Toddler Development: Ages 24 to 36 Months

boy playing with blocks

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As a parent, you might wonder which developmental milestones your child should reach by the time they reach the toddler years. While the answer isn't set in stone because early childhood development varies from child to child, the benchmarks below will give you a general estimate of typical skills that kids master from 24 and 36 months of age (2 to 3 years old).

Fine-Motor Skills

By the time they are entering toddlerhood, your child should begin to show more of a preference for either their left or right hand. Ignore any folklore about the "disadvantages" of left-handedness; in most cases, hand dominance is an inherited characteristic. Whichever hand they prefer, toddlers will still be using both hands a lot at this age.

Your child is developing more fine motor strength, which means they can grasp and twist doorknobs, pull open drawers, and get into cabinets.

Playing with crayons, large-piece puzzles, big blocks, giant pop-beads, musical toys, and other age-appropriate toys will enhance toddlers' fine motor development.

Speech and Language Skills

While your child understands more language than they can express at this age, their spoken vocabulary is continuing to grow. Your child will probably be speaking in two-word sentences and may join three or more words to express their thoughts.

At this age, a child's vocabulary typically contains between 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, your child may become frustrated and bite or throw tantrums when they cannot fully express themselves. This is normal and should slowly improve as they master new language skills.

Read and talk to your child throughout the day, introducing concepts like colors, shapes, animals, and toys.

Thinking Skills

Your child is developing language skills at this age and their ability to remember things that are important to them are improving.

Your child is beginning to think about objects and people in a complex way, attaching memories, experiences, and opinions to them. They will begin showing interest in playing alongside other children and may begin to show a preference for certain people over others.

During this period of development, your child will also begin to solve nonverbal problems.

Gross Motor Skills

Your toddler will be running, jumping, and climbing on age-appropriate playground equipment. Their coordination is improving and they may begin to walk up and down stairs, mounting each step with one foot.

At this age, your toddler will likely enjoy playing games that involve running, kicking balls, and climbing.

Supervision is important at this age to prevent accidents. With their newfound skills, your toddler may try to climb to reach objects that are not safe for children.

Assess your home regularly to identify potential safety risks and remove or secure them.

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.

Nothing substitutes for responsible adult supervision, but you can also use other safety measures.

Regularly inspect toys for loose parts and register all equipment to ensure that you receive recall information.

Installing child locks on drawers and kitchen, laundry, and medicine cabinets, as well as covering outlets, is a must. It's also important to keep all breakables and sharp objects well out of reach.

While your child may be able to navigate steps, you should continue to supervise them to ensure they remain safe from tripping or falling.

A Word From Verywell

If your child runs ahead of schedule or falls behind these estimates, they may still be within the average range of development. Still, trust your instincts as a parent. If you have a nagging feeling that there is something wrong, discuss your concerns with your child's pediatrician.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Nemours KidsHealth. Communication and your 2- to 3-year-old.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Important milestones: Your child by two years.

By Ann Logsdon
Ann Logsdon is a school psychologist specializing in helping parents and teachers support students with a range of educational and developmental disabilities.