Toddler at Two Years: Developmental Milestones

Developmental Milestones: Toddler at Two

Photo Lenka U.

All every parent wants is to have a healthy and happy child that grows up into a well-balanced and intelligent adult. On this 18-year road to adulthood, the first few years matter the most–that’s when the biggest development strides are taken, physically as well as emotionally. So much matters in the early years, and the environment in which a child grows up matters the most; the people he is surrounded with, the level of parent-child interaction present, exposure to TV and other media, how much physical activity he gets, interaction with other children and the toys and tools a child has to play with can affect proper development.

Below, we list major developmental milestones your child should reach by his second birthday according to the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention; the following activities and skills represent what most toddlers do around this age:

Developmental Milestones: Copies others

Social and Emotional

  • Copies others, especially adults and older children
  • Gets excited when with other children
  • Shows more and more independence
  • Shows defiant behavior (doing what he has been told not to)
  • Plays mainly beside other children, but is beginning to include other children, such as in chase games


  • Points to things or pictures when they are named
  • Knows names of familiar people and body parts
  • Says sentences with 2 to 4 words
  • Follows simple instructions
  • Repeats words overheard in conversation
  • Points to things in a book

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Finds things even when hidden under two or three covers
  • Begins to sort shapes and colors
  • Completes sentences and rhymes in familiar books
  • Plays simple make-believe games
  • Builds towers of 4 or more blocks
  • Might use one hand more than the other
  • Follows two-step instructions such as “Pick up your shoes and put them in the closet.”
  • Names items in a picture book such as a cat, bird, or dog

Developmental Milestones: toddler communication skills

Movement/ Physical Development

  • Stands on tiptoe
  • Kicks a ball
  • Begins to run
  • Climbs onto and down from furniture without help
  • Walks up and down stairs holding on
  • Throws ball overhand
  • Makes or copies straight lines and circles

Developmental Milestones: Physical Skills

The following list is a helpful guide for parents who are concerned about their child’s slow or improper development; parents are urged to discuss it with the child’s pediatrician if their two-year-old:

  • Doesn’t use 2-word phrases (for example, “eat apple”)
  • Doesn’t know what to do with common things, like a brush, phone, fork, spoon
  • Doesn’t copy actions and words
  • Doesn’t follow simple instructions
  • Doesn’t walk steadily
  • Loses skills she once had

If you’re concerned, act early
Besides talking to your child’s pediatrician, there are services in many communities for young children, such as your state’s public early intervention program. For more information, visit CDC’s “If You’re Concerned” web page or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for general development using standardized, validated tools at 9, 18, and 24 or 30 months of age, and for autism at 18 and 24 months or whenever a parent or provider has a concern. Ask your child’s doctor about your child’s developmental screening.

“Learn the signs. Act early.” materials are not a substitute for standardized, validated developmental screening tools Adobe PDF fileExternal Web Site Icon.

For developmental milestones for babies age 0 to 12 months, see What To Look For as Your Baby Grows.

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