Child development calendar

This comprehensive child development calendar is here to give you an insight into the development of your child, ranging from when they begin to feed themselves without requiring as much assistance to when they begin to establish behavioural traits. The calendar explores the second to third year of a child’s development to give you details on what to expect. Obviously, details will not be the same for all but this is still a helpful means to prepare yourself for things both good and bad that will come from your child growing up. The calendar is organised monthly to give you practical and helpful guidance.

12 months old

Your baby has reached one year old and will have changed almost beyond recognition since you first took them home. During the coming months your child will continue to develop and grow and you will experience some of the most valuable times, as your child starts to learn to walk and talk.

At 12 months, some babies are up and about on their feet, while others are still crawling and walking around the furniture; every baby is different and some babies start to walk much earlier than others.

Most mums who were planning to return to work will now have gone back and their baby will be in the care of somebody else; this can take a while to adjust to but experiencing different places and people will help to broaden your baby’s horizons and many mums relish the opportunity of getting some independence back and getting back to work, even though they miss seeing their baby all the time. If you have gone back to work, you should make the most of the time you spend with your child in the evenings and at night; spend time with them, bath them and read them stories before cuddling them and putting them to bed.

13 months old

At this stage, your child will probably be practising their walking or standing and they will be gaining in confidence every day. Their walking will be getting better each day and they will begin to take more risks and increase the speed they move.

If they have started nursery they will be getting more settled and adapting to their new surroundings, new carers and new friends. Most babies thrive on attention and being surrounded by other children and new adults can be an enriching experience for them; they will learn to get on with other children and will have great fun playing and exploring their new territory. If your child doesn’t seem to settling at first, try not to worry as it will take some children longer than others.

Your child may be getting a little mischievous in tandem with their newfound mobility so watch out for open cupboards and newly painted walls; you may find your walls decorated with crayons and your cupboards emptied.

14 months old

At this stage, your child will be eager to start feeding themselves, both using their fingers and their spoon; encourage them to do this and try not to worry about the mess (you can cover the floor around their highchair with newspaper or a bin bag to keep your floor clean if you’re worried about the mess). Now that your child has got more teeth they will be able to eat a larger variety of foods and they should be getting plenty of home cooked food; try to avoid giving them ready meals or convenience foods as they are high in salt and sugar and often have very little nutritional value. It is preferable to prepare the food yourself so that you know exactly what is in it; try to provide your baby with a range of foods, including plenty of fruit and vegetables.

By now, your baby will probably drinking cow’s milk; this is good for the development of their bones, teeth and nails as it contains calcium.

As your child starts to move around the home, you may need to take extra measures to make your home as safe as possible; cover sockets with plastic covers, secure cupboards with special plastic locks, cover sharp corners and put gates at the bottom and top of the stairs.

15 months old

Your child is learning every day and you will notice they are starting to communicate more, interact with other children and adults and play with lots of different toys. Despite their growing independence most children will still be very affectionate with their parents and many will get upset when their parents leave them, even if it’s only for a minute.

At this age, your child’s coordination is improving and you will find that they are developing new skills all the time. Your child’s balance will also be improving all the time and you will notice they are getting increasingly steady on their feet.

16 months old

Your baby will now be able to complete a number of different activities and you should try to encourage them to be as creative as possible; give them paper and crayons so that they can draw, let them paint, let them play with play dough (they will probably try and eat it as first so keep an eye on them at all times) and encourage them to play musical instruments and sing along to songs and music.

At this stage your child may also start to grasp information such as where their body parts are and what they are called and what noises animals make; encourage them to learn by repeating the names of the body parts or animals over and over again and rewarding them when they get it right. You can also play games and sing songs which teach them, such as heads, shoulders, knees and toes and old Macdonald’s farm. Try to make learning as fun as possible; this way your child will have lots of fun and enjoyment while they are learning and finding out new things.

17 months old

At this age you may find your child likes to undress themself and take their shoes off; this may be a bit embarrassing if you’re out and about or at the shops or something but it’s a phase most children go through so try not to worry too much! Your child will be much easier to communicate with now and you should be able to work out what’s wrong when they are upset and decipher what they want when they’re crying or trying to reach something because they will learn to point to what they want.

Most children enjoy getting messy so encourage your child’s creative side by getting out the paints, playing with water toys and making things out of soft clay; you can cover carpets or tables with newspapers or old sheets to protect them and put your child in an apron or strip them down to their nappy to save their clothes from getting ruined.

If it’s hot outside, get the paddling pool out and let your child splash about and play with water toys; make sure they have a sun hat and sun cream on so that they don’t get burnt and don’t sit them in direct sunlight.

18 months old

At this stage your child may start to recognise different shapes and colours; try to encourage their learning by giving them toys such as jigsaws and shape sorters and sing songs and read books that mention different colours and shapes. If your child does something well, make sure you reward them; this can be as simple as just saying ‘well done’ or ‘clever boy’ or ‘good girl’ but it will increase their confidence and make them more eager to learn.

You may notice your child’s physical development comes on in leaps and bounds at this stage; as they gain more confidence, they will start to run around, climb on furniture and play equipment and get involved in games. Although you may be worried about them falling, try not be neurotic as babies are a lot sturdier than you think and they will usually bounce straight back up if they fall over. That said it is a good idea to supervise them and put soft mats under climbing equipment and slides; soft play equipment is a great way for your child to explore safely.

19 months old

By this stage your child should have some grasp of what is good behaviour and what is not; they will start to respond to you saying ‘no’ if they do something you shouldn’t and will start to recognise and adhere to warnings like saying that food is hot, for example. You should encourage their good behaviour by rewarding them and discourage bad behaviour by punishing them; it is up to you how you punish your child but some experts recommend making them sit in a certain place, by the door or on the step for a period of time before they are allowed to come back and play. You should also teach your child to say sorry and give hugs and kisses if they have hurt you or another child or behaved badly.

You will find that your child’s vocabulary starts to really advance at this age, especially if your child is surrounded by lots of people and older children. Children start to copy words they hear so you may wish to avoid using certain words to avoid embarrassing situations!

20 months old

At this stage your child may be turning into a little explorer and will be becoming more brace when it comes to going to new places and climbing on furniture and play equipment. At this stage you can start to help them to climb the stairs but make sure you stay behind them at first in case they fall; as they become more confident and are able to climb completely independently you can leave them to climb the stairs on their own but you should only do this when they are completely comfortable.

Around this age, you may start to notice your child is becoming a little more mischievous as you approach the famous ‘terrible twos’; in some cases, your child may become a little more aggressive and authoritative around other children, particularly smaller children and they may start to bite, push and shove and take toys off other children; this is quite common but make sure you punish them in an appropriate manner and let them know that it is not nice to hurt other people and that it is nice to share with other children. It is often the case that children who have older siblings are better at sharing than only children as they are used to being around other children; your child will adjust in time so don’t worry.

21 months old

At this stage your child may show an interest in using the toilet or potty and they may start to tell you when they want to go to the toilet; encourage this by rewarding them when they use the potty, using a child-friendly potty with your child’s favourite characters on and buying them pants with characters on. You can make it a bit easier for them by leaving them in just their nappy or putting them in pants; it takes a while for children to get used to the idea of using a potty or the toilet so be prepared for lots of accidents and be patient. Every child is different and some children will express an interest in toilet training a lot later than others; don’t try to push it, just let them start when they are ready.

Many children of this age like to get involved with what their parents or carers are doing; you may find they start to follow you around when you are doing the house work, for example. Get them involved in your daily routine by letting them help you; give them a little duster or let them hold the hoover, for example. You can encourage role play by buying your children toys like mini kitchens and shops, dressing up clothes and pretend food and money; make sure the pieces are not too small, as this may cause choking.

22 months old

At this stage you will really start to notice how independent your child has become and they will start to express a whole range of emotions, including frustration when something they are trying to do doesn’t go to plan.

By now, your child will probably be used to seeing and playing with other children and you may find they forge some close friendships, especially if they have grown up with another child of a similar age, like a cousin or one of your friend’s children. Your child will now have a real sense of humour and you will be able to enjoy their quirky little personality.

You will also notice that your child will be really pleased with themself when they manage to complete something, climb somewhere or do something successfully; remember to reward good behaviour and show that you’re cross when they behave badly.

23 months old

By this stage you will find that your child is starting to string two or three words together and their vocabulary will be increasing all the time; try to encourage them to speak and learn new words by singing with them, reading books to them and pointing out objects, things and animals to them and asking them to repeat the words to you.

Your child will also be progressing in terms of their creative talent and coordination; most children of this age will be starting to create basic line drawings and copying basic shapes, especially circles. Try to combine creative activities with learning about colours and shapes.

Every child is different but you may be able to notice if your child has any problems with speech at this point; initially, you may be advised to wait and see how they develop over the course of the next two or three months but if you’re worried, talk to your GP or your health visitor. Try to encourage your child to speak by spending time talking to them and repeating words linked to their favourite objects, people or toys.

2 years old

Your child has just celebrated their 2nd birthday and they have developed and grown beyond belief since the day you first brought them home after they were born; they have learnt to walk, run and can now have a conversation with you. Over the course of the next twelve months, they will hone their communications skills, develop their vocabulary and start to learn about numbers, shapes, colours and the names of things. You will find that your child’s personality also develops considerably during this time and they may become a little stroppy (the infamous terrible 2’s!).

At this stage, your child is gaining in confidence every day and will probably be becoming increasingly sociable, especially if they go to a nursery or spend a lot of time with other children of a similar age.

Your child will also start to become more organised and you may start to notice them arranging things in rows and columns and gathering similar objects together.

25 months old

Your child will be getting increasingly independent and you will notice them start to do every day actions by themself; they will start to brush their own teeth, wash themselves in the bath and put their own clothes on, for example.

Your child is also developing their motor skills and coordination and they will start to become more proficient at actions such as throwing a ball, jumping and running; it may take them a while to learn to jump and you will find that they stay on the ground or have one leg on the ground while trying to jump upwards for a while; in time they will learn to jump properly.

Try to encourage physical activity as it has a range of health benefits for your youngster and will encourage them to lead a healthy and active lifestyle later in life. Exercise and games can also be a great way to teach them lessons such as being a good loser and working and playing with other children.

26 months old

Your child will probably be using around 50 words by this stage and they may be stringing sentences together; they will also be calling people they know well by name and will be pointing just about everything, including buses, trains, animals and people out to you when you are in the car or walking around town.

Your child will now have a good understanding of your commands or requests and you will be able to ask them to do things by stringing two sentences together again; you can ask them to go and get their shoes and put them on, for example.

Your child may start to slim down as they grow taller and spend time running around; don’t worry if they appear to be losing weight as this is normal but try to ensure they get plenty of healthy foods and give them healthy snacks if they say they are hungry between meals.

27 months old

Your child’s fine motor skills are improving all the time and you will notice that they have better control of their movements; for example they can build accurate towers with small blocks. You will also notice that their concentration levels are increasing and they are becoming slightly more patient; for example, they will sit and complete a jigsaw, rather than giving up because they are getting bored.

Your child will also be getting used to the daily routine and will start to expect what is coming next; you can make this clearer and easier for them by telling them that it is nearly time for dinner or it’s bath time next, for example.

28 months old

Your child will now be showing interest in their body and their body parts; you will also start to notice them trying to put their clothes on independently. You can encourage them to learn about body parts and the names of different articles of clothing by getting dressed together, helping them to put their clothes on and repeating the names of the body parts with them; by now they will be starting to learn the more obscure parts of the body, as they will have known about their nose, eyes and ears, for example for a while now. You may notice them talking about their elbows, their chin and their shoulders now, for example.

Your child will probably get excited about going to see certain people now; for example, if you say ‘we’re going to go and play at Rory’s house now’, they will probably get excited, smile lots and be more inclined to get ready to go out (sometimes getting a child ready to go out can be a bit of a nightmare, especially if it involves putting a coat on!).

29 months old

Your child will enjoy getting dressed and choosing their clothes now and you may find that there are a few tantrums over putting on certain items of clothing. Encourage them to learn about the names of their clothes and the body parts while they get dressed; you can repeat the words with them and sing songs such as ‘heads, shoulder, knees and toes’.

Your child will also be getting a greater sense of social awareness and you may notice them interacting with their friends or members of their family in different ways; for example, if somebody is upset, they may go and give them a cuddle or a kiss.

30 months old

By this stage, some children will be fully toilet trained, while others may only just be showing an interest; every child is different and if they’re not showing any interest at all, don’t try to push it.

If your child is fully toilet trained by this time you will probably find that they are still wet during the night; it can take a while for them to keep dry at night so it is advisable to put them to bed with a nappy on until they have been completely dry for at least a few nights in a row.

Reward your child if they have done well on the potty and tell others about it so they can praise them too; your child will feel really proud of themselves and they will be more inclined to have a good go at potty training, rather than giving up.

31 months old

Your child now has a much better understanding of rules and what they should and shouldn’t be doing but make sure you continue to reinforce this by rewarding good behaviour and punishing bad behaviour.

Your child will be talking more each day and will be looking to show you new things, show off new words and get involved in your conversations; encourage them to participate in family conversations and make an effort to get excited when they use new words.

32 months old

As your child’s communication skills develop, you may find that they start to alter their tone of voice and the language they use depending on who they are talking to; for example, they may use simple words if they are talking to a baby.

If you have had another baby and your child has become a big brother or sister, you may find that they start to behave differently around you; some children find it very difficult to adapt to the fact that they are no longer the centre of attention, while others adapt very well and are very keen to help out with looking after the baby. Try to encourage your child to bond with the new baby and spend time together as a family unit; pay your child plenty of attention and ask your friends and relatives to do the same, rather than rushing to see the baby. Reassure your child by telling them that you love them very much and giving them lots of cuddles.

33 months old

Your child will be paying closer attention to the people and environment around them and they may be asking lots of questions; try to explain things simply but don’t make things too simplistic as they need to learn and this is the best way. For example, they may wonder why you are sad if you are crying or why their little brother is crying; giving them an explanation, such as he’s crying because he’s bumped his head, will help them to process and understand different emotions.

Encourage your child to interact with other people; this will teach them valuable social skills and will prepare them for school, where they will be surrounded by lots of people. Once they understand different emotions they can learn how to react in different situations; for example, if somebody is upset they will learn to comfort them.

34 months old

Your child is probably relishing spending time with other children and going to see their relatives and friends; as they get used to social situations, their behaviour will adapt to different situations and they will learn to show kindness and share with others.

Your child will also become more involved in playtime and will probably be keen on role play; your child has been watching you and the people around them very carefully over the course of the last few months and you will notice them imitating you; for example, they may put your clothes and shoes on, they may talk like you and they may say they are going off to work, or going to the food shopping, for example. You can encourage role play by buying them dressing up outfits and encouraging them to help you around the kitchen and around the house.

35 months old

Your child will probably be very busy now and you will probably marvel at the amount of energy then seem to have; most children only have a short nap during the day at this stage and many go without a sleep during the day. If your child doesn’t have a nap it is still a good idea for them to have a period of rest and reflection during the afternoon; at this time you can read books together or listen to soothing music. This little period of contemplation will give them an opportunity to recharge their batteries and learn how to be calm and quiet.

3 years old

Another year has passed and your child is now three years old. The last year has seen them grow and develop in every way and they are now a lot more independent and bursting with character. Over the next year, your child will continue to develop and they will learn a huge amount in preparation for going to school. Their relationships with other children will become increasingly important to them and they will start to learn the value of friendship.

Your child has learnt to run, jump and hop and they are probably actively involved whenever it comes to playing outdoors; over the course of the next year they will learn more difficult movements and actions, including catching a ball, walking on tiptoes and balancing on one leg. They will also start to copy letters and numbers and start writing words.

Caring for your child:

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