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Children develop at different rates, but most follow a general timeline. If your toddler doesn't seem to be meeting milestones within several weeks of the average, ask his pediatrician about it. It may be nothing – and in fact isolated instances (your child is unable to climb stairs, but does everything else well) usually aren't anything to worry about. If your child does have a delay, however, you'll want to catch it early so you can begin treatment.
As a general rule, trust your instincts. If something seems odd or wrong to you about the way your toddler moves, ask about it. After all, you know your child best. The following are possible warning signs of a problem; print this out and use it as a checklist to keep track of your toddler's development. If your child fails to attain several of these milestones (either in one area or one in each of several areas), call the pediatrician.
Age: 12 to 18 months
- At 13 months, has difficulty squatting to play
- At 13 months, has difficulty climbing onto and off of a small chair
- At 13 months, can't eat with fingers
- At 15 months, has difficulty holding a crayon and scribbling spontaneously
- At 15 months, has difficulty rising independently from the floor
- At 15 months, can't climb on a chair to reach things
- At 18 months, can't walk
- At 18 months, is unable to remove his/her socks
- At 18 months, is unable to hold a crayon and imitate a scribble
- At 18 months, does not attempt to kick a large ball
- At 18 months, has difficulty walking down stairs with one hand held
- After several months of walking, does not walk with heel-to-toe steps
- At any age, consistently walks on toes
Age: 19 to 24 months
- At 21 months, can't turn the pages of a book with thick pages
- At 21 months, has difficulty walking up or down stairs holding the handrail
- At 21 months, can't kick a large ball following a demonstration
- At 24 months, can't hold a crayon and imitate a vertical line
- At 24 months, does not attempt to stand on one foot
- At 24 months, can't push a toy on wheels
- At 24 months, can't kick a large ball on request
- At 24 months, can't use a spoon well
- At 24 months, does not run well
Age: 25 to 30 months
- At 30 months, can't walk up steps alone, alternating feet
- At 30 months, can't turn single pages in a book
- At 30 months, can't pedal a tricycle
- At 30 months, can't stand on one foot momentarily
Age: 31 to 36 months
- At 36 months, can't walk down stairs alone alternating feet
- At 36 months, can't manipulate scissors or will not attempt to cut with scissors
- At 36 months, can't stand on one foot for 2 seconds
- At 36 months, can't throw a ball overhand
- At 36 months, can't wash and dry hands
Also see our warning signs of a language / communication delay and warning signs of a hearing problem.
Learn more on developmental delays.