Development During Toddlerhood Age 24 to 36 Months

boy playing with blocks
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Which developmental milestones should your toddler reach from the ages of 24 to 36 months? The answer isn't set in stone, as early childhood development varies from child to child. The description of benchmarks below is a general estimate of typical child development at that age.

Fine Motor Skills — Your Child's Hand-Eye Coordination Improves

Your child should begin to show more of a preference for either his left or right hand. Ignore any folklore about the "disadvantages" of left-handedness. In most cases, hand dominance is an inherited characteristic and is normal. Your child is developing more fine motor strength, and he can grasp and twist doorknobs, pull open drawers and open cabinets. Drawing, working with large piece puzzles, big blocks, giant pop-beads, musical toys, and other age-appropriate toys will enhance his fine motor development.

Communication Skills — Speech and Language Skills Develop

Your child understands more language than she can express, but her spoken vocabulary is growing. She can speak in two-word sentences and may join three or more words to express herself. Typical vocabulary for this age ranges from about 50 to over 250 words. Your child will often ask, "Why?" Patiently answer questions using words and pictures or objects that are familiar. At times, she may become frustrated and bite or throw tantrums because she cannot fully express herself. Continue reading to your child and talking with her throughout the day. Read books introducing colors, shapes, animals, and toys.

Cognitive Skills — Your Toddler's Thinking Skills Expand

Your child is developing language skills, and his ability to remember things that are important to him are improving. He is beginning to think about objects and people in a complex way, attaching memories, experiences and his or her opinions to them. He will begin showing interest in playing alongside other children and will show a preference for some children and adults over others. He is beginning to solve nonverbal problems.

Support Your Baby's Learning Safely

Toddler years are wonderful and challenging. Continue to "toddler-proof" your home by making sure your child can only access items that are safe for him. Nothing substitutes for responsible adult supervision, but use other safety measures as well. Installing child locks on cabinets, outlets, drawers and medicine cabinets is a must. Keep all breakables and sharp edges well out of reach. Although your child may be able to navigate steps, you should continue to supervise to ensure safety. Regularly inspect toys for loose parts and register all equipment to ensure you receive recall information.

Gross Motor Skills — Your Toddler's Movement Improves

At this age, your toddler should be running, jumping and climbing on age-appropriate playground equipment. Her coordination is improving. She may begin to walk up and down stairs by mounting each step with one foot. She will enjoy playing games with running and kicking balls and climbing. Supervision is important at this age to prevent accidents. With her newfound skills, your toddler may try to climb to reach objects that are not safe for children. Assess your home on a regular basis to identify potential safety risks and to decide to remove or secure them.

Wrapping Up

If children run ahead of schedule or fall behind these estimates, they may still be within the average range of development. But if you have a nagging feeling that something's wrong, discuss your concerns with your child's pediatrician.

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