Toddler Development Checklist

Michele Meleen
checklist

From 12 months to 3 years of age, your toddler goes through amazing physical and emotional changes along with advances in language and cognitive development. This is an exciting and challenging time in both your lives. Checklists for typical toddler development give you a guideline to gauge your baby's skills, abilities and growth.

Development Between 12 to 18 Months

parents helping little son

During the age of 12 to 18 months, your child becomes more mobile, aware and curious about objects around him. This curiosity requires childproofing your house to protect your new explorer. Your child's personality and sense of humor develops and shines during this stage. Keep in mind these milestones show what is typical in this age range according to the Children's Therapy and Resource Centre.

Physical Development

Look for emerging independence as your little one can:

  • Stand alone
  • Sit down from a standing position
  • Crawl to or from objects seen at a distance
  • Wave goodbye
  • Clap hands
  • Hold crayons and scribble
  • Point to indicate wants
  • Turn the pages of a book
  • Close doors and flush toilets
  • Roll a ball on request
  • Feed self with spoon
  • Drink from cup with lid
  • Eat ground, mashed and chopped table foods
  • Sleep through the night on regular schedule

Cognitive Development

Toddlers learn to:

  • Say eight to twenty words you can understand
  • Say "hi" and "bye" if prompted
  • Play peek-a-boo
  • Identify pictures in a book
  • Look for hidden or out-of-sight items
  • Follow simple one-step directions
  • Make sounds using different tones

Social and Emotional Development

Interaction with others evolves during the toddler years. Toddlers at this age will:

  • Get upset when separated from parents
  • Play with toys alone on floor
  • Enjoy being told stories
  • Imitate others
  • Enjoy an audience
  • Maintain eye contact during interactions
  • Enjoy swinging motions
  • Self-calm when not hungry or tired
  • Fall asleep independently
  • Show fear

Development Between 18 to 24 Months

Father and daughter hugging

At this stage, your child's language development continues to grow rapidly. Stacking blocks becomes a favorite pastime and your child wants to walk up the stairs instead of crawl. Pages 11-18 of the Center for Disease Control Milestone Moments guide expands on these new abilities and provides suggestions on how to help your toddler during each stage.

Physical Development

Your 18-month-old's abilities include:

  • Running well but not stopping effectively
  • Walking backward
  • Enjoying small riding toys
  • Showing early signs of bladder and bowel control
  • Helping undress self
  • Pointing to show others something
  • Using a straw
  • Eating without losing food out of mouth
  • Decreasing nap time

Cognitive Development

At this stage, a toddler can:

  • Talk to himself
  • Try to sing
  • Have favorite objects or toys
  • Point out various body parts
  • Say "thank you" or "please" when prompted
  • Follow two-step directions related to each other

Social and Emotional Development

Independence strengthens as your toddler develops. He may:

  • Say "no" to requests
  • Show clear food preferences
  • Show inability to share
  • Have little patience
  • Appear shy around new people
  • Try to do things on own
  • Play pretend games
  • Show affection to family and caregivers

Development Between 24 to 36 Months

Kid eating pasta

Your toddler is growing up and now has almost all his baby teeth. Toddlers exert independence in many areas of life and are becoming more aware of their bodies, how they work, and what different sensations mean, shares Pathways.org.

Physical Development

Your toddler can:

  • Stoop down alone
  • Touch, taste and smell everything
  • Like to push, pull, fill up and dump things out
  • Have more bladder and bowel control (some children potty train during this time)
  • Open drawers and cabinets
  • Tolerate varied clothing textures
  • Notice body sensations like wet pants
  • Use fork to self-feed
  • Drink from open cup without spilling
  • Dress self with limited help

Cognitive Development

Older toddlers develop critical thinking skills such as the ability to:

  • Repeat words
  • Use two to four-word sentences
  • Speak in words understood by caregiver 50 percent of time
  • Ask why
  • Think before taking action
  • Follow two-step directions unrelated to each other
  • Sort shapes and colors

Social and Emotional Development

At this stage, young children:

  • Play nearby other children instead of playing with them
  • Become easily frustrated
  • Show a lot of affection
  • Act possessive - although he will offer his toys to others, he wants them back immediately
  • Take part in messy activities without concern
  • Adapt to changes in routines
  • Be with familiar people while parents are away
  • Show defiant behavior
  • Show wide range of emotions
  • Refuse specific foods

Tracking Milestones

Toddlers grow and learn quickly. Keep track of your child's progress with a chart or table. The free, printable checklist below offers a single document where you can keep tabs on your toddler's development during each stage. Click on the image and print the checklist to get started. If you have trouble downloading or printing the document, this guide can help.

The checklist contains three pages, one for 12-18 months, one for 18-24 months and one for 24-36 months. Each page features a section for physical, cognitive and social/emotional milestones. Other useful features include:

  • Open box to check off listed abilities as they are achieved
  • Blank space next to each ability to write in the date and age it was achieved
  • Extra lines so you can add in other notable milestones your child achieves at each age

This checklist does not include an exhaustive list of all developmental milestones. Use the printable as a guide to monitor your toddler's skills and bring it to well-child visits to share with your child's doctor. Together you can determine if your child's progress is typical or if there are areas of concern.

How to Deal With Delays

Multiple milestones occur during each age range and not all children develop at the same pace. If you notice your child is unable to complete several activities listed during a specific time frame, discuss your concerns with your child's pediatrician. During each of your child's checkups, the pediatrician will ask about some of the items on this list. If there is a developmental concern, your doctor will direct you to other resources for further screening or therapy.

Even if your child is having a few problems with development, there's no reason to panic. For many children, early intervention with therapists and other clinicians improves developmental outcomes.

Parental Duty

Your job as a parent is to take care of your child to the best of your ability. Being knowledgeable about developmental milestones at each stage of your toddler's life helps ensure they have the best start. Keep track of your little one's skills, abilities and achievements with a checklist.

Toddler Development Checklist