Introduction to Toddler Development
The Five Areas of Child Development
During the toddler years, your child will go through a time of rapid change in all areas of development. Many experts divide child development into five areas: physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and language.
The different areas of development are closely linked. The progress your toddler makes in one area affects— and is affected by— the progress she or he makes in another area. No one area of child development is more important than any other.
What is physical development?
Physical development is usually divided into gross and fine motor skills. Gross motor skill is the control of the large muscles that your toddler needs for physical activities such as sitting, crawling, walking, running, climbing, and jumping. Fine motor skill is the control of the muscles in the hands and fingers. It also covers hand‑eye co‑ordination, needed for actions such as reaching for and picking something up.
What is social development?
Social development involves learning to make friends and getting along with others.
What is emotional development?
Emotional development involves learning to know and show a full range of feelings.
What is cognitive development?
Cognitive development involves learning to think, remember, imagine, gather and organize information, solve problems, and develop judgment.
Child Development by Age
The overall pattern of child development is the same for most toddlers. Most reach the milestones of development at about the same pace. However, sometimes a toddler will develop more quickly or more slowly than expected.
The next sections show the skills you are most likely to see at each stage. They will also give you ideas about how you can support your toddler’s healthy development. Click on the sections below to find out about each developmental stage:
If you are concerned about your toddler’s development, talk to a doctor, public health nurse or child development professional in your community.
For more suggestions on how to support your toddler’s development, see Leap BC’s guide Move with Me from Birth to Three. This trusted guide contains 40 fun‑filled activities to support your child’s development from birth to age three.