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Toddler Care: Your 24 Month Old Toddler

Mar 01, 2022 | 2 Minutes Read

Your toddler is officially 2! They will be old enough to understand some of what this means, if only for the presents and cake. It’s also a milestone in terms of their independence and increasing range of skills. Their ability won’t always match their intent, though, so be prepared for some outbursts of frustration when they can’t achieve what they want to.

Two-year old toddlers really are a work in progress and it pays for parents to have a fairly relaxed attitude. Remember your influence as their parent is not all-powerful. Although your contribution to their behavior is significant, they are their own distinct and unique little person. They won’t always behave in ways you approve of, and there may even be moments when you don’t like them very much. But in the full spectrum of all they receive from you, short periods feeling discouraged as their parent will be harmless.

You certainly won’t feel lonely when you have a 2-year-old around. There’s going to be lots of chatter this month when your toddler will be able to string 2 to 3 words together in a sentence. That means conversations have meaning. You’ll be reminded every day of just how far your toddler has come in 2 short years. Give yourself a pat on the back. Raising children is hard work and many of the rewards in parenting are not seen until our children grow up. But at 2-years-old, there are clear developmental milestones which cannot have been achieved without significant parental input.

Growth and development at 24 months old

At 2, your toddler will be playing make-believe games. They’ll attempt to dress themselves—not always successfully. They will put hats on their head and walk around in your shoes. They’ll have imaginary conversations with their toys and their pets. Listen carefully because you’ll hear yourself replicated through them. They’ll also be possessive and although they may offer their toys to a friend during play time, they’ll just as quickly want them back. They will have a short fuse and not much patience which will cause them to become easily frustrated. Hold back on the refereeing role when you can and don’t be too quick to intervene in these dramas. Give them the opportunity to negotiate but be ready to step in if needed.

Your 2-year-old is also at a stage where persistence is a familiar trait. If they want something from you, they are likely to whine and complain until you give in. Although this provides an immediate solution, it does reinforce the behavior. Your toddler will learn it is a remarkably effective way of getting what they want. So, plan beforehand and be consistent in managing their demands. Giving in is not an effective strategy in raising healthy children.

Your toddler can kick, pull, empty, examine and poke at items now, often all at the same time. They will question how things work and will look to you for all the answers. Don’t feel you need to reach for the internet for a deep-dive explanation just yet; they’ll only listen to the first 3 or 4 words and then they’ll be off on another topic. Your long-winded explanations will fall on deaf ears so keep your replies short and to the point.

All this activity is being fueled by a brain which is now almost at 75% of its adult volume. Over the next 18 years the remaining 25% will grow its full size.

Play and interaction at 24 months old

Dressing up, brushing hair, and attempts at grooming are all popular games for 2-year-olds. They will enjoy looking at their reflection in the mirror and make silly faces at themselves. They won’t be sitting and playing for long periods of time because their attention span won’t allow it. Instead, they’ll move from one activity to another. They’ll be absorbed for a little while and then move to the next activity. They’ll also want your attention and for you to be involved in their play.

Affection takes on a new meaning at this age. Be prepared for spontaneous hugs and kisses when they get the urge to show you that they love you. Just when you think they are getting bigger and don’t need you so close all the time, your 2-year-old will run to your side and want to be picked up.

Incorporate books and reading every day. Take your 2-year-old to the local library and investigate if they have reading groups. Watch your toddler turn the pages of a book, navigate a keyboard, and look for ways they can play with different technologies. The remote controls will certainly get a workout this month and may go missing! Be prepared for your toddler to have some rudimentary grasp of what the buttons do; they will be watching your every move and will remember a lot more than you might think.

What you can expect at 24 months old 

Some sleep disturbances are common at this age when nightmares emerge. These are influenced by a toddler’s imagination running overtime and their inability to comprehend what is real and what is not. It can be very distressing for parents to witness their child become frightened by a dream. Separating fact from fantasy is easy for adults who have the cognitive ability to reason, but for a 2-year-old, this is almost impossible. Reassurance, comfort, and empathy are all essential responses. There may be times when you might need to lie down with your toddler until they calm down and drop off to sleep.

Watch your toddler build on their repertoire of gross motor skills. They will be able to run, walk backwards, dance, and hop. They may be able to stand on one leg and balance for a moment or two. They will also be able to hum and sing and enjoy participating in group singing. Your toddler will be able to remember the words to common nursery rhymes if they have been exposed to them. They’ll also recognize familiar landmarks, shop and business logos, and associate traveling routes with frequent destinations. They’ll also notice if something is new in the house, if furniture has been moved, or if some item has been relocated to another area.

This is an observant age for toddlers who are intent on taking everything in and storing it away for future use. Be prepared to be amazed by your toddler’s ability to retain information and then present it to you again when you least expect it. Visits to grandparents, outings to stores, and the simplest activities will leave an indelible mark on your toddler’s memory.

Food and nutrition at 24 months old

Broaden your toddler’s diet this month and make foods they haven’t been exposed to before. Don’t assume they won’t eat new things; if you and the rest of the family are eating it, it won’t be wasted. If your toddler is a reluctant eater, try an alternative method of serving it. Instead of handing the family full plates with food already served, give everyone an empty plate. Serving bowls and dishes can be placed in the middle of the table and each person serves themselves. Pay no attention to your 2-year-old and let them watch everyone else filling their plate. They’ll soon protest that they are missing out and want to get in on the action.

Turn off the television and computer during mealtimes and make a point of everyone sitting at the table. Take turns talking about your day and involve your toddler as well. Make them a part of the meal, but not the focus. Many 2-year-olds learn they get more attention if they don’t eat than if they do.

Keeping your toddler healthy at 24 months old

Don’t be alarmed if your toddler is suddenly shy this month. This is nature’s way of protecting them from potential harm; they are responding in a way their body is dictating. They will also return to you for frequent emotional boosts if they are in an unfamiliar environment or just feel unsure. Avoid pushing your toddler away or minimizing their feelings. Part of your role is to support their emotional and social health. Although the time will eventually come when they can draw on their own emotional reserves, for now they will need your help.

If your toddler still has a pacifier, this could be the time to consider stopping. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends stopping use by 2- to 4- years-old. If they need it to go to sleep consider replacing it with a special doll, teddy bear or other transitional object. Pacifiers can impact speech and language development and prolong the action of sucking long after a child relies on it as a survival response.

General tips

  • If your toddler is toilet training, expect some accidents as they learn what is involved. Illness, a change in the family, a household move, or beginning childcare can all mean some backwards steps. Be matter-of-fact as you clean up and avoid doling out punishment in any shape or form. Your 2-year-old will not be doing this to make your life difficult; they are still small and learning.
  • If its summer have some meals outside. Mess takes on another dimension when you’re outside and your toddler will love the novelty and change in routine. Let them help you set up a picnic and make a fuss of their attempts.
  • If you haven’t taken your toddler to have their teeth examined yet, do so this month. If they are still using a bottle, then you should strongly consider stopping it. Tooth decay from sucking on bottles of milk, juice, or other sweet substances is common and completely avoidable.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.