Your not-so-little one is on the go these days, which means she might be crawling, cruising, or even be taking those first thrilling steps. In the coming months, watch for her to slowly begin to test her boundaries by expressing what she wants in a more forthright way.

This growing independence and emerging personality will be exciting for you, and — at times — a little challenging. It can be hard work entertaining a toddler … and tiring her out!

Learn more about what may be in store for your 13-month-old, including some development milestones she might reach this month, food discoveries and appetite swings to look out for, what kind of sleep schedule your toddler may respond well to, and much more.

Toddler Development Milestones

Every toddler is unique, developing in her own way and on her own timeline, so these milestones aren’t set in stone. Instead, these are the kinds of things you might start to see at 13 months, although it’s possible you might start seeing them a little earlier or later:

  • Slower growth. Compared to the rapid growth of the first 12 months, your little one’s growth will now start to slow. Your toddler will probably put on only about three to five pounds in the coming year. Your healthcare provider will continue to check her growth against the growth charts at your toddler’s regular checkups.

  • Toddling. As the name “toddler” suggests, your little one will likely start toddling soon, if she hasn't already taken those first few steps. Learning to walk doesn't happen all at once, so be prepared for lots of stops and starts and falls. Even things like a change in surface or changing directions may cause her to lose her balance and drop to the ground. In time, she’ll become more skilled and confident. It usually takes a month or two to go from those tentative early steps to your toddler being able to stand and move independently without you there to support her.

How to Support Your 13-Month-Old’s Development

These are some steps you can take to support your 13-month-old’s development:

  • Read together every day. Spending a few minutes reading to your little one — whether at bedtime or earlier in the day — can be a cherished part of your family life as well as a great learning opportunity. As you look at the pictures together, name the objects or animals she’s pointing to, and help her turn the page. Around this month your little one may be able to pick a book to read, and mimic the sounds animals make after you’ve shown her a few times.

  • Choose toys that help foster hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Give your 13-month-old things like big blocks and soft toys to play with. She'll enjoy getting better at picking up objects with her thumb and forefinger, and holding onto them.

  • Have conversations with your little one. Your 13-month-old may not be talking much yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have “conversations” that aid in language development. Diaper changes, bath time, strolls in the park, and drives can be great opportunities to "narrate your day," talking with your little one about what you’re doing and what’s happening in the world around her. Feel free to use your “adult voice” with her now.

  • Wean off the bottle (if you haven't already). If your child still uses a bottle, it's time to transition to a sippy cup. Experts recommend completing the switch from the bottle to cup by 18 months. A good way to start is by gradually removing the midday bottle, then the morning and afternoon one, and finally the bedtime bottle.

Mealtimes and Menus for Your 13-Month-Old

Your child is still getting the hang of feeding herself, either with a spoon or her fingers, and drinking from a cup. Mealtime messes and spills are part of the learning process, and sometime part of the fun for your toddler.

You may notice that your toddler seems to be less hungry than before. Though growth rates, metabolism, and activity levels vary from child to child, 13-month-olds need roughly 1,000 calories a day. These can come from three small meals and two snacks.

That's not as much food as you might think, though; 16 to 24 ounces of whole milk could account for 300 to 450 of those daily calories, for example.

You may also notice that:

  • Your child may consume close to 1,000 calories one day but eat much more or much less the following day

  • She may want a huge breakfast but then not be hungry the rest of the day

  • She may gobble up a favorite food but then reject that same food a few days later.

Go with the flow by offering a variety of nutritious foods from the main food groups: proteins like meat and eggs; dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese; fruits; vegetables; and whole grain foods such as cereals, pasta, and breads.

Don’t stress about achieving a balanced meal at each sitting. If you offer healthful options at each meal, your little one will eat what her body needs to ensure she gets the right balance of nutrients over the course of a few days.

The key is to experiment with different tastes and consistencies, offer lots of nutritious options, and let your little one choose how much and what to eat. For more inspiration, check out these tips on feeding a 12- to 18-month-old, and take a look at this sample daily menu for your 13-month-old:

Toddler sample menu

Introducing Cow’s Milk

Now that your little one is 13 months old, cow’s milk should be a regular part of her diet. You can offer 16 to 24 ounces of either whole or 2 percent milk; check with your healthcare provider if you're unsure which kind is best for your child. Be sure you're giving the milk in a cup rather than a bottle.

With cow’s milk now on the menu (as well as a greater range of solid foods) you might notice changes in her poop. This is normal, but if your little one gets diarrhea or becomes constipated, or you’re worried about the contents of her diapers for any reason at all, contact your toddler’s healthcare provider.

13-Month-Old Toddler Sleep Schedule

In total, your 13-month-old probably needs about 12 to 14 hours of sleep a day.

Although your little one may still need 2 daytime naps at this stage, around half of all toddlers are down to 1 nap a day by 15 months. The transition to a single nap will probably happen gradually over the coming months. You might find that the morning nap will be the first nap to go because your toddler no longer needs it.

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to your 13-month-old’s sleep schedule. Experts recommend watching your little one for signs of tiredness — like crabbiness — and adjusting his sleep schedule to match.

A Day in the Life of Your Toddler

Now that you have a toddler on your hands, here’s a look at what a day in your home might look like:

A Day in the Life of Your 13-Month-Old Toddler

Your Toddler’s Health: Establishing a Healthy Lifestyle Early

As your toddler starts to eat a greater variety of foods, and starts to exert a little more control over his activities and choices, it’s a great idea to establish healthy habits nice and early. Here are just some of the ways you can start to do this, even now:

  • Give your little one lots of opportunities to move, whether it’s crawling, cruising, or walking at this stage

  • Follow your child's cues that he’s full, and don’t force him to eat when he’s not hungry

  • Instead of giving sugary snacks, give your toddler healthy snacks like fruit, wholegrain crackers, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods

  • Avoid screen time and digital media until your child is at least 18 months to 24 months old.

  • Set a good example by eating nutritious, healthy foods yourself and staying physically active

  • Avoid using food as a reward. Instead, reinforce good behavior by telling your little one he has done a great job or by giving him a hug and a kiss.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • There’s no definitive answer, as language development varies quite a bit from child to child. At 13 months, some toddlers may be able to say a few simple words like “mama” and “bye-bye.” If you’re concerned that your 13-month-old is not talking yet, speak to your toddler’s healthcare provider.
  • Some children are walking at 13 months, while others are not. There’s a broad time frame for what is considered normal, and if your little one hasn’t taken his first steps yet, it's likely he soon will. Experts say that most children start walking anywhere from just before their first birthday to about 18 months.

    Talk to your baby’s healthcare provider if you’re concerned that your toddler is not walking, or if you have concerns about any of his development milestones.

  • Your 13-month-old probably needs between 12 and 14 hours of sleep a day.
  • Each child develops at his own pace. Here are some things your 13-month-old may be able to do now or in the next few months:

    • Say a few simple words like “mama” and “dada”
    • Recognize common words like “cup”
    • Recognize familiar people
    • React to sounds by turning and looking to see where they came from
    • Be able to act on simple instructions (for example, if you ask him to point to his favorite teddy he may be able to do it successfully)
    • Enjoy banging objects together to make a noise
    • Do certain things to watch you react in a certain way — such as dropping his sippy cup so that you will pick it up
    • Pick up large objects using his thumb and forefinger.
  • Use a baby thermometer to take your little one’s temperature. Typically, any temperature over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit indicates a fever.

    If the temperature reading is 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, contact your baby’s healthcare provider right away. For advice on what to do if you suspect your 13-month-old has a fever, read more about fever in babies or speak to your provider.

Your Life as a Parent: Being Ever Vigilant

Your 13-month-old is increasingly independent and curious about the world but will not yet be able to understand your instructions about what is right and wrong. This means a big part of your role is being vigilant to ensure that your little one stays safe.

For example, if your 13-month-old picks up a breakable object, he won’t yet be able to follow your instructions to put it down gently. Instead, you’ll have to take the object from him, place it out of reach, and quickly substitute a safe object for him to play with instead.

Aside from being vigilant, being able to think on your feet and redirect your toddler’s attention to safe objects will be a skill you will master during the coming years.

Childproofing your home so that your child can safely explore certain areas of your home will encourage his mobility and independence while also giving you peace of mind.

For example, putting safety guards on electrical outlets, adding corner guards to the coffee table, securing furniture, and blocking stairs and doorways with baby gates are all things you can do to make the living room a safe space for your 13-month-old to explore and practice walking in.

Being so watchful and anticipating your 13-month-old’s next move may be tiring for you as a parent. Remind yourself that ensuring your toddler is safe while also getting a chance to learn about the world is important for happy and healthy development.