Child Development Stages
The Toddler Years: 1-3 Years Old

child development milestones

As kids pass through the child development stages of the toddler years, some fundamental gross and fine motor skills, cognitive skills, and social skills emerge.

Fun toddlers activities are perfect for kids at this age because they give the little ones a chance to try out their new skills and master some new ones.

Kids develop at a fast and furious pace from about 1-3 years of age, picking up skills of locomotion, body awareness, and the ability to manipulate objects.

It's an exciting time for children as they explore the world around them and start interacting with others. There's a progression of child development milestones that children typically pass through.

Below, is a list of behaviors that kids demonstrate at each age.

These milestones are general, and every child will progress through them at a slightly different rate. But they’ll give you a good idea of what to expect along the way.

Developmental Milestones
1-3 Years


Child Development Stages
1 Year Old

  • Walks holding on to an object
  • Stands momentarily without support
  • Walks alone – maybe just 2-3 steps
  • Sits down without help
  • Crawls
  • Creeps on hands and knees
  • Moves from sitting to crawling
  • Moves from sitting to lying on stomach
  • Pulls self up to stand
  • Uses pincer grasp – grabs with index finger and thumb
  • Puts objects into container
  • Takes objects out of container
  • Helps when getting dressed by extending an arm or leg
  • Releases objects voluntarily
  • Pokes with index finger
  • Tries to imitate scribbling
  • Responds to simple verbal request
  • Tries to imitate words
  • Explores objects in many different ways – shaking, banging, throwing, dropping
  • Finds hidden objects easily
  • Looks at correct picture when the image is named
  • Imitates gestures and people
  • Begins to use objects correctly – drinking from cup, brushing hair, talking on a phone
  • Shows specific preferences for certain people and toys

Child Development Stages
1.5 Years Old

  • Walks backward
  • Adult-like reaching and grasping
  • Good at releasing objects
  • Pulls, pushes, and dumps things
  • Pulls off clothing
  • Turns pages
  • Stacks 2 blocks
  • Carries a stuffed animal or doll
  • Scribbles
  • Walks without help
  • Runs stiffly while looking at the ground
  • Identifies an object in a picture book
  • Looks for objects that have been moved out of sight


  • Puts a round object in a round hole
  • Follows simple 1-step directions
  • Solves problems by trial and error
  • Says 8-10 understandable words
  • Asks for something by pointing or by using one word
  • Brings toys to share with
  • Acts out a familiar activity while playing
  • Plays alone with toys
  • Competes with other children for toys
  • Recognize self in the mirror or in pictures

Child Development Stages
2 Years Old

  • Walks up and down stairs
  • Drinks from a straw
  • Feeds self with spoon
  • Helps wash hands
  • Puts arms in sleeves with help
  • Builds a tower with 3-4 blocks
  • Tosses or rolls a large ball
  • Bends over to pick up a toy without falling
  • Takes steps backward
  • Likes to take things apart
  • Explores surroundings
  • Points to 5 parts of a doll when asked
  • Knows several hundred words
  • Uses 2-3 word sentences
  • Imitates and plays simple pretend games
  • Listens to short rhymes
  • Takes turns in play with other children
  • Enjoys listening to books being read
  • Remembers simple stories, rhymes, and songs and joins in actions
  • Shows a preference for either left or right hand
  • Threads big beads on a string
  • Puts pieces into a puzzle tray
  • Looks at books and points to the pictures
  • Watches and becomes engrossed in activities
  • Divides toys into simple categories
  • Loves playing with other kids but may have trouble playing with kids same age

Child Development Stages
2.5 Years Old

  • Sits on bike and scoots with both feet
  • Runs with flat feet and short strides, but not able to stop easily or control speed very well
  • Briefly stands on tiptoes
  • Jumps a short distance off the ground
  • Hops briefly on one foot
  • Moves around an obstacle
  • Draws big circles, short lines, and little squiggles
  • Snips paper but can't cut around things
  • Can pour, but spills
  • Likes the feel of sand or rice running through fingers
  • Can turn pages of books
  • Likes to keep hands busy
  • Climbs a playground ladder and uses slides
  • Jumps from bottom step of the stairs without losing balance
  • Learns about 50 new words a month
  • Knows about 1,000 words
  • Can say names of pets and family
  • Dresses self but can't do zippers, buttons or socks very well
  • Makes up simple stories
  • Compares height of two objects and says which one is bigger, but not always correctly
  • Sorts things based on one characteristic
  • Walks on a low wall if someone holds hand

Child Development Stages
3 Years Old

  • Handles objects with better control
  • Draws lines with more control
  • Copies circles and crosses
  • Stacks small blocks
  • Holds pencil properly
  • Strings beads
  • Cuts with scissors
  • Balances on one foot for 3-4 seconds
  • Walks on a 1" straight line
  • Walks on a 4" wide beam using alternating steps
  • Feeds self
  • Opens doors
  • Holds a glass in one hand
  • Washes and dries hands
  • Folds paper if shown how
  • Throws a ball overhead
  • Tries to catch a large ball
  • Puts on shoes, but can't tie laces
  • Walks on tiptoes
  • Kicks a ball forward
  • Jumps with both feet
  • Pedals a tricycle
  • Pays attention for about 3 minutes
  • Knows some numbers
  • Knows where things usually belong
  • Laughs at silly ideas
  • Matches circles and squares
  • Looks through a book alone
  • Matches an object to a picture of that object
  • Match objects that have same function
  • Counts 2 to 3 objects
  • Follows simple one-step commands
  • Finds first letter of name on signs
  • Finds it hard to share and is protective about possessions
  • Makes 3-5 word sentences
  • Uses plurals
  • Names at least 10 familiar objects
  • Names at least one color correctly
  • Helps with simple tasks
  • Plays spontaneously with 2 or 3 children in a group
  • Hops on one foot up to 5 seconds
  • Catches a bounced ball
  • Moves forward and backward with agility
  • Draws a person with 2-4 body parts
  • Begins to copy some capital letters
  • Understands concepts of "same" and "different"
  • Mastered some basic grammar rules
  • Jumps 5-10 times on both feet and 2-5 times on one foot
  • Jumps over a hurdle 3-4 inches high
  • Walks a 3" beam 6 feet forward and 3 feet backward
  • Walks along a wall without holding on to anything
  • Continues to add 50 words a month to vocabulary
  • Can use the negative, like "I don't"
  • Constantly asks "why" questions
  • Builds towers of 8 blocks
  • Pours accurately
  • Loves the feeling of water, sand, and dough
  • Washes face
  • Brushes teeth
  • Puts together a 4-6 piece puzzle
  • Remembers where you have left things
  • Initiates games with other kids

If you'd like to see the development milestones at other ages, click on the following links:

Birth -1 year 
3-6 years

You might also be interested in the following topics:

Child Development Stages: Motor Phases
Activities for 2-Year Olds
Activities for  3-Year Olds

Concerned about delays in your child's progression through the child development stages? Visit CDC for resources.

Discover fun games for older kids.


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