Toddler milestones

From 12 months onwards, your toddler will master a whole range of skills. Dr Richard Woolfson explains what you can expect …


During your toddler’s second year, both her physical and mental skills are devel¬oping fast. She grows taller, she weighs more and she’s generally more robust.
If you compare the sideways-on outline of her tummy with that of an older child, you might think she looks ‘fat’. But she’s not – this physical characteristic is because her liver and bladder are disproportionately large in relation to the rest of her, making her stomach stick out.
At this stage your toddler will probably be learning to walk, although she may have achieved this skill when she was younger (some children can walk at nine or ten months).
Her learning and understanding are chan¬ging, too. Her natural curiosity forces her to discover new things, to explore new places and play with new toys. But she doesn’t simply put everything into her mouth now – the need to explore objects orally is passing. Instead she manipulates objects and visually inspects them until she’s satisfied that she’s learnt enough about them.

Download your ‘Toddler Milestones’ chart here.

10 Ways to spur on your toddler

  1. Stimulation: Make sure she has lots of stimu¬lation each day by playing with toys and games, listening to songs and stories, talking with you, exploring her surroun¬dings and using her imagination in play.
  2. Safety: To prevent accidents and injuries, you’ll have to supervise your inquisitive toddler very carefully.
  3. Freedom: Despite safety concerns, don’t re¬strict your child too much or she’ll simply lose interest and become passive.
  4. Action: Balance and co-ordination will be enhanced by playing on climbing frames, balancing logs and other large outdoor apparatus.
  5. Independence: Whenever possible, encourage your toddler to try things for herself, even if it’s only for a few seconds.
  6. Praise: Your toddler’s desire to improve her skills is reinforced through your attention and praise, so show your approval and let her know how clever she has been.
  7. Sociability: Playing with children helps your child learn from them, despite the fact that she isn’t yet able to play with them in a co-operative way.
  8. Rhymes: Speech skills improve through sing¬ing and poems. Let her join in with action rhymes that combine words and body movements.
  9. Distraction: At times, your toddler’s aspirations will outstrip her abilities. If this upsets her, calm her down, distract her and let her return to the activity later.
  10. Understanding: Don’t expect too much from your child too soon, or she’ll feel under pressure.

Worried about your toddler’s development?
Milestones aren’t set in stone, so don’t get anxious if your toddler doesn’t do all the things suggested for her age. It doesn’t mean there’s a problem; just that she isn’t ready yet for that par¬tic¬ular task. If she tries but fails at some¬thing, distract her and restore her confi¬dence with a task she can do.

When to seek professional help
Your toddler is making slow progress in more than one area of development (for instance, both walking and speech).
Your concerns have lasted for several months and during that time develop¬ment hasn’t progressed.
Your toddler can’t mix with others her own age because her development lags behind theirs significantly.

By Dr Richard Woolfson

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