Toddler development and milestones: Your 32-month-old toddler

Evolving tastes, outgrowing shyness, and engaging in simple conversations — find out what other milestones you can expect now that your toddler is 2 years and 8 months old!

At two years and eight months old, your toddler is asserting their independence in small ways. They’re starting to open up to peers, but they can also have their shy moments. Yes, they still have their tantrums, but they’re more equipped to show you what their wants and needs are. Get ready, mums and dads, your child is nearing her third birthday! So what 32 month old milestones can you expect? 

Ahead, we’ve rounded up some of the key changes (and constants) to expect from your two-year-and-eight-month-old tot!

Cognitive Development 

You’ll be amazed at how your little one is managing to tell colours apart! Encourage her burgeoning knowledge by sharpening her ability to identify shapes, too! Draw and come up with fun arts and crafts that not only boost their brain development, but also facilitate bonding and communication. 

At this age, they’re fascinated by crayons and pencils. At first, their drawings might be in the form of random scribbles. But as they grow, you’ll begin to notice certain shapes and images. 

You can also ask your little one to help you cut up paper in a straight line (be sure to give her safety scissors, though!) Count, count, count practically everything! And of course practice your alphabet through song, play, and even visual aids. 

Each child learns differently and at their own pace, so get to know what works best for your child and keep at it. 

32 month old milestones

Cognitively, some of the most fascinating 32 month old milestones is how your toddler is able to distinguish between colours and shapes. Nurture this by reading and talking to them constantly. | Image courtesy: Dreamstime

Social and Emotional Development

At this age, your growing toddler may prefer to play alone or with a playmate. Regardless of their preferred form of play, encourage their sense of collaboration and communication, even if they prefer to only play with mum and dad — for now.

Though they’re starting to become more open in making friends, there will be tense times. They might get in adorable little arguments, while bossing other kids around. They could also be the opposite, shrinking back in the face of a bossy playmate. To help them through this phase, try to instill good manners and empathy. Talk to them about what being a friend means. 

They might also be easily scared at night, but as soon as they start to know the difference between what’s real and imagined, with your guidance, they can become braver. 

Speech and Language

By this time, your toddler will likely be comfortable to refer to herself by name. They’re also familiar with gender and use prepositions — in, on, over — to indicate locations of objects. Your curious toddler can also comprehend and sometimes engage in simple stories and conversations. 

Offering choices helps him regain some form of control. If your toddler starts to cry at this age, it’s just their way of communicating. Encourage them to voice out their needs. When this happens, try to maintain neutral ground — neither coddle him nor scold him. Encourage him to use his words. 

Health and Nutrition

At this stage, a child’s appetite is proportional to their growth rate. So if they’re eating enough, so too will their growth rate soar. In the same way, excessive eating might result in obesity later on in life, so it’s best to manage proportions as well as nutritional content. 

Picky eating can also be an issue at this age because they’re outgrowing certain tastes. Offer lots of healthy choices!

As for sleep, they’re now ready to move from crib to bed. But be patient, as sleep interruptions can happen until your little one adjusts to this change. During the night, they can also have “accidents” even if they’re toilet trained. During the day, they’re more in control of their toilet habits at this age.

Tips for Parents

  • Stimulate your child’s brain development through sensory activities, like sculpting play-doh, or identifying animal sounds.
  • Cover their bed with plastic sheets or protectors if needed. To further avoid accidents, make using the toilet a part of your nighttime ritual. 
  • If your child shows anxious behaviour, like head banging, don’t panic. This is usually just out of curiosity, as a way to test their limits. Watch out, though, because if this happens often, they might be dealing with pain that they still can’t communicate. 
  • Arts and crafts can also be a way of gauging their emotions. So let them do this without intervening too much. 
  • Observe your toddler for developmental delays, such as not being able to run or climb stairs well. Take note if your little one is extremely aloof, shy, or doesn’t make eye contact.
  • Lastly, don’t rush your child. Though these 32 month old milestones are exciting for parents, it’s important to know that each child grows and blossoms at their own pace. Be patient and supportive. Your developing little one needs it!


Sources: Maternal and Child Health Nursing Fourth Edition, Adele Pillitteri

Do you have questions on this 32 month toddler development guide? Share them with us in the comments!