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Development In Toddlers

Your baby begins to get ‘on the move’ towards the end of their first year starting with crawling, standing and moving on to taking wobbly first steps. The range of when is ‘normal’ for becoming a confident walker is big. Some will 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 their 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. 


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

    *Click here* to take a look at our 'Talk and Play' pages.

  • 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 to get on the move. Give your little one plenty of chances to see what their body can do.

    • Your little one will enjoy play so much more 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 along toys.
    • Teach them how to turn round and get down ‘backwards’ from the sofa or chair with you there. 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 as much as you can. They may not be keen on being in their buggy for too long!
  • Fine Motor Skills use the small muscles in the hand and wrist. Over the next few months with practice they will control their hand movements more and more. Learning how to feed themselves and enjoying finding out what their toys can do as well as starting to make some early art masterpieces!

    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 is a messy business! Give them cutlery
    • 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 can become little artists now – they will enjoy drawing and painting.

  • When we talk about a toddler being able to ‘solve problems’ it describes them beginning to think about and understanding their world.  Your toddler 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 with them and point and name at the things you see.
    • Give them simple instructions – like ‘get your cup’ or ‘find your shoes’ give them 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.

  • Toddlers are learning more about themselves, their feelings, their likes and dislikes. They have learnt to feel confident that you are there to keep them safe and help them with their wants and needs. This gives them the confidence to try new things and meet new people. They know how to charm you and other people too.

    They are 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 you to help them 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 your child 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 and 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.

  • 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.

    If you are worried you can contact our Just One Number team on the details below to talk through your concerns. 

Who Can Help?

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.

Young people aged 11-19 can text Chat Health on 07480 635060

The Patient Activation Measure (PAM) Health Questionnaire will help you to think about your knowledge, skills and confidence in understanding and supporting your baby or child’s health. The results of this can help us, to support you, in setting goals and priorities in a way that is right for you and your family. On completion of the questions you will be signposted to some self care resources which are tailored to your responses. This will help you to take steps to improve your family's health and wellbeing. *Click Here* to find out more. 


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