The Growing Child: 2-Year-Olds

2 year old running happily in a park.

How much will my child grow?

After a child's second birthday, the rate of growth continues to slow. Two-year-olds are very active and begin to lose the appearance of a baby. While all children may grow at a different rate, the following is the average for 2-year-old boys and girls:

  • Weight. Average gain of about 4 to 6 pounds per year

  • Height. Average growth of about 2 to 3 inches each year

What can my child do at this age?

As your child continues to grow, you will notice new and exciting abilities that develop. While children may progress at different rates, these are some of the common milestones your child may reach in this age group:

  • Walks and runs well

  • May jump awkwardly

  • Starts to throw, kick, and catch balls

  • Can stand momentarily on one foot

  • Climbs on playground structures

  • Turns doorknobs and lids

  • Starts to ride a tricycle

  • Builds towers of 10 blocks by 3 years old

  • All 20 teeth appear by 3 years old

  • Appetite decreases greatly

  • Has developed right- or left-handedness by 3 years old

  • Turns pages in a book, one at a time

  • Has good thumb and finger control

  • Can drink through a straw

  • Starts to have bladder and bowel control

  • May still take an afternoon nap

  • May sleep 11 to 14 hours in a 24-hour period (including naps) 

What can my child say?

Speech development is very exciting for parents as they watch their children become social beings that can interact with others. Speech at this age is becoming clearer and the child starts to form sentences. Every child develops speech at his or her own rate, but these are some of the common milestones in this age group:

  • Says about 200 to 300 words

  • Starts to put 3 words together (subject, verb, object), for example "Me want ball"

  • Names pictures

  • May name some body parts

What does my child understand?

While children may progress at different rates, these are some of the common milestones children may reach in this age group:

  • Understands possession, "Mine"

  • Can tell his or her own age and name

  • Knows if he or she is a boy or girl

  • Counts up to 3 objects

  • May start to problem solve

How does my child interact with others?

While every child is unique and will develop different personalities, these are some of the common behavioral traits that may be present in your child:

  • Shows independence from parents

  • Continues to play along side others without interacting, called parallel play

  • Acts as if other children are objects or toys

  • Does not understand sharing

  • Is negative and says "no" often

  • Temper tantrums may continue

  • Helps to get himself or herself dressed and undressed

How to help increase your child's learning and emotional security

Consider the following as ways to foster the emotional security of your 2-year-old:

  • Let your child have a choice when possible. For example, say, "Do you want a banana or an orange?"

  • Let your child help around the house, such as dusting, sweeping, or sorting laundry.

  • Read picture and story books with your child.

  • Help your child learn to wash his or her hands.

  • Let your child try to take off his or her own clothes and put on some simple clothes such as clothes without buttons or zippers.

  • Let your child play with blocks, balls, crayons, and/or clay. Supervise play so that your child does not put objects in his or her mouth or ears.

  • Sing songs, play children's music, and dance with your child.

  • Look at family pictures with your child and tell a story.

  • Make cut-outs in a large cardboard box to pretend it is a house or car.

  • Use toys during bath time, or have fun pouring water from one cup to another.

  • Let your child talk on a toy phone, or say a few words while you are talking on a real phone.

  • Play "follow the leader" games.

  • Teach body parts while dressing and bathing.

  • Let your child put stickers on paper to make a design.

  • Count things out loud to teach your child about numbers such as count eggs in the carton, stairs as you go up, or fingers and toes.

  • Play with soap bubbles.

  • Use toys that sort shapes, such as a circle, square, or triangle.

  • Give your child a doll or teddy bear.

  • Read your child a book of rhymes.

  • Give your child a toy to ride.

  • Limit television and video time.

  • Provide out-of-home social experiences.