Development Milestones

Development Milestones

This article covers development milestones for 2 – 3 year olds.

What you’ll find in this article:

  • Physical milestones
  • Emotional milestones

  • Language milestones

  • Intellectual milestones



    Your little one is officially a toddler once he or she reaches age 2. From then till about age 5, you’ll be happy to experience along with your child significant changes physically, emotionally and even intellectually. 

    We understand it can be pretty difficult not to compare your child with other toddlers, but it’s usually best not to obsess over your child’s development as not all children develop at the same rate, so if your little one is late to do a few things other kids her age are doing, do not panic! If for any reason you feel pressured or bothered about your toddler’s development, see a professional.

    It is possible and normal to feel overwhelmed about what developmental milestones your toddler should have achieved at any certain age, especially if this is your first child. Here’s a list of developmental milestones to expect from your toddler (especially 2 – 3 year olds).

    Physical Milestones 

Expect to see major physical development (both fine motor skills and gross motor skills) in your toddler at this age. 

  • Jumping: Toddlers at this age tend to jump off sofas and whatever low structures they can find and some take the leap (literally) from a standing position. Jumping requires the ability to use both sides of the body and should not be discouraged. Instead, provide a safe environment for your child to jump. You can play jumping from a low stairs while holding your child’s hand.
  • Climbing on furniture, stools and playground equipment. Try providing safe opportunities for climbing. You can stack pillows or cushions for her to practice climbing and remember to take out objects such as books or anything that can injure your little one while she is climbing.
  • Walking up and down stairs while holding the railings and running (without falling over). Try practicing walking up and down the stairs with your child to discourage her from thinking she can just jump down the stairs.
  • Pulling or pushing toys or anything they find entertaining
  • Throwing and catching. They’ll love to play with balls
  • Stand on tiptoes and balance on one foot
  • Running: Note that all kids will love to run especially after falling down several times. So do not pressure your child into running. If on the other hand your little one loves to run, then make sure the space is safe and you can also join in the fun by doing a running competition with older kids if they’re available and willing.
  • Potty training: As tempting as this is, make sure your child is ready before you decide to potty train. Look out for the usual signs of readiness like if your child tugs on her diaper especially when it’s soiled or if she can pull her pants up and down and can say poo-poo and pee-pee when she’s pressed. For more tips on potty training, check out our detailed article on potty training here
  • For more gross motor skills and how you can help your toddler, check out this article here.

Some fine motor skills most toddlers develop between 2 and 3 years include and are not limited to:

  • Turn on faucets and wash hands
  • Pull pants up and down
  • Brushing their teeth and hair
  • Can finish zipping up (with assistance)
  • Build towers of blocks
  • Hold pencils and crayons properly. 

Social Milestones

By the end of their third year, most toddlers are able to do a couple of things independently. Some toddlers even begin to enjoy being away from their caregivers and enjoy the company of their age mates more. Some other milestones include:

  • Is able to participate in small groups with other children
  • Enjoys playing with other kids
  • Loves to be thrown in air, and enjoy swinging
  • Knows when her name is called
  • Can maintain eye contact with others
  • Enjoys playing with various toys
  • Is able to locate her toys or objects you are pointing to
  • Explores varied environments such as a new playground
  • Can dance when a song she loves starts playing
  • Loves playing dirty and can mimic what other kids are doing
  • Disobeys more often as she realizes she can do some things without your help.
  • Have tantrums when frustrated. For an in-depth understanding of toddler tantrum, click here.

Intellectual Milestones

Toddlers this age are constantly developing and finding new ways of doing things. Most toddlers this age are able to

  • Engage in more complicated pretend play and even assign roles to others
  • Sing along and recite favourite nursery rhymes with you
  • Arrange and group toys by colour, size, or type
  • Can complete 3 – 4 piece puzzles
  • May be able to follow two-step instructions
  • Most toddlers love story time and would continually want you to read their favourite storybook to them. Do not see this as just a past time, your child is also learning how books work. Encourage your child by making time to read to her and with her. Make it interesting by pointing out interesting pictures and colours.
  • Read aloud to your child and let her repeat some familiar words and point at some items.

Language Milestones

From the moment your little said “ma-ma” or “da-da”, her vocabulary starts to improve and as she learns gestures, sounds, and watch you speak, she learns and is able to make sentences of her own. By the end of the third year, most toddlers are able to:

  • Use 2-3 word phrases
  • Be understood by caregivers (not 100% though)
  • Understand basic nouns and pronouns
  • Understand “mine” and “yours”
  • Ask “what” and “where”
  • Use plurals
  • Understand most simple questions
  • Understand body parts and familiar objects
  • Combine nouns and verbs like “baby sleep”
  • Repeat words 

While all these are significant milestones, do not be tempted to push your toddler more than she is willing to go, especially in communication.

  • Do not finish her sentences for her as this may lead to her being frustrated and not willing to learn
  • Try modelling good speech and grammar rather than correcting your little one when she makes mistakes
  • Do not be surprised to see her crying when she can’t find words to describe how she’s feeling.
  • Remember to give your child lots of opportunity to speak


Toddlers are constantly learning new skills and might even unlearn a skill. Give your child a certain amount of freedom to become independent and learn new skills. Speak to a professional if you have any concerns. Happy parenting!




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