2 Years

Discover tips, tools, and support for this age

Your child is moving and developing quickly! Around this time, they may remember the names of familiar people, follow simple instructions, and run around (and fall sometimes). Your toddler loves to learn from you, so you’ll also notice them copying you! 

Learn more about your toddler’s development, explore options for free or low-cost child care, and find free activities in NYC.

Brain Building

Learn through life's everyday moments

During a diaper change, tell your child a silly story about the tallest little child in the world. While you are at it, stretch their arms over their head as you stretch out your words in a playful tone. (The taaaaaaallest baaaaaby in the wooooooorld!)

See what your child is learning

Your voice is your child's favorite sound. Even if they can't talk back yet, they're listening to your words. Stretching out your words and using a sing-song voice makes it fun. This also helps their brain connect sounds and the ways we use our mouths to make them. You may not see it, but inside their brain they are practicing talking with you.

Milestones

Skills toddlers develop as they play, learn, speak, act, and move are called milestones. Learn about milestones to help you understand your toddler's development and act early if you have concerns.

Around 2 years old, many toddlers:

  • Social

    • Copy others, especially adults and older children
    • Get excited when they're with other children
    • Show more independence, doing more on their own
    • Sometimes do what they've been told not to on purpose
    • Mostly play alone next to other children, but begin to include them
  • Communication

    • Point to things or pictures when they're named
    • Know names of familiar people and body parts
    • Say sentences with 2 to 4 words
    • Repeat words overheard in conversation
    • Follow simple instructions, like "pick up your shoes and put them here"
  • Learning

    • Find things even with 2 or 3 layers covering them
    • Begin to sort shapes and colors
    • Complete sentences and rhymes in familiar books
    • Play simple make-believe games
    • Build towers with 4 or more blocks
    • May start to use one hand more than the other
    • Name things in a picture book, such as a cat, bird, or dog
  • Physical Development

    • Stand on tiptoe
    • Begin to run
    • Climb onto and down from furniture without help
    • Walk up and down stairs holding on
    • Throw ball overhand
    • Make or copy straight lines and circles
  • Health

    • Have 3 ounces of grains daily (such as 1 cup of breakfast cereal plus 1 cup of rice)
    • Have 1 cup of vegetables daily (such as 2 medium carrots OR 1 large tomato)
    • Have 2 cups of fruit daily (such as 1 small apple plus 1 banana)
    • Have 2 ounces of meat and beans daily (such as 2 sandwich slices of turkey OR a ½ cup of lentils)
    • Have 2 cups of milk daily
    • Have at least 30 minutes of adult-led physical activity
    • Sleep about 12–14 hours per day
    • Have 1 or 2 daytime naps
    • Stay on schedule with shots

Act early by talking to a doctor, teacher, or social worker if your child:

  • Act Early

    • Doesn't use 2-word phrases (for example, "drink milk")
    • Doesn't know what to do with common things, like a brush, spoon, or fork
    • Doesn't copy actions and words
    • Doesn't follow simple instructions
    • Doesn't walk steadily

Programs

Find the support your family needs to thrive

Early help for infants & toddlers

The Early Intervention Program (EIP)

NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene

Support for infants and toddlers with disabilities and developmental delays.

Child care for babies & toddlers

EarlyLearn NYC Child Care

NYC Department of Education

Early child care and education services for up to 10 hours a day

Early education for three-year-olds

3-K for All (3-K)

NYC Department of Education

3-K for All is free, full-day, high-quality education for New York City three-year-olds, starting in select School Districts.