Toddler Care: Your 16 Month Old Toddler

Feb 27, 2022 | 2 Minutes Read

This is the age of climbing for many toddlers who, once they have mastered walking, seem to want to see the world from a higher vantage point. Couches, chairs, beds, and even bookcases will all provide an opportunity for your 16-month-old to scale upwards on their sturdy little legs. You’ll be constantly surprised this month about how they interpret different objects and the imaginative ways they’ll use them. Containers become hats; empty tissue boxes are really shoes; and your purse is the latest must-have fashion item to be paraded around the house.

When you have a toddler in the house, everyday life takes on another dimension. They tend to be noisy little people, with little consideration for others’ needs or belongings. For a 16-month-old, what’s yours is theirs; what they want they get; and there are no social niceties to adhere to.

Your toddler is too young to understand that some things are not meant to be touched or picked up, but this does not mean you can’t start some early discipline and guidance strategies. Saying “no,” removing an object and putting it somewhere safe, and then offering them an alternative to play with is sufficient at this age. Distraction is a vital component of turning their attention away from an activity that is not safe.

Modify your home so that you don’t need to constantly divert your 16-month-old away from precious or unsafe items. Aim for a simple and safe home environment. You may need to accept the fact that although your home may not appear exactly as you’d like it to now, it is safe and suitable for a young family.

Growth and development at 16 months old

Your toddler may not have fully grasped the concept of walking just yet and could be still unsure about taking their first steps. If you are concerned, have them checked by your pediatric healthcare provider. The age at which a child walks has a genetic component and is influenced by many other factors. Make sure your toddler has lots of opportunity to practice their walking skills and isn’t spending long hours in their crib, stroller, or playpen. Even being carried in a toddler carrier for long periods can impact time spent on the floor.

Your toddler will be able to play with blocks this month and build a tower of 3 to 4 on top of each other. They’ll practice the same repetitive game over and over and then delight in them all crashing to the floor. Watch them as they copy your actions and mimic your behavior. Sweeping the floor, using a towel, and opening the fridge will all be seen as wonderful games by your little one. You’ll hear yourself replicated in their voice and, although they won’t be able to speak clearly yet, the pitch and rhythm of your tone will be mimicked.

Don’t be alarmed if your toddler has flat feet. This is completely normal in the toddler years, and it won’t be until they are around 4 years of age that the arches in their feet develop. Likewise, their hands may still look very small with short, plump fingers. With time, your toddler’s bones will grow and their muscles, ligaments, joints, and body shape will change considerably. How they appear now is not a snapshot of their final appearance when they have matured fully.

Play and interaction at 16 months old

Get out the finger paints, crayons, and stacks of paper this month! Your toddler’s fine motor skills are continuing to develop, and they’ll delight in learning mastery over their hands and fingers. Finger painting is loads of fun and will help to create a lovely mess. Date your toddler’s artwork and keep the very best of it. Over time, it is exciting to look back and see how far they have developed in their skill and technique.

Go to the park when you can and encourage your toddler to climb on the age-appropriate equipment. Watch your own reactions to their explorations and be encouraging. Show them how to safely scale the ladders, swings, and equipment, and do some exploring with them. Your 16-month-old will love it when you become involved in their games.

Aim to rotate your toddler’s toys to keep them interested in the novelty of something new. Your toddler will have a very short memory of the toys as the saying out of sight out of mind must have been written for a 16-month-old. Avoid thinking the more money you spend, the more fun the toy will be.

Toddlers make their own games and are attracted to anything bright that fosters their imagination. Look for toys which have lots of color and noise, and ones that they can interact with in some way. Some toddlers develop a deep affection for quite unusual household items, particularly those made of soft and cozy materials. This is all part of being a toddler.

What you can expect at 16 months old

Some frustration, anger, and tantrums may come from your toddler this month. Stay calm when they are having their own little meltdown. There may be times when you need to take a deep breath and just walk away for a few moments. Counting to 10, asking your partner to watch them while you take a break, or phoning a friend can all help. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your toddler can turn from being an angry little person to being their happy self again. Having a short fuse and little tolerance for frustrating situations is all part of a toddler’s personality as they explore their new independence, learn there are boundaries, and struggle with communicating their feelings. It doesn’t take much to set them off but through you they will learn the qualities of patience and perseverance.

Your toddler’s concept of time still needs to develop so they won’t appreciate it when you are in a hurry or just want to get something done. They’re on their own time frame which means there will be some battles of will sometimes. Allow for some interesting moments when they can dress themselves or do something which would only take you a minute. Aim to look for a compromise and give them some control and autonomy over one area of the job, and then you do the rest. Praise your toddler when they achieve a task. Giving a toddler attention and positive feedback is as vital to them as food—they will thrive on it, so don’t be frugal when it comes to telling them they’ve done a great job! They will want to please you and make you happy.

Food and nutrition at 16 months old

Your toddler needs to be eating the same meals as the rest of the family now, so avoid cooking them special or separate foods. Cereals, breads, pasta, rice, milk, dairy foods, meat, fish, chicken, fruits, and vegetables will provide all their nutritional needs for growth and energy. Think about your own attitude and relationship to food and model appropriate eating behaviors. If you are eating something, your toddler will want to try it so be careful about what they see you putting in your own mouth.

Keep taking food with you whenever you go out and remember your toddler has a small stomach. They will need to eat every couple of hours to satisfy their hunger and to help avoid mood swings. Processed cereals, fruit bars, packaged biscuits and processed snack foods are less healthy alternatives to simple foods which still bear some resemblance to their original state. Fresh fruit cut up into small pieces, sandwiches, cheese, and crackers are all healthy choices.

Keeping your toddler healthy at 16 months old

Think about the plants you in your yard and if they are safe to have around your toddler. Check your garage and shed for poisons and chemicals that your toddler could access. Now that they are at a climbing age, the potential for them to access dangerous compounds has expanded. Think about your own habits when it comes to household products and how and where you use them. You’ll be amazed by how quickly your toddler can find a way to get to what they want. Childproof lids are not a guarantee of security so make a point of keeping all chemicals well out of reach.

General tips

  • If your 16-month-old is still waking during the night, think about your own responses to them. A short, brief period of reassurance is fine; any more is being a little generous.
  • A toddler’s readiness to begin toilet training varies quite a bit. Some might have already begun trying, while others might not show signs of being ready until they hit the age of 3 or older. Save yourself and your toddler unnecessary stress by letting the process unfold naturally.
  • Expect big messes when there is water and dirt around. Your toddler will be drawn to dirt like a magnet. Be realistic about the clothing they wear and don’t expect them to have any respect for special clothing. Dress them a minute before you leave the house if you want them to stay clean and tidy.
  • Have a supply of special treats just for you and your partner to eat when your toddler goes to bed at night. You deserve some positive rewards for the hard work you’re investing in parenting during these busy months.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at