Parenting From Ages 2 to 3

Your toddler is at the age where mealtimes might be less interesting than playing, moving and exploring. Many parents of toddlers this age experience “challenges” around food and eating. In the checklist below there are a few strategies you can try to make sure your child eats healthily. 

Another big change your child might – or might not – be ready for is toilet learning. We prefer the term “learning” to “training” because your child has to be ready to use the toilet or potty. 

How do you know if she’s ready? 

  • She understands what the toilet or potty are for
  • She shows interest
  • She has a dry diaper for longer periods throughout the day and is dry after naps

Parents, you have to be ready too. It’s best to pick a stable time in your lives (e.g., not during the transition to a toddler bed or when a new baby comes home!). 

If she’s not ready yet, don’t worry!  You can reassess in a few months. Most children will start using the toilet between ages 2 and 4, but each child is different. 

Your checklist for 2 – 3 years

✓ Complete the 2½-year Nipissing developmental checklist

  • Use activities from the Nipissing checklist to encourage skills in the areas of emotional, fine motor, gross motor, social, self-help, communication, learning, and thinking.

✓ Create healthy mealtime habits:

  • Get your child involved in the preparation (here are some tasks they can learn)
  • Eat at the table together
  • Offer a variety of healthy foods without pressure for them to eat a certain amount 

✓ If your child has a history of ear infections, fluid in the ear or if you suspect hearing loss, book an assessment with an audiologist. You don’t need a doctor’s referral but the service is not covered by OHIP. Ask about fees when you call. 

Limit screen time (including TV, computer/tablet/phones and electronic games) to one hour per day

✓ Create the routines that help young children thrive

Local activities

Your local Ontario Early Years Centre has early learning programs, parent education sessions, and community resources. Check out your local program calendars:

If you live in Guelph, you probably have a Neighbourhood group. Find supports and services specific to your neighbourhood by searching the map

Libraries have a great selection of books, music, and movies. They also offer free kids programs and story time.

Check out your local Parks and Recreation department for activities offered in your area:

Guides and resources

Foods that are good for your body are good for your teeth too. See the nutrition and snacking tips on pages 8 and 9 of the Oral Health guide (PDF, 24 pages, 3 MB).

Your local and Public Health supports

  • If you can’t afford to pay for dental care for your child, we have programs to help. To find out more, call the Dental Line at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 2661.
  • Wee Talk is the free speech and language service for preschoolers in Wellington, Dufferin, and Guelph. You can meet with a speech-language pathologist who will assess your child’s language and communication. Contact Here4Kids at 1-844-454-3711 for a referral.
  • Let’s Talk Parenting: Talk to a public health nurse about pregnancy, breastfeeding, parenting and more. Call weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 3616.

Looking forward? Read ahead to 3-4 years >