Toddler developmental milestones: 18-24 months

As your child approaches their second birthday, you’ll be amazed at how much they change and develop each day. Here are all the milestones you can expect them to reach by the time they turn two.

toddler milestones

Dust off your running shoes and take a few deep breaths because you’ll soon be racing around after a determined toddler who’s fast on their feet and quick to dissolve into a tantrum if things don’t go their way! But it’s also an awe-inspiring period where communication starts to feel like a two-way street and you’ll watch with wonder as your teetering toddler turns into a full-fledged child.

Here are the milestones you can expect your kiddo to reach by their second birthday. But keep in mind that each child develops at their own pace and it isn’t necessarily cause for concern if they haven’t hit all their milestones according to this schedule. Speak to your pediatrician if anything is worrying you.

18 to 24 months

By the time your child turns two, they may be able to:

  • Run
  • Carry several toys while walking
  • Stand on tiptoe
  • Kick a ball
  • Throw a ball overhand
  • Climb onto and down from furniture without help
  • Walk up and down stairs with support (hand or bannister)
  • Eat with a spoon, cup and maybe a fork (with fewer spills than before)
  • Take off some of their clothes (shoes, socks, hat)
  • Build a tower of four or more blocks
  • Turn over a container to pour out the contents
  • Scribble spontaneously
  • Favor one hand over the other
  • Begin to sort shapes and colors
  • Find objects hidden under two or three covers
  • Play simple make-believe games
  • Count two or three objects
  • Follow instructions with two steps, such as “Pick up your toy and put it in the box”
  • Point to objects when they’re named
  • Recognize the names of familiar people and body parts
  • Name familiar objects in a picture book
  • Complete familiar rhymes and sentences in books
  • Say sentences with two to four words, such as “me do it” and “mommy hat”
  • Repeat words they hear
  • Say their own name
  • Copy the behavior of adults and older children
  • Start to be aware of themselves as separate from others
  • Enjoy the company of other children
  • Start to include other children in their games
  • Be increasingly independent
  • Show defiant behavior
  • Have temper tantrums
  • Begin to express their emotions with words like “sad”
  • Show affection by hugging you or kissing a teddy bear
  • Display empathy by showing concern for crying friends

Warning signs: Talk to your pediatrician if your child can’t walk steadily, doesn’t use two-word sentences, doesn’t copy words or actions, doesn’t follow simple instructions, doesn’t know what to do with common objects such as a spoon or a phone, doesn’t show their feelings, or seems to have trouble seeing or hearing things.

Activities to stimulate your toddler’s development from 18 to 24 months

Ready, set, go! Your child is more active and interactive than ever. Here are some fun activities that can boost their development at this age:

  • Talk: As you go about your day, name objects and describe your actions to help develop your toddler’s language skills. Listen to them when they speak to show that you value their input and respond appropriately to encourage communication skills.
  • Play: Young children learn the most through play, so set aside some time to play with them each day while also encouraging them to play independently. Play dates are a wonderful way for your child to learn social skills at this age.
  • Read: Nurture your little one’s imagination and language skills by reading books and making up stories. Your child may increasingly enjoy reading on their own as well.
  • Encourage big-kid skills: It might seem easier to do everything for your child but letting them try to get dressed on their own or help you “cook dinner” will support their development and foster independence.
  • Encourage movement and exploring new things: Give your child plenty of time to run outside and play at the park to encourage their physical development. Let them explore new areas and objects while remaining nearby to help them feel safe.