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Milestones for 2-Year-Olds - Topic Overview

Children usually progress in a natural, predictable sequence from one developmental milestone to the next. But each child grows and gains skills at his or her own pace. Some children may be advanced in one area, such as language, but behind in another, such as sensory and motor development.

Milestones usually are categorized into five major areas: physical growth, cognitive development, emotional and social development, language development, and sensory and motor development.

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Physical growth and development

Most children by age 2:

  • Have grown about 15 in. (38 cm) since birth.
  • Gain weight and grow at a steady but slower pace than during their first 12 months of life. Between 12 and 24 months of age, expect your child to gain about 3 lb (1.5 kg) to 5 lb (2.5 kg), grow an average of 3 in. (7.5 cm) to 5 in. (13 cm), and gain about 1 in. (2.5 cm) in head circumference (the measurement around the top of the head). You can view standard growth charts at www.cdc.gov/growthcharts.

Thinking and reasoning (cognitive development)

Most children by age 2:

  • Begin to understand simple time concepts, such as "now," "later," or "a few minutes." (The distant future or "forever" are too complex to conceptualize at this age.)
  • Follow simple requests, such as "Put the book on the table." But two-step instructions, such as "Wash your hands and come here," usually cannot be completed.
  • Recognize basic symbolism, such as nodding the head for yes or no.
  • Often want to do two incompatible things at the same time. For example, a 2-year-old may want to go out in the snow and wear his or her slippers.
  • Start to play "pretend," such as by talking on a toy telephone.
  • Begin to recognize and sort objects by shape and color.
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