By Raising Children Network
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Curious toddlers develop their most important skills by playing and experimenting.
Toddler on a potty
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Development is a journey, not a race. Your toddler will probably develop in fits and starts. One week, your child might proudly learn to kick a ball and name three body parts. Then nothing happens for a while. The development process soon kick-starts again.

What your toddler might be doing

Below is a guide to some of the important milestones for children aged 1-3.

By 12 months, toddlers can:

  • pull up to standing position
  • get into a sitting position
  • cruise (move from place to place, always holding on)
  • clap hands (play pat-a-cake) and wave bye-bye
  • indicate wants in ways other than crying
  • respond to their own names most of the time
  • look where you point when you say, ‘Look at the …’
  • say dada and mama appropriately
  • say at least one word
  • point to things they want
  • babble with changes in tone and pitch of voice
  • take turns ‘talking’ with you.

By 18 months, toddlers can:

  • use two words (by 16½ months)
  • drink from a cup
  • point to body parts
  • point to interesting objects to ‘share’ them with you
  • bring things to show you
  • point to objects so you will name them.

By two years, toddlers can:

  • take off an article of clothing
  • 'feed’ a doll
  • build a tower of four cubes 
  • identify two items in a picture by pointing (by 23½ months).

By 2½ years, toddlers can:

  • use 50 words or more
  • combine words (by about 25 months)
  • follow a two-step command without gestures (by 25 months)
  • use pronouns like I, me and mine
  • use at least 50 words and understand even more
  • combine words (by about 25 months) like ‘Daddy go’ or ‘All gone’
  • follow a two-step command without gestures (by 25 months).

By three years, toddlers can:

  • identify four pictures by naming
  • wash and dry hands (just more than three years of age)
  • identify a friend by naming
  • throw a ball overhand
  • speak and be understood half the time
  • carry on a conversation of two or three sentences
  • use prepositions (by, to, in, on top of).
All children develop at different rates. Your toddler might dawdle with some milestones. Don’t worry – children nearly always catch up. But you know your toddler best, so if you are worried about development, speak to your GP or baby health nurse.
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  • Newsletter snippet: Toddler development: in a nutshell


    By Raising Children Network

    Toddler development is a gradual journey, not a race. All children develop at different rates.

    General milestones for toddler development

    • 12 months: toddlers can sit and stand by themselves, move around if holding on to a support, clap hands, and communicate without crying.
    • 18 months: they can use two words and drink from a cup.
    • 2 years: they can remove an article of clothing, ‘feed’ a doll, build a tower of four cubes, and identify two items in a picture by pointing.
    • 2½ years: they can use 50 words or more, combine words, and follow a two-step command without gestures.
    • 3 years: they can identify four pictures by naming, wash and dry their hands, identify a friend by name, throw a ball underhand, and have a conversation of two or three sentences.

    This article is an extract only. For more information, visit

    Sourced from the Raising Children Network's comprehensive and quality-assured Australian parenting website

  • Last Updated 14-05-2009
  • Last Reviewed 14-01-2010