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Toddler Developmental Milestones: Years 2 to 5


From the “terrible-twos” to tying his or her shoes, this entry in our series of childhood developmental milestones charts your toddler’s precious (and precocious) preschool years.

The following is an abbreviated list of just some of the landmarks you will witness during this fun and foundational time.

At 2 years, your baby:

  • Gets excited to play with other children
  • Demonstrates more independence and can demonstrate defiant behavior
  • Knows names of people, animals (cat, dog, etc.), parts of body
  • Completes 2-4 word sentences
  • Follows simple instructions
  • Repeats overheard words (so be careful)
  • Begins to sort shapes and colors
  • Begins to favor dominant hand
  • Can run, kick a ball, and walk up and down stairs holding on to railing

At 3 years, your toddler:

  • Shows affection and concern for friends and family
  • Understands the meaning of “mine,” “yours,” “his,” and “hers”
  • Gets upset with major changes in routine
  • Dresses him or herself
  • Can say first name and age
  • Plays make-believe and uses his or her imagination
  • Can copy a circle with a crayon
  • Climbs, runs, and can pedal a tricycle
  • Can be understood most of the time

By 4 years, a child:

  • Shares toys (more or less)
  • Expresses anger with words, not fists (most of the time)
  • Speak clearly and use complex sentences
  • Can count to 10
  • Recognizes numbers and possibly writes his or her name
  • Can understand the concept of time and scheduling
  • Navigate stairs unassisted
  • Brush teeth and hair
  • Use a fork and spoon

At age 5, your child:

  • Can tell the difference between right and wrong, truth and lies
  • Seeks praise from parents and family
  • Wants to play with friends
  • Speaks fluently and uses complex language
  • Colors within lines
  • Can cut and paste simple shapes
  • Begins to tie shoes
  • Can jump, climb a tree, walk on tip toes, skate, and partake in activities such as ballet or karate

It is important to remember that children develop at different speeds. Reaching a milestone earlier or later in life does not indicate that your child will be delayed in any way as he or she ages. So if your child can play hopscotch, but isn’t the best at coloring within the lines – don’t worry. He or she is still figuring things out.

Routine pediatric visits are essential to determine whether your child is developing physically and emotionally, and to ensure he or she is properly vaccinated for school.

If your child is not reaching his or her milestones as expected, is not growing at a steady pace, or has lost skills he or she previously had, consult your pediatric provider as soon as possible. Early intervention services, provided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in each state, may be.

KinderMender provides regular health checkups. Recommended every year for children ages 3 and older, and more frequently for infants and toddlers, routine preventive care has been shown to reduce the risk of illness, injury, and malnutrition, and place our children on the path to a strong future.

Questions? Schedule your well-child visit today.

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