Kids & Company Blog

Developmental Milestones for Children from 24-36 Months

This blog is written by our guest authors Samantha Martin and Hillary Ng, physiotherapist from Toronto Kids Physio. Kids Physio provides pediatric physiotherapy services across Canada; as babies, kids, and teens function differently from adults, and their spaces and team are equipped to provide the highest quality physiotherapy care, delivered in a FUN and engaging way. 


Do you have a 2-3 year old who is always on the move? Chances are you are constantly chasing your little one around as they get into all sorts of trouble! This is to be expected, since your child has likely mastered walking, and is ready to run, jump, and really explore the environment around them. Your toddler is constantly learning new gross motor skills at this age and exploring their limits - as this is the stage of motor development where children are starting to learn all of the basic physical skills they will need for the future.


Typical milestones for 2-3 year olds and how to encourage their development through play.

Developmental milestones that start to occur include: 

  • Going up the stairs one foot on each step, while holding a handrail
  • Going down the stairs with a handrail, by meeting each foot to the same step
  • Standing on either foot for 1-2 seconds
  • Catching balls by trapping it against their body
  • Kicking balls by clearing foot from the ground
  • Jumping: forwards 4 inches; up 2 inches; and down from a 6-7 inch step

Gross motor development is all about exploration at this stage, so making sure your child is exposed to a variety of environments and has the opportunity to try new things in a safe way is very important. It can definitely be nerve-racking to let them try walking up the stairs without your hand, but it is important to give them the opportunity to try new things. As long as you are close by to prevent an injury, it’s best to give them as much independence as possible!

Setting up obstacle courses at home or outside at the park is a great way to build strength, balance, and improve motor skills at this age. To work on single leg balance, set up some obstacles such as pool noodles or rolled towels and get your toddler to try and step over the obstacles to get their toy on the other side of the room! Place stickers or tape on the ground (or make a hopscotch game outside) to encourage jumping forwards onto a target. You can also use a small step stool or textbook placed on the ground to practice jumping down from a step. 

Walking across couch cushions placed on the floor while pretending the floor is lava or can work on a variety of gross motor skills (balance, coordination, core strength) all while having fun and using their imagination.

If you have access to one (and the weather is cooperating), an outdoor playground is a great space to grow your child’s confidence and physical skills. Playground skills also become an important part of keeping up with peers once they start kindergarten - so it’s never too early to start! At 2-3 years old, you can start to practice climbing (start with easy ladders and steps, and be close by to assist and supervise), jumping down from small steps (start by holding their hands while they jump) and going down a slide more independently!

As you can see there are many ways to set up a child’s environment (both indoors and outdoors) to make sure they are reaching their full physical potential! 


When to reach out to a Pediatric Physiotherapist (the “motor development” experts).

As a parent, it's natural to be concerned about your child's development. If your child has not progressed their skills within 6-8 weeks, or you notice any of the below, it may be time to consider reaching out to a Pediatric Physiotherapist. 

Common reasons you may want to seek out help, include:

  • W-sitting. This is when your child sits on their bottom with their legs bent and splayed out to the sides in a W-shape. While this might seem like a comfortable position for your child, it can put unnecessary strain on their hips and knees, and can even lead to long-term issues with their walking and leg alignment. It can also be a sign of a weak core. Encourage your child to sit in other positions, such as with their legs in front of them or criss-crossed.
  • Walking variations like toe walking, in-toeing, or out-toeing. Toe walking is when your child walks on their toes instead of their whole foot, while in-toeing is when their toes point inward, and out-toeing is when their toes point outward. These variations of walking can cause more trips and falls and even poor walking endurance, as they’re using muscles for longer periods of time than needed - so they start to fatigue and lose balance or stamina.
  • Poor alignment in the legs, such as knocked knees.
  • Sensory seeking or avoidant behaviours. Some children constantly seek out sensory input by touching everything they see or avoiding certain textures or sounds, which may cause them to avoid walking on certain textures or environments.
  • Trouble learning new skills. Sometimes children shy away from situations or don’t want to participate because they struggle keeping up with other children.

Early intervention can make a big difference in your child's gross motor skill development and allow them the ability to begin exploring their environment in a fun and purposeful way!

This is part 3 of a milestone development blog series. If you have any questions or are in need of support connect with @kidsphysio on Instagram or visit Kids Physio provides pediatric physiotherapy services across Canada; as babies, kids, and teens function differently from adults, and their spaces and team are equipped to provide the highest quality physiotherapy care, delivered in a FUN and engaging way. 

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