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with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

Typical Toddler Development

toddler growth photo

Children grow so quickly in the first years of life.Toddler development typically includes many changes in the areas of:

Gross motor skills

This includes things like walking, running, climbing, and exploring the area around one’s self (think at a park or in a new place). Toddlers are fast at work developing their gross motor skills. This is one factor in why toddlers seem to have a lot of energy and may have difficulty sitting still for long periods of time.

Fine motor skills

This includes things like picking up small items, drawing or coloring (or scribbling), feeding one’s self, and having greater control using hands and fingers for activities such as building with blocks and doing puzzles.

Sensory skills and development

Toddlers sensory development is developing during this developmental period. Toddlers senses are developing in multiple ways. They are developing greater acuity of sight and hearing. They are developing preferences for tastes. They are also learning to identify various stimuli with their senses such as different smells or textures.

Language Skills

Toddlers are developing their language skills in complex ways. They are learning receptive skills which includes ability to comprehend what others are saying and following instructions. Toddlers are also learning expressive skills which includes developing the variety of words they use vocally and increasing the number of words in phrases or sentences they use.

Social Skills

Toddlers are learning a variety of social skills through the early years. Toddlers learn to interact with other children as well as adults. They learn parallel play and eventually collaborative play. Their pretend play skills develop, as well. Toddlers are also beginning to work on problem-solving and conflict resolution skills. Toddlers are beginning to show even more interest in others. They are expanding on their imitation of others’ behaviors. Imitation is a foundational skill that many skills are based upon. Toddlers learn from watching others and observing their surroundings and environment.

Cognitive Skills

Cognitive skills refer to skills related to thinking and mental processing. Toddlers are developing in their cognitive abilities. For instance, they are learn to understand “first, then” concepts such as “First put your shoes on, then we can go outside.” Other examples include learning to sort by objects or concepts, understanding object permanence (that something still exists even if it is hidden behind another object), and being able to identify some letters and numbers and so much more.

Daily Living Skills

Toddlers are beginning to learn daily living skills including getting dressed, putting shoes on and taking them off, putting a coat on and taking it off, brushing their teeth, washing their hands, feeding themselves, cleaning up after themselves, and toilet training. Toddlers may still need assistance with many daily living skills, but they are beginning to attempt to do the activities on their own at times and can typically complete the tasks at least in part.

If you want an even more detailed description of typical toddler development by age, see the link at the CDC:…



Toddler Development. Medline Plus. Retrieved 11/12/2017 from:

Photo by familymwr

Typical Toddler Development

Heather Gilmore

My name is Heather Gilmore. I am so happy to be able to have a space to share helpful insights and resources to other moms out there. Being a parent is hard work and I hope to be able to give you tips and strategies to make it at least a little bit easier and more enjoyable. We love our kids but any mom knows that they can also be exhausting and overwhelming at times, as well. I have a master's degree in social work. I work as a children's therapist. I am also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and work with children with autism spectrum disorder. Additionally, I am a freelance writer specializing in topics related to children and families. I have my own company called Hope Family Resources which provides resources in person and online to help families find greater hope, health, and happiness. See my site and learn more about me at: or email me at I have also published books on Amazon. Search for "Discpline and Parenting Strategies for Kids with ADHD," "Have Peace: How to Have Peace in Your Busy, Chaotic Life," and "Sibling Rivalry: How to Deal with Sibling Rivalry so You Won't Have to Anymore,"

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APA Reference
Gilmore, H. (2018). Typical Toddler Development. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 22 Jan 2018
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.