An infant between 12 months and 36 months old exhibits a number of changes that form part of its process of development. The following series of observations focuses on that particular time span, and highlights those changes that may be classified as a “milestone.” It will consider what may be defined as an average child covering specific time periods within this development phase.

Age - 24 to 36 Months


Climbing onto a chair and walking up stairs will now have progressed into a more advanced form of mobility, including the development of climbing skills over and above domestic challenges.

The ability to hold a spoon and feed itself will have now been extended to the dexterous handling of small objects, such as the components of a jigsaw puzzle.

By now, the child’s need for independence and self awareness will be further displayed in its requirement to be able to dress itself, no matter the difficulty posed by shoe laces and buttons, amongst other things.


The vocabulary of spoken words will have now increased from 20-50, a few months ago, to the ability to speak coherently in actual sentences.

There will now be a natural desire and eagerness to learn new words and their meaning, including the names of people and places.

The child will now be aware of everyday actions and will be in a position to anticipate them, such as the opening of the curtains.

Recently, the child was sorting its toys whilst exhibiting a form of methodology which has now moved on to an imaginative display and interaction with its toys or other precious mementos.

Involvement in everyday occurrences may now be extended to an interaction with the immediate environment, such as trying to sing along with music.


Role playing in games will now have identified the existence of both genders especially in the minds of only children.

Self awareness will now have moved on to the next level in which the child will have an opinion and express preferences, such as in the choice of clothes and forms of entertainment.

During this development phase, the child experiences a growing interaction with its peers. This is particularly noticeable in respect of participation in a variety of games in which it will learn the involvement of taking its turn in a structured fashion. As a result, such interactions will enhance the child’s social standing within the contact groups.

The infant should be fully aware by now that objects continue to exist even when they are no longer visible, e.g. putting a toy in a box and closing the lid so the child can no longer see it.

This is an example of object permanence, which is a measure of the development in the child’s intelligence.

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