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Toddler Development and How can Parents Help?

Updated: Sep 22, 2022

In this article, I am sharing on your toddler’s developments at 1 to 3 years old and suggestions on how you can help your toddler.

12 to 15 months

Behaviour, Play and Feelings

The toddler might show signs of "separation anxiety" and empathy.

An example of Empathy: The toddler might look sad or get upset when sees someone cries.


The toddler starts to:

- babble with words such as a ball etc.

- nod and point to let the parents know what he needs.

- point to people and things he knows when the parents ask him.

For example, where is your nose? the toddler point to his nose.


Moving helps the toddler build muscle strength for more complex movements like standing, walking and running. The toddler might:

- stand up without any helps.

- start to walk.

Source: Unsplash

- build a small tower of blocks and knock the tower down.

- scribble with a pen or crayon.

- hug the parents.

- point to body parts or toys when the parents ask.

- drink from a cup and use a spoon.

- follow simple instructions. For example, when the parent says to the child, ‘Please give me the cup’, the toddler gives the cup to the parent.

- start to pretend when plays.

For example, the toddler might pretend to drink from a cup.

How can Parents help?

- Give the toddler lots of hugs, cuddles, kisses and empathy.

- Play is an important way for the toddler to find out how things work.

For example, - play with blocks and peekaboo. - bring the toddler to both "indoor" and "outdoor play".

- Talk with the toddler.

Name and talk about body parts, toys and household items such as spoon, red chair.

Repeat what the toddler says.

For example, the toddler says dada, repeat dada. This makes the toddler feel valued and loved.

- Read and sing songs with the toddler.

- Give the toddler a spoon to try eating and a cup to try drinking.

18 to 24 months


The toddler starts to

- experience new emotions like anger, frustration, possessiveness, excitement.

- show tantrums.

- think about feelings and link feelings with words.

For example, the toddler tells the parent that he is sad, might show affection by giving the parent a kiss or a hug or hugging a doll.

Everyday Skills

The toddler is keen to do more things on his own.

The toddler starts to

- eat by using a spoon or fork.

- drink by a cup.

- take off socks, shoes and clothes that don’t have buttons. It is easier to take off clothes than to put them on.

- show ready signs for "potty training".


Play is important because it is how the toddler learns.

- Start to pretend when plays.

For example, the toddler might pretend to drink from a cup or talk on the phone.


The toddler starts to:

- name and point at familiar objects, people, body parts and animals.

- make animals sounds.

For example,

objects: cup, ball

people: mama, dada

body parts: ears, nose, toes

animal sounds: cow moo, cat meow

- know his name and follow instructions. For example, gives the spoon to mama or let’s go for to playground.

The parents may be able to understand more of what the toddler says.


Find out more about "Toddlers’ Movements".

The toddler might also:

- ask for ‘more’ and say ‘no’ when asked to do something.

- copy the parent’s actions.

For example, the toddler pretends to talk on the phone like the parent did.

How can Parents help?

- Be there for the toddler while the toddler plays and explores. This can help the toddler to be independent and self-confident to explore new things on her own.

- Give meaning to the toddler’s talking by listening and talking back to the toddler.

If the toddler says milk, the parent replies by saying “You want milk?” This encourages two-way conversation and helps the toddler build communication skills.

Click here to read about "How to make friends"?

2 to 3 years old


The toddler starts to

- go through lots of emotions.

- learn about other people’s feelings.

- understand how his behaviour affects the parent and how the parent’s behaviour affects him.

"Tantrums" are normal because the toddler often doesn’t know how to put words to emotions such as frustration, anger, embarrassment.


The toddler starts to use

- sentences of 2 to 3 words and even pronouns ‘I’, ‘you’ and ‘me’. (2 years old)

- sentences of 3 to 5 words or more and learn to take turns to talk. (3 years old)


The toddler starts to

- understand concepts like time and opposites.

For example, big or small and day or night.

- point to body parts based on functions.

- sort objects.

- match shapes and colours.


The toddler enjoys playing with others. For example:

- Play dress-up.

- Have tea parties.

- Finger painting.

- Read and Sing.

Everyday Skills

Source: Our Tampines Childcare Facebook

The toddler starts to

- wash hands before meals.

- bathe, feed and dress with little assistance.

- help the parent with simple chores. This builds the toddler’s confidence and independence.

Is your toddler ready for toilet training?

The toddler

- does most things without help?

- let the parent knows when there is poo or wee in the diaper?

- follows simple instructions?

- knows to use the potty or toilet?

- knows to pull clothes up or down when using the toilet?


The toddler will be able to…

- throw, kick and catch items like a ball.

- ride a tricycle.

- recognize objects and name them.

How can Parents help?

- Do some cooking with the toddler.

This helps the toddler to learn more about fruits and vegetables.

Ask the toddler to try crack eggs and stir.

- Child-proof home for the toddler to move and explore.

- Praise and reward the toddler when the toddler learns new skills.

- Let the toddler keeps doing the things learned.

- Be there for the toddler while the toddler moves and explores. This helps the toddler to feel safe with parents around, builds confidence to try new things and explore independently.

I hope all these suggestions will help your toddler’s development at 1 to 3 years old.

Visit here for more details on "Nutrition For Toddlers".

What matters most to parents? Our most-read articles:

Importance of a conducive learning environment

Holistic Child Development

What to prepare for infant care

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Cost of infant care

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