17-Month-Old: Milestones and Development

October 15, 2023
 minutes read
Written by
Amanda Kule
Parent Contributor
Medically reviewed by
Arik Alper, MD
Pediatric Gastroenterologist and Aerodigestive Specialist

Your life with a 17 month old toddler is probably bustling with nonstop activity, enthusiasm, and new vocabulary! You may be mesmerized (and exhausted) by their growing curiosity, endless energy, and notable advancements in their communication and motor abilities. Toddlers are rapidly developing physically, mentally, and emotionally, which can make each day unique—and occasionally overwhelming! Here’s a bit about what to expect for 17 month old development milestones.


Life with a 17 Month Old

Life with a toddler moves fast, and the changes from month-to-month can be distinct. At 17 months old your toddler may be making strides in their development, and while every child is unique, some common 17 month old development milestones you may observe include:

  • Constantly On the Move: Many 17 month milestones include movement! They are often increasingly curious and loving to explore the world around them. At this point they may constantly be crawling, walking, or even running to touch and investigate everything they come across. Keep an eye on them—many are fearless, so who knows what they’ll get in to!
  • Working on Words: A toddler’s vocabulary is still limited, but your 17 month old is likely using a few words and gestures to clearly convey their needs. This can be both adorable and sometimes challenging for you both when you're trying to decipher what they want. Patients is needed all around!
  • Newfound Independence: Your toddler may insist on trying to do everyday things on their own, like feeding and dressing themselves. Though this likely will increase the time it takes to do anything, remember it’s all part of their growth and learning how to function in the world.
  • New Types of Play: Toddlers spend a significant portion of their days engaged in imaginative play, whether it's building with blocks, playing with toys, or exploring the outdoors. This is a critical time for their cognitive and motor skill development for all ages, including 17 month olds.
  • Increased Tantrums and Frustration: Tantrums and frustration are not uncommon at this age. Toddlers often like to assert their independence, but because their communication skills are still developing, it can cause them to become frustrated. Patience and understanding are key.
  • Predictable Sleep: While sleep patterns can vary from child to child, your 17 month old may either have transitioned or is starting to transition from two naps to one longer nap during the day. Nighttime sleep is often more predictable, but occasional disruptions due to teething or other developmental milestones can still occur. If you’re struggling with the nap transition, try the Smart Sleep Coach app which is proven to help parents solve their toddler’s sleep issues.
  • More Attached to You: As 17 month year old toddlers become more aware of their surroundings, they may show a stronger attachment to their caregivers. You may even see some separation anxiety! Playdates and interactions with other children and adults often help them socialize and develop relationships with others. If they ever show signs of separation anxiety, try and leave when they are busy, don’t make a big deal out of it, and remind them that you are coming back.

In summary, 17 month milestones are exciting, and the changes are constant. Your child's curiosity, budding independence, and daily discoveries make each day a new adventure. While there may be challenges along the way, the joy of watching your toddler grow and learn is incredibly rewarding.

Sleep and Nap Tips for 17-Months-Old

The amount of sleep your toddler needs doesn't change much at this age, with 11 to 14 hours a day and one or two daytime naps still being the norm. If your toddler hasn’t transitioned from two naps to one nap yet, the transition may happen soon. It’s important to make the switch to a one-nap sleep schedule when they are ready to not disrupt their nighttime sleep! As your toddler is getting bigger, some changes to their sleep environment may also be warranted.

Here are tips to consider so your 17 month old keeps sleeping like a baby

  • Maintain a routine: A predictable routine helps make bedtime easy for you and your toddler and helps make sure they sleep through the night. Sometimes toddlers start experiencing a sleep regression at this age because of teething or new milestones, and a routine is key to getting you both through this time.
  • Adjust their sleep environment: A busy toddler may soon realize they can climb out of the crib. Make sure the crib is on the lowest setting and free of objects that they can stack or play with, including toys and mobiles. If their crib is near windows, drapes, or outlets, try and move it so they can’t play with anything unsafe!
  • Keep an eye out for sleep regressions. As we mentioned sleep regressions can be common around this age (18 month sleep regression) because of developmental milestones and teething. Stick with their routine and use the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ which has more info and tips for getting through sleep regressions.

Here is a sample sleep schedule for your 17 month old!  

Motor Skills at 17 Months

17 month old developmental milestones include their ever-expanding motor skills, both gross motor skills (involving larger muscle groups) and fine motor skills (involving smaller muscle groups).  

Here's an overview of 17 month old motor skills development

Gross Motor Skills:

  • Walking and Running: Most 17-month-olds are walking confidently and may even be running or attempting to. They are gaining better control over their balance and coordination.
  • Climbing: Climbing stairs or onto low furniture is common. They may also attempt to climb at the playground—or out of their crib!  
  • Kicking and Throwing: Your child may start showing interest in kicking a ball or attempting to throw objects. Their aim and accuracy will improve with practice.
  • Jumping: Some children may start experimenting with jumping. Likely this skill is still new at this point and may look extra silly and cute.  
  • Pushing and Pulling: They enjoy moving their toys or objects on wheels, which helps improve their strength and coordination.
  • Balance: Balance is improving, and they may be able to stand briefly on one foot or walk along a straight line (albeit unsteadily). Try to challenge them (on level ground)!

Fine Motor Skills:

  • Self-Feeding: Many 17 month olds are eager to feed themselves using a spoon or fork, and of course their hands. Although it can be messy, mealtimes are a great way to further develop their grasping skills.
  • Stacking: Your toddler may enjoy stacking and knocking down blocks or other objects. This is great for helping build their hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness.
  • Turning Pages: 17 month olds might attempt to turn the pages when you read to them. They may accidentally rip the pages, but it’s all part of learning.
  • Drawing and Scribbling: Some toddlers show interest in holding crayons or markers and making marks on paper. This is an early introduction to writing skills.

It's important to remember that every child develops at their own pace, and this is just a general idea of what you may expect at this age. Offering opportunities to practice their skills through play and exploring is key at this age. If you have questions about your child's motor skills development, talk to your pediatrician.

Communication Skills at 17-Months-Old

Toddlers often love to try and chat to use their newfound vocabulary. At this age, most can say around seven to 10 words! Regardless of if they have this many words, it’s also common for them to grunt or point when trying to communicate something to you—also signs of great progress. Despite their progress, it may still be tough for them to communicate and to be understood, which can be frustrating.

Here are some ways to help support them as their communication skills continue to grow

  • Describe your feelings. Describing your feelings to your 17 month old can help them understand what it means to be “glad,” “mad,” or “sad”, common emotions they may feel as they learn to communicate with others. This can be very effective in heading off any potential tantrums!
  • Name everything you see. Word associations help your toddler put a face to the name or object and make it easier to use that word in practice. For example, when you’re making them a meal, tell them every ingredient you’re using and what you’re doing with it. Also naming people they see and know is helpful!
  • Help describe their nonverbal communication. For example, if they are pointing towards a toy, reiterate to them that they are pointing towards the toy and that you will go get them the toy. This helps them learn and practice words that are needed to express themselves and get things done.
  • Encourage imitation. Toddlers often love to imitate people and sounds. Encourage them to do it, as it helps with language development.
  • Read, read, read. Like we said, hearing you speak and putting a name to an object is important, and reading is a great way to not only engage with your toddler, but help them expand their vocabulary, identify words, and develop their imagination!

17 Month Old Mealtime Ideas

Self-feeding and independence are big 17 month old milestones. 17 month olds typically have three meals a day...which may mean a lot of mess for you to clean up. However, if you think of mealtime as also a great time to support all developmental milestones, it makes the mess seem more worth it.

Here are some tips for managing mealtime while also helping with other development milestones

  • Eat your meals as a family. This promotes conversation, which is a great way for your child to use and grow their communication and social skills.
  • Introduce new foods. Not only does this help expand their palate but offering a sensory experience when exploring a new food.
  • Get your toddler in the kitchen. Have them help with mixing or arranging food on a plate. This is great for their motor skills and for getting excited about what they’re eating. Cooking can be a good confidence booster, too.
  • Don’t stress if they aren’t eating. Picky eating is normal at 17 months old. Keep offering a variety of yummy foods and they’re likely to eat when they are hungry! If you’re concerned about your 17-month old’s eating, talk to your pediatrician. The 18-month check-up is when your pediatrician will weight your toddler to see how they are growing.

How to Support 17 Month Old Developmental Milestones

One of the easiest ways to help your toddler meet and continue to meet their developmental milestones is to play with them, talk to them, and involve them in whatever you’re doing. They are little curious sponges at 17 months old, and love being with you!

Here are a few ways to continue to support your 17 month old’s developmental milestones

  • Celebrate each milestone! No matter how small the milestone is, positive reinforcement helps them build confidence and realize their potential.
  • Stick with their routine. Stability and predictability are important for both you and your toddler. Consistent meal times, nap times, and bedtime routines can make life more manageable. Smart Sleep Coach helps you stick with the optimal sleep routine for your 17 month old, and adjust it as they get older.
  • Keep on talking! Whenever you’re out and about, whether it’s the grocery store or park, talk to your toddler about what you both are seeing and doing. Even talk them through brushing your teeth or changing their diaper. This encourages their language development and is also a great way to socialize and even make your own special game!

Raising a 17 month old toddler isn’t easy, but they bring constant smiles, giggles, and wonderment. Enjoy every developmental milestone. We promise, this time goes by fast!

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How We Wrote This Article

The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.


CDC, “How Much Sleep Do I need?”

Cleveland Clinic, “What Is Sensory Play? The Benefits for Your Child and Sensory Play Ideas”

American Academy of Pediatrics, “Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5”

American Academy of Pediatrics, “The Wonder Years”

Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, “Toddler Bedtime Routines and Associations With Nighttime Sleep Duration and Maternal and Household Factors”

Behavioral Sleep Medicine, “The Family Context of Toddler Sleep: Routines, Sleep Environment, and Emotional Security Induction in the Hour before Bedtime”

PLoS One, “The Timing of the Circadian Clock and Sleep Differ between Napping and Non-Napping Toddlers”

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