Is it hard to believe you’re already asking when your child is considered a toddler?
It seems like only yesterday your baby was born.
This time goes by so quickly. Your tiny infant will enter the toddler years before you know it.
Read on to find out what age is considered a toddler.
Ages and Stages of child development
There are certain milestones that happen at particular ages. They help to determine whether children are developing as they should.
Of course, there’s no exact time everyone agrees on for your child to reach each milestone.
These ages work as a general rule:
- Newborn/baby: 0-12 months old
- Toddler: 1-3 years
- Preschooler: 3-5 years
- School-aged: 5-12 years
- Teenager: 13-18 years.
These age brackets and stages of development help caregivers understand their child’s progress and what to expect at each stage.
What age is considered a toddler?
Most organizations agree your child is a baby during the first year after birth. This is when parenting begins, as you learn exactly who this unique little person is.
The newborn stage is quite short, then milestone moments start to happen fast-rolling, eating solid foods, crawling, sitting independently, and even saying a few words. Babies are still very dependent on their caregivers to meet their needs.
Around one year old, infants start to become less dependent and explore their own abilities more. Their physical growth, which has been very rapid, slows down. But many new changes take place.
Organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree babies become toddlers around the time of their first birthday.
At this point, they’re no longer babies and have reached the next stage of development.
What age range is a toddler?
There isn’t quite as much agreement about how long the toddler years last.
While it’s generally accepted that the first year of life is infancy, there’s no agreement over how long a child is a toddler.
Many organizations say toddlers are aged between one year and 3 years old (or 36 months). Some will put the upper limit as 2 years old; a few suggest the upper limit is 4 years of age.
During this stage, your children’s physical growth and development slow down. But you’ll definitely start to see some huge changes in their emotions, how they socialize, and the way they think.
Question: Why are little kids called toddlers?
Answer: Because they toddle!
It sounds like a joke, but the name of this developmental stage really does come from the way the child moves.
This is because the biggest change you’re likely to see during this stage is the beginning of walking.
One of the first signs you have a toddler on your hands is when he takes those first few steps.
It’s usually not long before he gains confidence, and off he goes without a care in the world.
At first, toddlers are likely to be a bit wobbly on their feet, hence the term ‘toddling’ rather than walking.
The wobbliness can be funny but it also makes caregivers a little nervous.
One day you’re waiting for their first step, and the next they’re toddling all over the house. This stage can happen suddenly.
It can sometimes make parents nervous because a child’s movements during this stage are unpredictable.
Adults have had a long time to practice and master the art of walking, but these little ones are just getting the hang of it.
This means you can expect them to:
- Walk-in unpredictable directions
- Fall over
- Make funny body movements.
Toddling or walking usually happens by the time they’re 14-15 months old.
If your child isn’t walking by 18 months or you have any concerns about motor development, speak to your doctor.
What age does a toddler develop?
Once infancy is over, your children will only grow more and more. While they might not seem to be growing as rapidly as they did in the first year, there’s so much progress taking place in terms of their independence and emotional regulation.
Soon your toddler will be a big kid, making his own decisions and doing things on his own terms. Before you know it, he’ll be wanting to do it all by himself.
It can be frustrating at times but try to enjoy this stage and the cute milestones it brings. Your child has a lot of learning to do and will get better at it with your support.
You can expect other developments during this time.
Your toddlers will probably:
- Be able to recognize themselves in a mirror, or others in pictures
- Interact with the community
- Want to climb stairs
- Want to put on their own shoes
- Play with smaller objects
- Learn to sit in a chair
- Refuse to get in the car seat
- Memorize letters or colors
What are developmental skills for toddlers?
Other than walking, which should begin by around 18 months, what can you expect during the toddler years?
Developments you can expect are:
- Talking. During this milestone, you can expect around 50 new words to enter their vocabulary between 12 to 24 months. Talk to your toddlers about your daily life; it will help them learn even more.
- More teeth. A few teeth likely popped out before their first birthday, but soon there will be many new ones to brush. Make sure to follow the guidelines of brushing each day.
- A desire to be independent. You might notice your baby suddenly wanting to do everything for himself. And maybe not wanting to do what you want! Check out how you can effectively discipline your toddler without using punishment.
- Interaction with the community. They will begin to grow curious about their environment and others in it. Parental care is highly advised when little ones begin to interact with other people.
- Individual personality. You’ll start to find out who this little person is going to be. Talkative, shy, someone who loves animals? Once again, practice proper parental care, especially around animals, to help build the child’s confidence and self-esteem.
- Eating more foods. Your toddlers will want to eat a wider variety of foods by this time. Breastfeeding toddlers is normal and should be supported if it’s still happening. Even if they’re still breastfeeding, they’ll need additional nutrition and calories from solid foods. Try to introduce foods one by one to see how they handle them.
- Longer periods of sleep. This is what you’ll probably be most excited about. Bedtime is more regular and they usually sleep for longer periods during the night. Kids around this time are likely to still need a nap or two during the day. But there’s still plenty of things that affect toddler sleep.
The developmental age range for toddlers
Different organizations list slightly different time ranges for toddlerhood.
This is because it’s a grey area with many topics of interest in the community.
The WHO uses a calculator to assess the development of toddlers.
The CDC lists toddlers as aged between 12 and 24 months.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says this stage of development can last up to 36 months. Those years will be very crucial towards their growth
All agree kids in the next stage are considered preschoolers. At this time, it’s common for families to hire caregivers to care for the child for the first time; most families do it earlier.
What stage is after a toddler?
The preschool stage comes next.
Caregivers can expect lots of new challenges and playdates as this age group learns new things.
Preschoolers are likely to want to be out on the playground often as they learn how to be social and a part of their community. Other children are more interesting and fun, and often families start to notice how much more interaction their child demands.
You can expect a lot of questions. At this stage, they have an explosion of new words and want to know what everything is. Reading and talking together will help expand this language developmental stage. Kids at this age love stories – both hearing them and telling tall ones!
When caregivers notice these types of changes, their toddler can now be considered a preschooler.
Is a 4-year-old considered a toddler?
From around 3 years old, the toddler stage is being left behind. Four-year-olds aren’t toddling anymore. They have probably stopped having day naps, and are also involved in a lot of physical activity.
They’re starting to learn new skills, such as make-believe play, and making friends. At four years of age, kids are usually more interested in their peers. They want to be playing games all the time and are starting to take turns when playing.
Now the toddler years have ended, your child is probably off to preschool or kindergarten.
Kids at this age might still be anxious about being separated from you but, with practice, this becomes easier, especially if they form a good bond with their caregivers.