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Toddler development

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Toddlers are children ages 1 to 3.

CHILD DEVELOPMENT THEORIES

Cognitive (thought) development skills typical for toddlers include:

Personal and social development in this age focuses on the child learning to adjust to society's demands. At this stage, children try to maintain independence and a sense of self.

These milestones are typical of children in the toddler stages. There can be some variations. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about your child's development.

PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

The following are signs of expected physical development in a toddler.

GROSS MOTOR SKILLS (use of large muscles in the legs and arms)

FINE MOTOR SKILLS (use of small muscles in hands and fingers)

LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

BEHAVIOR

Toddlers are always trying to be more independent. You may have safety concerns as well as discipline challenges. Teach your child the limits of appropriate vs. inappropriate behavior.

When toddlers try out new activities, they can get frustrated and angry. Breath-holding, crying, screaming, and temper tantrums may often occur.

It is important for a child at this stage to:

SAFETY

Toddler safety is very important.

PARENTING TIPS

References

Badesch B. Development, behavior, and developmental disability. In: Kleinman K, Mcdaniel L, Molloy M, eds. Harriet Lane Handbook, The. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 9.

Carter RG, Feigelman S. The second year. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 23.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Important milestones: your child by two years. www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-2yr.html. Updated March 31, 2022. Accessed April 14, 2022.

Chaves-Gnecco D, Feldman HM. Developmental/behavioral pediatrics. In: Zitelli, BJ, McIntire SC, Nowalk AJ, Garrison J, eds. Zitelli and Davis' Atlas of Pediatric Physical Diagnosis. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 3.

Goode R, Lawrence A, Reimschisel T. Global developmental delay and regression. In: Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, Newman NJ, eds. Bradley and Daroff's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 8.

Hazen EP, Abrams AN, Muriel AC. Child, adolescent, and adult development. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Elsevier; 2016:chap 5.

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Review Date: 2/24/2022  

Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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