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Appendix A
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Toddlers (13 - 30 Months)

Toddler Development by Age and Domain      • By 15 Months of Age
By 18 Months of Age      • By 24 Months of Age      • Atypical Development

Toddler Development by Age and Domain

Note: all domains are interrelated, for example “recognize and calm down to familiar gentle voice” in the cognitive domain is also part of social, language and hearing development.

Note: All skills are listed by the age when most children should have accomplished them unless otherwise indicated. When observing a child between two ages refer to the younger age group (e.g., expect a 21 month-old child to accomplish the skills listed for 18 months of age).

By 15 Months of Age
Expect the child to:

Social Emotional
  • Respond to own name when called
  • Repeat an action that made you laugh
  • Stop an action when you say “no”
  • Imitate during play
  • Look at you to see how you react
    (e.g., after falling, when a stranger enters the room)
  • Be shy or anxious with strangers
Language Cognitive
  • Look at your face when you are talking to him
  • Look at pictures when you name them
  • Understand 50 words
  • Try to get something by making sound, while reaching or pointing
  • Imitate a few animal sounds
  • Use connected sounds that seem like little stories
  • Start to recognize body parts on self and dolls
  • Explore objects in different ways
    (e.g., shaking, banging, throwing, dropping)
  • Search for hidden objects in several locations
  • Recognizes image of self in mirror
Gross Motor Fine Motor
  • Crawl up stairs/steps
  • Walk sideways holding onto furniture
  • Try to squat to pick up a toy from the floor
  • Get from a sitting to a crawling or prone position
  • Stand alone easily without support
  • Walk holding onto an adults hand and may be able to take a few steps without support
  • Use two hands when
    playing with toys
  • Remove socks and try to undo shoes
  • Stack two blocks
  • Poke things with index finger
  • Scribble with crayon
  • Push a toy
Perceptual (sensory)
Hearing Vision
Nutrition Feeding
  • Eat many foods his family is eating
  • Have 3 - 4 nutritious meals and 1-2 snacks
  • Continue to breastfeed
  • Holds cup to drink using two hands

By 18 Months of Age
Expect the child to:

Social Emotional
  • Join in play with familiar adults,
    siblings, and peers
  • Recognize image of self in mirror
  • Look at you when you are talking
    or playing together
  • Point to show you something
  • Comply with simple directions
  • Use familiar gestures (e.g., waving)
  • Demonstrate some pretend play with toys (e.g., pretend to give teddy a drink, use bowl as a hat)
  • Begin to select gender-stereotyped toys
  • Show affection towards people, pets or toys
  • Begin to realize that others’ emotional reactions may differ from one’s own; early signs of empathy
  • Come for comfort when distressed
Language Cognitive
  • Add to vocabulary steadily
  • Say 20 or more words. Words do
    not have to be clear.
  • Enjoy being read to and looking at simple book with caregiver
  • Point to familiar objects when asked
  • Follow directions using “on” and “under” (e.g., “Put the cup on the table”)
  • Use a variety of familiar gestures (e.g., such as waving, pushing, giving, reaching up)
  • Makes at least four different consonant sounds (e.g., b,n,d,h,g,w)
  • Point to at least three different body parts when asked (e.g., “Where is your nose?”)
  • Try to get your attention to see
    something of interest
  • Use objects as tools
  • Imitate actions across a change in context (e.g., act out at home a behaviour learned at child care or on TV)
  • Exhibit improved recall memory for people, places, objects, and actions
  • Actively sort objects into a single category (e.g., same colour or same shape)
  • Identify pictures in book, “show me the baby”
  • Pretend play with toys and figures
    (e.g., feed stuffed animal)
  • Consistently choose the larger of two piles of favourite foods (e.g., raisins or pieces of fruit)
Gross Motor Fine Motor
  • Walk up a few stairs/steps holding your hand
  • Walk alone
  • Trot, prance
  • Squat to pick up a toy and stand
    back up without falling
  • Push and pull toys or other objects
    while walking forward
  • Climb stairs one at a time with help
    (e.g., holding adult’s hand)
  • Climb onto furniture, try to climb out of crib
  • Walk backward two steps without support
  • Kick a ball
  • Manipulate small objects with
    improved coordination
  • Stack three or more blocks
  • Turn a few board-book pages at a time
  • Make vertical strokes with a crayon
  • Turn over a container to pour out the contents
  • Remove some clothing on his own
  • Open drawers
Perceptual (sensory)
Hearing Vision
  • Respond to music by trying to dance,
    sway, clap or vocalize
  • Look for source of sound in all directions
  • Hold objects close to eyes to inspect
  • Follow objects as they move from
    above head to feet
  • Point to objects or people using a word that means “look” or “see”
Nutrition Feeding
  • Transition well to family foods
    and mealtimes
  • Continue to breastfeed or take whole
    milk with meals or at bedtime
  • Continue to have 3 - 4 meals and
    1 - 2 snacks per day
  • Hold bite and chew crackers or
    other crunchy foods
  • Use a spoon well; feed self with
    spoon with little spilling
  • Swallow without loss of food or saliva from mouth; may lose some during chewing

By 24 Months of Age
Expect the child to:

Social Emotional
  • Imitate behaviour of others, especially adults and older children
  • Become increasingly aware of himself as separate from others; self-recognition is well under way; identify self in photos
  • Become increasingly enthusiastic about company of other children
  • Ask for help using words
  • Say “no” and like to do some
    things without help
  • Start to use words to influence
    a playmate’s behaviour
  • Show gender-stereotyped toy preferences
  • Like to watch and play near other children
  • Begin to tolerate caregiver’s absences more easily; separation anxiety declines
  • Acquire an emotion vocabulary for talking about feelings, including negative feelings, aiding emotional self-regulation
  • Self-conscious emotions (shame, embarrassment, guilt, and pride) emerge
Language Cognitive
  • Point to object or picture when
    it’s named for him
  • Recognize names of familiar people, objects, and body parts
  • Join two words together (e.g., “want cookie”, “car go”, “my hat”)
  • Follow simple instructions and two step directions (e.g., “find your teddy bear and give it to grandma”)
  • Hum and sing
  • Learn and use one or more new words a week (may only be understood by family)
  • Ask for help using words 
  • Use 10 to 20 consonants and have sufficient phonetic ability to learn
    many new words
  • Use two pronouns
    (e.g.; “you”, “me”, “mine”)
  • Hold book the right way up and turn pages
  • Pretends to read to stuffed animal or toy
  • Find objects even when hidden under
    two or three covers
  • Actively sort objects into two categories
    (e.g., all cars and all dolls)
  • Show an understanding that items can be counted and that there are special counting words that are used (e.g., “one”, “two”, “three”)
  • Imitate actions of peers and adults even after a time delay of up to several months
  • Engage in make-believe play, using simple actions
  • Solve simple problems suddenly (instead of through trial and error)
  • Use skills already learned and develop new ones (e.g., no loss of skills)
  • Copy your actions
    (e.g., you clap your hands and he claps hands)
  • Complete a simple shape-matching puzzle
  • Understand and remember two-step request
Gross Motor Fine Motor
  • Carry large toy or several toys
    while walking
  • Try to run
  • Play in a squat position
  • Walk backwards or sideways pulling a toy
  • Jump in place
  • Walk on tiptoe
  • Throw a ball
  • Climb onto and down from
    furniture unassisted
  • Walk up and down stairs one step at a time holding on to support
  • Push riding toy with feet
  • Open doors
  • Make scribbles and dots on paper or in sand
  • Scribble in circular pattern
  • Make horizontal stroke with a crayon
  • Turn over container to pour out contents
  • Build tower of four blocks or more
  • Possibly use one hand more frequently
    than the other
  • Manipulate small objects with good coordination
  • Put objects into a small container
  • Turn board-book pages easily, one at a time
  • Take off own shoes, socks or hat
Perceptual (sensory)
Hearing Vision
  • Look when reaching or grasping for
    objects within vision
  • Look where he is going when walking,
    climbing or running
  • Look for and point to pictures in books
Nutrition Feeding
  • View as by “18 months of age
  • Take number of Food Guide Servings as recommended by Canada’s Food Guide
  • Eat most food without coughing and choking
  • Feed self most foods with spoon, fork
    or fingers competently
  • Use tongue to clean food from upper
    and lower lips and teeth

Milestones taken from: Berk, 2008; Berk & Roberts, 2009; Davies, 2004; Grenier & Leduc, 2008; Kent, 2005; Nipissing District Developmental Screen; Rourke, Leduc, & Rourke, 2006; Sears & Sears, 2003; Shelov & Hannemann, 2004

Atypical Development

Although all children develop at their own rate, there are certain signs in a child’s development which may indicate more serious concerns. If any of the following signs of atypical development are noted, these concerns should be discussed with the child’s primary health care professional. A referral to the appropriate specialist may then be required (First & Palfrey, 1994; Shelov & Hannemann, 2004).

  • Age: Two Years
    • Does not seem to know the function of common household objects
      (brush, telephone, bell, fork, spoon) by 15 months
    • Cannot walk by 18 months
    • Fails to develop a mature heel-toe walking pattern after several months of walking,
      or walks exclusively on his toes
    • Does not show interest in cause-and-effect games by 18 months
    • Does not speak at least 15 words by 18 months
    • Unable to remove socks or mittens by self by 20 months
    • Does not use two-word sentences by age two
    • Does not imitate actions or words by age two
    • Does not follow simple instructions by age two
    • Cannot push a wheeled toy by age two

If you are concerned about the development of a child, go to Local Information.