Toddlers this age are learning to express themselves to get what they want. New verbal skills allow your little one to point to an object and say a word — and, in turn, you respond.
This newfound ability can lead to tantrums, though, when a child doesn't get his or her way. While frustrating, tantrums are a normal part of toddler development. Help avoid angry outbursts by distracting your little one with an interesting toy or game, and keep your cool when they do happen.
Doctors use certain milestones to tell if a toddler is developing as expected. There's a wide range of what's considered normal, so some children gain skills earlier or later than others. Toddlers who were born prematurely reach milestones later. Always talk with your doctor about your child's progress.
Here are some things your toddler might be doing:
Communication and Language Skills
- indicates what he or she wants by pulling, pointing, or grunting
- brings objects to you, such as a book to read
- says 3-5 words (in addition to "mama" and "dada") and uses them correctly
- can point to a body part when asked ("Where's your nose?")
Movement and Physical Development
- takes steps without support
- squats to pick something up
- begins to accept liquids from a spouted or open cup
- stacks three blocks
- scribbles with crayon on paper
Social and Emotional Development
- begins to show preference for certain activities (and will resist napping if engaged in a desired activity)
- uses transitional objects (such as a blanket or stuffed animal) to self-comfort
- has strong dislikes, such as fear of loud noises or bath time
- shows affection to caregivers with hugs and kisses
Cognitive Skills (Thinking and Learning)
- understands and follows simple commands
- imitates activities, such as sweeping a floor
- begins to engage in problem-solving activities, like simple puzzles
When to Talk to Your Doctor
Every child develops at his or her own pace, but certain signs could indicate a delay in development. Talk to your doctor if your child:
- doesn't use consonant sounds ("ba, da, ga") or other vocalizations to express needs
- doesn't show affection (hugs, kisses)
- doesn't show interest in other children
Also, if you ever notice that your child has lost skills he or she once had or shows weakness on one side of the body, tell your doctor.
Reviewed by: Rhonda S. Walter, MD
Date reviewed: 06/14/2016