Your toddler: 28 to 30 months

Your toddler is starting to develop their own sense of humour now.
Your toddler is starting to develop their own sense of humour now. 

Your toddler is starting to talk more, showing a greater interest in socialising and is even developing a sense of humour!  Read more about this three months of development...

Your toddler's mental capacity is becoming more sophisticated as she begins to formulate thoughts and impressions through various experiences and situations.

Signs that could suggest your toddler has a developmental problem include preferring to be in her own world rather than interacting with others, not being able to run smoothly or safely climb stairs or onto low furniture, persistently drooling or speaking unclearly, always having extreme difficulty in being separated from her parents, not responding to her own name, not being able to interpret non-verbal communication such as facial expressions or gestures, not maintaining or making eye contact, or being overly sensitive to sensory stimulation such disliking to be touched.

How they grow
As a result of her new body shape, your toddler's blood pressure increases, her immune system matures and her brain develops to 80-90% of its adult size and plenty of sleep is crucial for building new neurons and cells as sleep enables processes such as proper blood flow throughout the body, the release of hormones and tissue growth and repair. Her breathing will be more regularly paced, both when she is awake and when she is sleeping. Body temperature changes depending on the activity she is engaged in, as well as her emotional state and environment.

Physical and motor skills
At this age your toddler may know how to walk on her tiptoes, will continue trying to jump at a low height (such as from a small step onto the ground) and throw a ball underhand, and outdoor play is vital for building on these skills.

A typical toddler will also enjoy hiding in areas and small spaces that she fits into such as boxes. A day that is made up of quiet play, outdoor play, creative 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.

By two and a half, toilet training should definitely have commenced, even if your toddler is still learning.

You may have noticed how involving your child at mealtimes has sped up her development as she has a better idea of how to behave like a grown up in that type of setting, expanding on her social skills, motor skills with using utensils and etiquette with table manners.

She can also drink from a straw and a proper cup now, using only one hand. Water should be the first thing that you offer her, although milk and watered down juice are both okay in moderation. But be aware that liquids can affect a child’s appetite and make them feel full and twenty eight to thirty month old toddlers don't eat a large amount anyway (as they have small stomachs and favour snacking) so give your child a small amount in her cup before and during meals.

Language and speech
Around this time, your toddler will also use conventional word order to form more complex sentences, and express negative statements by tacking on negative words such as 'not' to other words. Reading books together also stimulates your toddler to ask questions and learn new words and hone her communication skills.  
Following two-step commands such as 'Walk into your room' is now easy for your toddler as well. And if you see her talking aloud to her toys as she plays, take pride in knowing it is sharpening her language skills as she practices vocalising her thoughts and annunciating words correctly without any self consciousness.

Emotional and social skills
At this age, your child will also start to show a greater interest in playing and socialising with other children, with a small amount of interactive play but will still spend the majority of her time on parallel play and need adult guidance with games. She will feel more secure when familiar adults are nearby and will go to them to help resolve conflicts that arise with other children.

Socialising with other children can be encouraged by taking your toddler to playgroups, especially if they are eventually going into childcare or in preparation school and are naturally shy or quiet by nature.
Your child is likely to be developing a sense of humour and taking delight in joking with you. She will sometimes laugh when someone labels something incorrectly or at other silly ideas as she is increasingly able to see the funny side in various situations.

Cognitive skills
Some twenty-eight to thirty month old toddlers will be able to recount events that happened earlier in the day or the day before and respond to questions when asked what and where, as the long term memory begins to be cultivated. Your toddler's ability to reason and an understanding of what "now", "soon" and "later" will follow soon after. Structure and consistency are useful for helping this along, and looking at photos with your toddler may jog her memory and enable her to think of events in time frames and name a friend she sees in a picture as well as recognise herself in a photo.

She will continue to develop a sense of time and an order of the day through routine and daily activities such as dinner time, nap time, night time, etc.

She will be able to identify many objects within one picture and find objects even when they are hidden under two or three covers due to an even greater understanding of object permanence. To cultivate an understanding of the difference between inside, under and on top, try setting up simple scavenger hunts around the house for her.

Similarly games where your toddler fills and empties different sized containers with an assortment of solids and liquids, will introduce a child of this age to the concept of size as well as the variations between the different qualities (heavy, soft, wet, dark) of the liquids and by doing this often your toddler will eventually able to do this with minimal spilling. This can also be taught by playing sorting games where your toddler arranges objects into categories.


Toilet training
By two and a half, toilet training should definitely have commenced, even if your toddler is still learning. Remember that girls usually learn quicker than boys, so it may help to tailor different techniques to your toddler’s sex.

Boys need to learn to sit before they stand with both urinating and defecating, and once your toddler has mastered both while sitting, show him how to stand and demonstrate how urinating standing should be done – which is usually a job for Dad rather than Mum. Don’t be concerned about mess and aim – it's more important to be positive. But toilet training and hygiene should go hand in hand as toddlers are now old enough to wash and dry their own hands, and both boys and girls should be encouraged to do this every time after using the toilet.

As she grows your toddler might be inclined to throw tantrums at bedtime or naptime and it's not always just because she's tired (although several new studies have shown that many children in Australia are very sleep deprived). Your toddler may fight sleep because she wants to stay up and play, has negative associations with her bedroom or a fear of the dark or being alone (which is discussed in more detail at 34-36 months).
But the following things will help you to know why your toddler is not sleeping well:

  • If she doesn’t have a set sleep routine where she can gradually transition from being awake to sleep and if she doesn't associate her bedroom with sleep and relaxation and not play she won't recognise when it is actually time to sleep.   
  • Naps should be around midday and never for longer than an hour or two otherwise she may not be tired enough to go to sleep in the evening.
  • She should talk about things that scare her and have the option to have a night light or a comfort object such as a teddy bear to settle her and prevent her fears from growing out of proportion.
  • She should be alert when waking in the morning and throughout most of the day otherwise the quality and length of her sleep may be at the root of the problem.

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