Toddler Growth and Development (1 to 3 Years)

Growth and Development Stages of Toddlers (1 to 3 Years)

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Gunjan Baweja (Paediatrician)
View more Paediatrician Our Panel of Experts

Watching your kid grow is like magic, but it’s no easy feat unless you know what you’re doing. From food to nutrition and the milestones to watch out for, this article will cover everything you need to know related to your toddler’s growth and development.

Physical Development

Every child progresses at different rates, but there are certain developmental milestones you should watch out. Don’t sweat it if your child misses one or two of these; as long as he’s showing signs of some of them, he’s doing good.

1. Fine Motor Development

Fine motor skills translate to acute movements or anything that involves precision. Here are the fine motor development milestones you should watch out for:

Between 12 to 15 months

  • The Pincer Grasp – Your child is now able to lift an object or pick them up using only his thumb and forefinger.
  • Picks object up from the floor by stooping down.

Fine Motor Development

Between 15 to 18 Months

  • Attempts to fit things into one another.
  • Remove lids and covers from containers.

Between 18 to 21 Months

  • Is able to eat on his own.
  • Recognizes names and points out or picks common objects.

Between 21 to 24 Months

  • Is able to jump alone or stand on his toes.
  • Recognizes different musical tunes and rhythmic sounds.

Between 2 to 3 Years

  • Be able to draw simple shapes, lines and curves.
  • Be able to undress on his own, without any assistance.
  • Drink from small cups and glasses on his own (may spill, however).
  • Drink using a straw.

2. Gross Motor Development

Gross motor development involves larger muscle groups and uses fuller or wider-range movements. Watch out for these milestones to keep your little one on track:

Between 12 to 15 months

  • Is able to walk with or without support on his fours.
  • Rocks rhythmically when standing on the floor.

Between 15 to 18 Months

  • Throws balls in different directions from a sitting or standing position.
  • Tries to reach objects beyond his reach.

Gross Motor Development

Between 18 to 21 Months

  • Walks up the stairs with support or hand-holding.
  • Is able to dress up on his own.
  • Climbs up chairs, stools and stands on them.

Between 21 to 24 Months

  • Walks in different directions and remembers places he visits.
  • Kicks a ball while maintaining balance and posture.
  • Walks up and down the stairs without support.

Between 2 to 3 Years

  • Is able to move between two straight lines.
  • Is cooperative during dressing-up times and undressing times.
  • Uses toilet on his own.
  • Is able to run without falling down.

Cognitive Development

Cognitive development starts speeding up from the age of two and beyond, as physical development tapers down during these ages. Your child’s brain will be developing and growing fast as he learns to recall better, recognizes colours and familiar faces around him and also be able to do more than babble, such as telling you short stories or narrating glimpses of his days.

Language Development

If your child has just turned 15 to 18 months old, you can expect him to have a vocabulary of about 10 times more words than what he started with since his formative months. Children over the age of two have a vocabulary of about 50 to 100 words, and after the age of three, will be able to begin using combinations of two or more words, as toddler speech development takes place.

Emotional and Social Development

Between the ages of 1 to 2 years, your child will begin manifesting signs of the terrible twos. When he is between two to three years old, he will have developed strong bonds with parents and those around him. Your children will also feel guilty if he does things wrong and will likely test the limits of your authority and flexibility by independently acting and innocently experimenting with objects and situations in everyday life.

Food and Nutrition

Your toddler will be growing during these few months, and providing him with the right nutrition is key to physical development. Aim for roughly 1000 to 1500 calories worth meals a day, and ensure he gets up to 13 grams of protein. As long as you’re giving him a whole-food diet which enables him to thrive and steadily gain weight, you’ll be good to go. You don’t have to count calories if you notice your child meeting his weight and height milestones. Don’t forget to add dairy and meat to his diet, too.

This is what portion control looks like for 1-3-year-old kids:

  • Starchy foods – 5 times a day
  • Fruits and veggies – 5 times a day
  • Dairy – 3 times a day
  • Protein-foods (Meat/Fish) – Twice a day (three servings if your child is vegetarian)

Food and Nutrition

Safe Environment

Create a safe environment at home to ensure that your kids grow up well and develop cognitively. This means providing plenty of space plus love and attention when they need. Play with your child every day and spend a couple minutes of alone time with him before his bedtime.


Bedtime routines should be well-established by the age of three. Your child will be sleeping for 10 to 12 hours during the night when he’s between two to three, with 1 daytime nap included that lasts between 1 to 3 hours. Aim to develop a consistent sleeping schedule and make him stick to it, no matter what, to avoid sleep deprivation and crankiness during the day.

Play and Activities

  • Playing with clay or dough
  • Doodling or sketching cartoons on paper
  • Making picture scrapbooks
  • Stacking up blocks
  • Learning how to dance to the music
  • Pretend-play
  • Hide and seek

Potty Training

It’s normal for girls to go to the bathroom and do potty on their own by the age of 36 months, and for boys by the age of 30 months. You may still need to occasionally help them wipe their buttocks after potty time, and assist with their training until the age of three. Be patient and show them how to take care of themselves until they are confident and able.

Safety Tips

Here are some safety tips for parents who have kids of these ages:

  • Keep medicines and prescription drugs out of reach. Lock them up in medicine cabinets.
  • Turn off hot grills and stoves, and keep away boiling hot water and foods away from their reach.
  • Push food trays and objects away from the edges of tables.
  • Clean the floors and ensure proper hygiene practices at home.

How to Monitor Toddler’s Development

You can monitor your toddler’s development by taking him to routine checkups which are usually scheduled between the ages of two and three. Make sure your child is getting his flu shots and vaccinations and check his weight and height during the checkups to see if he’s on track. Keep a note of any concerns you have regarding his development during visits to clarify with the doctor next time.

How to Monitor Toddler's Development

How to Help In Toddler’s Growth and Development

Being an encouraging parent who showers love and affection whilst providing a positive environment for growth and development is key to your toddler’s wellbeing at this age. Here’s what you can do to help with the development of your toddler till 3 years:

  • Feed Healthy – Keep plenty of healthy and nutritious snacks, fruits and vegetables at home. Your child is a hungry munchkin and what better way to teach him nutrition 101 than by eating healthy?
  • Encourage Physical Activity – Take your child out to the park or play outdoors with him like kicking the ball or chasing objects nearby. Cut down on TV time and limit it to no more than 1 hour a day for kids above two and no more than 2 hours a day for kids who are three years old.
  • Teach Them – From showing them how to draw to dressing up, teach your child everyday things which could help him. This includes language too so make sure to read out stories and talk to him often as well.
  • Establish Good Bedtime Habits– No TV prior to 1 hour before bedtime and definitely sleeping on time, on the dot; make sure his sleeping habits are in place and ensure proper sleep hygiene, too.

Consult A Doctor If:

  • You notice any signs of developmental delays manifesting.
  • Your child suddenly loses the ability to do something he could previously do (like talking).
  • Your child shows a lack of interest towards everyday activities.
  • Your child behaves violently, is abusive or extremely non-cooperative.
  • Is not growing steadily, either physically or cognitively.
  • If you feel uneasy and aren’t able to tell what exactly is wrong with your child’s growth and development.

No child is the same, and that’s something important to keep in mind. Give your toddler lots of time, patience and affection, and you can rest assured that he’ll reach his expected milestones in no time.

Also Read:

Toddler Behaviour Disorders
Toddler Friendly Activities
Fun learning Activities for Toddlers

Previous article «
Next article »