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Your Child at 2 Years


How your child plays, learns, speaks, acts and moves offers important clues about your child’s development. Developmental milestones are the things most children can do by a certain age. Check the milestones your child has reached by his or her 2nd birthday and talk with your child’s doctor at every visit about the milestones your child has reached and what to expect next.

Your Toddler from age 2-3

What Most Children Do at This Age:

Social / Emotional

  • Copies others, especially adults and older children
  • Gets excited when with other children
  • Shows more and more independence
  • play small buttonShows defiant behavior (doing what he has been told not to)
  • play small buttonPlays mainly beside other children, but is beginning to include other children, such as in chase games

Language / Communication

  • play small buttonPoints to things or pictures when they are named
  • play small buttonKnows names of familiar people and body parts
  • play small buttonSays sentences with 2 to 4 words
  • play small buttonFollows simple instructions
  • play small buttonRepeats words overheard in conversation
  • Points to things in a book

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Finds things even when hidden under two or three covers
  • Begins to sort shapes and colors
  • play small buttonCompletes sentences and rhymes in familiar books
  • Plays simple make-believe games
  • Builds towers of 4 or more blocks
  • play small buttonMight use one hand more than the others
  • play small buttonFollows two-step instructions such as “Pick up your shoes and put them in the closet.”
  • play small buttonNames items in a picture book such as a cat, bird or dog

Movement / Physical Development

  • Stands on tiptoes
  • Kicks a ball
  • play small buttonBegins to run
  • Climbs onto and down from furniture without help
  • Walks up and down stairs holding on
  • Throws ball overhand
  • play small buttonMakes or copies straight lines and circles



Act Early by Talking to Your Child’s Doctor if Your Child:



  • Doesn’t use 2-word phrases (for example, “drink milk”)
  • Doesn’t know what to do with common things, like a brush, phone, fork, spoon
  • Doesn’t copy actions and words
  • Doesn’t follow simple instructions
  • Doesn’t walk steadily
  • Loses skills she once had

Tell your child’s doctor or nurse if you notice any of these signs of possible developmental delay for this age. For more information, go to www.cdc.gov/concerned or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for general development and autism at the 24-month visit. Ask your child’s doctor about your child’s developmental screening


Help Your Child Learn and Grow 

What You Can Do for Your 2-Year-Old

You can help your child learn and grow. Talk, read, sing and play together every day. Below are some activities to enjoy with your 2-year-old child today.


  • Encourage your child to help with simple chores at home, like sweeping and making dinner. Praise your child for being a good helper.
  • At this age, children still play next to (not with) each other and don’t share well. For play dates, give the children lots of toys to play with. Watch the children closely and step in if they fight or argue.
  • Give your child attention and praise when he follows instructions. Limit ttention for defiant behavior. Spend a lot more time praising good behaviors than punishing bad ones.
  • Teach your child to identify and say body parts, animals and other common things.
  • Do not correct your child when he says words incorrectly. Rather, say it correctly. For example, “That is a ball.”
  • Encourage your child to say a word instead of pointing. If your child can’t say the whole word (“milk”), give her the first sound (“m”) to help. Over time, you can prompt your child to say the whole sentence — “I want milk.”
  • Hide your child’s toys around the room and let him find them.
  • Help your child do puzzles with shapes, colors or farm animals. Name each piece when your child puts it in place.
  • Encourage your child to play with blocks. Take turns building towers and knocking them down.
  • Do art projects with your child using crayons, paint and paper. Describe what your child makes and hang it on the wall or refrigerator.
  • Ask your child to help you open doors and drawers and turn pages in a book or magazine.
  • Once your child walks well, ask her to carry small things for you.
  • Kick a ball back and forth with your child When your child is good at that, encourage him to run and kick.
  • Take your child to the park to run and climb on equipment or walk on nature trails. Watch your child closely.


Learn the Signs. Act Early.

Learn the Signs. Act Early.

For more resources and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call 1.800.CDC-INFO (232-4636). 

Or Visit the CDC's Website

Content provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program. The milestone checklist is not a substitute for a standardized, validated developmental screening tool.

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