Developmental Milestones

Making Sure Your Toddlers Are On Track

By Amanda Roland

Watching your babies grow and change is magical. Their first words, cute gestures and wild laughs fill us with so much excitement, but it can be alarming if you feel like your child is falling behind developmentally. So, what developmental milestones can we be looking for in our 2- to 3-year-olds to make sure they are right on track, and what can we do to help them?

Associate Director for the Center for Autism at the University of Florida and Research Assistant professor in the college of medicine, department of psychiatry Dr. Ann-Marie Orlando outlined specific milestones to look for growing 2- to 3-year-olds and what parents should be expecting from their little ones in their speech and communication.

“At the ages between 2 and 3, as children get older, they are improving their intelligibility,” she said.

At this age, it is a big time for language explosion and comprehension, according to Orlando. They go from understanding 200 to 300 words at age 2 to understanding 900 words at age 3.

“We know that they are probably able to use about 50 to 100 words at this time, and by the time they are 3, that increases to about 500 words that they can say and people can understand,” she said. “They are starting to put two or three words together.”

If they are not doing things like responding to their name, seeking their parent’s attention or pointing to something as to say “hey, do you see what I see?”, then this could be a sign that your child is a little behind in their development.

“Parents have a lot of intuition about their children, and if they have any kind of concern, then they should consult a health professional immediately,” Orlando said.

Orlando urges parents to continue getting check-ups at regular intervals, and if they do have concerns, that would be a great time to bring them up. If you notice that your child is struggling, there are many options for you and your family to help get your little one back on track, such as speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists. Make sure to consult your child’s pediatrician to look into these options.

“There are programs in place for children under the age of three such as Early Steps, which is a great support for families in terms of teaching families how to support their children’s development,” Orlando said.

When it comes to promoting proper development in your child, Orlando says that just interacting with them is one of the best things you can do as a parent. Talking with them, reading to them, exposing them to new experiences and allowing them to socialize with other children can all help develop language and communication skills.

“Playing with your child is so important,” she said. “Getting on the floor with them and demonstrating to them how to play and interact. That’s what really helps develop language is interacting with your child.”