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10 Micro Milestones to Expect from Your Toddler

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Buh-bye, baby: The past year likely flew by and now you have a toddler at home! Your little one changed dramatically--physically and intellectually--in the first year of life. In the next two years, your toddler's growth will slow down but not her development. Here are just 10 things to expect your little one to start to tackle, according to the child development website Zero to Three.

Talking

a toddler talking to his mom in a park

The babbles turn to words and by 18 months a toddler can have as many as 20 words in her vocabulary. By age two that number might be 50 to 100 and it's likely that your little one can even string together into a simple sentence. Three-year-olds can use as many as 900 words!

Helping to Get Dressed

a little girl trying to put on her shoes

As toddlers grow and seek to be more autonomous, getting themselves dressed is one way they display their independence. Before 18 months they're helping push arms through sleeves and feet into shoes; by 36 months they're putting on their own clothes with much less assistance.

Displaying Fine Motor Skills

a young boy smiling

Those little fingers and hands are getting better and better at grasping spoons, holding cups, and, by 18 months, even gripping and scribbling with crayons. Expect your toddler to be able to unscrew a cap or open a door by two and a half or three years old.

Imitating You

a little girl talking on a mobile phone on a sofa

One way your little one learns is through imitation. Don't be surprised if you see your toddler "talk" on his phone, use a cloth to wipe off a table, or put the handles of a bag over his shoulder and walk around—these are all things he's seen you do. Soon you'll hear him say words and phrases that he's learned by listening—so that's what you sound like!

Having Trouble with Separation

a young sad girl hugging her mom

Your toddler has discovered that things and people exist even when they disappear; this is known as object permanence. Your little might put this knowledge to use by becoming upset at daycare drop-off or even when you just leave the room.

Following Simple Instructions

a toddler girl doing some crafts

Between 15 and 18 months, your child's growing grasp of language will lead her to understand simple questions and directions. Her communication style will still be a mix of actions and words. By the time she's three, she'll understand questions that have more than one idea, like, you can take a bath after dinner.

Using Imaginary Play

a young boy playing with a cardboard castle in a yard

Between 18 and 24 months, toddlers start using their imagination when they play—you might notice him making motor noises when he's pushing his truck. The imaginary play will become more advanced and complicated as your child grows and develops his thinking. This kind of play is extremely beneficial for social, problem-solving, and language skills.

Learning Through Repetition

a toddler girl playing with building blocks

Toddlers are curious by nature, exploring their worlds to learn how things work. One way they do this is through repetition, doing the same thing over and over to figure it out. Opening and closing drawers and cupboards, dumping out buckets and filling them back up again, even sorting objects and toys: these are all things your little one might by doing by age two in an attempt to understand the world.

Making Friends

a mom playing with three little kids and some toys

By age two your child will probably be interested in playing with other kids her age and might even have a friend or two. At this age most play is parallel—the kids might do the same thing next to each other, but not with each other—and sharing is a challenge. Between 30 and 36 months, those friendships become even more important.

Understanding Emotions

a boy playing with his dad outside

Starting as early as 15 months, toddlers can begin to understand emotions in themselves and others. Your little one might give you a hug if you seem sad or try to make you laugh by repeating an action that got previously earned a chuckle. Unfortunately, while she'll feel her own big emotions, controlling them comes much later. Enter toddler tantrums!

 
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