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1 to 2 year olds

Last updated: January 23, 2024

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Your child is now a toddler, they like to do things in their own way, in their own time so it’s important they have a safe environment to learn, play and explore in. Their concentration is better so they are better listeners and will happily play for longer. Day by day they’re open to new challenges and can seem more independent, but don’t be fooled – you can’t take your eyes off them for a second!!

The following information has been sourced from the Early Years Learning Framework Developmental Milestones booklet, developed by Community Child Care Co-operative Ltd NSW (CCCC) for the Department of Education.

How can you encourage your toddler’s learning?

  • Encourage your toddler to ask questions and face new challenges e.g. what’s the right way to go down the stairs – walk through each problem with them
  • Help your toddler to experiment with everyday things e.g. show and explain why some things float in the bath and others sink
  • Do simple experiments together like making play dough, blowing bubbles and looking at insects
  • Talk with them about the technology and objects we use each day and how it helps us to live e.g. cups, pencils, TVs and computers
  • Explore the outdoors together and talk about how things change during the day or over the year e.g. the weather or the seasons
  • Pull things apart and put them back together again (e.g. a toy) and discuss what each part does

Developmental milestones you can observe


  • walks, climbs and runs
  • takes two to three steps without support, legs wide and hands up for balance
  • crawls up steps
  • dances in place to music
  • climbs on to a chair
  • kicks and throws a ball
  • feeds themselves
  • begins to run (hurried walk)
  • scribbles with pencil or crayon held in fist
  • turns pages of book, two or three pages at a time
  • rolls large ball, using both hands and arms
  • finger feeds efficiently
  • begins to walk alone in a ‘tottering way’, with frequent falls
  • squats to pick up an object
  • reverts to crawling if in a hurry
  • can drink from a cup
  • tries to use spoon/fork


  • begins to cooperate with others when playing
  • may play alongside other toddlers, doing what they do but without seeming to interact (parallel play)
  • curious and energetic, but depends on adult presence for reassurance


  • may show anxiety when separated from significant people in their lives
  • seeks comfort when upset or afraid
  • takes cue from parent or primary carer regarding attitude to strangers
  • may become upset easily if tired or frustrated
  • assists others in distress by patting, making sympathetic noises or offering material objects


  • repeats actions that lead to interesting/ predictable results, e.g. bangs spoon on saucepan
  • points to objects when named
  • knows some body parts and points to body parts in a game
  • recognises self in photo or mirror
  • mimics household activities, e.g. bathing baby, sweeping floor
  • may signal when she/he has finished using the toilet
  • spends a lot of time exploring and manipulating objects, putting them in mouth, shaking and banging them
  • stacks and knocks over items
  • selects games and puts them away
  • calls self by name, uses ‘I’, ‘mine’, ‘I do it myself’
  • will search for hidden toys


  • comprehends and follows simple questions/commands
  • says first name
  • says many words (mostly naming objects)
  • begins to use one to two word sentences e.g. ”want milk”
  • reciprocal imitation of another toddler: will imitate each other’s actions
  • enjoys rhymes and songs

When to seek advice

Please seek advice from your local community health worker or doctor if your toddler is:

  • not using words or actions to communicate such as waving or raising arms to be lifted
  • not wanting to move around
  • not responding to others
  • not seeking the attention of familiar people
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