Toddler development and milestones: your 33 month old
At 33 months, your toddler is a whirlwind of activity and ready to talk up a storm.
You may think of your toddler as a two-year-old, but your 33-month-old is closer to three now. Chances are, he’s a little whirlwind of activity – and a talking whirlwind at that! Your hands may be full dealing with his antics and tantrums (they don’t call it the “Terrible Twos” for nothing), but it’s a good idea to check if your 33 month old is on track with his developmental milestones.
33 Month Old Development and Milestones: Is Your Toddler on Track?
At 33 months, your toddler loves physical play. Like a little whirlwind, he will run and climb, and more often than not, leave his playroom looking like a typhoon just passed through.
If you’ve embarked on your little one’s toilet training journey, you can expect him to be completely toilet trained during the day. But keep the towels handy. Accidents are still likely to happen.
Gross motor skills
As your 33-month-old enjoys physical play, encourage getting active in the playground. He’ll love the swings and the slides. And he’ll probably try climbing everything, so be on your toes when it comes to safety.
By now, your almost-three-year-old can run and stop suddenly. He’ll manage this without tripping or falling. He’ll also be able to maneuver while running, and avoid obstacles.
Fine motor skills
At this stage, puzzles are a big thing for your little one. He’ll be able to complete simple puzzles, as well as build towers of around eight building blocks.
This is because his hands are becoming more dextrous: 33-month-olds should be able to wiggle their thumb. And this helps them with manipulating small objects. Expect him to be able to draw simple stick figures. Self-portraits and family portraits will be his first masterpieces.
- Go to the playground regularly. This is where he learns at this age – literally by leaps and bounds.
- Get fit, mums and dads. You'll be running after your toddler a lot.
- Give him unlimited access to paper, pencils, makers and crayons. He loves to scribble at this age. But keep an eye on him, or he'll write on the walls and sofa! Thankfully, there are washable markers available in stores.
When to Talk to Your Doctor:
- Signs of possible developmental delays, or red flags, include not being able to walk steadily at this age.
- Also consult with your doctor if he loses skills he once had.
Your 33-month-old’s brain is also growing in leaps and bounds. Yes, it’s all happening at the same time, mum! Physical and mental development are both exploding.
At this stage, your toddler should have a good grasp of object permanence – an important milestone in cognitive development. Not only will he know that things don’t “just disappear”, he’ll be able to identify a wide range of objects. He’ll also be able to describe pictures in storybooks.
Children in this age range are known to experience night terrors. They may wake up in the middle of the night screaming and shaking in fear – and giving their poor parents a heart attack! They will fall asleep shortly after and have absolutely no memory of it in the morning. This alarming behaviour is called night terrors.
Despite the fright caused by night terrors, it’s nothing to be worried about. If it happens, comfort your child as best as you can, and try to get them to go back to sleep.
- Don't just read the words in storybooks. Engage him deeper by pointing to the pictures, explaining what's happening and asking him questions.
- Comfort him when he has fears or night terrors. Don't be quick to dismiss what scares him.
- Get him some simple puzzles (three to four pieces). Puzzles are not only good for his fine motor skills, they're good for his cognitive development too.
When to Talk to Your Doctor:
Children develop at their own pace. However, keep on the lookout for these red flags:
- He is not interested in pretend play.
- He has trouble categorising objects.
- Not being able to understand the function of common objects could also be a red flag.
- He constantly moves from one activity to another, unable to stay with one for long.
Social and Emotional Development
Most 33 month old toddlers are extremely social. They enjoy playing with others and may have a preferred playmate.
They may even have an imaginary friend! This imaginary friend is often used by your toddler as a fall guy for when they misbehave. (“Not me! He did it!”) These friends disappear when children are six or seven years old.
At this age, your child will seek praise and approval. What you think of them means everything to them. Make sure to give him a regular boost of self-esteem.
- Shower your little one with praise! Congratulate him for (what may seem to you) small achievements.
- Let him play with other kids in the playground or in play dates. They may not play together at this stage, but playing alongside with them is the first step.
- Be prepared for mood shifts. He may be happy one moment and throw a tantrum the next. Be patient. This is normal.
- Don't force him to share his toys. He may become possessive during these months.
- Play pretend with him. Fire up his imagination!
When to Talk to Your Doctor:
- Your toddler doesn't show signs of interest in other children.
- He has extreme separation anxiety.
- He shows abnormal amounts of aggression.
Speech and Language Development
Now that your toddler is getting the hang of talking, he’ll be talking up a storm! Expect him to use different conversational tones – happy, excited, sad, and yes (oh yes!) angry. With the ability to ask questions, they will question everything. So spend a lot of time conversing with your toddler. But who are we kidding? This will happen whether you like it or not.
Your first real conversations will happen at around this stage. Your 33 month old can now hold a conversation of two to three sentences. He’ll also be able to speak clearly most of the time and even use prepositions.
If all this talk of talking is getting you tired already, know that there is good news. Your toddler should now be able to follow a simple request. So you can tell him to “get the remote control” or “give mama her phone.” Hooray!
- Keep talking to your two year old. Even if he's not talking back, he's soaking up all the new words and sentences.
- Music is a great way to teach your toddler new words. Sing nursery rhymes together and have fun with rhymes!
- Every day, teach him a new letter, its sound/s and words that start with that letter.
When to Talk to Your Doctor:
Like all stages of development, it’s important not to freak out if your two-year-old isn’t speaking clearly, asking questions or engaging you about the meaning of life yet. Every child develops in their own time. Just be patient and keep talking to your little one. However, you should be aware of red flags such as:
- He cannot use two-word phrases.
- Your toddler can't communicate his needs.
Health and Nutrition
Who is this big toddler? Yes, your little one is growing fast. He or she should measure around 87.5 to 102 cm. And his or her weight should be 11 to 17.8 kg. As always, don't stress yourself out over your child's height and weight. Children grow at different rates. If he is eating well, you probably don't have to worry about anything.
When it comes to food, 33 month olds are fickle creatures. Some days, they may eat everything in sight. On others, they may not eat at all. Most kids prefer small frequent snacks versus three square meals, so there’s no need to force them to eat every mealtime.
Of course, you can always “trick” them into eating. Present food in funny and imaginative ways. Offer them food choices, but not too many. Above all, model nutritious eating habits. Remember, your little one will do what you do.
Let's break it down: Every day, your toddler will need to eat milk, grains, fruits, vegetables, and protein.
- Give your child 1 to 1 1/2 cups milk, yogurt, or cheese.
- He should eat 3 ounces grains. 1 ounce = 1 slice of bread, 1 cup cereal, or 1/2 cup of rice or pasta.
- He should also eat around 1 cup of fruit. Go for variety and make sure to chop up the fruit into small portions.
- While you're chopping fruits, why not break out the blender and make some fresh juice? Your toddler will need 4 to 6 ounces of 100 percent fruit juice.
- Just as you did with fruits, go with variety for his vegetables. Give him around 1 cup of cooked vegetables.
- He'll need protein to help him grow, around 2 ounces of meat poultry or fish every day. Beans, peas and eggs are also great sources of protein (1 ounce = 1/4 cup cooked dry beans or 1 egg).
To ensure your toddler is in the pink of health, it's always a good idea to check on his vaccinations. By now, he should be done with the majority of his shots, but check with your doctor if you missed out on any. If your child has been getting his shots on time, there should be no scheduled vaccinations this month. But keep in mind that it's recommended to get an influenza vaccination every year.
Of course, even if your child is vaccinated, he may still get sick every now and then. Expect coughs and colds to be more common if you send him to daycare or preschool. Children under three years of age are in danger of getting hand, foot and mouth disease, roseola, and fifth disease, among others. Also, beware of any fever as it may be a symptom of a more serious illness.
When to Talk to Your Doctor
- If your child is exceptionally small for his age, you may want to consult your doctor.
- Though picky eaters are common among toddlers, you may want to seek expert advice if he is constantly rejecting food, cranky and fussy.
In just a few months, your 33 month old will be a three-year-old. Enjoy these whirlwind months when you can. They will be gone all too soon.
Sources: WebMD, CDC
Your child’s previous month: Toddler development and milestones: your 32-month-old
Your child’s next month: Toddler development and milestones: your 34-month-old