As your child reaches the age of two, they enter a stage of rapid emotional and cognitive development, marked by dramatic mood swings and shifting emotions. As a parent or caregiver, understanding these developmental milestones is important to fully support your child’s growth. In this article, we will explore four major developmental milestones that are particularly important for two-year-olds, giving you the tools you need to help your child thrive.
Which Milestones Should a Baby Reach by Two Years?
You are not the only one asking yourself, “What should a child be doing at 2 years old?” Almost all first time parents worry about this. Before we dive deeper into the answer to this question, it is important to remember that every child grows at a unique pace. Some children might take a little longer than others to do these things. That being said, there are certain things they should be able to do by a certain age and these things are known as developmental milestones. These milestones can be categorised as movement and motor skills, cognitive skills, social and emotional skills and vocabulary. Here’s a closer look.
1. Movement 2 Year Milestones
By the time your child celebrates his/her second birthday, he/she should have progressed from crawling to walking. Their pace increases too as they start to run and improve their balance. They can also climb up and down large objects without assistance. Some of the other movement related 2 year old developmental milestones are:
- They can pull along or carry objects as they walk
- They can walk up and down stairs
- They can stand on their tiptoes
- They can kick a ball
In addition to these gross motor skills, you will also notice development in fine motor skills. Your toddler may be able to turn over objects and pour things out of containers. They can also stack objects and build towers of 4-5 blocks. Your child may start showing a preference for one hand and can scribble spontaneously and hold a spoon.
2. Cognitive 2yr Old Milestones
Your child’s brain is developing rapidly at this stage. They start recognising shapes and colours and are able to sort objects according to them. They start thinking creatively and start enjoying imaginative, make-believe games and stories. Your toddler should be able to find things even when they are hidden under multiple layers. Some of the other cognitive milestones for 2 year olds are:
- Your child tries to use knobs and switches
- Your child starts playing with more than one toy at a time
- Your child is able to hold an object with one hand while simultaneously using the other hand
- They can follow simple instructions with multiple steps
- They can complete short sentences they are familiar with
3. Social and Emotional 2 Year Milestones
A 2 year old baby wears his/her heart on their sleeve. Tantrums and tears are also expected at this age. This is because children experience a wide range of emotions but don’t yet know how to express them. Here are some key milestones to look out for when your child is going through a lot of emotional and social changes:
- Children start to develop empathy at this point. They may try to understand the emotions of others and may comfort or offer toys to others who are upset.
- They enjoy playing alongside other children and may even engage in simple games with them.
- As they gain independence, they may become more defiant and test the boundaries set by their caregivers.
- They learn by observing others and imitating their actions, which is why modelling appropriate behaviour in front of them becomes even more important.
4. Language 2yr Old Milestones
As two-years-old, children are rapidly developing their language skills. Here are some key language milestones to look out for:
- Children can understand up to a thousand words but may only use a few hundred themselves.
- They can recognise familiar objects, people, and body parts and point to them when asked.
- Children will repeat words they hear.
- They can start stringing words together to create simple sentences like "I want juice" or "Where is doggie?"
- They can understand and follow simple instructions like "Come here" or "Put the toy away."
How to Encourage Your Baby to Achieve These Two-Year Milestones?
As parents, there are many things you can do to encourage your toddler and bring them closer to reaching developmental milestones. Here are a few ideas:
1. Spend Time Outdoors
One of the most enjoyable ways to help your child achieve developmental milestones is by spending time outdoors. Whether it is a walk in the park or a trip to the beach, spending time outdoors can help improve your toddler's balance and coordination as they navigate uneven terrain while also providing a stimulating environment for them to explore and learn.
Take advantage of this opportunity to introduce your little one to new objects and colours, encouraging them to repeat the names of things they see around them. Whether it is the green leaves on a tree, a bright yellow flower, or the sound of a passing aeroplane, every new experience is a chance for your child to expand their understanding of the world around them. To make the most of your outdoor time together, try playing games like Follow the Leader, where your child can practice following your movements and imitating your actions.
2. Encourage Your Child to Help with Day-to-Day Chores
Encourage your child to work on developing motor skills and following instructions by encouraging them to participate in simple chores. For example, tell your child to carry things like napkins to the table for meals. Let them put clothes in the laundry basket. At the end of playtime, let them clear up their toys and put them away. Not only does involving your child in household tasks promote hand-eye coordination, but it can also help build a sense of pride and accomplishment.
When your little one successfully completes a task, make sure to praise their efforts and offer positive reinforcement. This can be as simple as a high-five or a verbal affirmation like "Great job!". It's important to remember that your child may need guidance and encouragement as they learn how to do these tasks, so be patient and offer clear instructions. Additionally, make sure to choose age-appropriate tasks that are safe for your child to complete.
3. Read to Your Child
Most children love story time. Bedtime stories are a perfect opportunity to snuggle up with your little one and enjoy a shared experience that can have lasting benefits. Reading to your child can have a calming effect, also making it an excellent way to transition from a busy day to a peaceful bedtime routine. As you read together, your child will be exposed to new words and sounds, helping to expand their vocabulary and deepen their understanding of language. The colourful illustrations in picture books can also help your child learn to associate words with objects and form important connections between them. To make story time even more engaging, try asking your child to share their own ideas and imagination by adding their own twists and turns to the plot. This can help spark their creativity and encourage them to think critically about the stories they hear.
4. Give Your Child a Consistent Routine
Toddlers find it hard to transition from one event to another. When toddlers know what to expect, it can help reduce anxiety and provide a sense of predictability. Giving your child a consistent routine also helps them learn important life skills, such as self-discipline, time management, and responsibility. By setting and sticking to a routine, you can help your child build healthy habits that will benefit them throughout their lives. Start by creating a simple daily schedule that includes regular mealtimes, playtime, naptime, and bedtime. Stick to this routine as closely as possible, and do not be afraid to make adjustments as needed.
5. Help Them Label Their Feelings
As toddlers develop their emotional awareness, it is normal for them to experience intense feelings that they may not understand or be able to express. Tantrums and outbursts are common at this age, but they can be an opportunity for growth and learning as well. Rather than immediately trying to fix the problem or soothe your child, take a moment to help them label and understand their emotions. For example, if your child is upset after leaving a party, you might say, "I can see that you're feeling sad because the party is over, and you had to say goodbye to everyone." This simple act of acknowledging their feelings can help them feel heard and validated and can also help them begin to develop the skills necessary to express themselves in a healthy way.
6. Expand on Their Single-Word Answers
Two-year-olds should be able to string words together to form short phrases. If you notice your child answering questions with single words, expand their answers to encourage them to use phrases instead. For example, if your child says "banana" when they want a snack, you could respond by saying, "You want a banana?" and then encourage them to repeat the longer phrase back to you. This not only helps them learn new words and phrases but also reinforces the idea that communication is a two-way process and encourages them to engage in conversation.
It is important to remember that your child's language skills will develop at their own pace and that it is okay for them to make mistakes or struggle with certain sounds or words. Do not worry too much about pronunciation or grammar at this stage - the most important thing is to encourage your child to use language to express themselves and communicate with others.
7. Indulge Their Imagination
Creative play is a vital part of your child's development and can help them develop critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, and social skills. Encourage your child to come up with their own stories and use their imagination to play games and create new scenarios. It helps build socio-emotional connections, helps them come up with different endings to situations and builds their self-confidence. Let them come up with stories about pictures in your storybook, encourage them to play with dolls and create stories about them, and so on. By indulging in your child's imagination, you will be helping them to develop important skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.
When to Seek Help?
Knowing the 2-year-old developmental milestones helps you keep track of their growth and development. If you see your toddler not meeting one or more milestones for 2-year-olds, you should share your concerns with your paediatrician. Similarly, if you notice your child losing skills that they had earlier, you should speak to your doctor. The earlier you notice signs of issues related to 2yr old development, the easier they will be to address. Children born preterm might hit their 2yr old milestones a little later than children born full-term. Here are some signs that may warrant a conversation with your doctor:
- Your child finds it difficult to walk
- Your child walks only on his/ her toes
- Your child is limited to speaking in single words
- Your child cannot follow simple instructions.
Watching your child grow and acquire new skills is a rewarding experience. To support their growth, it is important to be aware of the developmental milestones for 2-year-olds and encourage them to achieve them. You need to spend quality time with them and encourage them to participate in activities that help build physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills. The tips mentioned above are a great starting point to help your child achieve their full potential. If you want more ideas and resources, you can check out the Raising Superstars Prodigy Programmes, which offer a range of simple and effective activities to help discover your child's hidden talents and develop tangible abilities.