Developmental Milestones 2-3 Years

The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and National Quality Standards (NQS) are the Australian Government guide outlining the principles, practices and outcomes that support and enhance young children’s learning from birth to five years of age, as well as their transition to school.

With regard to monitoring the developmental milestones of young children, the EYLF reminds us that:

“Children’s learning is ongoing and each child will progress towards the outcomes in different and equally meaningful ways. Learning is not always predictable and linear. Educators plan with each child and the outcomes in mind.” (Early Years Learning Framework, p.19)

At the Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning and Childcare Centres in NSW we closely follow the practices set out by the EYLF and our trained educators use their expected outcomes as a guide to monitor the developmental stages of the babies and children in our care, never losing sight of the fact that it is natural for all children to progress at their own pace.

A summary of the milestone guide for children 2-3 years:

Physical Development

  • Walks able to use one foot at a time
  • Runs, kicks, jumps, climbs and can stop themselves
  • Can catch a ball when rolled/walk into to kick it
  • Can squat down and rise without support
  • Explores own balancing capability
  • Can open doors and avoid obstacles
  • Moves to music and songs, rhymes etc.
  • Can hold a crayon and turn pages in a book
  • Begins using a pencil to scribble and make shapes
  • Feeds themselves with child cutlery/cups
  • Learning to dress with help


  • Strong bond with main parent/carer
  • Separation anxiety when parent/carer leaves
  • Prefers that person to do things for them
  • Starts to feel bad when they know they have been naughty
  • Becomes a little more possessive with favourite toys etc.
  • More demanding of attention


  • Points at familiar objects and pictures to show recognition
  • Can build towers and lines objects up along the floor
  • Starts to explore and play with water, sand, modelling dough etc.
  • Enjoys symbolic play, e.g. block is a car, plane etc.
  • Can identify boy/girl in pictures and gets to know gender roles
  • Starts to play make-believe
  • Can see similarity and difference
  • Copies rhymes/songs and animal movements
  • Starts to develop good spatial awareness
  • Starts to count and follow simple directions


  • Enjoys nonsense and make-believe games
  • Plays and interacts with other children
  • May choose mainly same-sex playmates and toys
  • Begins to dislike sharing with other children


  • Suddenly gains more vocabulary and grammatical/sentence structure skills
  • Happily uses two or three words to make simple sentences/requests
  • Asks LOTS of questions
  • Knows and refers to themselves with own name, and says ‘mine’
  • Begins to know popular phrases
  • Knows if they are a boy or a girl
  • Copies lots of words, actions and movements
  • Sings, dances and enjoys simple music making e.g. xylophone
  • Enjoys story time, books and rhymes

Talk to a professional for advice if your 2-3 year old is:

  • Falling down/stumbling excessively
  • Not showing interest in toys or play
  • Not able to use small objects (lack of fine motor skills)
  • Not expanding their vocabulary or using words
  • Not understanding simple directions
  • Not starting to form phrases and sentences
  • Showing complete lack of appetite/no interest in food
  • Not interacting or playing with others

If you or your childcare centre believes that your child may be falling behind with any of these developmental milestones, or if you are noticing any of the signs that you think may be a cause for concern, make an appointment with your family health nurse or GP who will conduct a comprehensive developmental check.

…And remember there really is no normal when it comes to human development.