Child Development: Toddlers (2-3 years old)

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Because of your child's growing desire to assert her independence, this stage is often called the "terrible twos." However, this can be an exciting time for you and your toddler. She will experience huge intellectual, social, and emotional changes that will help her to explore her new world, and make sense of it. During this stage, your toddler will be able to follow two- or three-phrase commands, sort objects by shape and color, imitate the actions of adults and playmates, and express a wide range of emotions.

Positive Parenting

  • Set up a special time to read books with your toddler.

  • Encourage your child to engage in pretend play.

  • Play parade or follow the leader with your toddler.

  • Help your child to explore her surroundings by taking her on a walk or wagon ride.

  • Encourage your child to tell you her name and age.

  • Teach your child simple songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider, or other cultural childhood rhymes.

AAP Developmental Delay Warning Signs

The following are signs of possible developmental delay (remember to always consult your pediatrician because children develop at their own particular pace):

  • Falls often and has difficulty with stairs

  • Persistent drooling or very unclear speech.

  • Cannot copy a circle by 3 years of age.


  • Does not "pretend" play.

  • Has little interest in other children.

  • Extreme difficulty separating from mother.

  • Cannot communicate in short phrases.

Child Safety First

  • Encourage your toddler to sit when eating and to chew her food thoroughly.

  • Check toys often for loose or broken parts.

  • Encourage your toddler not to put pencils or crayons in her mouth when coloring or drawing.

  • Never leave your toddler near or around water (that is, bathtubs, pools, ponds, lakes, whirlpools, or the ocean) without proper supervision (someone who will watch her).

  • Never drink hot objects while your child is sitting on your lap. Sudden movements can cause a spill.


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