This is a guest Post by Tamra Cater. Please see her bio at the bottom!
According to Healthychildren.org, a toddler is a child between the ages of 12-36 months. During this time, physical growth will slow down. However, there are lots of changes in intellectual, social, and emotional domains of development. This post will focus on the developmental changes and milestones that occur in toddlers, year-by-year. If you do have concerns about whether or not your child is meeting these milestones, please consult with your child’s doctor.
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- Pincer-grasp (uses thumb and fore-finger to pick up objects) becomes more refined over this year. This allows them to also better explore objects.
- Will show interest in playing with balls. So, your child might throw a ball and later kick a ball (this is closer to age 2).
- Will pull and push toys along.
- May attempt to squat down to pick up toys or things on the floor.
- Toddlers at this age like to climb… on your bookcase… the kitchen table… the couch… Anything.
- Your child may start running towards the end of this year (18-24 months)
- Likely says mamma or dadda at 12 months
- Vocabulary “spurt” typically occurs at around 18 months (however, this can occur between 15-24 months).
- May start to use simple sentences between 18-24 months.
- Shy or nervous with strangers
- May put out arm to help when getting dressed
- Might pull up to a standing position and use furniture to “cruise” or walk.
- May stand by themselves.
- A lot of children start to show signs that they are ready for potty training.
- Your child may start to jump from low structures.
- Can balance on one foot for a few seconds
- Begins to use two-word phrases.
- Imitates words they hear.
- Can follow 2-step directions. For example, your child may be able to follow these instructions: Go pick up the ball and put it in your toy box.
- Enjoys listening to stories.
- Will start brushing their teeth.
- Will possibly pull pants up and down.
- Build a block tower of 4 blocks
- May group toys by type, color, and size
- Names items in a book (such as a dog or cat)
- Can name familiar body parts
- Will exhibit tantrums to express frustration and anger.
- Plays beside other children
- Can copy straight lines
- Can follow 2-3 step instructions.
- Understands the concept of “mine” and “his” or hers”
- May dress and undress self
- Can carry on a conversation using 2-3 sentences.
- May show concern for a crying friend
- Likely can name a friend
- Can say first name, age, and sex
- Can play make believe with dolls, animals, and people
- Puts together puzzles that have 3-4 pieces
- Builds towers of 6 or more blocks
- May pedal a tricycle
- Can turn a door handle
- Separates easily from parents
- Enjoys playing with other kids.
- Likely takes turns, although they may not like this!
- Asks a lot of “why?” questions
- Draws a circle with a pencil, crayon, or marker
Tips for Helping Your Toddler Reach Developmental Milestones
1. Continue to read to your child
Your child will continue to learn words if you read to them. Also, when you are reading, ask your child to name objects or actions that the characters are doing.
2. Engage your child in motor skills
Grab a ball and play with your child. Roll the ball back and forth. Once your child gets the hang of this, start throwing and kicking the ball. Also, grab some play dough and let your child play with it. This will help a ton when it comes to developing the hands and fingers! Another possibility is to give your child some large crayons and paper early on (some around the age of 1 or after) to make marks with. This will help develop the muscles in the hands, which further enhances fine-motor skills (these skills involve the hands or smaller muscles groups).
3. Encourage your child to play with other children
Initially your child will play beside other children. Eventually, they will start to play with children. If you know other moms with young children, go on play dates. Also, when your child is close to turning 2 or 3, you may consider pre-school. This will help expose them to other children that they can play with and learn important social skills.
4.Take your child to the park
Take into account your child’s age, but also consider if the playground in your area has a play area that is appropriate for your child’s age. For example, some playgrounds have areas that are specific to children between the ages of 2-5 and other areas that are specific to older kids. In taking your child to the park, this helps your child practice and gain gross motor skills, as well as potentially social skills (if there are other children at the park when you go).
5.Allow your child the opportunity to ask for things and to talk
For example, if your child is pointing to something they want, try to encourage them to name the object if you know that they know the name of it (rather than just getting the object for them when they only point to it). Also, try not to finish your child’s sentences. Allow them time to finish speaking.
6.Teach your child appropriate ways to express emotions
This is a time where you likely will see a lot of toddler tantrums. For tips on handling toddler tantrums, please visit “6 Essential Tips for Calming Toddler Tantrums”.
Final Thoughts on Toddler Milestones
While there is a lot of changes that occur in babies, there are still a lot of changes that you will see in your toddler. So, don’t put away the camera yet! Enjoy each new skill or task that your child learns to do on their own and praise them for it!
Again, if you do have concerns about your child’s development, see your child’s doctor. However, also keep in mind that children do develop at different rates.
Developmental milestones for 2-year-olds: https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/signs-symptoms/developmental-milestones/developmental-milestones-for-typical-2-year-olds
Toddler Developmental Milestones:
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Meet the Author
Tamra Cater is a married mother of a 3-year-old daughter. She is a former college professor that has taught many child development classes. Give her blog and social media sites a visit!