What’s normal for a 2 year old?

Children all develop at different rates, and it can sometimes be difficult for parents to know whether their child’s development is typical. For example, other children at mother’s group may appear more advanced than your child, or perhaps a lot of the children in your family were ‘late talkers’. As a parent it is important that you trust your instincts, including suspicions that your child’s development is atypical in some way.

toddler girls

A two-year-old will typically:

  • Frequently make eye contact with family members in a variety of settings (e.g. to ‘check in’, to direct your attention towards something or to request).
  • Respond to their name being called by turning and looking at you.
  • Smile at you when you smile at them.
  • Point to things of interest in books or point to show you something that is out of reach and turn to look at you.
  • Follow another person’s point.
  • Bring things to you to ‘show’ you by holding them at your eye level and looking at you.
  • Copy your actions after you do them (e.g. pretending to sweep the floor).
  • Be using some gestures in their communication, such as nodding for ‘yes’, shaking their head for ‘no’ and waving goodbye.
  • Have between 20 and 50 clear words and is beginning to use two-to-three-word sentences.
  • Follow simple verbal instructions without you needing to gesture.
  • Begin exhibiting some pretend play (e.g. feeding a teddy and putting it to bed) and be able to play for a few minutes by themselves.
  • Show an interest in other children their age and playing alongside them (parallel play).

If you have any concerns about your child’s social development, please do not hesitate to contact your maternal child health nurse or your general practitioner. This will put your mind at ease and ensure that your child gets support if it is needed. We know that the earlier we support children, the better their long-term outcomes.

Olivia Smith is a registered psychologist and is completing her registrar program in Educational and Developmental Psychology. Olivia is a strong believer in the importance of working collaboratively with families and other professionals to ensure a holistic approach to child wellbeing. She is passionate about advocating for and working with children presenting with anxiety and/or neurodiversity (e.g. ASD, ADHD and specific learning disorders) and their families. Olivia strives to make therapy sessions engaging, effective and applicable to everyday life, and views the relationship between child and therapist as key to success. Outside of her work at NCCD, Olivia works as a clinician in the area of early identification of autism in children (aged 12 to 36 months) at the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at La Trobe University. 

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