24-Month-Old: Happy Second Birthday!


Happy Second Birthday!


Toddler Activities
More Than 35 Indoor Games and Activities for Toddlers

Congratulations! At 2 years old, your little one might not seem so little anymore – but your child will always be your baby, however much time passes. You might associate toddlers of this age with tantrums and the ‘terrible twos’, but there are so many exciting things happening now you’ve reached 24 months, and they more than make up for these challenges. Read on to learn more about what milestones could be in store for you and your 2-year-old this month and get tips on activities to support your child’s development, as well as some ideas for educational toys and gifts if you’re planning a party for your birthday boy or girl.

Toddler Development Milestones

No two 2-year-olds are quite the same, and your toddler will continue to develop at his or her own pace. However, you may see some of these development milestones at 24 months old:

Emotional Development: Tantrums

There’s a reason why 2-year-olds have a reputation for sometimes being difficult. Around this age, your toddler may throw a tantrum when asked to stop doing something (because it's lunchtime or bedtime) or make a fuss when you refuse to buy something that’s caught his or her eye in the supermarket. Welcome to the ‘terrible twos’. Your child is probably experiencing a lot of emotions he or she can't handle or even express right now, and tantrums often occur when your toddler feels frustrated by being unable to communicate feelings to you. Tantrums are perfectly natural around this age, and almost all children will have them occasionally, especially when they're tired or hungry.

Speech: Expanded Vocabulary

With a rapidly increasing vocabulary, your 2-year-old may be able to say quite a few words by now, as well as a few simple sentences consisting of one or two words. They won’t necessarily be grammatically correct, but you’ll understand them anyway. Your toddler may understand simple questions like ‘Where’s your drink’ and could even start asking some questions too, like ‘drink mummy’.

Movement: Walking With Confidence

Look who's walking like an expert now! Soon your child may even start to run. Before you know it, you’ll be struggling to keep up!

Motor Skills: Balance and Coordination

Your 2-year-old might be able to kick a ball, climb up and down furniture unassisted and jump with both feet leaving the floor at the same time. Seeing this shows you that your toddler’s ability to coordinate and control arm and leg movements is improving.

How to Support Your Toddler’s Development

These are a few steps you can take to help foster your 2-year-old’s development:

  • Help with sentence building. Your toddler may be starting to put words together to make simple sentences by now. You can help with this in a positive way, by filling in the missing gaps. For example, if your child says ‘food gone’ you could reply ‘Yes, the food is gone – you’ve eaten it all up. Well done!’ Before you know it, you may start to have little conversations.

  • Introduce sounds with meaning. Not all speech consists of words. If you don’t already, start using ‘symbolic sounds’ with your child. For example, ‘oops’ when you drop something, or animal sounds like ‘woof woof’ or ‘meow’ when showing your toddler a picture of a dog or cat.

  • Dress up. At this age your child may enjoy role play and make-believe, so give that blossoming imagination an extra boost with a little dressing up. Your toddler’s dressing up box can contain any old hats, gloves, gowns and other garments and accessories. Make sure that there are no loose cords, ribbons or anything else that might be a choking hazard.

  • Consider starting potty training. At 2 years old your toddler may be ready to start potty training, but don’t worry if you aren’t at this stage just yet – some children start later than others. Signs of readiness to start potty training include

  • showing an interest in using the potty

  • letting you know that he or she has a wet or soiled nappy

  • telling you or otherwise letting you know when he or she is peeing

  • gaps between wetting nappies are at least an hour

  • knowing, and may even tell you in advance, when it’s time to pee.

Party Time: Birthday Gifts and Activities for Your 2-Year-Old

While you never need an excuse to encourage activities and games that help with the learning or reinforcement of new skills, your toddler’s birthday is still a great opportunity to get in some educational toys and books to help boost your little one’s development. If you (or friends and relatives) are searching for birthday game and gift ideas for your 2-year-old, look no further! Make sure you have a safe, child-proofed space for your party guests to play in and try a few of these suggestions:

5 Birthday Activities for Your 2-Year-Old

  • Bubble popping. Blow bubbles and encourage your 2-year-old and the other little guests to chase and pop them. They won’t need much encouragement!

  • Pass the ball. A simpler and safer version of pass the parcel (less preparation and no potential hazardous string or ribbons). When the music stops, so does the ball. Whoever’s holding it can have a treat.

  • Face painting. Maybe you, a family member or the parent of another child attending the party has an artistic streak. Your birthday boy or girl and the other children at the party will love having their faces decorated to look like cute animals or their favourite cartoon characters.

  • Follow the leader. Kids learn by imitation and love to copy. Line the party guests up behind an adult who can lead them around the house or garden while the music plays. Add some funny actions like arm waves, skipping, jumping and leg kicks for extra giggles.

  • Parachute. Buy a ‘parachute’ or cut a circle out of an old bedsheet, and the possibilities are almost limitless. Just a few examples: Adults can hold the edges of the parachute and float it up and down while the children try and run under it. A child can sit in the centre and be lifted a few centimetres and gently set down again, or the children can hold the edges and try to shake off some ball thrown into the middle.

Educational Toys that Make Great Gifts for a 2-Year-Old

  • Toys for pretend play. Some of the best toys for a 2-year-old include things that can be used for make-believe, like a toy telephone, doll house, dressing-up clothes, tea sets or ‘kids’ versions of everyday items used by grown-ups, such as workbenches, kitchen appliances, gardening tools.

  • Toys that encourage creativity. Finger paints, games and puzzles, simple wooden jigsaw puzzles or children’s musical instruments such as drums, triangles, whistles and xylophones.

  • Toys that help with logic and quiet play. Mini table and chair, abacus, construction toys, pegboards, blackboard/whiteboard and chalk/pens.

  • Toys to encourage physical activity. Beanbags, balls, trike or 3-wheeled scooter, balance bike, swing, slide or see-saw.

  • Books. Reading to your toddler is great for bonding, as well as developing speech and comprehension. The best books for your 2-year-old could be ones with plenty of pictures and a simple story for you to read, or not – you might find that your child prefers to just look at the pictures and talk about them.

Mealtimes for Your 24-Month-Old Toddler

Your 2-year-old toddler needs a variety of healthy foods. Offer three small meals and up to two healthy snacks a day, with a healthy mix of the four main food groups:

  • Fruit and vegetables. At least five portions of fruit and veg a day are recommended. this can include almost any fruit and vegetables, including fresh, frozen, canned and dried. One small (150 ml) glass of unsweetened fruit juice can also count as one of the servings, but it’s best to give it together with a main meal to minimise tooth decay caused by the natural sugars it contains.

  • Starchy foods. Potato, rice, pasta, porridge, quinoa, bread and oatmeal are just some of the starchy foods that can deliver energy, fibre and essential vitamins and minerals to your 2-year-old.

  • Protein. An important energy source, protein is found in meat, fish, eggs, beans, pulses, fish, tofu and other foods. These foods are also rich in important nutrients like iron and zinc.

  • Dairy or alternatives. Milk and other dairy products like cheese and yoghurt are an important source of energy and calcium for your growing toddler. If your child has a dairy-free diet, alternatives like unsweetened calcium-fortified soya, almond and oat drinks can be given instead. Rice drinks are unsuitable under the age of 5 years old due to their arsenic content.

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Semi-Skimmed Milk at 24 Months

Until now, your toddler has needed whole milk and full-fat dairy products to supply the energy needed to grow and be active. From the age of 2 years old – as long as your child is eating a healthy balanced diet and growing well for his or her age – semi-skimmed milk can also be introduced. Talk to your health visitor and/or doctor if you have any doubts. Keep in mind that at 24 months your child still can’t get all the fat he or she needs from skimmed or 1% fat milk, although you can still use these for cooking foods that your child will eat. These lower-fat options are only suitable for kids over the age of 5 years old.

Eating Together

Although at 2 years old your child may be too little to behave perfectly at the table, it’s never too early to encourage good habits and introduce your little one to eating together with the rest of the family. Eating together can also help a fussy eater by turning mealtimes into a more positive experience:

  • Have family meals. Sit down at the table together at least once a day for a family meal. Take this opportunity to discuss the day and involve your toddler in conversations – even if your child isn’t saying much yet, he or she may be paying more attention than you think.

  • Eat healthily yourself. Seeing you eating and enjoying all kinds of nutritious foods will make your child more likely to want to try the healthy foods you offer him or her as well.

  • Treat dinnertime as a ritual. Perhaps assign a specific time for dinner (or whatever the main meal of the day is in your family), set the table, and have all the family sit around together without any phones or distractions. This is a wonderful opportunity to bring the family together and can encourage your little one to look forward to dinner as a special family time.

Meal Ideas for 2-Year-Olds

Not sure what to serve your 24-month-old? See our roundup of lunch ideas your toddler will love and check out the daily menu suggestions below:

Daily Menu for a 2-Year-Old

How Much Sleep Does a 24-Month-Old Toddler Need?

At 2 years old your little one may sleep around 11 to 14 hours in a 24-hours period, including 1 or 2 daytime naps.

When Bedtimes Don’t Go Smoothly

Sleep patterns can change at any time and even good sleepers can go through periods of what’s sometimes referred to as sleep regression, where children temporarily find it harder to get off to sleep. There are many possible causes of this, from teething to disruptive events such as moving house. Here are some tips to help your reluctant sleeper get a good night’s rest. It could be worth giving these a try before considering more targeted sleep training techniques:

  • Keep to a predictable routine. A calming going-to-bed ritual could make bedtime into something for your child to look forward to every evening. It might include a relaxing bath followed by teeth brushing, a change into clean pyjamas and a bedtime story.

  • Deal with hunger pangs. If your toddler occasionally complains of being hungry at night, it’s OK to offer a bowl of cereal with milk, as long as you brush his or her teeth afterwards.

  • Use a nightlight if necessary. If a fear of the dark is making it hard for your child to sleep or be alone in bed, using a nightlight or leaving a landing light on could be the solution.

  • Avoid screens before bed. Shutting off televisions and other screens – even if your child isn’t looking directly at them – is a good idea in the 30 to 60 minutes before your 2-year-old goes to sleep. The light emitted by devices with screens can disrupt your child’s sleep rhythms.

  • Reduce daytime sleep. Overly long naps in the afternoon could prevent your child from becoming property tired by bedtime.

  • Keep interaction to a minimum at night. If your toddler wakes in the night, leave the lights off and do your best to avoid eye contact and conversation.

A Day in the Life of Your Toddler

Now that you have a 2-year-old, here’s what a day in your home might look like:

24-Month-Old Daily Routine

Your Toddler’s Health and Safety: Water Safety

When it comes to playing in or near water, you need to be particularly vigilant to keep your toddler safe and reduce the risk of drowning. Here are some water safety tips:

  • An adult must be there to supervise. Whether your toddler is learning to swim, splashing in a shallow pool, or simply taking a bath, you or another responsible adult must be paying close attention at all times. Never leave your baby in the care of another child such as an older sibling. Always drain bathwater immediately after use.

  • Pay constant attention. Avoid distractions like reading or using your phone while your child is in or around water, even if a lifeguard is present.

  • Get in the water with your child. If your child is in a pool, get in the water yourself and keep within arm’s reach or closer. Besides being safer, swimming with your toddler can be a fun bonding opportunity!

  • Use life jackets. If you’re on a boat on a lake, sea, or river, or you’re doing activities close to the water, make sure your little one is wearing a life jacket that fits.

  • If you have a garden pond or pool, make sure it is fenced on all sides and that the gate is closed at all times. Keep your toddler out of the pool area except when closely unsupervised.

  • Empty paddling pools after use. A paddling pool can be fun for your water baby, but if you use one ensure you empty it after use and put it away.

FAQs at a Glance

Your child develops at his or her own unique pace, but at around 24 months old your toddler may be able to

  • walk with confidence or even run
  • kick a ball
  • jump with two feet off the ground
  • put words together to make simple sentences
  • understand simple questions and sentences.

Your Life as a Parent: Handling Tantrums

Even if you've been told about the frequent tantrums that can erupt around now, it can still be a shock when your normally good-tempered child suddenly becomes prone to bouts of screaming, kicking, fist pounding, and more. What's helpful to know is that tantrums are simply a way for your toddler to deal with conflict or emotions he or she is unable to articulate, such as fear, frustration, and anger. The good news is you can minimise these tantrums with a few strategies:

  • Find out what’s behind the outburst. If your child is just tired, hungry or in need of some attention, a cuddle, a rest or a quick snack may be enough to restore peace to your world.

  • Distract your toddler. Your 2-year-old has quite a short attention span, so try to use that to your advantage by offering something else quickly before a tantrum has the chance to begin. Start a new activity or change the environment by moving your child to a new room, for example.

  • Reward good behaviour. If your toddler does something right or behaves well, offer plenty of praise and attention.

  • Try to keep your cool. Shouting and losing your temper won’t stop the tantrum. It’s better just to stay as calm as you can and ignore any judgmental looks from passers-by –they probably threw the odd tantrum themselves when they were the same age as your baby!

  • Pick your battles. If it’s a matter of safety like buckling up in the car child seat, it’s worth putting your foot down; but if your child simply wants to wear a different coloured top, then it may not be worth the fight.

  • Give your toddler choices. You may be able to prevent some tantrums by offering two choices you are happy with and letting your child pick. Instead of telling your toddler it’s time to get dressed, for instance, ask whether he or she wants to wear the blue socks or the red ones.

Checklist for This Month

  • Schedule and go to your toddler’s health and development review. It’s time for your toddler’s 2-year health and development review, so get ready by writing down any questions you may have about your toddler’s health or development. The review is usually performed by a health visitor or, if your child is already at nursery school or playgroup, the review may be done there. Before the review you should be sent an ‘Ages and Stages’ questionnaire on your child’s development, which your health visitor can help you fill in if you’re unsure about any of the questions. This review, usually held at 2 to 2-and-a-half years, is a chance to discuss and receive advice on topics including:

    • General development such as movement, social development, speech, hearing and vision

    • Growth, diet and exercise

    • Sleeping habits and behaviour

    • Dental hygiene such as tooth-brushing and visits to the dentist

    • Vaccinations.

  • Have a party. Wow – your little one is 2 years old already! This is such a big milestone, so if you haven’t already, organise a birthday party. Your close family will love this chance to shower your toddler with birthday wishes.

  • Plan your holidays carefully. If you’re set to go on holiday with your toddler soon, then get planning to make sure you’re fully prepared. Check on your hotel and airline reservations, get everything packed a few days in advance, and make sure you have enough toys and games to keep your child occupied on your journey, as changes in routine can be difficult for toddlers.

How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

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