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2½-3 years old


Playing “let’s pretend” sets the stage for a rich imagination. It also helps your toddler make sense of things, express individuality and gain a sense of control. Check out our playtips and plenty of toys just right for this age.

    Hop, jump and climb stairs one foot at a time
    Create simple sentences and use the words “I,” “me” and “you”
month tile

How your 2 ½ to 3-year-old might play now:

She enjoys mimicking the actions of those she knows

He creates simple sentences and uses the words "I, me and you"

She can hop, jump and climb stairs one foot at a time

He understands what "inside," "under" and "on top" mean

She can recall what to do when given simple instructions

Children develop at their own pace and reach milestones at different times. The highlights mentioned in this website are approximate guidelines only. If you have any questions about your child's development, consult your healthcare provider.

Toys and Playtips

Physical play

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Help your child learn more:
  • Safety first. Help your child put on appropriate safety gear; make it clear that it's part of the process before skating.
  • Set boundaries of acceptable places to skate. Make sure it’s free of obstacles or cracks your child could trip over.
  • Balancing act. Set adjustable skates on the beginner's setting. Just as you helped your child balance when he was learning to walk, hold on now. Little by little, let him find his balance—the key to learning to skate.
  • Moving on. Soon, she'll be able to move forward, transferring weight from one foot to the other. Get ready to change the skates to the next setting.
  • Family fun. If you have skates, put 'em on and head down the sidewalk with your child; if there's a roller rink in your area, check it out together some rainy afternoon—it adds a different dimension to skate along to music and lights.

Cars, vehicles & RC toys

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Help your child learn more:
  • In the driver’s seat. Let your child be the conductor or driver, choosing where the train or car will go and what will happen. Offer hints, but don't direct the play too much or your child won't take ownership of it. Try things like, "Here's the cargo. Where should your train take it?"
  • Inspire new ways to play. Adding toy animals or figures can extend the play in fun ways.
  • All aboard! If your 2-year-old is fascinated with trains, get books and children's videos, watch for miniature train shows in your area, or visit a toy museum. Go see real trains or take a trip on one.
  • Keep it going. Consider setting up tracks in a place where you can leave it for a while. Your 2-year-old is more likely to think of playing with the toy if it's right there, ready to roll.

Themed playsets

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Help your baby learn more:
  • Read picture books to your child about the playset’s theme—like farm life, animals and crops. Talk about what a farmer does and how farms provide us with food.
  • On the grow. If you have a garden, call on your "little farmer" to help with planting, weeding, or harvesting. Even if she's just sitting next to you digging, she'll feel important and this experience will help her understand what farmers do.
  • Sound practice. Reinforce your child's recognition skills by helping him practice sounds he hears—if you start, it's likely that your child will soon join in. Then challenge his memory and thinking skills by showing him an animal or a car and asking him to make that sound.
  • Field trip. It helps your child make connections when you can relate a learning concept to things within her own range of experience. Make an effort to show your child the real thing: visit a zoo or a farm. When you're in the car together, point out different vehicles.
  • Chore time. Prompt problem-solving and thinking skills by giving your child little chores to do. “Let's put the animals in their stalls for the night. Are they all in the right places?”

Battery-powered ride-ons

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Help your child learn more:
  • How does it work? For your 2-year-old's first adventure on a battery-powered ride-on, take time to go through how it works: show him how to make it go forward, how to stop it, how to turn.
  • Safe space. Make sure where she drives is not only safe, but big enough for her to turn around until she can back up.
  • Where are we going? Your child will love to pretend to be going places in his car—to the store, to Grandma's house, to the zoo. Add props like a bag of groceries to put in the car. Or make traffic signs with your child’s help. Talk about what each one means and how a driver is supposed to respond when they encounter one.