Toddler developmental milestones

Here's your step-by-step guide to the first three years of toddlerhood and accompanying videos from their point of view

In Toddler

    8-minutes read

    At a glance

    All children are different so don’t worry if they reach the 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 games toddlers play that come with them

    12 months

    • Health check

      At this stage they’ll be due a health check from a healthcare professional. A good diet to help them through this stage becomes even more important

    • First words and steps

      You’ll see a fair few changes in your little one from first words to those first tentative steps with a bit of help from mum or dad

    • Independence

      Your baby is starting to become a real individual showing the first signs of independence. And there’s a lot more on the way as they enter the magical toddler stage

    13 months

    • Vaccines

      Time for your toddler's vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Hib/MenC and pneumococcal vaccines. Check with your healthcare professional for everything you need to know

    • Improved dexterity

      They may now pick up and throw objects, turn pages or hold objects. They might even be showing a preference for their left or right hand. So it’s probably a good idea to start toddler-proofing your home.

    • Using utensils

      Your toddler may be starting to use a spoon or hold a beaker (with a lid) all by themselves

    14 months

    • Drawing

      As they begin to hold crayons and scribble, no wall is safe from a touch of ‘artistic’ improvement. So be ready to encourage them to use paper instead

    • Finger foods

      At meal times, they may start to eat finger foods and carefully hold pieces without squashing them. Have some wipes on hand ready for a clean up

    • Biting and chewing

      And with more teeth, your toddler will start to bite off and chew bigger pieces of food too



    15 months

    • Saying no

      As part of their developing independence your little one may start to use the dreaded ‘no’ over and over. It can be a little wearying, but they’re not being naughty, just developing their personality

    • Pointing

      They may also start pointing at what they want (until they can actually ask for it)

    • First shoes

      If your little one is walking on their own, this may be time for baby’s first shoes. Buying their first ‘proper’ shoes is a wonderful, memorable moment and you may want to take pictures

    16 months

    • Fussy eating

      By now, their newfound independence may lead to fussy eating. This may even mean rejecting previously liked foods or refusing to try anything new at all. So, try making food fun to help establish good eating habits. See what else you can do to cope with fussy eating

    • Growing vocabulary

      If they have started talking, they may be learning a few more words. Don’t worry if they’re not though, they’ll start when they’re ready – then you won’t be able to stop them

    17 months

    • Tantrums

      A regular feature at this time can be tantrums. As your toddler grows, this is another way of trying to express themselves. Though you may find them distressing, see here for ways to cope with tantrums

    • Restless sleeping

      Around this time teething, or even a cold, can disturb sleeping patterns. Your toddler may be waking at night, but soothing music or cuddles can usually settle them. Read more tips to get your toddler to sleep

    • Stacking

      Motor skills will also be improving and they may even be able to build a tower up to three building blocks high

    • Feeding themselves

      At the dinner table, your toddler may start to feed themselves. While you’re eating together, reinforce good habits by eating healthy foods with your toddler, and teach them other skills too. See more about mealtime learning here

    18 months

    • Repeating themselves

      Around now your toddler may start repeating any phrases they’ve picked up. Over and over and over and over again. Repetition helps them remember their new words and remind them of simple phrases

    • Running and climbing

      Confident walkers may start running a little or they could be venturing into the garden to try climbing things

    • 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, not to mention very adorable

    21 months

    • Dressing themselves

      As your baby starts to develop more of a little personality, they may try to dress themselves, with varying degrees of success - so keep the camera handy

    • Behaviour changes

      Exploring their independence may lead them to push you away from time to time only to suddenly become clingy

    • Independent play

      And as their little imaginations run free, your toddler may start to play on their own a bit more

    • Dental check

      If they haven’t already been, now’s a good time for that first visit to the dentist to have a basic check-up and perhaps pick up some stickers for being brave



    24 months

    • Simple sentences

      Your toddler’s vocabulary may be developing and they can put together simple 4 word sentences such as ‘Mummy pick me up!’

    • Running

      With confidence in walking, your toddler may now be capable of a run

    • Potty training

      They may also be aware of having a full nappy now, so if you haven’t already started it could be time to consider potty training. Get tips about potty training here

    27 months

    • Friendships

      New confidence means new little friends of their own in the playground

    • Balance and agility

      Their physical ability has improved so they can run and balance with increased agility

    • Changing appearance

      Their bodies begin to change from baby to more childlike in appearance, as their ‘baby fat’ starts to disappear. Not that there’s anything wrong with baby fat of course!

    30 months

    • Using a fork

      Now they may be able to use a fork to eat food themselves – not without a bit of mess, but they’re slowly getting the hang of it

    • Copying you

      Your toddler will be echoing and mimicking everything you say and do as their vocabulary expands to around 200 words, so be careful what you say

    • Storytelling

      Their imaginations are also starting to grow leading to lots of storytelling and imaginative play

    • Fears

      With a new awareness of the big wide world, they may start to develop a few fears of perfectly normal things like flushing toilets or animals

    33 months

    • Self care

      Almost three and with a real sense of self, they may have even learnt a few self care skills like pulling their trousers down, often in public unfortunately

    • Opinions

      They will almost certainly be letting you know what they do and don’t like in one way or another

    • Motor skills

      Their fine motor skills may have progressed so they can handle kiddie scissors and thread beads

    36 months

    With their third birthday, they say goodbye to toddlerhood. But it’s the beginning of many new adventures. Their imagination will continue to grow, they’ll draw you, they’ll master using a knife and fork, use longer sentences and start pre-school education. Your toddler is ready to take on the world and more.

    Remember, all toddler development is different. If you have any concerns, speak to a healthcare professional, such as your GP, health visitor or public health nurse.


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