2-year-old Toddler. Milestones and Signs of Developmental Delay.

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Dr. Sandro Cantoni. Pediatrician.

Reading time: 5 minutes

At every age, your infant and toddler play, learn, talk, and move. Seeing when and how it does these things is critical. Because from this you can know if the baby’s development is normal or not.

This observation of development can be done by any parent just fine. It’s not a matter of doing special investigations or tests, but just watching the baby’s movement and some simple daily activities. 

In fact, I believe that parents are the best people to check the baby’s development. Because they know him perfectly in all its facets. The parent can pick up on nuances of behavior that the pediatrician often fails to detect.

What are the developmental milestones?

The developmental milestones are the things that most babies do at a certain age.

Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t reach all the developmental milestones for his age right away.  

Every baby is different. Some babies develop faster, others are a little slower. But this is often normal. 

Some babies walk at 10 months, others at 18 months. 

The achievement of developmental milestones also depends on gestational age. If the baby was born one or two months premature, then he or she will reach the milestones one or two months later. 

If you think that your baby’s development is not normal, ask your pediatrician for a checkup. 

Don’t wait until the next checkup in a few months. Do the same if you have concerns about how your baby is talking, playing, acting or moving, or any other concerns.

Don’t wait. Make your doubts and concerns clear to the pediatrician.  

If there are problems, early detection and early intervention are critical. 

What are the developmental milestones for a 2-year-old toddler?

Motor skills 

The child walks, runs, and avoids obstacles. He stops and starts again without difficulty. 

He also climbs and descends stairs, often without holding on to the handrail.

But sometimes he takes alternating steps. 

The child leans forward to pick up a toy, then stands up again without the help of his hands. 

He pushes large toys with wheels and manages to sit on a tricycle, pushing it with his feet, without using the pedals. He can also go backward by pulling a toy, such as a toy car with wheels.

The child throws a ball and kicks it. He can jump with his feet together.

He manages to climb onto a low chair or piece of furniture, or onto the couch, then he gets down easily. 

The child is able to pick up small objects accurately and uses both hands.

Right-handed children prefer to use their right hand. 

He manages to build a tower of 6-7 cubes. 

For eating, the child is able to use a spoon and a glass.

He holds a pencil with his thumb and first 2-3 fingers, and scribbles, usually in circular motions. 

Intellectual Development. Communication.

The child begins to ask questions: for example, he says “what is it?” and wants to know the names of objects and people. He often says the word “No” and sometimes shows defiant behavior when he doesn’t want to do what his parents tell him (e.g., wash his hands).

The child begins to express his intentions verbally and uses 20-40 words, often combining 2-3 words in a sentence. For example, “Mommy come here.” 

If you name an object, the child often points to it with his finger. For example, if there is a small dog in a book and you ask him, “where is the dog?”, the child points or touches the picture. 

He can say his own name and understands simple commands. 

The child points to one or more parts of the body. For example, hands, feet, hair, etc. …

He imitates gestures and sounds, especially those made by his parents or other children. 

The child enjoys the company of other children, although he often plays alone. 

The child loves make-believe games. For example, he drinks from an empty cup or feeds a doll. 

2-year-old child. What are the warning signs for a possible developmental delay?

The symptoms that should alert you are these: 

The child walks poorly and falls often, and cannot climb stairs. 

He does not imitate some simple actions you do, or sounds, and seems disinterested, not reacting if a parent enters or leaves the room.

He does not point with his finger to a toy or something that interests him. 

The child speaks very little, saying less than 20 words.

He does not know what to do when he has a common object, such as a spoon or toothbrush, and cannot drink from a cup. 

The child does not follow simple orders. For example, if you tell him, “go get your shoes.” 

He seems to regress, e.g. he loses skills he had acquired. 

The child does not look at you while you are talking to him or playing with him, or he looks at you for a moment but does not maintain eye contact with you. 

He is not interested in other children, e.g., he does not look at them, smile at them, or walk towards them. 

The child has poor facial expressions, does not smile at you if you smile at him. He also does not respond or turn away if you call his name.

He does not calm down or smile if you pick him up.

If your 2-year-old toddler has any of these symptoms or if you are worried, talk to your pediatrician or health care provider. Don’t wait. Early detection of a possible problem is crucial. Early treatment is critical.

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About the author

Hi. My name is Sandro Cantoni. I’m a Pediatrician. I work in the General Pediatric Clinic. Hospital of Neuchatel, Switzerland.

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