While some people consider a child a toddler when he/she starts walking others believe that a toddler begins from the age of one or twelve months. But many accept the twelve-month age as the mark for entry into the toddler otherwise called the preschool stage.
Who is actually a toddler?
A toddler is a child between twelve to thirty-six months (1 to 3 years).
This stage in a child’s life is characterized by significant cognitive, emotional, psychological and social development.
While there are general expectations for a child at every step, one or two delays may not be something to worry about.
A child can exhibit some traits earlier or a little later because every child’s growth process is unique.
TODDLER DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES
This developmental stage has been broken down into related areas approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics. They include;
Communication and language development simply put; hearing and speech
Physical development which describes the lateral and bilateral increase
Mental development which consists of the ability to see and interpret what they see, ability to understand and respond to what they hear. Ability to speak some words
Social development. Their ability to interact and play with other children and adults. Responding to playful gestures.
Cognitive development which includes the gross motor (walking, running, climbing, jumping) and fine motor (feeding themselves, manipulating objects)
Am going to break down the toddler developmental milestones as when the development actually becomes evident;
13 TO 15 MONTHS
At thirteen months a toddler triples birth weight and adds a height of fifty percent of birth length. They have four to eight teeth, and the head circumference equals that of the chest. Most toddlers try to lift heavy objects.
They walk on their own confidently and without support. They can go up and down the stairs boldly, kick a ball around, run and be able to stand on the toes.
They are also conveniently climbing on and off sofas, chairs, and tables close by and so will need extra watchful eyes of his/her parents. By this time, they will conveniently squat to pick up objects or play and can stack up blocks.
Many toddlers can drink from a cup. A toddler can open and close and book
Communication and language development
At thirteen months he/she can combine two words effectively. Words such as hello, bye, go. Combine words with gestures to make themselves understood. At this age, they can consistently follow simple instructions.
Can play peekaboo or hide and seek and is interested in interacting with people. They maintain eye contact with adults or children during a play time.
They are always ready to imitate others or try out what he sees someone doing.
A toddler responds to the mention of his/her name by turning the head or making an affirmative sound.
Enjoys watching his/her own reflection. Can roll a ball back and forth and throw it with his hands.
Most toddlers usually participate in dressing and undressing of himself/herself and some enjoy bath time especially when play toys or plenty of water is available to play with.
Usually, they are well coordinated and calm in car rides, can push himself/herself around in a car ride.
Diaper changing time is without fuzz and may enjoy the changing period.
By now, they eat a variety of food and are open to trying new ones. They can calm themselves to sleep. They can easily pick up objects with fingertips, you can try some of these finger foods with your toddler.
16 TO 18 MONTHS
At sixteen months, it seems most of them just discover what fun there is to climb. Switch from taking two to three long naps to one during the day.
They can squat and get up easily without help. Pushing toys around is a fun game because they have the stability and strength for it.
You can try out this push toy and activity walker it will do more to encourage your toddler to want to walk at the same making working fun for him/her.
A toddler can turn pages of a book conveniently. Throwing tantrums when frustrated or not being understood is their way of showing that their temper has gotten in their way especially because they lack self-control at this stage.
Kelly wrote a wonderful post on how to deal with toddler tantrums.
Communication and language development
Can get fussy about food especially one they don’t want. At seventeen months, they can combine more words and talk more clearly.
Toddlers respond to directions such as “come here”, “sit down”, “bring the car keys”.
Most of them demonstrate the ability to stack three blocks. At sixteen months, they can take off their clothes and so you want to make sure it is well buttoned if it’s a buttoned shirt.
A few toddlers can sort toys according to shapes, colors, and size as they choose
They can dance to music and choose what music to listen to. At eighteen months, some will read board books on their own and scribble well. Some toddlers can brush teeth with help
At sixteen months, they can demonstrate attachment to toys or other objects. Most toddlers enjoy pretend games a lot, enjoys riding toys.
19 TO 24 MONTHS
They are happy when they are not tired, bored or hungry. They find it easy to get calm when rocked or touched or sang to. By this time, they have established a consistent sleep schedule and doesn’t require much routine to settle into sleep or be calm.
They are able to enjoy varieties of sound, smell, and taste and can soothe themselves when hurt or upset. By this time, mom or dad can drop them with familiar family members and friends without any or much fuss, and they stay away from their parents even for days.
This makes the transition to a new environment and activity easy for them, and they are not usually disturbed if this happens.
They are always changing positions and are busy crawling, walking, climbing and jumping to explore, scatter and rearrange. They are able to coordinate all the movement needed to explore and play effectively. Endurance, strength, and vigor are usually available adequately for them to play with peers.
They would enjoy walking on the heel-toe pattern. Because they enjoy playing, they will seek out various ways to play.
They possess the ability to maintain balance to prevent fall when bumped into by peers or when catching a ball. Can effectively use both hands to play and catch the ball and can play football without losing balance.
Communication and language development
At twenty-one month
They use a minimum of fifty words and are continuously imitating new words and are capable of naming specific objects and pictures. The average toddler identifies some body parts when named; usually mouth, hands, legs, stomach. They understand the use of some simple pronouns such as me, you, my.
At Twenty-four months
He/she begins to use two-word phrases and uses simple pronouns effectively. Action words are very well understood and used by them.
They understand and follow simple directions. E.g. pick up your book from the floor, take your plate to the kitchen. He/she can use words and gestures in pretend play.
They enjoy listening to stories, therefore, reading to them could be so much fun and bond-forming time. At twenty-four months, naming at least six body parts of a doll is as easy as it comes. Half of their speech can be understood by caregivers or parents, and they can quickly make short sentences.
Toddlers at this stage can put a name to common animals like dog or cat when shown pictures. Short sentences like, “you come, I am fine” are a frequent use for them and they understand words and their opposite.
Walking up and down the stairs instead of crawling is common among toddlers of this age.
They can remove clothes on their own so you want to make sure their shirts are adequately buttoned up and shorts well held on their waist.
If your toddler is not already on a big bed, now is the time they show readiness for getting into one and out of their cot.
Toddlers can point to where they are hurt. Half of the toddlers start talking about himself and can arrange things in categories.
Some more advanced skills in a few toddlers enable them to understand specific abstract concepts like sooner, later and become conscious of gender differences.
They are able to join in small play groups of children. They enjoy listening to and looking at books.
They are able to point to objects of interest and can locate objects an adult is pointing to. They enjoy swinging on playground swings.
They are able to play with toys without putting them in the mouth. Being quite inquisitive, they will explore a new environment and toys.
25 TO 30 MONTHS
Toddlers learn how to jump at this stage. First from low structures then, from a standing position.
They can climb kitchen tables, central tables and chairs to jump off because they have acquired more bilateral skills. You will notice your toddler growing taller and adding weight.
Toddlers within this age group can name many parts of the body, they are able to put on and take off some basic wears.
They can throw a ball over their arms and jump off the ground when playing, they are able to wash their hands, but they need help with drying of the hands, they are able to brush their teeth with support, they can draw vertical lines, but the line will not be straight.
They also can maintain their balance on one foot, and they are able to walk up and down on the stairs with their two feet on one step at a time.
Communication and language development
Within this age range, toddlers are able to pick words and say it clearly, they use “self-centered” pronouns such as my, I and you, they can answer simple questions like; what is your name? They enjoy talking about pictures in books, and they can also sing some parts of songs.
On mental development, toddler at this stage will be able to build a tower using three or four building bricks, they can identify one color and name it, they are able to remember and name one friend, they are able to engage in basic and straightforward pretend play with other toddlers and they can understand similarities or differences in shapes.
Some of the toddlers can also demonstrate a few emerging skills such as sorting of items into sets, understand simple riddles, they will begin to understand the meaning of future time like; tomorrow, soon etc.
They are also able to distinguish one to one action like; one cup per person.
Toddlers within this age range are able to participate and enjoy small groups with other children in their age group. Because they are quite sociable at this age, they are able to maintain eye contact with others and are very much aware and interested in doing so.
They not only turn in response to their name being called, but they can also answer verbally.
They can locate any object that catches their interest and to play with musical toys along with other variety of toys. They get involved in messy activities on their own or with other children getting their hands and clothes all messy.
30 TO 36 MONTHS
Most toddlers are ready for potty training by this time, while it could come earlier for some for others it could be later. But yes, most parents look forward to time there would be no need for diapers again.
Your child begins to look down at his or diapers, grabbing and trying to take them off especially when it’s wet, or he/she has pooped.
Your toddler squats when it’s time to poop. All these are signs that your toddler is physically ready for the potty.
I wrote a guide on how to potty train a toddler in 3 days, you might want to check it out.
Toddlers within this 30 to 36 months of age are able to hold a pencil in a writing position, they like to imitate drawing things like a cross, circles and line that are similar.
They are usually fun of using scissors to cut papers though they may not be able to cut straight. They also are able to open book page by page and turn rotating handles.
Communication and language development
Communication skills of toddlers within this age range include the ability to say two-word and straightforward sentences. They are able to provide answers to simple questions and carry out simple tasks when they are asked to do.
They can participate more actively in conversations and stories, they are also able to provide more information such as gender and age about themselves.
They can recite some nursery rhymes, and they tend to generally put many words in plural form; for example, “tooths and not teeth”.
Toddlers within this age range are able to differentiate various sizes with the use of words such as little, more significant, more etc. they can dramatize thoughts and ideas, they are able to count like three objects, they are also able to identify similar objects or pictures and sort the ones that are different.
Toddlers at this stage enjoy original motion, and they are able to use words related to an understanding of time (e.g. playing time).
Toddlers within this age range are able to express their affection openly. Their social development skill has grown to the point that they can use social conventions such as thank you, please and greetings.
They are able to play along with others; happily, they are able to recognize and respond to others’ feelings, and they are able to cooperate with their friends in playing games.
At this stage, they start to imitate adult behaviors such as make-up and dressing style and they are also able to create and talk to imaginary friends.
TODDLERS DEVELOPMENT DELAY AND ISSUES
Sometimes some parents suspect a developmental delay in their toddler. A development delay is identified most times when a toddler does not reach or demonstrate their development milestone as expected.
This development delay ranges from minor to major. Majority of the developmental delays are not, and they generally correct themselves. Some of them do not have known cause.
There are things to do to help toddlers that have the developmental delay.
Sign of Development Delay in Toddlers
There are several types of possible developmental delay in toddlers this includes Language and communication, speech, vision, motor skills and movement, intellectual or mental skills among others.
For first-time parents, it may be hard to differentiate a simple lagging behind from a correct developmental delay in their child.
Signs of different types of developmental delays are discussed below:
Language and Speech Delay
Language and Speech delay is very common in toddlers. As a matter of fact, they are the most common development delay in children. This is usually detected when a toddler is unable to speak at the same or similar frequency compare with his/her peers within the same age group.
The language delay causes could include potential hearing loss, learning disability.
When you notice any of the signs listed below it is advisable to consult your pediatrician.
The child will not babble or react to loud noises by 3 to 4 months
Does not make an effort to imitate sounds by 4 months
Does not react to sounds at all by 7 months
Find it difficult to use any single words by age 1
Unable to speak at least 15 words, but can only imitate speech, or does not use a statement to communicate by age 2.
Motor Skills or Movement Delay
This is usually detected if a toddler is unable to demonstrate basic motor movement like crawling, walking, difficulty grasping. The signs of motor movement delay are:
The toddler does not reach for, grasp, or hold substances by 3 or 4 months old
Unable to roll over in either direction by 5 months
Cannot sit up without help by 6 months
Unable to actively reach for objects by 7 months
cannot crawl or unable to stand while being supported by age 1
Cannot walk or push a wheeled toy by 18 months
Still walks on toes by age 2
Mental or Intellectual Development Delay
This has to deal with problems with thinking. This delay is mostly associated with learning disorder (likes ADHD). Early intervention and management are crucial when addressing this type of developmental delay. Some of the signs are stated below:
Unable to wave, point to objects, or use gestures by age 1.
Cannot follow modest instructions,
Unable to imitate actions or words, or know how to make use of familiar objects like a spoon, hairbrush, or telephone by age 2.
Social Development Delay
This is identified with a child’s inability to interact with adults or even other children. These problems may likely appear before your child starts school. Causes of social development delay are the mental delay or what is known as the pervasive developmental disorder (PDD).
For now, there is no known cure for this type of developmental delay, but there is a treatment for it. Behavioral therapy and medication are the primary treatments.