Things To Watch For In Your Toddler's Development

This is just a rough guide and if you are in any way worried about your child’s development please talk to your public health nurse or doctor.

All toddlers develop at different stages, but parents should be watching out for some important milestones. It is perfectly normal for one child to do something at two-years-old while it takes another a further six months. However, there are a few things to watch out for in your toddler’s development:
By 15 months your child should be:
  • Learning to walk and have good coordination/rhythm
  • Picking up toys easily
  • Stacking blocks or Lego
  • Learning to dress and undress too
  • Sleeping well and hopefully, have a good bedtime routine
  • Eating well and happily trying new foods as well as eating a good nutritious diet
  • Beginning to use in or around 5-10 words
  • Beginning to respond to certain sounds and gestures
  • Copying words and trying to do actions like other people (mimicking)
  • Following instructions when told to do something
  • Identifying body parts when asked
By 18 months your child should be:
  • Responding to questions and babbling in a speech like way
  • Pointing at familiar objects or recognising people
  • Responding to yes/no and understanding body movements
  • Repeating words when spoken to
  • Eating a good range of chopped food
  • Drinking from a cup
  • Playing with others
  • Looking to people to comfort him/her if upset
  • Happy to play with adults and children
  • Recognising their name
  • Clapping, pointing, banging and playing
  • Happy to explore and have fun
  • Running, crawling, walking and jumping
  • Showing good balance and coordination
  • Managing annoying tasks like getting dressed or going to bed without a fuss
  • Falling asleep in bed alone without too much interruption
  • Enjoying parents story time and cuddles
By 21 months your child should be:
  • Saying at least 50 words
  • Learning every day – names, places, words, numbers and body parts or colours to name a few things
By 24 months your child should be:
  • Able to use two words together and beginning to form sentences
  • Use and understand words like “me” or “you”
  • Improving their language skills every day
  • Following directions and listening intently to conversation or stories
  • Playing in small groups with other children
  • Happy to play, socialise and explore
  • Happy to follow instructions and locate objects as instructed
  • Playing without wrecking toys or eating them – destructive behaviour should have passed
  • Balancing properly and running/walking easily
  • Playing sports and catching or throwing balls or bean bags to others or themselves
  • Showing their emotions and explaining more about their feelings
By 36 months your child should be able to:
  • Use 2-3-word phrases
  • Speak properly and be understood most of the time
  • Follow directions easily without arguing or tantrums
  • Recognise animals and play gently with them too
  • Answer little questions
  • Understand daily routine and recognise structure in their day (time)
  • Play happily with kids
  • Listen to a book and try and read it themselves
  • Recognise their nappy and if it is wet
  • Remain calm during previously stressful tasks e.g. haircuts or doctor trips
  • Love being around family and enjoy the social aspect of family life/occasions
That is not to say every child will do these things at this time and sometimes kids take longer than others. Also, there is every chance your child may do some tasks before.
This is just a rough guide and if you are in any way worried about your child’s development please talk to your public health nurse or doctor.


Emma Hayes

Emma Hayes is a busy mum to two girls aged 17 and 11 and is married to her childhood sweetheart.

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