If you have questions or concerns about your child's growth or development, use this guide to talk with your child's caregiver, pediatrician, or a teacher at your child's school.
Toddlers are busy and eager explorers with small bodies and big feelings! Toddlers are trying to do things for themselves but still need to be reassured by the adults in their lives. They are experiencing the world and trying to make sense of it all at the same time. Here is what you can expect to see in the toddler years:
Vocabulary takes off. Toddlers are learning many new words and putting them together.
- 15–18 Months: Uses several single words, such as "bye" or "nite–nite"
- 18–24 Months: Points to several body parts when you name them
- 24–32 Months: Puts several words together, such as "More cookie" or "Go out now"
- 24–32 Months: Uses personal pronouns such as "we," "they," and "us"
- 30–36 Months: Uses sentences that are three or four words long
- 30–36 Months: Answers questions such as "What's this?" when looking at books
Toddlers start using words to interact with parents and other people in their lives. This stage is marked by the frequent use of favorite toddler words: "No," "Mine," and "I do it!"
- 18–24 Months: Points to appropriate pictures in a book when asked, "Where's the ___?"
- 24–32 Months: Starts asking questions about the story you are reading or the things she sees as you go on walks together
- 30–42 Months: Talks about something that happened and waits for your response
On the move! Crawling, dancing, rolling, and running all contribute to a toddler's growth.
- 12–18 Months: Walks upright more often than he crawls
- 18–24 Months: Can squat down and stand up again with little difficulty
- 24–30 Months: Enjoys climbing on furniture or small climbing structures
- 24–36 Months: Throws a ball or rolls it back and forth with a partner
- 24–36 Months: Runs with ease, and can stop and start easily
Although they often get frustrated, this is a temporary stage. As toddlers develop more language, and an understanding of how things work, their frustrations melt away rather than lead to a melt down.
- 12–18 Months: Cries when another child takes a toy from her
- 18–24 Months: Stacks a set of cardboard boxes, knocks them down, and then stacks them up again
- 18–24 Months: Runs to get her favorite book for you to read at predictable times such as naptime or bedtime
- 24–36 Months: Knows that the rectangle shape belongs in the rectangle–shaped hole in the box and turns it until it fits
- 30–36 Months: Calls for help, instead of hitting, after another child grabs a toy away from him
Toddlers are straightforward, concrete thinkers who truly believe a kiss and hug can make things all better!
- 18–24 Months: Looks worried or sad when another child is crying
- 24–36 Months: Pats another child on the back and says, "It's all right," when the other child cries because his mommy just left
Be patient with your little explorer: Toddlers need to repeat activities many, many times.
Acknowledge feelings: Give your child words for what he is feeling. "I know you are sad." He has to know you understand before he can listen to you. Help your child understand how others feel: "Edney feels sad when you take his blocks. Let's use these ones instead so you can both play."
- Redirect: Head off a tantrum by offering another activity when you see your child is getting frustrated.
- Choose your words: Your toddler will repeat everything you say. In her presence, use only words you want her to learn and say only things that you don't mind being repeated to others.
- Get her ready: Before you start a new routine, tell your child what will happen so that she can prepare herself. Use simple words, such as, "Tomorrow we're going to visit the library for story time." Keep it simple and be ready to answer her questions.
Can your child share yet?
- One year-olds are not ready to "share," but you can help your child learn to wait and take turns, which will help him prepare for tre sharing when he's older. Help your child learn how to ask for a turn and wait for his turn. Encourage him to say, "May I have a turn?" and then offer to help him pass the time while he waits, by suggesting another toy or offering to read a short book.