“Why is my 17-month-old so mean?” you wonder as you pull them away from a toddler scrap over a stuffed llama, the words Mine! Mine! Mine! still ringing loudly in your ears. As it turns out, your 17-month-old baby is not the only troublemaker in town. Being a little terror is just a normal part of this phase.
Why? you ask. Well, they’re navigating a perfect storm of big emotions and inadequate tools to deal with them.
So many things are happening for the first time.
They’re learning what it means to play with others and how to be in the world—and this means learning how, whom and what to trust. It also means experimenting with assertiveness.
Here’s some of what you may experience with a 17-month-old baby as your sidekick. (Or your boss. Boss is probably more accurate.)
17-monthoold baby development
Before we take a look at what might be happening at this phase, real talk: baby development anxiety is a real thing.
It goes a little something like this: What should a 17-month-old be able to do? Is my child walking/talking/pooping as impressively as their peers?
If you can, try not to buy tickets to that particular circus. Some babies walk early and talk late. Some are the opposite.
And then there are babies like Einstein who don’t talk until they are three years old.
Of course, if you’re concerned about anything to do with your child’s development, it’s best to chat with your healthcare practitioner to rule out any concerns.
With all that in mind, here’s what you might expect from your 17-month-old baby:
You may have noticed a rather impressive jump in your child’s vocabulary somewhere around 17 months.
One happy new addition might be action words. Ooo.
They might have learned the joy of the verb and they’re not afraid to use it. Go! Stay! Jump! Sit!
They may also be inches away from forming something like a sentence. You sit! Want ball!
17-month-old baby sleep
Your 17-month-old baby needs between 11 and 14 hours of sleep a day.
These hours may be divided into night-time sleep and an afternoon nap.
Bedtimes can be challenging as they seem more than a little convinced that sleeping is just not a good idea for them.
Do what you can to stick to a sleep schedule. A wind-down period of low stimulation can do wonders before bedtime.
Here are some other things a 17-month-old baby loves:
- Loves a soundcheck. That high-pitched screaming that they seem to really love to practice? Yes, this is the reason the inside voice was invented. Much of this is about testing what they can do with their voice and hopefully won’t be a phase that lasts too long. It’s a great time to show them that whispering can be a lot of fun too.
- Loves to experiment. Because this phase is all about testing the waters, there can be some rather hairy moments in store—as in, maybe you should advise your bestie to put away that antique glass bowl before you come over for a visit.
- Loves to hold things. Their dexterity is really improving. You might find them getting those little pincers around a pen and attempting some scribbles. Hopefully not on your freshly-painted walls, though.
- Loves to rip off a diaper. You might want to start thinking about potty training at this stage if you’re not in the swing of it already—and, don’t worry, you don’t have to get into poop politics. Some babies take to potties quicker than others.
- Loves their blanky or teddy or some such transitional object, and will often ask for it at bedtime or when they’re feeling insecure. This is totally normal at this age and can be a helpful way for them to self-soothe.
- Loves to redecorate. Their chosen method? The throw. They’re in the if-I-can-hold-it-I-can-throw-it phase of life. What fun.
- Loves to perform a new skill. They’ve likely realized that their cuteness elicits a response, and they’re playing it up for their audience.
One thing they could also be doing is hitting—and either you or other kids could be the target. Of course, this can be particularly disconcerting.
Hitting happens for numerous reasons, from being ill-equipped to deal with their feelings to simply not knowing that it’s the wrong thing to do.
Some options: remove them from the situation, respond with love, and distract them with gentle alternatives such as hand-holding.
What should a 17-month-old eat?
The short answer? A variety of food groups! Fruit, veggies, grains, meat or vegetarian proteins, and dairy all have a home on their plate.
The only problem? Getting them to eat said items. You might just have a very fussy eater in your home at this stage—discerning tastes, to say the least.
While this can make mealtimes a bit stressful, it’s all part of your little one working those preference muscles.
The temptation is to try and force your baby to eat. After all, they need to get all that energy from somewhere.
However, this may not be the best idea. The more attention you pay to the issue, the greater the issue may become.
One helpful route is to offer a variety of healthy options to eat. If all choices are good, they can’t make a bad one.
You and your 17-month-old baby
With the Golden Age of Babydom now in your rearview mirror, you’re right in the thick of this whole mamahood situation.
Along with this comes a whole bunch of when did I last… When did I last prioritize some self-care? When did I last see my friends? When did I last sit down to eat a meal without interruption?!
This is of course more than a little exhausting. Take time where you can.
Don’t be afraid to accept your friend’s offer to babysit. And maybe take a page out of your baby’s book and have a good scream. Seems to work for them.
🤰 Read next: 18-Month-Old Baby: Milestones & Development