top of page

The development of children from 1 to 3 years old

the first year of life, we could predict quite accurately when a child would acquire certain skills. However, the older the child gets, the harder it becomes. Each child is an individual and influenced by various factors, such as different conditions for development, temperament, predisposition, constitution, and mental life. Some children start walking before their first birthday, while others start at a year and a half (within the normal range up to 18 months). Therefore, do not take the following overview of motor development too strictly as each child is different.

Development in toddlers:

13-15 months

Gross motor skills

The child is able to pull themselves up to standing and begins to walk with arms outstretched and legs wide apart. Crawling still prevails. Around 50% of children start walking at 13 months, but they can't stop yet and must sit down to do so (often falling into a seated position). By 15 months, they can run stiffly and only fall occasionally. They manage stairs by crawling or with the support of an adult, and can go down them feet first. They also begin to conquer small obstacles.

Fine motor skills

The child practices releasing their grip, holding a pencil in their fist, and scribbling on paper. They try to stack blocks to make a tower, but can only manage to stack two at most. They start putting small objects into a box and enjoy watching objects fall. If the child is placed on a potty at the right time, for example after waking up, they cooperate but still cannot indicate when they need to go on their own. Success in toilet training depends on how well the mother understands the child's needs. At this stage, the child does not yet fully understand the need to urinate and cannot control their bladder voluntarily. It is not until the end of the second year that they start to signal their needs on their own.


Social skills and speech

The child tries to drink from a cup, can hold a spoon but cannot yet feed itself. It clumsily aims for the mouth. It gestures with its hands, clapping their hands and gradually trying more complex ones such as simple nursery rhymes and songs. It points to objects of interest and later, when asked, to some body parts ("where is your nose?"). It likes to pull a toy on a string. It brings an object from another room on command and says "here" or "thank you" when giving or taking something. By the end of 15 months, the child can say around 10 to 15 words.


16-18 months

Gross motor skills

The child gradually learns to run, stop, turn, and run back. It enjoys running, but finds it hard to stand still. It can stand up and squat with relative ease. When picking up objects from the floor while standing, it must be careful not to lose its balance. It climbs on furniture and walks up stairs while holding onto a hand with the "step by step" method (one foot is placed next to the other). It can walk downstairs while holding onto one hand. It kicks a ball by "making a big step" instead of just kicking it.

Fine motor skills

It can build a tower with two to four blocks and turn the pages of a picture book. When turning the pages of a regular book, it often turns several pages at once. It can try playing with modeling clay. It scribbles with a pencil on paper, though still in an uncoordinated way. It likes to empty things from boxes. It and can put on a hat.

Social skills and speech

Upon request, the child begins to point to objects in a picture. It increasingly understands and tries to follow verbal commands such as bring, take away, find, and show. It can say 20 to 30 words and starts to combine 2-3 words. It asks for food and drink (with words) and repeats two or more words at the end of a sentence. It enjoys imitating domestic works. If the mother encourages regular potty training, "accidents" are less frequent, but the child still doesn't report on its own.


19-21 months

Gross motor skills

The child is now a restless force. They can stand up and sit down on their own, and pick up objects from the floor while standing without falling. They can climb stairs with minimal support and begin to alternate their feet. They try to jump and walk backward. They also attempt to kick a ball.

Fine motor skills

The child can build a tower of four to five blocks. They are more skillful in using a spoon and fork, and can drink from a cup holding it with both hands. They try to feed themselves. They make their first attempts at drawing circular shapes.

Social skills and speech

The child starts using a potty. They look at picture books on their own, comment on them, and point with their finger. They can dress in simple clothes. In the second half of the second year, most children make radical progress in their spoken language development. They begin to understand the symbolic meaning of words. It is essential to name everything during this period to support their language development, from everything they see, hear, do (or what we do), and experience. This creates a strong and clear connection between the object, activity, and word. They understand that everything has a name and ask "what is it?" many times a day.

22-24 months (up to 2 years)

Gross motor skills

The child can walk up and down stairs without support, usually alternating their feet. They can briefly balance on one foot. They kick and transfer weight more skillfully, and attempt more challenging movements like jumping and backing up. They try walking on curbs, benches, and lines. They ride push toys and manipulate toy strollers.

Fine motor skills

The child can undress and dress dolls and operate very simple car tracks and trains. They draw circular and vertical lines. They enjoy looking at picture books and comment on the pictures. They prefer closed circle reading. They build towers occasionally using four to six blocks or long trains of blocks.

Social skills and speech

The child can manage to feed themselves, almost dress themselves, unzip and button large buttons with minor help. They use spoons and forks more skillfully and partially feed themselves. They drink from a cup almost without accidents. They can use around 200-300 words, which is ten times more than six months ago! They start to connect words, at first placing only two words together, then learning how to inflect and conjugate them. The words the child first learns are usually nouns, followed by verbs and adjectives. By the age of two, the child usually refers to themselves in the third person (by their name). They occasionally announce the need to use the toilet, but they still don't have reliable control over their sphincters and need to be reminded, especially during playtime.


25-27 months

Gross motor skills

The child is able to maintain balance on a small area of the foot and gradually learns to walk on tiptoes. They can hold their balance on one foot for a short time and attempt to jump with both feet. They also try somersaults.

Fine motor skills

The child can make more controlled pencil strokes on paper, and can manage circular movements, vertical and horizontal lines. They can build a tower with up to eight blocks or a long train made of carefully arranged blocks.

Social skills and speech

Around the age of two, most children begin to develop relationships with other children of the same age. Parallel play (playing next to each other but not together) usually starts at this age, and by the third year, play becomes more collaborative or competitive. The child maintains personal hygiene, feeds themselves, but still likes being fed. They can drink from a cup with few spills. They enjoy looking at picture books, can follow simple stories, and understand basic colors and can sort objects by type, size, color, or material. Their social understanding increases, and by the age of two, they know many words to describe their internal processes (thinking, wishing, feeling). From the beginning of the third year, the child starts to speak in the first person ("I").


28-30 months

Gross motor skills

The child walks on tiptoes, jumps up and down, and tries to jump forward. It attempts to hop on one foot and enjoys overcoming obstacles. Quick movements are still an irresistible and inseparable activity. It "dances" to music, throws with both hands, and tries to catch a ball, albeit clumsily. When climbing stairs, it alternates feet.

Fine motor skills

The child draws circles, vertical and horizontal lines with a pencil, and attempts to imitate a cross. It builds a tower of eight blocks and a long train of blocks carefully placed one after the other, with a chimney added later.

Social skills and speech

The child feeds itself but still likes to be fed and drinks from a cup. It can form sentences with 8-9 words, looks through picture books, and tells simple stories based on them, as well as those it has heard from parents.

31-36 months

Gross motor skills

At this age, a child is less resilient than an adult, but otherwise they can manage almost all common gross motor skills. They can jump from a height of 20 cm, run, walk, change direction quickly, walk up and down stairs (alternating feet), walk on tiptoes, and catch a large ball (if not thrown too quickly). They can operate simple machines such as tricycles, pedal cars, and push toys.

Fine motor skills

The child can unbutton and button with great effort. They can control a pencil enough to draw a circle, vertical and horizontal lines, and a cross by connecting two lines. They can draw a man with spider-like legs and arms growing out of the head. They enjoy working with paper, folding, gluing, and trying to cut. They can build a tower with 9-10 blocks and, after seeing a demonstration, can even try to build a "bridge".

Social skills and speech

The child maintains bodily cleanliness, dresses and undresses independently, and can recognize when they need to use the toilet. They can take care of themselves and are dry at night. They communicate more or less objectively and can use between 700 and 900 words. They understand 2-3 prepositions (e.g. put the block on, under, behind the cup, next to the cup, between the cups). They can tell stories, describe events they have experienced, use complex sentences, and understand concepts such as big, small, up, down, loud, and quiet. They can identify two colors and repeat up to three numbers. They may already recognize some letters or "read" headlines and car logos they know well. They are increasingly willing to play with other children and are able to share toys and work together towards a common goal. If a child is still not speaking at three years of age, it may be a case of developmental language disorder, which has a systemic character and requires psychological, speech therapy, phoniatric, and audiologic assessment. In some cases, it may also be necessary to carry out a neurological or vision assessment. It is important to determine whether the child is experiencing a minor problem (such as a slight delay in vocabulary and pronunciation) or whether there is a more serious underlying issue (such as developmental dysphasia, mental retardation, autism, unidentified hearing or vision impairment).

Article author: PhDr. Marja Volemanová, PhD.


Main sources:​

  • Langmeier Josef; Krejčířová Dana (2006). Vývojová psychologie. Praha: Grada. ISBN 978-80-247-1284-0

  • Lazzari Simona (2013), Vývoj dítěte v 1.-3. roce. Praha: Grada. ISBN 978-80-247-3734-8

  • Verhoeven Liesbeth (2010). Stap voor stap. Amsterdam: Lannoo. ISBN 978-90-209-9190-1

  • Verhulst Frank (2017). De ontwikkeling van het kind. Assen: Uitgeverij Koninklijke Van Gorcum. ISBN 978-90-232-5423-2

コメント


bottom of page