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2 years-3 years

Milestones and Tips

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  What are some common milestones for 2- and 3-year-old children?

Among common milestones for 2- and 3-year-old children:

  • They follow instructions of two or three steps.
  • They can name most familiar things.
  • They understand words like "in," "on," and "under."
  • They say their first name, age, and sex.
  • They can name a friend.
  • They talk well enough for strangers to understand them most of the time.
  • They say words like "I," "me," "we," and "you" and some plurals (cars, dogs, cats).
  • They carry on a conversation using two to three sentences.


  What are some tips for parents when interacting with children of this age?

Tips when working with 2- and 3-year-olds:

Your child's language skills will grow by leaps and bounds. He will string more words together to create simple sentences such as "Mommy go bye-bye." He will be able to answer simple questions such as "Where is your bear?" By 36 months, he will be able to answer more complicated questions such as "What do you do when you are hungry?" He will do more and more pretend play, acting out imaginary scenes such as going to work, fixing the toy car, or taking care of his "family" (of dolls, animals).

You can help your child put all her new words together and teach her things that are important to know through any of the following:

  • Teach your child to say her first and last name.
  • Ask about the number, size, and shape of the things your child shows you.
  • Ask open-ended questions that don't have a "yes" or "no" answer. This helps your child develop his own ideas and learn to express them. If it's about worms, you could say, "What fat, wiggly worms! How many are there? Where are they going?" Wait, watch, and listen to his answer. You can suggest an answer if needed: "I see five. Are they going to the park or to the store?"
  • Ask your child to tell you the story that goes with a favorite book. "What happened to those three pigs?" Reading spurs language development. Take her to storytime at your local library. Your toddler will enjoy sharing books with you as well as with her peers.
  • Do lots of pretend play. Acting out stories and role playing create rich opportunities for using and learning language.
  • Don't forget what worked earlier. For example, your child still needs quiet time. This is not just for naps. Turn off the TV and radio and let your child do quiet playing, singing, and talking with you.


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Additional milestone resources can be found at


Early Learning Manager:

Krissy Washington
Phone: 414-475-8094
Fax: 414-475-8737

Early Childhood Supervisor/
Achievement Gap Reduction:

Allison Foyer
Phone: 414-475-8673
Fax: 414-475-8737

Head Start Program Supervisor:

Meredith Welch, MSW, APSW
Phone: 414-252-0350
Fax: 414-252-0365

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