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1-3 Years

The Toddler Years

This is such an exciting time in the growth of your child! As parents we anxiously anticipate those first moments……their first smile, first word, learning to roll over, reaching out to explore their world and many more!

So when do we begin to become concerned? Each developmental level has some warning signs that we use to help determine if further evaluation is warranted. Here we will explore some developmental guidelines to help you determine when to be concerned.

Language Development

In our section on Babies 0-12 months we explored the readiness skills your child was born with to learn language. They have spent a considerable amount of time listening to language all around them and are beginning to experiment with their own attempts to see how they can control the world around them. Development happens at different rates for each child, however there are expected ranges and patterns of development that we know children begin to exhibit as language emerges. In 3 short years your child will transition from two to three recognizable words to conversations with multiple sentences and a vocabulary of 1,000 words! Many speech and language delays can be identified by 18 months of age.

By 18 months:

  • Has about 8-10 meaningful words
  • Follows simple commands such as “give me” or “come here”
  • Recognizes words for common objects or people
  • Is using a variety of sounds when babbling or when imitating words

By 24 months:

  • Is combining 2 words together into meaningful phrases
  • Points to pictures when named in familiar books
  • Is acquiring new vocabulary every month
  • Is able to identify basic body parts when named

By 36 months:

  • Has a word for almost everything in their environment
  • Uses most sounds correctly in words and phrases
  • Plays with other children, takes turns, engage in back and forth dialogue
  • Answers simple wh-questions

Additional resources for speech and language development

Play Skills

Play is the avenue through which children learn to use both verbal and nonverbal language, explore social interactions and learn the skills needed to engage with others. Play builds the foundation for a lifetime of learning. A child struggling with play can be a sign of underlying issues including language development, sensory regulation, social-emotional development and even fine and gross motor development! Play is your child’s work and the avenue through which we need to teach.

By 18 months:

  • Imitates adult behavior and routines
  • Engages in greetings and salutations (good bye, hello)
  • Beginning to engage in pretend play (hugs doll, gives doll a drink)
  • Has toy preferences

By 24 months:

  • Plays alongside other children, actively observes other children playing
  • Uses similar looking objects for object needed
  • Actively engages in imaginative play with familiar objects
  • Shows interest in others and attempts to interact in play

By 36 months:

  • Understands basic social rules for turn taking, sharing with support
  • Actively engages in and initiates pretend play
  • Understands and expresses emotions
  • Is able to carry on a conversation with a peer, engage in play based dialogue

Additional resources for play:

Gross Motor Development

Along with language and play, your child now has access to their world through more independent movement. The development of Gross Motor skills are movements that require whole body movement and are the foundation for their participation in daily play activities. The large muscles of the body help to stabilize your child to perform everyday functions such as standing, walking, running, and sitting upright. The development of eye-hand coordination skills such as ball skills (throwing, catching, kicking) are important foundational skills to educational tasks as well.

By 18 months:

  • Climb and stand on a chair
  • Walk alone.
  • Walk down stairs holding rail or your hand, one step at a time.
  • Walk into a large ball as if to kick it

By 24 months:

  • Walk with more direction to their movements
  • Kick a ball forward without losing his/her balance
  • Walk up and down stairs alone while holding onto a railing
  • Jump and stand on tiptoes

By 36 months:

  • Jump and/or walk backward
  • Begin to pedal a tricycle
  • Run without falling
  • Play on swings, ladders and other playground equipment with a fair amount of ease

Additional resources for gross motor development:

Fine Motor Development

Fine motor skills are the building blocks for many of the tasks students will need to complete academic skills such as cutting with scissors, writing, and keyboarding. Some foundational skills include building hand strength, independent manipulation of both hands, and hand-eye coordination. As your child begins to dress themselves these skills will impact their ability to open and close buttons, snaps and zippers. Coordination to tie their shoes is built in the early years while they are developing hand-eye coordination and the use of their hands together.

By 18 months:

  • Point to pictures in books by isolating his/her index finger
  • Build a tower using 2 blocks
  • Hold a crayon with a full fist and scribble
  • Use both hands together to put in/take out/stack objects

By 24 months:

  • Turn single pages in a book
  • Begin to hold crayons using the thumb and fingers
  • Use one hand more often than the other for most activities
  • Stringing ½” size beads and begin putting large blocks/legos together
  • Put on some items of clothing with supervision

By 36 months:

  • Snip with scissors and start to cut along a line
  • Hold crayons with thumb and finger (not fist)
  • Paint with movement in the wrist, imitating circular, vertical and horizontal strokes
  • Roll, pound, squeeze, and pull clay
  • Dress self with supervision

Additional Resources for Fine Motor development:

Feeding Skills

We have all heard the phrase as children “Don’t play with your food!”; little did our parents realize that there is a lot of learning that happens while playing with food! The exploration of textures, colors, and tastes as well as how our little bodies work with solids and liquids with our hands is a world of exploration! During this stage your child is beginning to develop likes and dislikes, learning to try new things and is refining their ability to orally handle different types of foods. The term “picky eater” is often heard during this stage of development. There are many reasons why a child may develop a limited repertoire of food they will eat and determining the underlying reason is key in developing an effective therapy program. Oral weakness, sensory integration, oral motor coordination, and anxiety are all possible underlying reasons a child may develop an aversion to feeding. Here are a few guidelines to help determine if your child is having trouble in this area of development.

By 18 months:

  • Hold her own cup and drink, with some spilling
  • Feed himself using a spoon, with some spilling
  • Lips closed during chewing
  • Eats a variety of foods from most of the major food groups

By 24 months:

  • Chewing with rotary jaw movements
  • Transitions from bottle to cup drinking; is in the process of giving up the bottle
  • Scooping foods to feed self, with some spills
  • Plays and explores foods of varying textures with hands
  • Use a fork to eat

By 36 months:

  • Will use a fork to feed self
  • Wipes mouth with napkin
  • Attempts to serve self at table with spills
  • Is able to pour liquids from small containers

Additional Resources for Feeding Skills:

How can we help?

CCGD is committed to providing families with the resources they need to improve the wellbeing of their child.

The first step is to determine your child’s current level of functioning with a comprehensive evaluation. Phone consultations to help you in making the decision to schedule an evaluation are always free of charge and can be done over the phone or in person. Call today and ask to speak to one of our specialists!