17 -Month-Old Baby Milestones

By now, your 17-months toddler may have started improving her vocabulary at a rapid pace. You may find her using verbs and even hear her speak short sentences. She is also mastering her motor skills day by day. Read on to find out what 17 months baby activities you can do to support your toddler’s development this month.

17 Months Baby Development Milestones

Although every toddler is unique and may reach certain development milestones a little earlier or later, these are some of the common 17-month baby milestones you might see around this time:

  • Starts using active verbs:

Not only might your toddler be pronouncing words more clearly by now, but she may also be using active verbs like “go” or “jump,” as well as directional words like “up,” “down,” “in,” or “out.” She may say something like “go down slide” or “I jump up.”

  • Expands vocabulary:

You may find that your toddler’s vocabulary is growing more quickly than before. She may be able to say a bunch of words, especially those words for her favourite toys, people, and parts of her body. Soon, she may start putting words together to make two- to four-word sentences, such as “I want ball.”

  • Improves hand and finger dexterity:

Your child may be able to pick up small objects between her forefinger and thumb more easily than before. As her coordination gets better, she might be able to scribble on a piece of paper or roll modelling clay in her hand.

How to Support Your 17-Month-Old’s Development

Here are some ways that you can support your 17-month-old baby's development:

  • Name everyday objects:

You can help your child develop word associations by naming and explaining common objects and everyday activities; for example, you could say a pan is used for cooking food. You can even use toys to help illustrate this, such as by letting your toddler play with a toy kitchen or a toy phone.

  • Make brushing her teeth fun:

Establishing good oral hygiene and tooth-brushing habits can never start too early. Place a smidgen of toothpaste on your toddler’s brush and help her brush her teeth twice a day. (You’ll most likely need to be her helper until she's about six to eight years old.) To make this less of a chore and more of an enjoyable activity, you could play music for about two minutes while you brush your child’s teeth. This can help reinforce that those two minutes is the recommended amount of time for doing a good job of brushing her teeth.

  • Allow your child a transitional object:

It’s OK to let your toddler use a blankie or a teddy bear to soothe herself. These types of objects might also help your child fall asleep and give her comfort if she wakes up in the middle of the night. Just make sure that the object doesn’t have any parts that can become a choking hazard, like ribbons or buttons.

  • Weave books into your daily routine:

Tuck some books into your car or diaper bag so that you can pull one out when you need it. For example, when you're at the grocery store, give your toddler a board book or two to look at while you're wheeling her around in the shopping cart. Just be sure to keep an eye out for any that gets dropped in the aisles!

Mealtimes and Menus for Your 17-Month-Old

Don’t be surprised if your toddler is a picky eater from time to time—this is a normal part of toddler and pre-schooler development. Her appetite may fluctuate now that her growth rate has slowed, and she's forming likes and dislikes about many things, not just food. Even knowing this information, you may find it difficult to deal with the situation, but it won’t be impossible.

Following are some tips and strategies for how to handle your toddler’s pickiness and keep mealtimes pleasant:

  • Don’t force your toddler to eat:

The more you urge or insist that your child eat a certain food or meal, the more she will resist it.

  • Give your toddler menu options:

Offer your toddler a few healthy foods even if she’s being picky. She’s bound to choose one of them. However, if she doesn’t want to eat, save her plate for later when she gets hungry. A toddler during this time typically eats three small meals and two snacks per day.

  • Have a relaxing family meal together:

Sit down to a family meal without the distractions of TV or smartphones and serve the same food to everyone at the table, including your toddler. If your family likes spicy food, set aside some unseasoned portions for your toddler. You may want to make sure that at least one of the foods on the menu is her favourite so there’s a better chance of her eating it.

  • Don’t use food as a reward:

It’s not a good idea to reward your toddler with food, especially sweets. This approach can backfire and cause more battles in the future.

  • Don’t give up on introducing a new food:

It may take as many as 10 tries to get your child to accept a certain food. But once you do succeed, keep going in the same vein. For example, if you’ve finally succeeded in getting her to eat broccoli, you might introduce cauliflower. You may also try adding a little grated or melted cheese to make it more appealing.

  • Make cooking and serving food enjoyable:

Invite your child to help you prepare a few simple recipes. She might help you stir pancake batter for your Saturday morning family breakfast, for instance. When you serve her, be creative - for example, place berries on her pancake in the shape of a smiley face. Or you could cut some colourful vegetables into fun shapes or arrange them in a rainbow on the plate.

The Art of Feeding a Toddler

Follow these guidelines for feeding your toddler:

  • Make sure the food you give her isn’t too hot by testing it yourself.

  • Avoid food that is too spicy, salty, buttery, or sweet.

  • Ensure the food is cut up into small pieces or mashed so that it’s easy for your child to eat. (Children under 4 years of age don’t chew with a grinding motion, so it’s important that foods are in bite-size pieces.)

  • Keep your toddler seated during mealtimes. This is important for reducing the risk of choking, which is more likely if your child is eating while playing or “eating on the run.”

  • Teach her to chew and swallow her food before speaking.

17-Month-Old Toddler Sleep Schedule

At 17 months old, your toddler typically needs 12 to 14 hours of sleep every day. By 17 months, your baby may be down to one nap a day.

Here are some safe sleep tips to follow for your toddler:

  • Keep your child’s crib mattress at the lowest setting so that she can’t climb out

  • Ensure the crib is free of objects that your toddler could use to help her climb out, such as a large plush item or any toys that can be stacked

  • Although this may be a while off, once your toddler gets to the point where she is able to climb out of her crib you may need to transition her to a low toddler bed

  • Make sure the crib is positioned away from windows, drapes, electrical outlets, and cords

  • Remove any crib gyms, mobiles, or toys that are hanging over your toddler’s crib, if you haven’t already.

A Day in the Life of Your Toddler

Life is completely different with a toddler in the house. Here’s what a typical day might look like:

Your Toddler’s Health and Safety: Being Outdoors

If the weather is good, your toddler will enjoy spending time playing outside, whether it’s in the backyard, at the local park, or at a nearby playground. The following are some ways you can help protect your toddler when he’s outside with you:

  • Create a safe perimeter:

To prevent your toddler from going outside without your knowledge, install door locks that are out of his reach, baby gates, or even alarms that alert you to his movement. These precautions can help prevent your child from wandering out to the swimming pool (if you have one), or to the driveway, or onto the street. All pools should always have a fence on all four sides and a gate with a childproof lock that’s closed.

  • Keep your child close:

Whether you’re near a busy street, in a parking lot, standing on a driveway, or in a quiet residential neighbourhood, it’s a good idea to hold on to your toddler and keep a watchful eye on him.

  • Practice car safety:

This is important when you or another family member might be backing out of your driveway. Make sure you know where your toddler is and that he is unable to run behind the vehicle. Although many new cars have a rear-view backup camera, it’s still important to be extra vigilant and know where your toddler is at all times. And when your car is not in use, make sure that the doors are locked.

  • Apply sunscreen at all times:

The sun’s invisible ultraviolet light rays are harmful even on foggy or hazy days, and even in winter when UV rays reflect off snow. You’ll want to ensure your toddler is protected. Look for a baby sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher and one that offers protection from UVA and UVB light. Apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outside. Remember to reapply the sunscreen often, because even though the label says it’s sweat-proof and waterproof, no sunscreen really is.

  • Dress your toddler in appropriate clothing:

Cotton clothing with long sleeves and long pants is a good to protect your child's skin from the sun in warmer months. SPF clothing and wide-brimmed hats are also recommended to protect your toddler from sunburn.

  • Make sure your child is drinking plenty of water:

When your toddler is playing outside, it’s important that he stays hydrated. Dehydration can make your child ill.

  • Stay with your child when in or near water:

Don’t leave your child unattended near an open body of water such as a lake or swimming pool.


During this month, your 17-month-old might be able to do things like:

•   Build a tower out of blocks and then knock them down

•   Insert different shapes, like squares, circles, or triangles, into matching holes

•   Name familiar people or objects

•   Speak two-to-four-word sentences

•   Play make-believe games.

Keep in mind that each toddler develops at a unique pace, and your little one may develop these skills a little earlier or later than this.

Your Life as a Parent: Create a Network of Support

It’s totally alright to look for help sometimes—all parents do! Support from family and friends can make all the difference – after all a network of support always comes in handy when you need an extra pair of hands. You can create a support network in the following ways:

  • You can talk to family and friends living nearby. One of the wonderful resources, family members and close friends can be your go-to if you need an impromptu babysitter. The best part is that they enjoy being a part of your child’s life.

  • You can also build a circle with your neighbours who have children of a similar age. Feeling isolated is quite bound to happen if you keep to yourself. Your new network can also come in handy when your child needs a babysitter, or you might want to carpool to a local event or even day care.

  • Joining a local organisation or parent-child group like the local YMCA or YWCA, or a religious centre or community centre can be helpful too. This way, you get to know other parents in your locality with whom you can share parenting tips, bond over the experiences in raising a child, and also help each other out from time to time.

  • You can also look to your doctor for support, where you can discuss your personal family problems. Your doctor is there to help you find the support you need. He/she can also help recommend a therapist or counsellor.

Development Tips for Your Toddler This Month The following advice can help your 17-month-old toddler’s development in many ways: 

  • Be sensitive to your toddler's moods and rhythms. Every child has their own unique personality. Support your 17-month-old by responding to them with consistency and encouragement, and if necessary, discipline. Avoid raising your voice at your child or never resort to hitting. 

  • Offer warm physical touch. 

Hugs, cuddles, and all forms of loving physical contact help foster your toddler’s sense of security. The key is providing this consistently. Take every opportunity to get close to your little one. 

  • Help your child communicate. Toddlers can have a tough time communicating since their vocabulary is limited. Try describing your feelings to your 17-month-old so they can understand what it means to be “glad,” “mad,” or “sad.” This can also be very effective in heading off any potential tantrums. 

  • Encourage playing with toys. Simple toys are just as effective as the latest and greatest ones on the market. Your 17-month-old may get more pleasure from the box a brand-new toy came in than the toy itself. Around this time, it’s a good idea to introduce toys that encourage fine motor skill development and hand-eye coordination, such as building blocks and soft toys. 

 Items You’ll Need This Month See if you need to find or purchase any of the following baby gear items or supplies this month: 

  • Toddler car seat. Check that your current car safety seat is suitable for your child's age and size; if not, you may need to upgrade to another seat. The car seat should be installed rear-facing in the vehicle's backseat until your child reaches the height or weight limit set by the manufacturer, which most likely will be when they’re at least 2 years old.  

  • Sunscreen. Whenever you go outside with your toddler, be prepared with sunscreen. Look for one with SPF 30 or higher and that offers protection from UVA and UVB light. Apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outside. Remember to reapply the sunscreen often, because even though the label says it’s sweat-proof and waterproof, no sunscreen really is. 

  • Child-proof cabinet locks. Be sure to child-proof your home, including using cabinet locks to keep cupboards off limits from inquisitive toddlers. It’s also a good idea to keep certain doors locked, such as the ones to the garage, laundry room, basement, etc. 

  • Child’s toothbrush. As mentioned above, you’re probably helping your toddler brush their teeth. Make it more fun for them by purchasing a child’s toothbrush with their favorite cartoon character. This can make them look forward to learning to brush their own teeth. 

  • Diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream. Avoid any emergency runs to the store by keeping a healthy supply of diapers and wipes in the house, as well as some diaper rash cream.  

 Checklist for This Month □ Childproof the grandparents’ homes. If your little one will be staying at the grandparents’ soon, check beforehand to make sure that their homes are childproofed, which could include installing covers or plugs on electrical outlets, bumpers on furniture corners, and baby gates on stairs.  □ Consider riding a bicycle with your child. If the weather is nice, think about heading out for a ride with your little one as a passenger. You can attach a child carrier to the back of your bike, but keep in mind that you’ll need to increase your braking time, as the weight of your toddler in the back makes your bike more unstable. Another option might be having your child ride in a bicycle towed trailer.  □ Watch over your toddler when around pets. You may believe that your gentle pet wouldn’t hurt your child, but you can’t predict what an animal’s behavior might be around children, who often don't realize that they’re playing too roughly. It’s safest not to leave your toddler alone with your pet or with anyone else's pet. Always make sure pets are up to date with rabies immunizations. □ Plan time for yourself. Being a parent of an on-the-go toddler is a challenging job. Cut yourself some slack and take some time for yourself. Ask your babysitter, family member, or trusted friend to watch your child. Use the time to treat yourself to a dinner date or a movie with your partner, a spa treatment, or even a simple walk in the park to clear your mind—whatever relaxes you. 

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