Happy birthday to your now two-year-old! Your child will be a bundle of energy and fun at this age, becoming more independent and chattier by the day, wearing her emotions on her sleeve, and keeping you busy with lots of make-believe games.
Every child will develop at their own rate but here is what you can expect at 24 months along with some tips on how you can support your little one’s development.
Feeding and sleeping
Your child will continue to need around 13 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, split into around 11-12 hours at night and an afternoon nap of 1-2 hours. Some children may have a shorter nap at this age, or you may even notice your little one starts to refuse her nap altogether. If you can keep it in – or at least encourage a period of quiet play at ‘naptime’ – you will notice your little one is a lot happier and less grouchy in the afternoon.
You may have already made the transition, or you may be thinking about moving your toddler from her cot into a bed around now. This can cause some disruption to everyone’s sleep as she explores her new-found freedom, but many children go through this transition seamlessly. Some beds come with raised sides, or you can buy add-on side rails to prevent any bumps in the night.
Keep an eye out for those upper second molars around this age as they can often be responsible for unexpected wakefulness and discomfort during the night.
Where food is concerned, continue to offer your toddler three meals per day, a couple of healthy snacks, and around 400ml of whole or semi-skimmed cow’s milk or breastmilk or two servings of foods made from milk (cheese, yoghurt, etc.), alongside her vitamin drops. Avoid anything high in salt or sugar and avoid adding these to her meals or offering drinks other than water or milk, which should ideally be offered in an open cup.
Variety is key when it comes to nutrition but at the same time, try not to panic if your little one goes through a phase of only wanting certain types of food or refusing colourful vegetables. This is a normal part of her exercising her independence and control. While frustrating, it usually passes once she sees other members of the family enjoying a range of delicious and nutritious things at the dinner table.
At 24-months-old, your child may be saying in excess of 50 recognisable words and possibly as many as 100. She may also be able to string together basic sentences to communicate her wants and needs, or just to point things out to you. You might also notice that she asks a lot of questions over the course of the day as she tries to work out what is going on around her.
Your toddler will be able to imitate the sounds of familiar animals – dogs, sheep, cows, etc. so enjoy the musical medley when it happens!
At two-years-old, your child’s emotions will feel huge to her, and she will not have the ability to regulate them in the same way an adult can. For this reason, it is important to acknowledge her feelings, no matter how silly they might seem. Once she feels heard and acknowledged, you may then be able to distract or soothe her away from the cause of her upset. Try also to use words to describe her feelings – labelling the emotion as ‘angry’ or ‘sad’ – as this can help her to communicate them to you before a meltdown occurs.
Senses and physical development
Your toddler will be here, there, and everywhere at this age – climbing, running, jumping, and exploring all that her little legs can do. While exhausting for parents, it is great to offer her plenty of opportunity to keep active and let off some steam.
You may notice that your child wants to arrange things in a certain way or gets upset if something is not done to her specification. This is a normal part of her development, and she will enjoy sorting and arranging things into their place.
There is a huge amount of variation in age when it comes to potty training so try not to worry if your little one is not showing any interest just yet. The more ready she is when the time comes, the easier and quicker the process will be when it comes to ditching those nappies.
Playing with your twenty-four-month-old
It is a great idea to encourage the development of your little one’s social skills at every opportunity. Play dates with other children allow her to work on her turn-taking skills, conversational abilities, and empathy. At this age, she is unlikely to want to share or play co-operatively just yet, but this will come with time and practice.
Hide-and-seek is fun for your child at this age, as she will be developing an understanding of her size in relation to the things around her. She will take joy in hiding in cupboards, behind chairs, and under tables. Watch out for the inevitable bump though, as she misjudges her size from time-to-time.
You can support your two-year-olds imagination by playing dressing up games, making your own masks and accessories from the recycling box, and engaging in lots of interactive role-play together.
Doodling and colouring with crayons will likely appeal to your two-year-old and will help to develop the muscles in her fingers and hands as well as her fine motor skills. You can also support the development of her motor skills through building and stacking games, Play Doh and painting.
Reading will hopefully be a normal part of your daily routine, both at bedtime and during quiet periods throughout the day. The skills that your little one will develop through reading with you are vast – everything from language development to imagination, building concentration to recognising the shape of letters and numbers.
While the above indicates what you can expect to see your toddler doing this month, it is important to keep in mind that all children are unique and will develop at their own pace. If you have any concerns about your baby’s development, talk to your doctor or health visitor.
Jen Dowding, Baby massage and baby yoga instructor, Basking Babies Laindon & Orsett