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Infant vs. Toddler: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 22, 2023
An infant is a baby from birth to 12 months, while a toddler is a child aged 1 to 3 years.

Key Differences

An infant and a toddler, both terms referring to young children, denote specific age groups in the realm of child development. An infant, the term used primarily for a child from birth to 12 months, is in the earliest stage of life. During this period, infants experience rapid physical growth, display reflexive behaviors, and are entirely dependent on caregivers for their needs. A toddler, on the other hand, refers to children aged between 1 to 3 years. This phase is characterized by significant motor, cognitive, and social developments.
Infants often rely on crying as their primary means of communication, while toddlers start to form words and short sentences. Toddlers also begin to assert their independence, often showing signs of the "terrible twos", characterized by tantrums and a strong will. Mobility is another distinguishing factor: infants typically transition from crawling to walking, while toddlers refine their walking skills and may even start running or climbing.
The nutritional needs of infants and toddlers also differ. Infants primarily rely on breast milk or formula for sustenance, while toddlers start consuming a more varied diet that includes solid foods. When it comes to play, infants engage in simple sensory and exploratory activities. Toddlers, conversely, indulge in more structured play, often showcasing their burgeoning imaginations.
Safety is paramount for both age groups, albeit with varying focuses. For infants, parents need to ensure safe sleeping environments and be vigilant about potential choking hazards. For toddlers, the emphasis might shift towards preventing falls or ensuring they don't access unsuitable objects or substances, given their newfound mobility and curiosity.

Comparison Chart

Age Range

Birth to 12 months
1 to 3 years


Crawling to first steps
Walking, running, and climbing


Crying, cooing, simple sounds
Forming words, short sentences

Developmental Focus

Reflexive behaviors, basic sensory exploration
Independence, imagination, structured play

Infant and Toddler Definitions


A baby or newborn.
She cradled the sleeping infant in her arms.


A youngster in the early stages of childhood development post infancy.
The playgroup was filled with toddlers playing and laughing.


A term used in child development for kids aged up to a year.
As an infant, she was always curious and observant.


A young child who is just beginning to walk.
The toddler wobbled before taking confident steps.


A child in the earliest stage of life, typically from birth to 12 months.
The infant's first smile melted her heart.


A child showing signs of increased independence and exploration.
The toddler insisted on choosing his own clothes.


A very young human who is not yet able to walk or talk.
The infant depended on his mother for everything.


A child aged between 1 to 3 years.
Her toddler is always full of energy and mischief.


A term often used in medical or legal contexts to refer to a baby.
The hospital had a dedicated infant care unit.


An early childhood term denoting kids transitioning from babyhood.
As a toddler, he was fascinated by the world around him.


A child in the earliest period of life, especially before being able to walk.


One who toddles, especially a young child learning to walk.


A young child who has started walking but not fully mastered it, typically between one and three years old.


One who toddles; especially, a young child.


A young child


How is "infant" different from "toddler"?

An infant is younger, typically up to 12 months, while a toddler is usually between 1 and 3 years old.

What is "infant mortality"?

It refers to the death of babies under the age of one year per 1,000 live births.

What does "infant" mean?

An infant refers to a very young child or baby, typically from birth to about 12 months of age.

When does an infant start crawling?

Most infants start crawling between 6 to 10 months, but it varies.

Is "newborn" the same as "infant"?

No, a newborn refers specifically to a baby in its first month of life.

What's the difference between "toddler" and "preschooler"?

A toddler is aged 1-3 years, while a preschooler is typically aged 3-5 years and may attend a preschool program.

Is "infant" synonymous with "baby"?

Generally, yes. However, "infant" specifically refers to the youngest stage of childhood.

Why are they called "toddlers"?

The term comes from the word "toddle," which means to walk unsteadily, reflecting how children of this age often walk.

How do you pronounce "toddler"?

"Toddler" is pronounced as "TOD-ler".

What is the origin of the word "infant"?

"Infant" originates from the Latin word "infans" which means "unable to speak".

When do toddlers typically start walking?

Most toddlers begin walking between 9 to 18 months of age.

Do toddlers still take naps?

Yes, many toddlers still nap once or twice daily.

Why is play important for toddlers?

Play helps toddlers develop motor skills, cognitive abilities, and social skills. It's also a way for them to explore their environment.

How do you pronounce "infant"?

"Infant" is pronounced as "IN-fuhnt".

What is "infantile"?

It's an adjective relating to infants or infancy.

What do you call the care of infants?

The care of infants is often referred to as "pediatric care" or "neonatal care" for newborns.

What is the age range for a toddler?

A toddler typically refers to a child aged between 1 and 3 years.

How is a toddler's development different from an infant's?

Toddlers are more mobile, begin to speak in sentences, and show a greater sense of independence compared to infants.

Is "toddlerhood" a word?

Yes, it refers to the time when a child is a toddler.

What challenges are common during the toddler years?

Challenges include tantrums, asserting independence, and transitioning from diapers to toilet training.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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