During the toddler and preschool years, your child's imagination, skills, and independence will grow dramatically. Here is a snapshot of your child's growth and development from ages 2 to 5.


During the third year of life (from age 2 to 3), your child will probably grow about 5 cm to 8 cm (2 to 3 inches) in height and gain about 1.8 kg (4 lbs).

During the fourth and fifth years of life, your child will probably grow about 5 cm (2 inches) per year and gain about 1.8 kg (4 lbs) per year.

Remember that your child's growth will influenced by genetics - if you are tall, your child is also likely to be tall.


From ages 2 to 5, your child will probably reach the following developmental milestones:

By age 2: See "Growth and development: 12 to 24 months"

By age 3:

  • saying first name and age
  • using 3 to 5 word sentences
  • identifying common objects
  • answering simple questions
  • imitating parents and friends
  • taking turns while playing
  • playing make-believe
  • expressing affection
  • laughing at silly ideas
  • holding a crayon well
  • copying a circle
  • using the toilet (with help)
  • climbing up and down stairs (alternating feet)
  • running
  • kicking
  • pedaling a tricycle
  • washing and drying hands
  • dressing on their own (with help)
  • putting on shoes (but not tying laces)
  • turning book pages one at a time
  • holding a glass in one hand
  • counting to 2 or 3
  • paying attention for approximately 3 minutes

By age 4:

  • speaking clearly (can now be understood by strangers)
  • describing how common objects are used
  • telling short simple stories
  • playing cooperatively with other children
  • problem solving
  • seeking new experiences
  • naming some colours
  • counting up to 5
  • following 3 simple instructions given in a row
  • printing some capital letters
  • drawing a face or a person (simple drawing with a few body parts)
  • understanding the idea of "same" and "different"
  • using the toilet alone
  • standing on one foot
  • throwing and catching a ball
  • trying to skip
  • dressing
  • brushing teeth (with help)
  • using blunt scissors

By age 5:

  • saying full name and address
  • using sentences with more than 5 words (including sentences using the future tense)
  • telling longer stories
  • rhyming
  • following rules
  • knowing whether they are a girl or a boy
  • wanting to please friends and be like them
  • telling the make-believe world from the real world
  • creating imaginary stories
  • counting to 10
  • naming at least 4 colours
  • copying simple shapes
  • eating with a fork, spoon, and sometimes a knife
  • standing on one foot, hopping, and somersaulting (and possibly skipping)
  • riding a bicycle
  • brushing teeth

Helping your child grow and develop

From ages 2 to 5, your child will grow from a toddler to a preschooler. They will learn to eat with utensils, draw simple pictures, run and jump, count to 10, dress themselves, and use the toilet on their own. They'll explore their ever-expanding world with greater independence. They'll also develop a rich imaginary world.

Let your child try to "do it themselves." To encourage your child's physical development, let them take over some of their daily care activities, such as brushing their teeth, combing their hair, dressing themselves, using the toilet on their own, and feeding themselves with utensils. Use your own judgment about when to let your child try these activities on their own. Stand back and let them try to do it themselves, but be ready to help if they need it.

Encourage creative play. To help your child develop their imagination, offer plenty of opportunities for play. Some activities your child may enjoy include inventing funny stories, reading books, listening and dancing to music, playing house, running around outside, throwing and kicking a ball, building pillow forts, and drawing. Notice what your child likes to do and let them explore their interests. Make sure there's plenty of time for creative play in their day.

Stay patient. The temper tantrums of the "terrible twos" will pass. Remember that your child's behaviour is a sign of frustration - they aren't trying to make you miserable. They just want to become independent but are still learning to express their needs and do things for themselves. To get through this trying time, stick to a consistent daily routine, set limits for your child and enforce them consistently, offer a safe environment for them to explore, and don't give in to temper tantrums.

Finally, keep in mind that every child develops at their own pace. Your child may reach developmental milestones earlier or later than other children of the same age. If you are concerned about your child's growth or development, speak to your doctor.