You are using an older version of Internet Explorer that is not supported on this site. Please upgrade for the best experience.

Caring for Toddlers

From years 1-3, children rapidly develop intellectually, socially, and emotionally, and learn many important skills as they head towards the preschool years. 

Parents encounter many common challenges during this time, including:

Developmental Milestones

Developmental milestones are things most children do by a certain age, from how they play and learn to how they speak, behave, and move.

By their second year, most toddlers are moving around more and becoming more aware of their surroundings.

Common Milestones Include

  • Showing more independence
  • Showing defiant behavior
  • Recognizing themselves in the mirror
  • Imitating the behavior of others
  • Recognizing names of familiar people and objects
  • Forming simple phrases and sentences
  • Following simple instructions

All Kids Develop Differently

It’s easy to compare your toddler to others the same age and then worry that yours is behind—whether in walking, using a sippy cup with ease or saying actual words.

But just as it was when your child was a baby, toddlers reach developmental milestones at their own pace. And each milestone can occur over a period of time.The ages you see listed in books and online for various achievements (walking, speaking in sentences, etc.,) are approximations—not exact timetables.

For example, while girls tend to speak earlier than boys and reach other milestones in communicating and socializing a bit sooner, boys catch up and the 2 genders are pretty equal in middle childhood. Similarly, while many boys learn to walk earlier (sometimes before age 1), girls catch up—usually within the first few months of their 2nd year.

If your toddler has older siblings, she may hit certain milestones earlier than your previous children, which makes lots of sense. With older children around to model language and behavior, she doesn’t want to fall behind.

As always, talk with your child’s healthcare provider about any developmental concerns you may have.

Parenting Tips

There is a lot for parents to keep up with during these early years. Child Development experts recommend the following tips for helping your toddler grow and adapt:

  • Read to your toddler daily.
  • Ask them to find or name objects.
  • Encourage them to explore and try new things.
  • Help to develop your toddler’s language by talking with them.
  • Encourage your child’s growing independence by letting them help with activities like getting dressed.

Playing With Your Toddler

At this age, children are becoming more interactive in their play, which means more fun for both of you!

Try starting a game of “pat-a-cake” and see if your toddler will clap along with you. Or, hold up a blanket and say, “Where is the baby?” to see if they will pull the blanket down from in front of you.

Toddlers have fun playing the same games over and over. Look for simple, gentle activities that help your child practice her skills and explore her world.

While you’re having fun, know that simply playing with you supports your child’s emotional, physical and cognitive development in the best way possible.

Join Our Parenting Community

Follow Baystate Children's Hospital on Facebook for parenting tips and information about pediatric care