MORE toddlers in Southampton reached key developmental milestones during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, figures show.

But with fewer children at or above the expected level across England, charity Action for Children has called for urgent investment to prevent a "childhood crisis".

At the age of two, children are invited to undergo a developmental check to see how they are progressing mentally and physically.

The comprehensive check sees health visitors assess the child's communication, social interaction, problem-solving, fine motor skills (such as holding objects and drawing) and gross motor skills, such as walking without falling and kicking a ball.

Data from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities shows 84% of Southampton children reviewed met or exceeded expectations in all five areas in 2020-21.

That was up from 81% the previous year.

But across England, the proportion of toddlers achieving in all areas fell slightly to 82.9% from 83.3% the year before.

The biggest decrease was seen in the development of personal and social skills, which dropped from 93% to 90%.