Your child's development – from two to three years

Welcome to year three! This year your tot will be coming on in leaps & bounds – mentally, physically & emotionally


Between the ages of two and three your toddler’s vocabulary explodes and they may start forming simple sentences, so ask plenty of questions to keep the chatter going. There’s plenty of fun ahead: your always-on-the-go toddler may learn to climb a slide and ride a scooter this year. Getting dressed by themselves and drawing their first ‘portrait’ of you are lovely developments, but for most parents nothing beats successful potty training – goodbye and good riddance to nappies!

Your child at 25 months

Moving to a big bed

Physical skills and confidence will come along in leaps and bounds (literally!) over the coming months, as will your toddler’s sense of being ‘grown-up’. So is it time for a move from cot to bed? If your little one seems unsure, you may want to take it slowly. Starting with daytime naps in the ‘big bed’ is one way to make the transition easier. Find more tips for moving on from baby’s cot. Whatever you do, help your child manage the change by keeping to evening routines. Reassuring bedtime rituals are especially important if they suddenly find it less easy to drop off. That’s pretty common between two and three – even in children who’ve slept through until now. As they near three, you may also see the start of night terrors and night-time waking, due to their developing imaginations.

Your child at 26 months

Dealing with fussy eating

Toddlers at this age may well turn fusspot, even if they’ve eaten heartily until now – so it’s time to bone up on clever tactics! One neat trick is to tune into your toddler’s body clock. Try offering food only when you see signs of hunger (tears and grumpiness, for example). If a pattern emerges over a few days, set regular mealtimes just before hunger tends to strike. Don’t stress too much if their diet seems limited – just encourage the good habits while you can. And while you’re making sure your toddler’s diet includes the good stuff, don't forget about the nutrients you need to help you keep going.

Your child at 27 months

Toddler talk

Between the ages of two and three, the average toddler’s vocabulary rockets from 50 to up to 500 words. Little ones tend to find their own pace with speech development, but yours may begin forming simple sentences in coming months. No matter what kind of talker you have, it’s easy to encourage speech. Continue talking to your toddler, of course. Ask questions, too (like, ‘What’s Mummy doing?’) and let your child practise (and show off!) new skills. It’s also worth reaching for toys that will keep the chatter flowing. There are some brilliant educational toys, but you can help bring on speech even by getting your tot to tell you about their trucks! Speaking of chatter, when was the last time you had a good chinwag with friend? Social media doesn’t offer quite the same personal touch. Meeting a friend for coffee could be one of the most important things you do today – in fact, experts think friendship is one of the best strategies for happiness.

Your child at 28 months

Activity boosters

At 28 months, toddlers seem to be always on the go. But if you count up time spent running, jumping and playing, would it come to three hours a day? That’s the minimum amount of physical activity recommended for every under-five, to help keep them at the optimum weight. There are plenty of ways to make your little one’s life more active. Why not try a regular visit to the local pool? Check out the kit you'll need, from swim nappies to skincare and haircare. If it’s practical to go on foot to the pool together (or the park, shops or childcare) you can also add more walking to your routine. It can help you get more exercise, too, especially if you’re trying to get fit or lose excess weight. If you think your little one’s legs will need a break on the way, take the pushchair or tricycle.

Your child at 29 months

Taming tantrums

As your baby nears two and a half, their little personality will continue to develop – with the odd feisty outburst! No matter what shape a tantrum takes, taming it is about understanding the cause and honing your avoidance tactics. Toddlers are on language L-plates, so they’ll resort to a strop to vent frustration – at a sibling who won’t hand over a toy, for instance. Diversion can help (try producing another of your toddler’s special toys) but sometimes a tantrum needs to run its course. Move on calmly afterwards to reassure your emotionally shaken toddler, but do deal with the cause – whether it’s sibling rivalry or simply hunger. A day of toddler highs and lows can be exhausting, but you can help banish fatigue by eating a healthy, balanced diet, eating at regular times and drinking plenty of water to aid hydration.

Your child at 30 months

Potty time

By two and a half, your toddler will be acquiring new skills every day, from dressing themselves to drawing their first ‘portrait’ of you. But there’s another milestone you could be longing for – the day you change that last nappy. Most toddlers are ready for the potty somewhere between their second and third birthday. Find out how to decide if it’s the right time for potty training. When your child is ready, you can stock up on kit – everything from potties to step-up stools. Patience is the thing you’ll need most,! Keep calm and carry on through the inevitable accidents and false starts and you’ll take the stress out of toilet training for your tot.

Your child at 31 months

Bumps and bruises

When you’re two and a half, there are so many new ways to have fun. Your toddler may be learning how to climb a slide, or even ride a scooter. It’s all so exciting with Mum or Dad there to cheer you on – and to patch up the inevitable boo-boos, too! With an increasingly mobile tot, you’ve probably perfected your kiss-it-better routine. But while cuddles can soothe quite a few bumps and bruises, it’s a good time to get up to speed on treating minor injuries. And it might be worth investing in a home first aid kit. Being a caring parent keeps you busy around the clock, but we hope you're still looking after you. Try to set aside time for yourself – even just a once-a-week window for a yoga class or a luxurious bath. Getting just a little me-time can help you relax and even restore a little energy, too.

Your child at 32 months

Toddler toothcare

Your baby is nearly three and by that age most children have a full set of 20 ‘milk’ teeth. Second molars are the final teeth to erupt, between 25 and 33 months. They’re often more trouble to cut than the incisors (your tot’s very first teeth) but you can help ease any discomfort with a dab of suitable teething gel. It’s vital to care for first teeth correctly, even though they’re temporary. Decay and infection in your toddler’s teeth can actually damage the permanent teeth that are forming below them. You can set your child up for a healthy smile by establishing good brushing habits now.

Your child at 33 months

Coughs and sneezes

At nearly three, your toddler will be no stranger to sniffles. Children tend to catch far more colds than adults, but thankfully they’re not often serious. Most children’s colds get better without treatment, but your pharmacist can suggest ways to help ease the symptoms. You don’t need an appointment to get expert advice from a Boots pharmacy – and our pharmacists will refer you to a GP if you need one. Our range of kids’ cough and cold treatments can help out, too, so ask your Boots pharmacist who can help advise you on a suitable product.You can also help protect your family from colds by getting them in the habit of frequent hand washing – and the same for you! Keep a bottle of anti-viral hand foam in your bag for whenever you’re out.

Your child at 34 months

Savvy skincare

With that third birthday just around the corner, your child will probably be working towards a set of basic life skills: dressing, handwashing and brushing those tiny teeth. Meanwhile, you’re still in charge of many essentials – including keeping your little ones sun safe and caring for that delicate skin. Dry skin can be a challenge during the toddler years. It may help to give them lukewarm baths (instead of hot) and avoid overheating, outdoors and in. Common toddler skin problems such as eczema can emerge in under-fives, too, but there are lots of ways to help ease it. If you think your tot needs a skin treatment, moisturiser or emollient, check what’s suitable with your pharmacist, health visitor or GP.

Your child at 35 months

Ready to party

It’s nearly birthday time! Three is a big deal, and you’ll want to mark this exciting milestone with a proper little party. Thankfully, three-year-olds still find it exciting to just have a cake, simple snacks and games with two or three friends. Keep festivities short (about 90 minutes) and sweet (don’t tempt tantrums by giving prizes!). Your toddler probably won’t expect a ton of gifts, but it’s fun to think about the three-year-old toys they’ll love and learn from. (Outdoor playthings and construction toys are great ways to keep challenging your tot’s developing motor skills.) After three years as a brilliant parent, you deserve a reward, too. So why not pick up an indulgent little treat, from a luxurious bubble bath to a lavish body butter.

Your child at 36 months

Moving on

Here’s to another amazing year! Milestones at three include mastering tricky concepts like counting, speaking in sentences and naming colours. For many three-year-olds, nursery is another big adventure, where they will learn skills such as sharing, taking turns, patience and helping others. Life is about to get a lot more sociable…