Your toddler at 20 months

Watch him explore and investigate – developing and trying out his growing senses. You’ll also see his body shape start to change now.


What’s happening with your toddler?

By 20 months, he may have reached the following stages:


Score! He may now be able to walk a ball forward, or even kick it. Encourage this new found skill with lots of kicking and running around in playgrounds and parks. Try him with different ball shapes, textures and ones that jangle as he kicks them.

Sensory sensations: As a younger baby he put most objects in his mouth. He’ll still put some things in there, but now his other senses are starting to take over when he’s exploring. You’ll now see him sniffing, listening, touching and stroking. He’ll also enjoy looking at his own reflection in a mirror.

Puppy fat: Over the next 6 months you’ll start to see his body shape change as his squishy knees and rounded tummy start to slim down. He’s turning into a proper little boy now, so get those squeezy cuddles in now!

Simply does it: He can now understand simple instructions, but he may not yet follow them!

How you can help your toddler this month

Getting dressed: He may already be able to take off his shoes, socks and hat so it’s now time to help him learn how to take off the rest of his clothes and maybe even put a few back on. It’s so tempting to do it all for him, especially if you’re rushing off to nursery or playgroup but he will learn quicker in the long term if you give him the chance to develop the skill now. Try involving him the night before by selecting his clothes for the next day together (but limit his choice). Encourage his independence by getting him to lift his arms or legs and letting him try to put them into sleeves or trouser legs before you automatically do it. Praise him for his success.

Your toddler’s health

Breath holding: This is something that can start in his second year and last until he is about 4. There are two types:

  • Cyanotic or blue attacks are the more common type of tantrum-induced breath holding. He gives a cry until his lungs are empty, then voluntarily holds his breath and makes himself pass out.
  • Pallid or faint attacks – these are not true breath holding attacks, but more like a fainting spell rather than attention seeking. These are involuntary and unpredictable.

Once you have witnessed one breath holding attack, you can often spot the warning signs of another one. Many typical toddler angers and frustrations can trigger breath holding. It can come at the end of a ‘regular’ tantrum as it reaches pitch-point and the child gets extremely angry. They can be very frightening for mum or dad – so do consult your GP after the first attack to confirm the diagnosis and to get some reassurance.

Play ideas for your toddler

Getting creative: It’s going to get messy so invest in a good painting overall or cut up an old shirt for him to wear! He’ll enjoy painting, crayoning and using felt tips. Getting paint on his hands and making hand prints is all part of the fun. Try not to constantly clean him up as he goes along. Experiment by adding washing liquid and extra water to the paint to make it thicker.


Your child’s development may not be exactly the same as these descriptions since all children will develop at their own pace. This is an approximate guide of some of the new skills your little one may be developing. If you have any concerns, always speak to your health visitor or GP.

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