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

By Paula McLaren •  Updated: 02/25/21 •  21 min read  •  Toddler » Toddler Development

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!)

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


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.


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 

Gross Motor 





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: 

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. 

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:

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).

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

Breakfast Options:

Lunch Options:

Dinner Options:

Snack Options:

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

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!

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

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.

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.

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.


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. 

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:

16 Month Old Checklist

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.

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:

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!

Paula McLaren

Paul Mclaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the child care 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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