Milestones for 2-Year-Olds
Children usually progress in a natural, predictable
sequence from one developmental milestone to the next. But each child grows and
gains skills at his or her own pace. Some children may be advanced in one area,
such as language, but behind in another, such as sensory and motor
Milestones usually are categorized into five major
areas: physical growth, cognitive development, emotional and social
development, language development, and sensory and motor development.
Physical growth and development
Most children by age
- Have grown
about 15 in. (38 cm) since
- Gain weight and grow at a steady but slower
pace than during their first 12 months of life. Between 12 and 24 months of
age, expect your child to gain about
3 lb (1.4 kg) to
5 lb (2.3 kg), grow an average
of 3 in. (7.6 cm) to
5 in. (12.7 cm), and gain about
1 in. (2.5 cm) in head
circumference (the measurement around the top of the head). You can view
standard growth charts at
Thinking and reasoning (cognitive development)
children by age 2:
- Begin to understand simple time concepts, such
as "now," "later," or "a few minutes." (The distant future or "forever" are too
complex to conceptualize at this age.)
- Follow simple requests, such
as "Put the book on the table." But two-step instructions, such as "Wash your
hands and come here," usually cannot be completed.
- Recognize basic
symbolism, such as nodding the head for yes or no.
- Often want to
do two incompatible things at the same time. For example, a 2-year-old may want
to go out in the snow and wear his or her slippers.
- Start to play
"pretend," such as by talking on a toy telephone.
- Begin to
recognize and sort objects by shape and color.
Emotional and social development
Most children by
age 2 are:
- Developing self-awareness, the realization that
they are individuals and are separate from other people. Although children are
excited by their developing skills, they also are often struggling with their
emerging independence. Your child may resist your comforting one minute, only
to run clinging to you the next. They understand and use the word "no" as a way
to assert themselves. Sometimes calmly redirecting your child or stating the
request in a different way will help this behavior. But a child can also
stubbornly resist direction.
Temper tantrums reflect related frustrations and
- Aware that they may not always get what they
want or that they may have to wait for it. Although many children also start to
see a relationship between how they act and what happens next, they often act
on impulse. They often do not behave consistently, because they can't yet
completely anticipate the consequences of their actions.
in observing and imitating other people.
- Interested and excited
about being with other children. But they still engage in parallel play—playing
next to, but usually not with, other children. They usually have not mastered
sharing and other cooperation skills.
- Not concerned about gender
differences, but start to recognize that they exist. Usually, they are noticing
simple clues, such as hair length or clothing.
Most children by age 2:
- Use at least 50 words.
- Put two
words together, such as "no bottle."
- Name some body parts and
familiar objects, such as "toy" or "cat."
- Speak with a mix of
made-up words and understandable words.
- Repeat words they overhear, such as from adult
Sensory and motor development
Most children by age
- See and hear well.
- Are rapidly
developing motor skills. Around the second birthday, children can usually go up
and down stairs one step at a time, kick a ball, and are starting to run. Most
children can also stand on their tiptoes. You may see your child carrying toys,
sometimes large toys, around the house. Pull-toys are also a favorite around
- Scribble and draw simple strokes with a crayon. They can
also pour out toys or other objects from a container and build a tower with 4
or more blocks. You may notice your child using one hand more than the
|Primary Medical Reviewer||John Pope, MD - Pediatrics|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics|
|Last Revised||March 14, 2011|