Toddler is a common term for a young child who is learning to walk or "toddle" , generally considered to be the second stage of development after infancy and before childhood occurring predominantly during the ages of 12 to 36 months. During this period, the child learns a great deal about social roles and develops motor skills. To toddle is to walk unsteadily; the term cruising is used for toddlers who cannot toddle but must hold onto something while walking.

The toddler developmental timeline shows what an average toddler can do at what age. Times vary greatly from child to child. It is common for some toddlers to master certain skills (such as walking) well before other skills (like talking). Even close siblings can vary greatly in the time taken to achieve each key milestone.

This age is sometimes referred to as 'the terrible twos', because of the temper tantrums for which they are famous. This stage can begin as early as nine months old depending on the child and environment. The toddler is discovering that they are a separate being from their mother or caregiver and are testing their boundaries in learning the way the world around them works. This time between the ages of two and five when they are reaching for independence repeats itself during adolescence.

Most children are toilet trained while they are toddlers. In most Western countries, toilet training starts as early as 17 months for some while others are not ready to begin toilet training until they are three.

When toddlers can walk they are still often transported in a buggy, or stroller, when they are tired, or to increase speed.

Around 18 months, the toddler's vocabulary will greatly increase, and he or she may learn as many as 7-9 new words a day.

Overview table

Age Physical Mental Emotional
12–15 months
  • Stand alone well.
  • Drink from a cup (poorly).
  • Turn pages in a book (a few at a time).
  • Play ball by rolling or tossing it.

  • Uses one or two syllable words such as "ball" or "cookie"
  • Can follow a simple command with an associated gesture, such as: bringing a cup to you when you point at it and say "Please bring me the cup".
  • Object permanence: Realizes things still exist when they are out of sight, such as a toy block placed into a closed box.

  • Use gestures or words to convey objects, such as: Pointing at a book, raising arms to be picked up, or saying "cup".
  • Mimic actions such as covering eyes while playing Peekaboo.

15–18 months
  • Walk well alone.
  • May be able to bend down and stand up without help.
  • Hold a crayon well enough to scribble.
  • Lift cup up to mouth for drinking.
  • Climb onto furniture.
  • Able to use a potty and not diapers
  • Uses 10–20 words.
  • May be able to follow a command without a gesture.
  • Stack two blocks.

18–24 months
  • Feed self with a spoon.
  • Run.
  • Climb into a small chair.
  • Walk up steps.
  • Helps with dressing: Likes to dress and undress self.

  • Speaks 20–50 words; understands many more
  • Stack six blocks
  • Understands non-physical relationships such as turning on lights or pushing buttons.
  • Sorting toys.
  • Searching for hidden objects.
  • Problem solving through experimentation.

24–36 months
  • Advanced mobility and climbing skills.
  • Increased dexterity with small objects, puzzles.
  • Able to dress oneself.

  • Speaking in sentences.
  • Ability to be independent to primary care giver.
  • Easily learns new words, places and people's names.
  • Anticipates routines.
  • Plays with toys in imaginative ways.
  • Attempts to sing in-time with songs.

  • Knows boys from girls.
  • Shows preferences, such as clothes and entertainment.
  • Knows how to play different games.

See also


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