What Your 2-Year-Old Should Be Doing

Oh, 2 years old. The notorious age of temper tantrums, potty training, and picky eating. It sounds like a bowlful of fun, right?

We got lucky when it came to raising a two-year-old when it came to tantrums. We had some tears, but we didn’t really get the on-the-floor screaming that some parents get. Our son was a picky eater, but had a solid group of healthy things he ate and I simply offered those on a routine basis (pork, chicken, green beans, grapes, apples, bread…on rotation). The big thing for us was his speech – we started him in speech therapy and worked hard through the entire year to get him up to speed. I think the speech struggle kept me from focusing too hard on anything else.  We didn’t touch potty training and, like I said, I was too wrapped up in his words to worry about serving a wide variety of foods.

I still had so many questions when raising a two year old – should I be focusing on potty training? How much sleep should he be getting? Mentally, what should he be able to do? Here is what your 2-year-old should be doing:

  • 2 year old milestones 1 of 11

    What should your 2-year-old know? What should she be doing physically? Click through for a complete guide to toddler development!

  • Potty Training 2 of 11

    You may start potty training at two years if your child demonstrates readiness with interest in the potty, longer periods of dry diapers, and understanding that going to the bathroom means a mess in the pants. You can start by simply offering the potty if you notice your child needs to go to the bathroom, or reading books on going to the bathroom. Do not stress if your child is not ready either physically or mentally - potty training is a complex skill that relies heavily on the physical readiness of sphincter muscles and nerve communication. 



  • Doctor visits and vaccines 3 of 11

    At the 18-month-old check-up, the doctor will check your child's height and weight and head circumference. Depending on the vaccine schedule you follow, your child may receive vaccines for DTap and Hepatitis A. If you didn't complete the autism screening at the 18 month visit, you will probably complete the questionnaire this time. This is a great time to talk about potty training readiness and tactics.


  • Car seat safety 4 of 11

    Congratulations! Your toddler has reached the AAP recommendation that children remain rear-facing until 2 years of age or until the maximum weight of rear-facing. However, she should remain in a five-point harness convertible carseat.


  • The value of sleep 5 of 11

    Your 2-year-old should still be getting around 12-14 hours of sleep to help with all of this development, including one solid nap that should last 1-3 hours. Many children transition to a toddler bed or floor bed at this age to reduce the risk of climbing out of the crib.


  • The art of self expression 6 of 11

    More than likely, you have quite the talker on your hands! Remember the days when you couldn't wait for her to talk? Now she's putting 2-3 words together, following 2-3 step commands, and learning to engage in conversation. The majority of her words should be understood by a stranger. Keep reading to her and explaining day-to-day activities as a way to grow her vocabulary. If you are noticing problems with pronunciation or amount of words or a backslide in verbal communication, call your pediatrician for a consultation.


  • The battle cry for independence 7 of 11

    Feel like you can't even hit 9am without a tantrum? Totally normal. She's testing the boundaries and exhibiting defiant behavior now that she has definite preferences and the words to say "NO!"  Often times, the wailing and kicking is simply her way of communicating anger and frustration since she still lacks the verbal communication. Exhaustion and hunger are also triggers of these wild meltdowns, so assess the situation before disciplining.


  • The Time Out Era 8 of 11

    When those temper tantrums occur, what do you do? It can be conflicting to begin, but discipline helps your child learn boundaries and rules. Time outs are a great way to remove the stress of the situation and give your toddler space to calm down. Of course, you know your child best and it is important to focus on what works - reward system, time outs, or distraction. Simply be consistent in your discipline efforts.


  • Raising a good eater 9 of 11

    By two years old, your toddler should eat 3 balanced meals per day, plus 1-2 snacks. Picky eating may begin as a way for your toddler to gain control. Don't stress about how much your toddler eats or doesn't eat - toddlers are great at self-regulating appetites and they need less since they are growing more slowly. She only needs roughly 1000-1300 calories per day, so just make sure to offer a balanced meal with all major food groups each time, even if that means her dipping chicken into a sauce or eating only apples as her fruit for a month straight.


  • Let’s be social 10 of 11

    Let the play dates begin! At this age, your toddler is very aware of her peers and while still using "parallel play," the kids will start interacting together. She may have trouble sharing, but it's a good exercise in taking turns and being polite. Twice a week for an hour or two is a good rhythm for playdates, allowing her to explore both independent play and group play to grow her social skills.


  • Bumps and scrapes, oh my! 11 of 11

    At 2 years old, your toddler should be at full speed! Running, kicking a ball, carrying objects, and walking down stairs are all major motor skills that should be mastered this year. She's far more active, so start stocking up in bandaids! She should be able to draw lines and scribble colors for fine motor skills and she should be mastering the art of eating with forks and spoons.


As always, this varies by child. If you have concerns, please see your pediatrician.



Article Posted 3 years Ago

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