How To Know If Your Toddler Is Developing Normally

Did you know the word “toddler” comes from “toddle,” which means to walk unsteadily, much like a child at this age. Makes sense! Here at Westchester Health, we really enjoy watching toddlers reach exciting milestones and helping parents navigate the changes that come with those milestones. But sometimes, things don’t go as expected and a child may have developmental delays. To calm parents’ fears and also offer guidance as to what to look for at this age, we recommend this blog by Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group (excerpted below).

Developmental milestones for the toddler years

Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP

All children develop at different rates, and we at Westchester Health urge you not to become alarmed if your toddler is a little slow to hit a particular benchmark. Having said that, physical developmental delays, or early motor delays, describe attributes of children who are not meeting critical physical milestones in the first few years of life. These delays can be a sign of a more serious issue, and if this is the case, it’s important for you to talk with your pediatrician if you have concerns. If there are delays in your child’s development, early intervention can make a big difference.

To know if your toddler is developing as he/she should, click here to track his/her accomplishments with these helpful charts by Pathways.org. We also recommend these helpful guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics which describe what to expect and what to look for as your toddler progresses through his/her second and early third year.

Developmental delays to watch for

Because each child develops at his/her own pace, it’s hard to predict exactly when your toddler will master any given skill. However, it’s important to contact your pediatrician if your child displays any of the following signs of developmental delay:

  • Cannot walk by 16 months
  • Fails to develop a mature heel-toe walking pattern after several months of walking
  • Walks exclusively on his/her toes
  • Does not speak at least 15 words by 18 months
  • Does not seem to know the function of common household objects (brush, telephone, bell, fork, spoon)
  • Does not imitate actions or words by 15 months
  • Does not use 2-word sentences by age 2
  • Does not follow simple instructions by age 2
  • Cannot push a wheeled toy by age 2

Things you can do to help your toddler progress through the stages as he/she grows

  • Read to your child daily
  • Talk to your child frequently so that he/she hears the sound and rhythm of language
  • Ask him/her to find objects for you or name body parts and objects
  • Play matching games, like shape sorting and simple puzzles
  • Encourage him/her to explore and try new things
  • Help develop your toddler’s language by talking with him/her and adding to words he/she starts. For example, if your child says “baba,” you can respond, “Yes, that’s a ”
  • Encourage your child’s growing independence by letting him/her help with dressing and feeding himself/herself
  • Respond to desired behavior more than punishing unwanted behavior (use only very brief time outs). In these instances, tell or show your child what he/she should do instead.
  • Encourage your toddler’s curiosity and ability to recognize common objects by pointing them out at home and everywhere you go

Helpful articles we recommend:

Questions about your toddler’s development? Come see us.

If you’re concerned about the way your child is or is not developing and want to talk to us, or if you have questions about any aspect of raising a toddler, please call (914) 232-1919 to make an appointment with one of our Westchester Health pediatricians. Our #1 goal is to help you raise a happy, healthy toddler and for you to feel confident as a parent. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

To read Dr. Adler’s blog in full, click here.

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