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Milestones (1 to 3 Years): What to Watch For

Milestones (1 To 3 Years): What To Watch For - Parents Canada

Bcce cropped cover 1 - milestones (1 to 3 years): what to watch forFrom the pages of the Baby & Child Care EncyclopediaChapter 9, Milestones, Checklists and Charts

toddlers are a ton of fun (a ton of work, sure, but also a ton of fun!). Your child’s growth will start to slow down a little after the first year, but they will still change and grow and learn exponentially between the ages of one and three. Here are the benchmarks to watch for, as your kiddo changes more and more every day. There’s a reason they say the days are long but the years are short, so soak it all up!

Your child’s growth

Your baby’s growth rate—both height and weight—will begin to slow after the first year. Their head will reach about 90 percent of its adult size. Their arms and legs get longer and more muscular. Their feet start to point more forward and their sweet face loses some of the baby fat.

Your child’s development

Walking becomes steadier and faster with their feet closer together.

  • By 24 months, they will likely run with good balance.

A toddler will start to climb stairs on all fours by around 13 months.

  • By 15 months: They can climb stairs on hands and knees.
  • By 15 to 18 months: They are experts at climbing on low furniture.
  • By 18 months: They can walk up stairs with some assistance.
  • By 21 months: They can walk down stairs if their hand is held.
  • By 24 months: They can go up and down, holding on to the railing or wall.
  • By 30 to 26 months: They can negotiate stairs by alternating feet.

Other Movements
Around 24 months, toddlers can jump with their feet off the floor and can kick a ball.

  • By 30 months: They can jump down from a low chair or step.
  • By 36 months: They can pedal a tricycle.


A toddler tends to repeat words that others say, but it may take some time for them to connect the word to the meaning. Be aware that children understand more than they can say. Early in the second year, a child will understand a number of words.

  • By 18 months: They will understands directions such as “come here” or “give to me” (although they frequently may choose not to follow the direction).
  • By 24 months: They understand more difficult directions, such as, “Put the ball on the table” or “Give the ball to Daddy”.
  • By 36 months: They will understand questions like “What is your name?”

Emotional skills

In some ways, toddlers are like adolescents—going through the intense emotions of learning to be and act on their own, asserting themselves and using their own judgment in new situations. When your child ventures away from you, like walking to the other end of the room, it is an experience similar to a long trip for a grown-up.

  • Toddlers are delighted and scared at the same time.
  • They try to escape you, but will look back to be sure you’re there.
  • They want to test their own will and act contrary to your wishes.
  • They have intense fits of frustration when obstacles stand in their way.

For more on toddler development, see Chapter 3.

Nipissing District Developmental Screen The NDDS is often touted as the Canadian standard for milestone assurances. The NDDS is a series of checklists designed to give parents a sense of whether their child is hitting age-appropriate developmental milestones, and, should there be a concern, directing parents when to have their child seen by a paediatrician or GP. Parents can register for monthly prompts up to 30 months, and then yearly prompts up to age six, at

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The Milestones, Charts and Checklists chapter of the Baby & Child Care Encyclopedia has been made possible by CST Consultants Inc. 

Read more from the Baby & Child Care Encyclopedia.Bcce cropped cover 1 - milestones (1 to 3 years): what to watch for

      1. Prenatal 101
      2. Breastfeeding and the First Three Months
      3. Starting Solids and the Toddler Years
      4. An Age-by-Age Guide to Sleep
      5. Family Nutrition
      6. Kids and Mental Health
      7. When Your Child is Sick
      8. Safety and First Aid
      9. Milestones, Checklists and Charts

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