How to Recognize the Signs of Toddler Development

Parents should notice advanced motor and cognitive skills

Baby boy eating ice lolly
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Early childhood development, especially the transition from infant to toddler, can vary. This review of toddler developmental milestones is meant to be a general estimate of typical child development. If you're concerned that your child has a developmental delay or maybe even has advanced development, discuss your concerns with your pediatrician.

Gross Motor Skills — Movement Continues to Develop

Your baby can walk well, skip, jump and run. He may also climb on age-appropriate playground equipment. He can walk up and down stairs with help, and he may do so by stepping onto each step with both feet, taking time to balance himself on each step before going to the next. He can also dance to music and may enjoy singing and movement games such as "The Hokey Pokey."

Fine Motor Skills — Hand-Eye Coordination Improves

Your baby's fine motor skills are becoming more precise. He can grasp crayons and may enjoy scribbling. He will begin to hold and drink from a cup and can help dress by pulling on clothes. He may need help with fastening clothes, but he is learning to do those tasks for himself.

Speech, Language Skills are Developing

Your toddler's expressive language, verbal reasoning, and speech are developing, and he will have a familiar vocabulary of about 50 words. He may speak in short sentences of one to three words. He is learning more words than he can actually say, and he can often point to objects when you say the word for him. He can mimic the sounds of familiar animals. Typically, his nonverbal intelligence will be better developed than his language skills can express.

Cognitive Skills — Thinking Skills Grow

Your young child is developing thinking skills. He is more aware of himself as an individual. He will identify with his toys and will not want to share them. He will begin to assert his preferences more. Get used to hearing the word, "No!" Your toddler will use it frequently to express himself. In addition, he may show frustration when he cannot do what he wants, but on the positive side, he may be easily redirected by interesting alternatives.

It can help to offer him choices rather than having to refuse him so much. His problem-solving and memory skills will continue to improve.

Support Your Baby's Learning

Your toddler will enjoy toys for pretend play. Toy kitchen, doctor and farm sets are all examples of toys toddlers appreciate, but there's really no limit to the number of toys available for toddlers age 12 to 24 months. As you play with your child and go about your daily work, model language for him. Describe, in simple words, what he is doing as he does it.

Playing in sandboxes with toy shovels, measuring cups and toy dump trucks will develop fine motor muscles and develop early recognition of volume and size. Introduce spoons, forks, and straws for mealtime and assist your child, as needed. As always, safety is important during this period. Always supervise your child. Because accidents happen frequently at this developmental stage.