16-Month-Old Baby: Feeding, Sleep, and Milestones by Month - Baby Chick
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16-Month-Old Baby: Feeding, Sleep, and Milestones by Month

Learn what to expect as your baby turns 16 months old, including new milestones, their sleep schedule, and fun activities to do with them.

Published July 3, 2024

by Rande Ludwig

Registered Nurse BSN, RNC-NIC

Medically reviewed by Melissa Hardy

Pediatrician, Breastfeeding Medicine Specialist, IBCLC

At 16 months old, your little one is squarely in the toddler phase and gaining more independence each day. Your 16-month-old will continue to explore their world, reaching new milestones daily. Their appetite may change daily as you continue to offer new and favorite foods. Watching their little personalities emerge will fill you with joy, so get ready for more excitement this month!

16-Month Developmental Milestones

The name of the game for your 16-month-old is independence. Their developmental milestones will focus on their continued need for autonomy. Some new milestones your 16-month-old will learn include:1,2

  • Walking independently without support
  • Walking sideways and backward
  • Crawling up the stairs
  • Pulling themselves up into a chair
  • Drinking independently from a cup and using a spoon and fork (messily)
  • Helping to get themselves dressed by putting their arms and legs through their shirts and pants
  • Scribbling
  • Knowing the names of body parts and pointing to them when asked, such as their nose, eyes, ears, and tummy
  • Following simple, one-step directions, such as “Put your sock in the hamper”
  • Using two to three additional words besides “mama” and “dada” and combining two words

16-Month-Old Feeding Schedule

16-Month-Old Baby: Feeding, Sleep, and Milestones by Month

Now that your little one has firmly entered the toddler stage, their feeding schedule will align with the rest of the family’s schedule. They’ll eat three meals per day and typically have two snacks. These snacks should occur between breakfast and lunch and then again between lunch and dinner.3 Depending on dinnertime for your family, some kids still need a bedtime snack. Just make sure to brush their teeth after their last food or drink for the day (besides water).

It’s important to maintain regularly scheduled feeding times with your toddler. Offering their meals and snacks in a high chair or booster seat will help them recognize that it’s time to eat.3 Also, offering your toddler a wide variety of foods will ensure they receive the appropriate nutrients for their growth and development. Provide them with various fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats, cheeses, and yogurt.4

Your toddler can consume whole cow’s milk or fortified soy milk at this age or breast milk if you still choose to do so. Aim for 16-24 ounces of milk daily.3 Your toddler should be able to drink their milk from a cup by 18 months old, so now is a good time for them to practice!3

Example Meals and Snacks

Planning daily meals and snacks for your toddler can be difficult, so here are some ideas:3

  • Breakfast: 1 cup of whole milk with one slice of whole grain bread with peanut butter or one scrambled egg
  • Lunch and dinner: 1 cup of whole milk and a small portion of the family’s meal (Make sure to include small amounts of vegetables, proteins such as meat, fish, or beans, and whole grains such as pasta, bread, or brown rice.)
  • Snacks: 1 cup of milk or water with one container of yogurt or one piece of toast with peanut butter, whole grain crackers with cheese, or a few pieces of fruit

Your toddler will typically eat smaller portions of food than adults do, so start by offering small quantities of a wide variety of foods. Let them decide what and how much to eat, encouraging them to listen to their body/belly for when it’s time to stop eating. Remember, toddlers’ appetites can fluctuate significantly at this age. If you have concerns your toddler is eating too much or too little, contact your doctor’s office for guidance.

16-Month-Old Sleep Schedule

Infographic titled "16 Month Old Sample Sleep Schedule" from baby-chick.com. It states: Daily Naps: 1, Total Daytime Sleep: 2-3 hours. Nap is scheduled 4.5-5 hours after waking, and bedtime is 4-4.5 hours after the nap—ideal for balancing sleep with activities for a 16-month-old.

Sleep is vital to your toddler’s development as they gain independence and become more active. Your toddler needs 11-14 hours of sleep per day, which includes a two- to three-hour afternoon nap.5

If your 16-month-old is having difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or refusing their naps, they may be going through another period of sleep regression. Sleep regression occurs when your toddler has a change in their sleeping pattern that results in difficulty staying or falling asleep.6

Sleep regression can be caused by teething pain, illnesses such as an ear infection, or a change to their daily routine. You can help your toddler during this period by keeping a consistent bedtime and routine, avoiding screen time, having your toddler sleep in their bed, and putting them to sleep when they’re drowsy but not yet asleep. If you decide to sleep train, allow your toddler to fuss for a few minutes before providing comfort. When you comfort them, offer it to them while they’re still in their crib.6

Daily Schedule

A sample daily schedule for a 16-month-old, aligning with key 16-month milestones, includes wake-up at 7 AM, breakfast at 7:30 AM, activity at 8 AM, mid-morning snack at 9:30 AM, lunch at 11:30 AM, nap time as part of the ideal 16-month-old sleep schedule at 12 PM, afternoon snack

Keeping a consistent schedule is key to ensuring your toddler gets enough rest and helps them overcome any periods of sleep regression. Most toddlers at this age will take one afternoon nap daily, which usually starts around 1 p.m. and will last two to three hours. Toddlers at this age need between 11 and 14 hours of sleep daily, so aim for a bedtime around 7:30 p.m.5

Your toddler can eat their meals with the rest of the family, so schedule your meals around what works best for your family. Offer your toddler a mid-morning snack and a mid-afternoon snack between meal times.3

Health Concerns to Watch Out For

Illnesses are part of the game for toddlers, and your little one will be no exception. Toddlers can average between six and eight colds a year or more if they’re in daycare, so being prepared for illness can be helpful. Toddlers can’t have over-the-counter cough medicine, cold medicine, or aspirin. You can keep a supply of Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Ibuprofen on hand to treat any pains or fevers caused by illness.7 Follow the package directions or check with your doctor for the proper dosages.

Not only will your little one experience colds, but they may also experience several other common childhood illnesses. These include the following:8

  • Ear infections: They may get ear infections that cause pain, fever, irritability, and difficulty sleeping.
  • Bronchiolitis: This causes swelling of the airways and excessive mucus. It can lead to coughing, runny nose, fever, fatigue, sore throat, and pain.
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV): RSV causes mild, cold-like symptoms in most children but can cause an excessive cough, trouble breathing, and pneumonia in others.
  • Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD): HFMD typically causes sores to the mouth, hands, and feet. This can be painful and make it difficult for the child to eat.
  • Stomach flu: Stomach flu causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

When Do They Need Medical Attention?

While your toddler will likely recover from these illnesses at home, some symptoms warrant immediate medical attention. Seek immediate medical attention if your toddler is experiencing any of these symptoms:7

  • Excessive sleepiness with little to no facial expressions and hard to wake up
  • Very difficult to console
  • Weak or no cry
  • Refusing food and drink or only taking a few small sips or bites for more than a day
  • Dark yellow urine, no tears, or a dry mouth

Call 911 if your child experiences the following:

  • Extreme trouble breathing
  • Abnormal coloring such as gray, blue, or very pale
  • Loss of consciousness

Activities for 16-Month-Olds

With your 16-month-old’s newfound independence, you may be wondering what activities you can do with them to help them grow. The good news is there are a variety of ways you can engage your toddler, and here are just a few:2,9

  • Ask them simple questions and allow them to respond. For example, “What does the cow say?”
  • Give them simple choices, such as allowing them to pick between two different shirts to wear for the day.
  • Limit screen time for both your toddler and yourself.
  • Talk to them at eye level.
  • Teach them the names of their body parts, like their nose, eyes, ears, and mouth.
  • Sing songs with them.
  • Roll a ball back and forth with them.
  • Read to them.
  • Blow bubbles for them to pop.
  • Give them pretend toys to play with, such as baby dolls or a kitchen set.
  • Teach them how to say “please” and “thank you” and model these yourself.

Safety Tips

Exploration is your toddler’s middle name, so keeping them safe is a full-time job. They’ll explore their world by getting into everything, even things you never imagined they would get into! But toddler-proofing your home doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some tips to get you started:2

  • Install window guards on all windows.
  • Install gates at the top and bottom of all stairs.
  • Install cabinet locks on all lower cabinets.
  • Install toilet seat locks.
  • Install outlet covers on all unused outlets.
  • Keep all medications, cleaning solutions, small items, and hot or sharp objects out of reach.
  • Keep all guns and ammunition locked up at all times, and keep guns unloaded.
  • Closely supervise your toddler around all water, including bathtubs, pools, rivers, lakes, streams, and ponds. Stay within arm’s length at all times.
  • Use a rear-facing car seat every time they’re in a car.

Watching your little one grow from a baby to a toddler can be both joyous and bittersweet. Learning what to expect during this transition will help you embrace all these new changes and milestones your 16-month-old experiences. Help your toddler explore their world and watch your view of the world change as well. Nothing is sweeter than seeing the world through your toddler’s eyes.

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Rande Ludwig
Rande Ludwig Registered Nurse BSN, RNC-NIC
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Rande Ludwig is a registered nurse who specializes in neonatal nursing. She earned her nursing degree from the University of North Dakota. After earning her degree, she began working in… Read more

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