Toddler Development and Milestones

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The toddler development years of early childhood are critical in determining a child’s future. Therefore, it is important to be aware of toddler development milestones in order to encourage learning, and to provide the appropriate learning environment.

The toddler years are from the age of 13 months through to 36 months. A huge amount of growth and physical development has already occurred in a toddler during their first year of life as an infant.

As an infant enters into the toddler years, there are many new and challenging toddler developmental milestones to be aware of.

What are Toddler Developmental Milestones?

The attainment of different skills and abilities in toddlers are commonly known as developmental milestones, or developmental stages. Different milestones are achieved on a month by month basis in the areas of physical development, perceptual ability, cognitive ability, speech and language development, personality, social and moral understanding, emotional development, and the ability to form attachments with other people.

Physical Development in Toddlers

Physical development in toddlers includes both gross motor development and fine motor development. Gross motor development refers to developmental stages such as kicking, walking, running, and climbing. Fine motor development refers to stages of development such as manipulating objects, and eye-hand coordination.

Perceptual Development in Toddlers

Perception is the interpretation of sensory input through vision, hearing, taste, smell, touch, temperature and pain.

Cognitive Developmental Milestones in Toddlers

Cognition refers to the ability of having knowledge, and the process of acquiring knowledge.

Speech and Language Development in Toddlers

Speech and language are two of the most complex forms of knowledge acquired during early childhood development. Despite this, all normal toddlers are able to learn speech and language skills.

Personality and Toddler Development

The development of personality in toddlers refers to the growing awareness that they exist, and that they are a distinct individual. This is known as the emergence of self-awareness.

Social and Moral Development in Toddlers

A toddler’s moral and social standards are shaped by their social learning experiences.

A Toddler’s Emotional Development

The emergence of secondary emotions (or self-conscious emotions) begins in the toddler years. For information on toddler emotional development refer to Toddler Social and Emotional Development (see above).

Toddler Attachment and Social Relationships

A toddler’s ability to form an emotional attachment begins in their first year of life as an infant, when they attach with their primary caregiver. As the child enters into the toddler years they are capable of forming attachments with people other than their caregiver.

Toddler development and the ability to achieve milestones

Each of the articles referenced above outline the average age of mastery for each developmental area, on a month to month basis. The information has been attained from various research conducted on toddlers.

Keep in mind that many toddlers may achieve these various developmental milestones/stages at an earlier, or later time. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, please consult your doctor or early childhood nurse.


Sigelman, Carol K. and Elizabeth A. Rider. Life-Span Human Development. California: Wadsworth.

Izard, Caroll E. Measuring Emotions in Infants and Children. New York: Cambridge University Press,.

Piaget, Jean. The Origins of Intelligence in Children. New York: International University Press, 1952

Thomas, J. R., J. H. Yan, and G. E. Stelmach. “Movement Substructures Change as a Function of Practice in Children and Adults.” Journal of Experimental Psychology, 75, 228-244.

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