Developmental Stages

Development In Toddlers

Your baby might start to get ‘on the move’ towards the end of their first year. This may be crawling, standing or moving on to taking wobbly first steps. The range of when is ‘normal’ for becoming a confident walker is big. Some children be walking a lot earlier than others. Your baby will be making progress in their own time.

As well as physical changes, their understanding of language and confidence to try more noises and words for themselves is growing too.

Toddlers have a lot of energy and interest in everything around them. They really want to try things independently. They can get frustrated when things don’t go as they want.

They will let you know when they are not happy and they can’t make themselves understood or do the things they want to. It can be hard work! But it is an important stage in their development. 

Dive Deeper


As babies grow they continue to build on the communication skills learned in their first year. They start to understand more and will be growing in confidence at trying out different sounds.

Find out more about communication development

Gross Motor Physical Development

Gross motor skills are the movements that use big muscle groups and your toddler may already be using these to get the balance and strength to get on the move.

This stage is all about developing confidence and strength. Give them plenty of chances to see what their body can do.

  • Your child may enjoy playing alone but with you nearby. Get down to their level when you can. Let them clamber and climb on you. Help them learn how to use push and pull toys along.
  • Teach them how to turn round and get down ‘backwards’ from the sofa or chair. This will save on bumped heads and help their confidence too.
  • Take them to the park and let them play on the equipment. Stay close by to keep them safe. They might enjoy some dancing with you at home too.
  • Once your baby starts toddling steadily let them have a go at walking when you go out. They may not be keen on being in their buggy for too long!


Fine Motor Physical Development

Fine Motor Skills use the small muscles in the hand and wrist. Over the next few months with practice your child might start to control their hand movements more.

Your toddler is now able to use their hands to manage lots of things independently. They will be getting good at feeding themselves and will be learning how to use cutlery too. You can help your child keep learning more about how they can use their hands.

  • Have mealtimes together as much as you can so they can watch you. Let them feed themselves even if it gets a bit messy! Give them child safe cutlery to try.
  • Let them take off their clothes and shoes, and start practising at putting them on too!
  • Help them explore toys that they can roll, poke, twist, bang and build with.
  • They may become little artists now and will enjoy drawing and painting.


Problem Solving Skills

Problem solving skills describes your toddler beginning to think about and understanding their world. They will already know a lot! They will love spending time with you and the other important people in their life. They will have got used to the routines of your family and will understand a lot of what you say to them.

  • Talk to them about what they are doing and what they can see. Look at books together, point and name the things you see.
  • Give simple instructions – like ‘get your cup’ or ‘find your shoes’. Give lots of praise when they manage it.
  • Let them ‘help’ you with jobs around the house. They will love to copy you.
  • Play ‘pretend’ with dolls and teddies – cuddles and kisses and putting them to bed.

Your little one won’t concentrate on one thing for long to begin with but will slowly be able to pay attention for longer.


Personal & Social Development

Personal and social development is your toddler learning more about themselves, their feelings, their likes and dislikes. They have learnt to feel confident that you will keep them safe and help with their wants and needs. This gives the confidence to try new things and meet new people. They may know how to charm you and other people to!

Your toddler might be getting very sure of what they do and do not like. They will find some feelings like frustration and being cross really hard to deal with. They will need help when they find it too much and they have a tantrum. They know they can come to you for comfort and will look at your for praise when they manage something new.

Everything is an adventure for your toddler. Give them lots of chances to share new experiences with you and others.

  • Give your child the chance to be around other children. They may not play ‘together’ to begin with but they will learn a lot from each other. Toddler groups are a good chance for this and so is going to the park or meeting with family and friends with children.
  • Talk about their feelings and the feelings of those around them to help give them the words for their emotions.

When things get too much and your little one is frustrated or having a tantrum stay close by, calm, kind and reassuring – having such big feelings is hard to cope with when you are little.

Did You Know?

Parents who talk as they go about their daily activities expose their children to 1000 - 2000 words every hour!

Other Fun Activities to Try

Just chatting to your child is one of the best things you can do for their development!

Why not try talking to them about the things you see every day, like the colour of buses or cars?

Find out more

When parents read to their children, they introduce them to a world of words, ideas, and stories.

It doesn’t have to be long, complicated books either. In fact, reading anything can help – the back of a cereal packet, an extract from a magazine or any words that happen to be around.

Who can Help?

Firstly remember that each child will develop at their own pace.

If your child attends nursery or a registered childminder, talk to them about your worries – they will be able to work with you to build your child’s skills and advise on any next steps needed.

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.

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