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Toddler Well Checks at 2 ½ Years Old – What You Need to Know

A toddler getting checked by a pediatrician at a toddler well check appointment

Developmental Goals

  • Increasing vocabulary and more complex sentence structure is noted at 30 months. Many of the child’s words are still difficult to understand at this age. Encourage verbal growth by expanding on what kids say. For example, if they say, “blue ball,” you can say, “yes that is a big blue ball bouncing away!” Talk about colors, name body parts, discuss shapes, sing the ABCs, and count often. At this age, they should know 6 body parts.
  • Encourage running, kicking, throwing, and climbing – with supervision!
  • Expect curiosity about genitals – teach the correct terms.
  • A 30 month old should be able to follow a 2-step command, such as “pick up your shoes and give them to me.”
  • Potty training: Kids develop at various stages. Let them take the lead when to start potty training. They are ready when they show interest (wanting to sit on a potty chair, wanting a wet diaper off, telling you when they are wet). If you push, they will resist. Show excitement and give praise for interest and any steps in the right direction (sitting on potty, peeing in potty, washing hands, etc.). You can put the idea in their head … “I’m going to the potty. Boy, do I feel good!” Don’t tell them directly to go. They resist being told to do anything!
  • Limit television time to less than ½ – 1 hour daily. Excess television is linked to many behavior problems! The majority of what they watch should be educational.
  • Messiness is common. Allow kids to get messy with foods as they build on their coordination eating with utensils. They also appreciate and learn from working with different textures: play dough, finger paints, sand, etc.
  • Separation anxiety is common at this age. Try to arrive at your destination a bit early to let them adjust, then give a hug or high five and leave. A teacher or sitter might need to hold them for you to leave. Typically, they soon start having fun and don’t want to leave when you come to pick them up, but then they cry at drop off again the next day. Don’t worry – this is normal!


  • Use time-outs – usually 1 min per year of age (so 2-3 minutes at this age). Children learn by example. Never hit them to teach that hitting is wrong.
  • Ask your 30 month old to help with tasks around the house such as picking up toys or putting clothes in the laundry basket. Make it fun by singing songs or making it into a game. Praise good behavior, be consistent, and reinforce limits.
  • Be sure to keep a routine for eating and sleeping times. When kids are tired, sick, or hungry, they tend to become whiney and throw tantrums!


  • Kids can eat unrestricted types of foods at this age, but keep it well balanced. A parent should decide what kids eat, but they decide how much! If they favor one type of food, offer it after other healthy foods have been eaten to ensure a good balance.
  • Toddlers graze – offer healthy snacks. Be sure to balance all the food groups over the course of the week.
  • Limit juice to 4-6 oz. daily (or none at all!).
  • Don’t force-feed. Toddlers don’t need many calories, just be sure what they eat is good for them.
  • Low-fat milks (1 to 2% Fat) are appropriate. Limit to no more than 24 oz. daily. Too much milk is dangerous because it fills kids up and they don’t eat other nutrient rich foods, leading to deficiencies in other vitamins and iron. Additionally, high milk diet often causes constipation and chronic abdominal pain.
  • Make sure your child is receiving sufficient calcium, vitamin D, and iron in their diet.
  • Sippy cups, straw cups, or regular cups may be used. No bottles at this age unless the child has developmental issues!


  • Kids get 8-12 viral infections per year at this age. Smoke exposure and day care increase risk of viral infections.
  • Fever (temperature more than 100.5° F) is the body’s response to illness. It is a good thing because it helps your body to eliminate infection. Treat only if uncomfortable or if over 102.0° F as higher fevers do not have greater benefit than low grade fever in fighting infection and they add to general achiness, headaches, and irritability.
  • Continue to wipe or brush child’s teeth daily. Do not use fluoridated toothpaste until your child can spit it out. Dentists recommend dental visits at this age.
  • Smoking in enclosed spaces allows smoke dust to settle on clothes and hair. When held, the child inhales the smoke dust and can develop allergies, asthma, and ear infections. Never smoke around your child or in the home or car – even if the child is not present at the time.
  • If you choose to stop the pacifier, there are many methods. Some parents choose the cold turkey method. Others keep it in the crib only for a few weeks, and then stop it. Some will cut off the tip, so the child loses interest


  • Continue a car seat with harness until at least 4 years of age, regardless of weight. Never use thick clothing in the car seat. Refer to for further car seat recommendations.
  • Street safety: Teach toddlers to stay out of the street and hold hands if possible in parking lots and when crossing the street.
  • Lock up poisons, knives, and guns. Keep ammunition locked separately.
  • Sunscreen: use whenever outdoors, PABA-free, and SPF 30 or higher. Apply 30 minutes before going out and re-apply every 2 hours. Remember to use sunscreen on cloudy days too.
  • Use a helmet whenever on wheels: Trikes, Big Wheels, scooters, etc.
  • Change smoke alarm batteries yearly. Write the date of change on the alarm so you remember. Consider putting an alert in your calendar to remind you when to change it again. Install new smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detector every 5 years.
  • We recommend reducing the temperature of your hot tap water to less than 120° F to prevent burns.
  • All parents should learn CPR and refresh skills every 2 years.

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