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Toddler developmental milestones

Toddler milestones

Baby steps, toddler leaps. They all move at their own pace. Here’s what you can expect to see between years one and three.
    8-minutes read

    At a glance

    All children are different so don’t worry if they reach toddler developmental milestones earlier or later

    Co-ordination and motor skills will come on leaps and bounds - literally. All you have to do is try to keep up


    Increased independence and better language skills make for some opinionated conversations  

    Friendships develop, as well as all the emotions and ups and downs that come with them

    12 month milestones

    • Health check

      At around one year, your baby will be due a health check from a healthcare professional. They’ll also need some injections – usually from their GP/nurse. It might be a good idea not to schedule these just before their first birthday as they may not be their usual selves for a few days after the jabs.

    • First words and steps

      And they’re off! You may start to see a lot of changes in how your little one gets around, so have that camera record button ready. It turns out words speak just as loud as actions and your little gurgler may very well be a fully-fledged chatterbox by now, with their first proper words on repeat. Get conversation starters and tips here.

    • Independence

      Your baby’s character is emerging and they may start to show some signs of independence. More on that later. Now, stay tuned for the gripping action-packed drama that is toddlerhood.

    13 month milestones

    • Improved dexterity

      On the subject of gripping dramas, your toddler is probably getting better at grasping things. They might have mastered picking up books, turning pages and even, throwing. Which could lead to their next trick – throwing their favourite book at the cat. They may even show a preference for their left or right hand. It might be time to consider toddler-proofing your home if you haven’t already.

    • Using utensils

      While finger food will remain a hit for some time, your 13-month-old might like using their spoon or holding their beaker all by themselves. Aprons at the ready. The dog is going to love this stage. You have been warned.

    14 month milestones

    • Drawing

      As they begin to hold crayons, no surface is safe from a touch of ‘artistic’ improvement. So have a supply of paper for them to use instead.

    • Finger foods

      They might be a lot better at handling finger foods by now, picking them up and squishing them - wipes at the ready.

    • Biting and chewing

      If your 14-month-old has some new teeth they may start taking bigger bites out of their food and actually chewing.


    15 month milestones

    • Saying 'no'

      This word might start playing on loop for a while. It’s all part of their growing independence. So even if it feels relentless, it’s a good sign. Honestly.

    • Pointing

      It’s rude to point. But when your adorable toddler starts doing it, it’s easily forgiven. It’s a handy way of communicating what they want. Although, when they point at any older person and shout ‘nana!’ it’s best discouraged.

    • First shoes

      If they’ve started walking their feet need the right support. The first pair of ‘proper’ shoes is a big moment. Something for the memory box and of course, more pictures.

    16 month milestones

    • Fussy eating

      With independence growing, they might start showing off their discerning palate. Which means some food may be off the table – literally. Even if it used to be a hit. Hang in there and don’t take it off the menu or they’ll never get a chance to change their minds. Keeping mealtimes fun and stress-free is your best bet. See what else you can try with fussy eaters.

    • Growing vocabulary

      If they’ve already started talking you may be surprised with some of the things they come out with. But don’t worry if they aren’t speaking yet, once they start they’ll just keep on going.

    17 month milestones

    • Tantrums

      If you’ve experienced these you’ll know all about them. They’re a perfectly normal side-effect of a child’s emotional development. Everyone went through it at some stage, even adults who roll their eyes at them now. If you need a bit of support, here are some ways to cope with tantrums.

    • Restless sleeping

      Between teething and another bout of the sniffles, they might struggle with sleeping through. So, you could find yourself tucking them in a few more times than usual. A reassuring cuddle is usually all that’s needed but we’ve got more sleep tips, if the hugs and lullabies aren’t working their magic.

    • Stacking

      Those stacking cups may want to make a reappearance now. With their motor skills revving up nicely, you might see them start building towers instead of knocking them over.

    • Feeding themselves

      Spoon-feeding is for babies, or so your toddler may decide. They might want to eat just like you. Time to reinforce those good eating habits with lots of fresh fruit and veg. Tuck in to more family mealtime tips here.

    18 month milestones

    • Repeating themselves

      Again and again and again. Repetition helps them soak up new words and ideas and also helps them remember any choice new phrases they’ve learnt.

    • Running and climbing

      Confident walkers may fast forward to running everywhere at full speed. While some daredevils might believe there ain’t no mountain high enough. So, consider moving tempting objects even higher. The sky is the limit, basically.

    • Pushing and pulling

      They may be pushing or pulling toys around. And like their words they’ll repeat these activities often. It’s familiar and comforting to them. And adorable to you.

    21 month milestones

    • Dressing themselves

      With a strong personality coming through, your toddler might want to get dressed by themselves. They probably won’t master it straight away, but it’s good to let them learn from their mistakes. Makes for some entertaining pictures or videos too.

    • Behaviour changes

      As they get a taste for some independence you may find them pushing you away one minute and being extra clingy the next.

    • Independent play

      Doing funny voices and taking care of their cuddly toys – part of little imaginations running free which could mean some independent play. Cuppa with teddy anyone?

    • Dental check

      If you haven’t already been, now’s a good time to take your toddler along to the dentist for their first check-up, usually fitting into an appointment with you. The stickers are for them though, sorry.


    24 month milestones

    • Simple sentences

      Your toddler’s vocabulary could be coming along nicely by now and they may start stringing together four-word sentences. Like “mummy/daddy pick me up!” Or, “Don’t want eat it!”

    • Running

      Having more confidence in walking, your toddler might also be running by now. Not always in the direction you want them to go.

    • Potty training

      As they get older, your child’s bladder is getting stronger and their awareness is growing too. They may start telling you when they are doing a wee or a poo. If you think you’re both ready, you might want to start shopping for potties. You can read more about potty training here.

    27 month milestones

    • Friendships

      With their confidence growing they might start interacting more with other children. If they’re going to day care lots of new names might begin cropping up.

    • Balance and agility

      Their physical ability should get a boost around now, so they can balance and run with more agility than before. Bouncy castles and trampolines are usually a winner, if they weren’t already.

    • Changing appearance

      Your little baby might not look like one any more. All that running around has helped them lose their puppy fat.

    30 month milestones

    • Using a fork

      Hopefully your little foodie’s fork skills are coming along nicely although there’s still bound to be some mess.

    • Copying you

      No, you haven’t acquired a parrot, your toddler is just getting better at listening and mimicking everything. They could have around 200 words in their vocabulary by now. So, mind what you say in front of them, discretion is not a toddler milestone.

    • Storytelling

      From fairytales to little fibs, their imagination is growing quickly. So, you can look forward to lots of storytelling and imaginative play.

    • Fears

      Where did they get that idea from? With their ever-expanding awareness of the world, they may start to develop fears of things that never bothered them before. Like the dark, animals or the sound of the toilet flushing.

    33 month milestones

    • Self care

      At nearly three, they’re probably feeling like a big girl or boy. Insisting they can take care of themselves… ok? Brushing their teeth, washing themselves, deciding it’s a ‘no-trousers’ dress code at the coffee shop. Ahem.

    • Opinions

      There’s no such thing as diplomacy for toddlers. So, you can expect a lot of opinions on everything from their outfits to the size of your body parts. Think of it as a character-building stage. For everyone.

    • Motor skills

      The development of their fine motor skills means they might be able to thread beads. Or even be ready for kiddie scissors, with supervision.

    36 month milestones

    Or in simpler terms, three! The toddler chapter is coming to an end but there are lots more adventures to look forward to. As their imagination grows they might start to draw you. At dinner time a cute little knife can join their fork at the table, as they’ll be able to try cutting up their own food. You’ll probably notice they’re using longer and longer sentences. And then there’s pre-school to consider. Wow, that’s was quick.

    It’s worth remembering that all toddlers develop at different rates, but if you are concerned speak to a healthcare professional, such as your GP, health visitor or public health nurse (ROI).

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