I was excited when my toddler graduated from his high-chair to a booster seat. “Yay, we did it!” we cheered with a sense of accomplishment. Only, shortly after this milestone, he kept wanting to “cam down” from his chair and started to run around the apartment “like a gorilla” avoiding his meals.

toddler milestones

Who needs milestones? Transitions are never smooth—at least not for my family. I’m still giving my almost two-year-old warm milk before bed in a transition bottle while rocking him in my arms, baby style. Shhh, don’t tell our pediatrician.

Getting back to those meals, I was chasing our little boy around with a fork pierced with avocado and pasta because I thought it was the only way he would eat. I even fed him while he watched his Old McDonald cartoons, enabling the ultimate toddler couch potato experience.

Then I spoke to a friend with a three-year-old girl going through the same issues. Her doctor, which is from our same pediatric practice, told her to quit chasing her child around. As long as she is at a good weight, it won’t hurt if she misses a meal here and there. The doctor told her to put the food on the table and let her feed herself at the table, if and when she’s hungry.


We are trying this now. So far my boy has been eating less and last night he woke up at 2am hysterical crying for an hour. Maybe he was hungry? Jesus, help us with these transitions—I say as a desperate atheist.

Just in case you were interested, here are the mainstream milestones that every two-year old should be hitting:

  • Copies people, like adults and kids
  • Becomes excited around other children
  • Is defiant at times
  • Repeats the names of people he or she knows and body parts
  • Follows simple instructions
  • Sorts shapes and colors
  • Plays make believe games
  • Builds a tower of 4 or more blocks
  • Kicks a ball
  • Begins to run

I realize there is a difference between transitions and milestones, but for the sake of simplicity and due to lack of sleep, I’m lumping both together.

Here are some common toddler transitions:

  • Leaves the crib for a twin bed to toddler bed. (between 1 1/2 and 3 1/2, but usually closer to 3)
  • Begins to feed himself with a fork
  • Uses a sippy cup instead of a bottle
  • Drinks less milk and replaces it with more food.
  • Looses the nap — hopefully this never happens, but by 3 to 4 years-old toddlers drop their nap. Lord, help us Moses.

Of course every kid goes at their own speed. Our boy was a late walker but now he’s riding a scooter like a three-year-old pro. Let’s not forget that transitions can be tough for anyone, at any age. I cried for weeks when my parents cut me off from their credit-card after turning 21. O.K., bad example.

Life is all about change, especially as a young person. Be patient. Be kind. This will all pass and behaviors will slowly improve over time. Oh and given our experience with meals, maybe avoid that transition to the toddler bed for as long as humanly possible. Good luck!