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Physical Development


With your toddler developing so quickly and experiencing more and more, you could find it challenging to keep up with them. Once your toddler starts running around, parenting gets a whole lot more exciting, and you and your home will never be the same again. They will develop in their ability to think independently, pick up words from you and their surroundings at an astounding rate, and the way they play will evolve as their physical development changes. 

Here are some aspects of a toddler’s physical development: 

Cognitive development

As your toddler grows more with each day you will begin to notice a change in their thinking and cognitive development. This is an age where they will think ahead and develop the ability to think for themselves using their senses, experimentation, and manipulating objects. 

Young toddlers will experiment and learn through a variety of methods, from sensory to problem solving. Each learning adventure your toddler goes on is always building on other learning experiences, which all accumulate very fast! 

Toddler sleep 

Toddler sleeping patterns vary from child to child, but most toddlers do eventually find a comfortable sleeping routine. Once toddlers are asleep, most sleep throughout the night without waking mom and dad. At this age, the biggest challenge is usually getting them into bed! Some toddlers will scream, cry and struggle, which is hard when we are all tired and at a loss as to what to do next, but a firm and consistent bed time will create a good routine for both you and your child. 

Some toddlers go through the stage of calling out from their bed or getting up after you have said goodnight. Try a gentle coaxing back to bed in a calm manner and also leaving a safety toy or blanket, even a book for comfort, until they have settled themselves. 

For those little ones that are early risers, there are some things you can try to help them stay in bed till a decent hour of the morning. Try teaching them numbers on a clock so they can see the right time to start the day. You can also make sure the room is full of safe but entertaining toys and books they can play with while waiting for their parents to awaken. 

Speech development

Learning to communicate is one of the most difficult things your child will achieve. By being able to talk and communicate, they can interact with the world around them more and more each day. 

Keep things simple and model the language you want them to use, so they can gradually expand their vocabulary. Remember to respond positively, repeat things if you need to and, above all, talk, read, play and listen to them! 

Play stage

Toddlers are very active at this age and when they play they are also learning. There is a lot happening during playtime and boys will be playing differently to girls. The differences in gender play reflect what they learn from their parents, as well as the way they think. Gender researchers suggest that boys and girls do in fact play quite differently and show clear preferences for different toys from an early age. These social and emotional skills during play give your toddler the self-esteem and self-confidence they need to continue learning and building up relationships in their lives, helping them get ready for school and the future. 


Playgroups are set up and run by parents and carers, with children choosing from a range of activities set up to meet their varying needs. Playgroups can be held anywhere that is safe for children and where groups of people can meet, and they are not just for kids! Adults also benefit from Playgroups – it’s a time to talk, de-stress, make friends and share experiences. Kids benefit from learning to try new things, while expanding their social skills, learning to co-operate and picking up simple routines that make life easier! 

Toddler pretend play

Pretend play or imaginative play stimulates your toddler’s senses and creates ways for them to explore and expand their creative thinking. They develop key skills that fuel their intellectual and emotional growth for social success, and pretend play improves memory, language and perspective-taking skills. 

Imaginative play also helps toddlers co-operate and compromise with other children, as they learn important key skills for success with peers. Encourage pretend play and they will thrive in developing their imagination and participate in constructive playtime activities. 

The years from 3 to 6 are generally thought of as the “golden years” of pretend or imaginative play; at no other time in your child’s life will they be so immersed in a world of fantasy. You can facilitate your child’s play by providing them with basic props and toys they can use. 

Outdoor playing 

Both indoor and outdoor play experiences are important for children’s development. While recent research has shown a decline in the numbers of children engaging in active outdoor play, outdoor play is critical to your child’s healthy development. As children move into the pre-school years (2-5 years old), they engage in more active play – they’ll learn to use wheeled toys and enjoy climbing large playground equipment. 

Outdoor play also offers children opportunities to explore their environment in relationship to themselves; create their own places for play, and engage in imaginative play experiences with both realistic (e.g. tents, clothes lines, trucks) and symbolic (e.g. cartons, logs, rocks) props. Outdoor active play can be hugely stimulating and creates opportunities for children to learn about and develop self-control.


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