get the FREE download right now!

get the FREE Milestone Checklist That Reveals The Hidden World Of Child Development Today!

Eliminate the worry that comes with your baby's development by keeping your child on track or catching potential delays early with key milestones from birth to preschool.

 All with expert advice from a prestigious Norland trained Nanny!

16 month old baby tantrums

Being more mobile means that your toddler can get into trouble far more easily now.

They have no concept of danger so when you pull away from a potential hazard or stop them from doing something they will not understand the reason why. This frustration can easily lead to a tantrum.

If you have not done so already, now is the time to toddler-proof your home, to avoid having to constantly retrieve your inquisitive toddler from trouble such as electric sockets and cupboards containing dangerous chemicals.

Anticipating your 16 month old’s movements before they head towards danger and diverting their attention or changing location is the best solution, but it is impossible to anticipate every move so some confrontations are inevitable.

Bear in mind that your child may also start to show resistance to some things such as being put into their stroller, getting out of the bath or going into their car seat. This is quite normal behaviour and you will need a lot of patience to deal with their developing will. 

Be consistent, say no when needed and don’t give too much attention to bad behaviour. 

Would you like me to write an article about Toddler Tantrums? Be sure to share this post using the hashtag #T2Ttantrum!

Top Tip

Having a safe place like a playpen for a short while where they can play safely is a LIFESAVER. They will not want to be in there for long... but it will allow you to go to the bathroom, make a cup of tea or quickly do a chore, without having to keep an eagle eye on them 24/7.

16 month old weight

According to the World Health Organization, the average weight of a 16 month old girl is 21.6 Lbs (9.8Kg) and 23.2 Lbs (10.5Kg) for a boy. 

As always, this is only a guide and will vary from child to child. As long as your toddler has steady weight gain and is healthy and alert, there is no need to worry.

16 month old sleep schedule

As I always advocate, having a regular bedtime is essential for young children. Your toddler at this age needs between 12-14 hours of sleep in any 24 hour period with 10-12 hours of that being taken at night and the rest in 1 or 2 daytime naps.  

16 Month Old Sleep Schedule

Some children of this age will still need two shorter naps per day while others will have transitioned to one longer afternoon nap.

Toddlers of this age should be in bed between 6pm and 7pm having completed their bedtime routine.

16 month old bedtime routine

Having an established bedtime routine will definitely help at this age, but be prepared that they might start to resist going to bed or being put down for a nap. This is mainly due to having such a wonderful time exploring their new world and not wanting to stop or your child may be experiencing separation anxiety. 

A bedtime routine for toddlers will differ slightly from that of a younger baby but it will still follow the basic pattern of bath, book and bed. There is no need to offer your toddler a milk feed just before putting them down, it's completely optional.

Top Tip

Having a milky drink too close to bedtime at 16 months, may in fact affect the quality of your toddler’s sleep. Try and avoid giving the last milk drink of the day less than 45 minutes before bedtime if your little one is not sleeping well. 

A good way to get a 16 month old ready for bed is to lower the energy at the end of the day by following this sequence:

  • Dinner time
  • Bathtime 
  • If your toddler is not going to bed straight away, you could offer them a milky drink at this point but it is by no means essential.
  • Brush teeth
  • Bedtime story, cuddle and chat in the bedroom
  • Finally, putting your toddler to bed in a dark, peaceful, cosy room. 

Spending some cosy quality time before bed will also help with separation anxiety. Letting them have a favourite toy, using a white noise machine or musical toy and a night light may help.

For more information on establishing a healthy bedtime routine read my post on Hacking the Bedtime Routine!

Top Tip

Having a regular bedtime and solid routine is essential at this age. Ultimately, a consistent bedtime routine will reward you with a peaceful evening to recharge and you will be a better parent tomorrow because of it.

How much should you be feeding a 16 month old?

At 16 months old, your toddler will need about 1000 calories per day including no more than 400ml of milk that can be mixed into their food or given as a drink. They will be having 3 meals a day and 2 healthy snacks.

Although they no longer need formula, full-fat milk is important for this age to ensure they have enough vitamin D and calcium. If your child is lactose intolerant or you are raising your child as a vegan, ensure you are choosing a suitable alternative that contains enough vitamin D and calcium for their needs.

By this age, your little one should be drinking from a cup for drinks. If you are struggling with the transition from glass bottles to cup there are many bottle systems that can convert to sippy cups to make this transition easier. Check out my Parenting Toolbox to see my top recommendations!

Finally, ensure that your 16 month old has a good variety of food from the major food groups across the 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. This includes proteins, complex carbs, a variety of fruit and veg and some dairy (if appropriate).

16 month old feeding themselves with a spoon

Here are some food options to help you ensure your 16 month old is being offered a well balanced and healthy diet.

Breakfast Options:

  • Fortified cereal with milk from the daily allowance
  • Scrambled egg with wholemeal toast
  • Fruit and yoghurt

Lunch Options:

  • A protein, like chicken or fish
  • Vegetables 
  • A complex carb such as potatoes, pasta or rice
  • Milk from the daily allowance

Dinner Options:

  • A protein is not essential at this meal if you had some for lunch, but feel free to give one if you want.
  • Whole grain pasta with tomato sauce
  • Dairy foods such as yoghurt or fromage frais
  • Fruit
  • Veg Sticks

Snack Options:

  • Fruit
  • Veg Sticks 
  • Grated cheese
  • Breadsticks

Top Tip

Try and avoid processed sugary snacks as much as possible.

If you are looking for great recipes for your toddler go to Annabel Karmel's website for an endless supply of wonderfully healthy ideas for feeding your little one. Annabel’s recipes are super easy, healthy and fun!

And for more excellent information on childhood nutrition visit Sarah Bushell's website. Sarah is very knowledgeable about child nutrition and is keen to share her knowledge with parents. She also has loads of wonderful age appropriate recipes too!

16 month old feeding schedule 

These timings are all approximate and will vary slightly from child to child but will follow the same sequence.

16 Month Old Food Chart
  • 6.30-7am - Wake up
  • 7.30am - Breakfast with a milky drink
  • 10.30am - Snack with water
  • 12.30pm - Lunch with a milky drink
  • 2.30pm - Snack with water
  • 4.30-5pm - Dinner with a milky drink

Top Tip

Try to only offer milk drinks with main meals now and water at snack time.

14 Best Foods For A 16 month old

As with most toddlers now, you want to give your child a variety of healthy, whole foods. Here are the best foods for a 16 month old child:

  1. Fruit - add as much variety and colour as you can!
  2. A variety of colourful veg - include different textures too!
  3. Avocado
  4. Regular and sweet potatoes
  5. Eggs
  6. Whole grain pasta and bread
  7. Chicken
  8. Fish
  9. Red meat such as beef, venison or ostrich
  10. Rice
  11. Yoghurt
  12. Sandwiches
  13. Homemade burgers
  14. Cheese (grated or melted)

The fresher, the better! Try to avoid processed food and added sugar as much as possible. You are laying the foundation for good eating habits for years to come. 

16 month old activities

With so much energy, it’s important to give your child lots of opportunities to play, explore, imagine and create!

Here are a few of my FAVOURITE activities to do with your 16 month old to help them reach their developmental milestones!

  • Sing nursery and action rhymes 
  • Read books
  • Play with musical instruments
  • Play with shape sorters and simple puzzles
  • Stacking toys
  • Push and pull toys
  • Blow bubbles
  • Have a sensory box
  • Build a blanket fort and have a teddy bear pretend tea party
  • Finger painting

16 month old day in the life schedule

While each family will have slightly different timings, there is a basic schedule that you should aim to follow by this age. Toddlers like routine and predictability so creating a routine for your 16 month old will make them feel safe and secure.

16 Month Old Day in the Life
  • 6.30 - 7am - Wake Up  
  • 7.00am - Breakfast with a milky drink
  • 8am - Get dressed
  • 8.30 - 10.00am - Playtime!
  • 10.00am - Snack with water
  • 10.30am - Nap time!
  • 11.30am - Playtime
  • 12.30pm - Lunch with a milky drink
  • 1pm - Nap time!
  • 2.30pm - Snack with water
  • 3 - 5pm - Playtime including a trip out. Check out my post about Outdoor Activities For Toddlers for some great outdoor ideas!
  • 5 - 5.30pm - Teatime with a milky drink (you can save the milky drink to after bedtime)
  • 6 - 6.30pm - Bath time
  • 7 - 7.30pm - Book and bed time

Top Tip

If your toddler has dropped the morning nap, I would recommend bringing lunch forward to 12 o’clock and then they will probably nap from 12.30 - 2.30pm.

best toys for 16 month old

Melissa and Doug Deluxe Pounding Bench

What is it? A classic wooden toy that improves fine motor skills.

Why do I recommend it? I love all wooden toys & this one is no exception. 16 month old children love to bang and bash things and this toy gives them the legitimate reason to do just that. They will love the noise they can make and as they grow, their aim will improve so this is a toy that will grow with them.

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Janod Wooden Sound Toy Telephone

What is it? A great wooden pretend telephone.

Why do I recommend it? To find a pretend telephone that is not made of plastic ticked all the boxes for me. 16 month old toddlers are on the cusp of enjoying pretend play and will love mimicking you on the phone and pressing the buttons on this great toy.

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

B Toys Stacking Rings

What is it? A unique and tactile stacking toy.

Why do I recommend it? Stacking toys are great for 16 month old children and I love the fact that this particular one is made of tactile materials. It is BPA free and made of different materials, colors and textures. 

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Montessori Geometric Wooden Puzzle

What is it? A great wooden puzzle ideal for 16 month old children.

Why do I recommend it? 16 month old toddlers are just learning and capable of putting simple shapes into corresponding holes so this simple puzzle is ideal for this age group. With its easy to hold handles, your toddler will be learning new fine motor skills as well as the colour and names of shapes too.

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

FAQs

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about 16 month old toddlers that I feel every parent should know the answer to!

What should a 16 month old be able to do

At 16 months old your little one now moves more quickly and will be walking well and even running. They will love to climb and clamber up and over things and as they have improved balance and coordination are able to walk sideways, backwards and even dance. 

They will be able to build a tower of up to 3 blocks and will now say 7-15 recognisable single words but this varies greatly from child to child. 

16 month old tantrum

Around this age, your little one will learn the meaning of the word ‘no’ and start to use it quite a lot. 

Behaviour at this age that appears to be willful or naughty is very normal and comes out of frustration and testing the boundaries of what is allowed and what is not. With their newfound ability to explore their world but with no concept of danger, your little one will be frustrated every time you have to pull them away from an exciting new discovery that may be unsafe. 

Click here to jump up to the 16 month old baby tantrum section! I will also be making a more in depth Toddler Tantrum post in future so keep your eyes peeled for that one!

What should I be teaching my 16 months old?

This is a wonderful age for teaching your little one new concepts and they will love to copy you so make the most of their ability to watch, learn and participate. 

You can start teaching them to count from 1-3 from on your fingers to building blocks and counting rhymes.. 

They can also start to learn good manners if you say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ everytime you hand them something or ask for something they will eventually say it too.

How many words should a 16 month say

At this age, your toddler will still understand far more than they can say but you should be able to recognise between 7-15 words that they regularly now use. They will still use mostly non-verbal communication such as pointing and gesturing.

Why is my 16 month old so clingy?

As I am always saying each child is an individual and as with us all, some children are more confident than others.

If you have a clingy toddler it is probably just down to their personality. 

They may need more time to get used to a new situation and need to sit on your lap and observe what is going on before getting down to explore. 

Separation anxiety can arise at any age from about 9 months upwards and is perfectly normal. It is usually transitory and in toddlers, it may be triggered by the arrival of a new sibling or moving home. 

If your little one needs more time to let go then don’t force it, be patient and don’t make a big thing of the fact that they want to stay close to you. Spend some time playing with them before you leave them at nursery or with a relative. 

If they are reluctant to let you go, make sure you have time to take things slowly.

Checklist For this month:

  • Let your toddler feed themselves either with finger and thumb or spoon
  • Encourage your toddler to draw with crayons and finger paint
  • Read lots of interactive books and let them turn the pages
  • Sing lots of action rhymes
  • Help your little one to kick a ball
  • Let your toddler climb and clamber safely
  • Take some building blocks and build a tower together, knock it down and start again
  • Introduce counting games and rhymes
  • Take your 16 month old photo!
  • Read our 17 month old article to know what to expect next month!
16 Month Old Checklist

Game of the month:

16 month old game of the month

Go and Find

Playing ‘Go and Find’ is a great game for 16 month old toddlers as they will love searching for whatever you have asked for. This age group loves to move and explore and they will be delighted with the joy on your face when they bring back the desired object.

How? Ask your little one to go and find familiar objects and bring them to you. When they bring the item to you, enthusiastically praise.

Book of the month:

Peek A Who

What is it? A great board book for this age group with easy to turn pages.

Why do I recommend it? You may have introduced this book to your little one before this age but now they will be able to really enjoy the rhyming texts of this lovely interactive book.

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Top Parenting Tips For The Month

Parenting a 16 month old can be very exhausting (and sometimes very repetitive!) but also AMAZING fun. 

This is a time of great discovery especially as they are more mobile. As with every stage in the early years, time passes very quickly! So make the most of each day and enjoy each phase with your baby.

Here are some top tips for getting through the 16 month old phase:

  • Let your child sometimes play without interruption
  • Have a stable and regular routine
  • Be consistent
  • Start to set boundaries
  • See the world through your child’s eyes
  • Toddler proof your home
  • Stick to a regular bedtime
  • Get outside every day
  • Sing nursery and action rhymes 
  • Read lots of age appropriate books. 
  • Play musical instruments and sing and dance
  • Give your 16 month old lots of hugs and cuddles
  • Encourage your toddler to move and enjoy physical activities
  • Appreciate that you will have good days and bad days with your child

If you enjoyed this post and know other parents who would enjoy this content, be sure to give it a share around!

As I mentioned in this post, if you're looking for products for your little one and you're not sure where to begin, be sure to check out my Parenting Toolbox.

It is full of all my favourite products which I've tried to ensure are all non-toxic, eco friendly, sustainable and, of course, they’re all baby proof!

Do you have any blog recommendations that you'd like me to write about? Drop me an email [email protected] and let me know. I love hearing from you!

Thank you for your continued support!

Teething to Tantrums Author

Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the childcare industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.

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