Toddler development and milestones: your 20 month old

It's time to break out the paint! Your toddler's creativity and imaginations are blooming. You are his guide in this stage of toddler development of his exciting and sometimes scary journey.

Just 4 months away from turning 2! Your little one suddenly seems to be growing up too soon! Look! Your child's independence has started becoming more evident. He will also want to take off his own clothes!  

All children develop at their own pace. Some are placid little angels, some are little whirling dervishes. Some toddlers speak in whole sentences, other toddlers still prefer sign language.

None of this is any indication for their future development or education. It is often said that Einstein did not begin speaking until three years old! 

20 Month Old Development And Milestones: Is Your Tot On Track?

Physical Development

Stairs pose no threat to your little walker! Up and up he goes, and with a little help, he can get safely down again as well. It seems your little one is in a hurry and he much prefers running to walking these days. If he's a dancer, you might even catch him skipping! 


  • Standing on one foot is an important step in physical toddler development. See if your little one can do it if you hold his hand. Balancing on his own is still hard enough on two feet, let alone one!
  • He will also will try to climb on different furnitures in the house.
  • In fine motor development your tiny tot should be able to draw lines. Not straight and clean ones, but a big bunch together. That is, if you manage to sit him still long enough!
  • He does love making shapes though, and paint, especially finger paint, is great to practice his coordination. Since children love to paint themselves even more, you could either give him a bib - or just take his clothes off! For an even easier clean up, try letting your tiny tot paint in the bathroom or on the balcony.

When to visit your doctor?

  • This is the age to fall and get bruised, still trying to get the grasp of things. But if your child is crying incessantly for hours or if the area has swollen, it is best to show the doctor for any severe injuries that needs medical attention.

Cognitive Development

Your little one's brain is constantly buzzing, learning new things and exploring his surroundings. As his imagination is blooming, you might notice he gets more fearful. As he is able to imagine things that are not right in front of him, he is also able to think of scary stuff.

Take his fears seriously. He does not yet know how to differentiate between what is real and what is imaginary. He relies on you to help him make sense of his thoughts and fears. Let him know that he can always come to you and be safe in your loving arms.


  • His attention span is still very short, so even if he is very afraid, you can usually distract him after a quick cuddle.
  • Your toddler loves to muck about with sand, water, leaves and mud. It's time to designate play clothes! Put him in these clothes when you know you'll be going out and he'll get dirty, so you won't worry too much.
  • He also adores water play, so keep a stack of plastic bowls and boxes in the bathroom for him to play with.
  • Look how he imitates you. His favorite one will be picking up things and throwing it! 
  • He will also play during meal times, and imitate you, by trying to feed that doll or teddy!

When to visit your doctor?

  • If you see that there is too much aggression or unable to express during any activity that he is into, please do visit a doctor to rule out any conditions. 

20 month old development

Social and Emotional Development

Children learn best when they feel secure and loved. Comfort your child when he needs it, and, for now, go easy on the expectations! All children develop at their own pace, and whether they hit their developmental milestones right on time, earlier or later, research has shown that by school age all children are pretty much on the same level.


  • Be prepared for the onset of tantrums. Your formerly placid little bubba may turn into a little banshee if he doesn't get his way! Crying, flinging himself on the floor, screaming, kicking, biting, are all part of this stage of toddler development.
  • The most important thing is to stay calm yourself. Your little one has not yet learned self control. He needs you to show him the right behaviour.
  • To encourage him to behave well, try not to give in (too often) if he stages a public demonstration. Instead, take him to a quiet place so he can calm down.
  • Most of the people looking at you will be feeling compassion. After all, we have all been there!
  • It is hard to understand where the tantrums come from. Often it'll be frustration over things that to grown-ups are not important at all. Other times it's tiredness, or hunger, or too much excitement.
  • When it comes to playdates, short and sweet is the way to go. Be sure there are enough toys for all children, because at this stage of toddler development, your little one has not yet mastered the skill of sharing. A few kids that drop by regularly suits your tot better than big, festive gatherings.

When to visit your doctor?

  • Maybe you are wondering if your toddler's behaviour is getting out of control. One in four toddlers is sensitive and has difficulty to adjust to change. These children will be more prone to tantrums. If you think this applies to your child, have a talk with childhood developmental specialist to find the right strategies for your situation.


Speech and Language Development

The average toddler knows and speaks 15 words at 20 months, but the average toddler does not exist! So look at your little one, and follow his lead. If you do worry, speak with your paediatrician.


  • Your tot might be beginning to ask questions, with the upwards inflection at the end of the sentence. He might be even saying two word sentences, such as "baby milk" or "ball throw".
  • You might notice he prefers words and names to pronouns, and calls himself "baby" or by his own name. This is because pronouns are still tricky to manage, whereas words like "mummy" and "daddy" and "baby" are clearly defined.
  • He will be more than excited to learn new words. Try and teach them atleast 10 new words from a picture book.
  • Avoid saying 'NO' to everything, it will loose it's importance. Try using more affirmative sentences, that's what they will learn in the future as well.

When to visit your doctor?

  • If your toddler is not using any words at all by now (if not sentences), it is best to visit the doctor to check for any speech delay issues.

Health And Nutrition

Around 90% of the child's brain usually develops in the first 5 years of their life. Have you pondered what would happen if your child had a very happy and healthy first 5 years?

Nutrition plays a very important role in the brain development, and though your tiny one will make it very difficult for you to feed him the best, it is not really impossible!


  • For a 20 month old, it is very easy to fall sick within a fraction of a second and they easily recover as well. But worry not, this is only helping them build their immunity
  • When you see that your child is suddenly scratching, or inactive, best to check their body temperature.
  • On an average a 20 month old weighs `0.8-17.4 kgs, while his height will be around 86.4-100.4 cm.
  • He will also try to pick up and eat anything and everything he can get his hands on. Make sure the food around him is healthy, fresh and nutritious.
  • Colorful food items will help get your toddler's attention. Make sure in a day, your toddler eats atelast one whole fruit (50-100 gms), a bowl of veggies in any form, and 250-300 ml of milk. In case of proteins, they can finish an entire egg, or a small chunk of meat.

20 month old development


Your toddler’s previous month: 19 months

Your toddler’s next month: 21 months

Do you have questions on this 20 month old toddler development guide? Share with us in the comments!