Once your child is 2 years old, she’s officially a toddler! And it can be hard not to compare your child with other toddling tots.
If you’re not completely sure what skills are typical at this age, check out these developmental milestones. You’ll get a better idea of which skills are typically expected of a 2-year-old. You’ll also learn if there may be developmental delays to discuss with the pediatrician.
This year, children may not only grow by leaps and bounds, but also learn to leap and bound! Expect to see big things happening with the big muscles (gross motor skills), as well as development in small muscle movement (fine motor skills).
Most 2-year-olds learn to do things like these by the end of their third year:
Gross Motor Skills
- Walk, run and start learning to jump with both feet
- Pull or carry toys while walking
- Throw and kick a ball; try to catch with both hands
- Stand on tiptoes and balance on one foot
- Climb on furniture and playground equipment
- Walk up stairs, holding on to the railing; may alternate feet
Learn some fun ways to help your child build gross motor skills.
Fine Motor Skills
- Start brushing own teeth and hair
- May pull pants up and down
- Turn on the faucet and wash hands
- Build a block tower of at least four blocks
- Start practicing snaps and zipping up (if you start the zip)
- Hold utensils and crayons with fingers instead of a fist, although the grasp still may not be quite right (Get tips to help young kids get ready to write.)
Learn some fun ways to help your child build fine motor skills.
Kids start thinking in new ways, learning new skills and finding new techniques to solve problems. By the end of this year, kids typically:
- Enjoy more complicated pretend play, like pretending that a box is a spaceship or assigning people characters when playing (Read how pretend play can help build executive functioning skills.)
- Remember and talk about things that happened in the past, using phrases like “the other day” or “a long time ago”
- Do three- to four-piece puzzles
- Group toys by type, size or color
- Recite favorite books and nursery rhymes with you
- May follow two-step directions, such as “take off your coat and hang it up”
Learn simple ways to help your child follow directions.
By the end of the third year, children usually understand much of what you say to them. They’re also talking more. At this age, most children can do these things:
- Understand the words for familiar people, everyday objects and body parts
- Use a variety of single words by 18 months and speak in sentences of two to four words by 24 months (may combine nouns and verbs, like “mommy eat”); have a vocabulary of 200+ words by 36 months
- Repeat words she hears
- Start asking “what’s that?” and “why?”
- Begin using plurals (dogs) and basic pronouns (me, you)
Learn more about young children and trouble pronouncing words.
Social and Emotional Milestones
Two-year-olds start to be more independent and more interested in other kids. But not having the words to express themselves can be frustrating. By the end of this year, kids will likely do things like this:
- Mimic what other kids and adults do and say, as well as how they say it
- Be happy to play near, if not with, other kids
- Start to realize she can do things without your help
- Disobey more than before, doing things she’s told not to do, just to test what happens
- Have tantrums when frustrated (Read about the difference between tantrums and meltdowns.)
- Show increasing separation anxiety by 18 months, which typically eases considerably by 24 months; become increasingly independent and aware of herself as her own person between 24 and 36 months
Learn more about social-emotional skills to expect at different ages.
Keep in mind that kids develop at different paces. If your child is late to do a few of these things, don’t panic. But if she isn’t meeting many of these milestones as she approaches age 3, consider talking to her doctor about an evaluation to see if early intervention could help develop her skills.
And take a look forward at developmental milestones for 3-year-olds.