The first three years of a child’s life is critical to their development because this is the most sensitive period for brain growth. The experiences a child has during this period will build the architecture of the brain and make the connections that allow children to develop lifelong skills such as problem solving, social interaction, communication, self-discipline, and making relationships. These are necessary skills and will enable children to positively manage and flourish within their surroundings with family, the community, and within their culture.
Toddlers grow well in situations and places where they can feel safe and secure and where they are able to express their emotions and feelings comfortably. Toddlers have the drive to explore, learn and develop, and they depend on us adults for nurturance and support as they grow into independent beings. As your toddlers receive care from the adults around them, they create secure attachments that meet their emotional and physical needs, those relationships become a base for exploration and discovery.
Developmental Milestones are behaviours, and a set of functional skills or tasks an infant or child can do at a certain age-range.
Children develop at their own pace, so it is difficult to determine when a child will learn a given skill or behaviour. However, there are developmental milestones typical for each age bracket. These milestones give parents and educators an awareness and understanding of the possible changes’ infants/children will go through at certain stages of their lives.
As your baby enters the second year of their life, they are becoming a toddler. They have found a new sense of independence. They can crawl or balance whilst standing. They may have already taken their first steps. Interaction and communication will also be easier as they will have a range of vocabulary, they are eager to practice.
Discovering the limits that have been set by your directions and their own physical and developmental boundaries will dominate much of their time for the next few years.
Here are some other milestones to look for.
- Standing and balancing
- Walking independently
- Pulls toys behind themselves while walking
- Carries large toy or several toys while walking
- Begins to run
- Stands on tiptoe
- Kicks a ball
- Climbs onto and down from furniture unassisted
- Walks up and down stairs holding on to support
Developing Fine Motor Skills
- Scribbles spontaneously
- Places object into containers or insert games
- Turns over container to pour out contents
- Builds tower of four blocks or more
- Might use one hand more frequently than the other
Communication & Language Development
- Points to object or picture when it’s named
- Recognizes names of familiar people, objects, and body parts
- Says several single words (by fifteen to eighteen months)
- Uses simple phrases (by eighteen to twenty-four months)
- Uses 2-3 (or more) word sentences
- Follows simple instructions
- Repeats words overheard in conversation
- Clearly able to communicate feelings/likes and dislikes
- Finds objects even when hidden under two or three covers
- Begins to sort by shapes and colours
- Begins make-believe play
Social & Emotional Development
- Imitates behaviour of others, especially adults and older children
- Increasingly aware of how they are feeling as they separate from others
- Increasingly enthusiastic about company of other children
- Demonstrates increasing independence
- Begins to show defiant behaviour
- Increasing episodes of separation anxiety toward midyear, then they fade
Your toddler is learning and exploring, they are confident when taking calculated risks and they are able to communicate their feelings, like and dislikes. It is important for you to find time to engage in play and conversations with your toddler. Playtime could be as simple as playing hide and seek by hiding your face with your hands, passing a ball back and forth or simply giving them pots and pans to clang to create your own music band. Ask questions and wait for answers, read a book together and allow your child to turn the page. These are all great interactions which will support your child reach their next milestone smoothly.
As a parent, you know your child best. If you feel your child may not be meeting the milestones for his or her age, or if you have a concern with your child’s development, please do talk with your child’s doctor/paediatrician and share your concerns