Key development areas: 31-33 months

Play is important for development.
Play is important for development. 

As your baby approaches his third birthday, he will begin to use a more mature grip with his thumb and first two fingers when drawing with a crayon or pencil. She will draw circles, and painting using a wrist action is now possible, and usually results in artwork with lots of dots, blobs and lines. Toddlers who are particularly good with drawing may even draw shapes that resemble stick or crosses cross and could wiggle their thumbs. Other toddlers may also be able to do up zippers and buttons when dressing themselves. Using her hands to thread beads onto a string and drawing horizontal lines is another coordination skill your toddler will probably acquire during this time and she will be quite dexterous with a spoon by this time as well.

Your toddler will say her own name frequently between thirty one and thirty three months of age, and will start to recite the alphabet if she is encouraged. Counting to 3 should be fairly common in a toddler of this age and she will also establish what her sex if she is asked. Crying will lessen as vocabulary increases, although many toddlers start showing a fear of things or places. A fear of the dark may start as his imagination becomes more sophisticated and this may lead to some toddlers having nightmares. Your toddler may also uses proposition words such as on, in and over around this time. She will also understand simple stories and listen without being too distracted, but does interject with relevant comments, especially those that relate to home and family events.

Two thirds of children have an imaginary friend around this time of their childhood who serves as a companion and there should only be concern if the child won’t interact with anyone else or is withdrawn all the time. Your toddler is still likely to still resent sharing toys although they are getting closer to being able to understand how to share.

A day that is made up of quiet play, outdoor play, creative play, pretend play and active play is very suitable for a toddler of this age, in honing all the skills she needs to master by the time she turns three.

Head banging in children between two and three is typical and they will do this for several reasons. First because it may be a way of testing their strength and pain threshold, secondly because they may be overwhelmed and overstimulated, thirdly because it helps them release tension and finally, because it may provide some relief from other pain such as an ear infection. It can at time be attention seeking, especially if your toddler does it during a tantrum, but is often not painful for them and should be ignored where possible. This behaviour will usually have passed by the time your toddler is four but if it continues after this time you should consult with your child’s doctor as this could be a sign of autism or another neurological disorder.

Crying will lessen as vocabulary increases, although many toddlers start showing a fear of things or places.

Most toddlers will also be ready to sleep in a bed between thirty-one and thirty-three months. A few toddlers may even be almost completely toilet trained, although many more may still use pull ups at night and use the toilet only during daylight hours.

The information provided on Essential Baby is, at best, of a general nature and cannot substitute for the advice of a medical professional (for instance, a qualified doctor, child health nurse, pharmacist/chemist, and so on). If you have any concerns about your child’s development please contact a medical professional.

Discuss your 2-3 year old’s development the Essential Baby Forums.