Your Child’s World at 21 to 24 Months

Approaching her second birthday, your toddler may behave more like a 1-year-old in some areas and more like a 2-year-old in others. That’s because differences in development can become a bit more noticeable as children get older. No matter what milestones she’s working toward, continue to encourage her and keep her fueled with good nutrition.

In general, these are the highlights you’ll see during this period.

Cognitive

Your child learns and remembers where things are. She knows that her favorite cereal is in this cupboard and the bowls are in that one. She can point to objects you name, such as a picture of a tree in a book or her nose. She knows how objects are used, too, and she may show this in her play. More and more, she will copy everyday activities (feeding, grooming) and pretend to do them by herself or with toys and stuffed animals. Go ahead and join in the learning fun.

Motor

Your almost-2-year-old is not only active but surprisingly agile. Be prepared for her to raise the bar a bit about now. She can walk, so she’ll try walking while carrying toys. She can run, so she’ll run faster. She climbs higher. Most toddlers of this age go through a stage of being fascinated by stairs, first holding on but eventually taking them without any help or support at all by the time she is 3. Give her some space to explore while taking any necessary safety precautions.

Communication

Was that a sentence? First sentences, at around 18 to 24 months, tend to rely on just the facts—two words, usually a noun and a verb (“Dog go”). Most toddlers stick to these simple sentences for several months before they leap ahead into more complex sentences of three to five or more words. Parents often understand their toddler’s familiar speech, which can sound like gibberish to others. But don’t worry if even you aren’t able to understand everything; just be patient and responsive and her pronunciation should improve.

Social

It’s at about this time that some (but not all) children develop a strong preference for one parent over the other. This favoritism can last for a few days or longer. Then it may reverse itself. The feelings often follow a separation, such as a trip. Although this development may hurt your or your partner’s feelings, know that it’s a natural part of learning to separate—and to love. And it’s only temporary. A welcome social development: Your child is starting to become more interested in playing (with real interaction) with other children.