Caring for your 2-year old

Birthday number two marks baby’s desire for independence, articulated often with lovely words like “mine,” “no” and “I do it!” Days are filled with exploration, pushing and pulling, exploration, filling and dumping, exploration, going up and going down and exploration! Because of a limited ability to communicate, frustration can cause emotions to fluctuate quickly, to the point of tantrums. Look for beginning signs of the ability to demonstrate sharing. Baby is still primarily possessive, but at least offers to share before snatching back each treasure.

Developmental characteristics:

  • Imitates parents and is hungry for affection and attention.
  • Learns words by using sounds like b, p, m, t, d, n, h, k and g, to help organize word sounds.
  • Can say between 50-100 words using two-to-three-word sentences.
  • Continues to play more alongside than with friends.
  • Needs time to change activities and can be destructive when mad.
  • Shows interest in dressing, brushing hair and brushing teeth.
  • Cannot sit still or play with a toy for more than a few minutes.
  • Still holds on to stair railings when traveling steps.
  • Begins to experiment with touch, smell and taste.
  • Many become potty trained at this age.
  • Can walk forward and backward, and stoop or squat with confidence.
  • Tosses or rolls a large ball and bends over to pick up a toy without falling.
  • Knows toys by name.
  • Likes books, easy stories and rhymes, and also hums and attempts to sing.
  • Points to eyes, ears, or nose when asked.
  • Repeats words and simple stories.
  • Interested in learning how to use things.

Supporting actions and activities:

  • Present connections like salt and pepper, and bread and butter
  • Talk about how things work.
  • Help identify noises like a vacuum, dog, cat, car and truck.
  • Accept simple assistance with chores like picking up toys and books.
  • Encourage naming things.
  • Expand speaking ability by adding new words to baby’s spoken sentences.
  • Provide clear and simple choices.
  • Don’t expect successful sharing or taking turns.
  • Avoid defining what to draw. Dexterity and fun are more important.
  • Provide safe outlets for physical activity and exploration like boxes, barrels, tires, push-pull toys, and ride-on and ride-in toys.
  • Start teaching cause and effect.
  • Play “follow the leader” and sing sequential songs.
  • Play “you are a mirror,” by facing children and asking them to imitate your actions. Then reverse roles.
  • Accommodate messy mixing, sifting, pouring, stirring and shaping.
  • Glue things together with a messy glitter glue stick.
  • Paint with pudding, icing or whipped cream. They’re safe when eaten.
  • Use icing to glue cereal, crackers or fruit to make pictures or mosaics.
  • Glue paper plates together with beans captured within and decorate them to make tambourines.
  • String large-holed beads or macaroni onto shoestrings.
  • Recruit kitchen help with scrubbing potatoes or snapping beans.
  • Make up sound games and model effects like moo, woof, quack, etc.
  • Use props like a stuffed puppy when reading a book aloud about puppies

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