Your toddler’s emotional and brain development 2-3 years

Your toddler’s third year is an exciting time of learning about the world, and also about their own emotions and feelings. Their memory skills continue to develop, helping them absorb and remember more words, and you’ll soon have a right little chatterbox on your hands! All this learning needs plenty of brain boosting nutrients, and we’ve got lots of advice to help you get the balance just right. 

A time of new discoveries

Between the ages of 2 and 3 your toddler’s brain power increases at an astonishing rate. The improvements in their thinking, learning and memory skills give them all kinds of new ways to play, explore and express their opinions, not to mention demands for cuddles.

It can be quite a surprise when your toddler asks for something by name that you didn’t realise they knew. And it’s not just words they’re taking in. At this stage their brains are like sponges, absorbing the way people act towards each other; remembering places and faces they’ve seen before; learning how toys work and games are played; and recognising familiar noises, songs and rhymes – sometimes joining in with the words and actions.

Another big development during this time is their happiness to play on their own, with their imagination helping to create a make-believe world. Although, they’ll still love it when you play along and join their pretend games of horses, castles, capes and anything else they can think of.

Some big brain milestones between 2 and 3

These are some of the developments you’re likely to notice as your little copycat toddles towards their third birthday:

- Starting to tell simple stories.

- Arranging things in groups and pairs, like toy cars, animals and shoes.

- Putting things in size order.

- Remembering what they did yesterday, and sometimes even something exciting from months ago.

- Recognising themselves in the mirror.

- Saying please and thank you, sometimes without a reminder.

- Knowing what comes next in their favourite books – and telling you when you’ve missed a page!

A healthy brain needs healthy fats

Your toddler’s growing brain needs a wide variety of nutrients to fuel all their learning during this important year. One of the most essential for brain development is omega-3 – a healthy kind of fat found in salmon, mackerel and other oily fish, as well as certain oils like rapeseed oil.

For more articles on what’s happening at this stage, take a look at our toddler development pages. And if you’re looking for inspiration for mealtimes, our recipe section includes lots of tasty, healthy ideas for growing appetites.

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