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Early Learning Tools/Resources:  For Families, Caregivers and Early Learning Educators

Many parents and caregivers, as well as teachers and early learning providers, are eager for information and resources on how to connect with babies and toddlers, manage young children's behavior, and help children develop relationships, regulate their behavior and emotions, and talk about their feelings. When the adults in children's lives have appropriate expectations of children's development at different ages, they have greater success—and much less frustration—with young children.  Click the arrow button above to learn more.

Developmental Achievements 

Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving “bye-bye” are called developmental milestones. Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move (like crawling, walking, or jumping).

During the second year, toddlers are moving around more, and are aware of themselves and their surroundings. Their desire to explore new objects and people also is increasing. During this stage, toddlers will show greater independence; begin to show defiant behavior; recognize themselves in pictures or a mirror; and imitate the behavior of others, especially adults and older children. Toddlers also should be able to recognize the names of familiar people and objects, form simple phrases and sentences, and follow simple instructions and directions.

What most children do by age 2 :
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) 

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  •  Plays mainly beside other children, but is beginning to include other children, such as in chase games 

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  •  Points to things or pictures when they are named 

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  •  Knows names of familiar people and body parts 

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  •  Says sentences with 2 to 4 words 

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  •  Follows simple instructions 

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  •  Repeats words overheard in conversation 

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  •  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 

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  •  Plays simple make-believe games 

  •  Builds towers of 4 or more blocks 

  •  Might use one hand more than the other 

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  •  Follows two-step instructions such as “Pick up your shoes and put them in the closet.” 

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  •  Names items in a picture book such as a cat, bird, or dog 

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Movement/Physical Development
  •  Stands on tiptoe 

  •  Kicks a ball 

  •  Begins to run 

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  •  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 

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Interactive Positive Parenting 

Following are some of the things you, as a parent, can do to help your toddler during this time:

  • Ask her to find objects for you or name body parts and objects.

  • Encourage him to explore and try new things.

  • Help to develop your toddler’s language by talking with her and adding to words she starts. For example, if your toddler says “baba”, you can respond, “Yes, you are right―that is a bottle.”

  • Encourage your child’s growing independence by letting him help with dressing himself and feeding himself.

  • Respond to wanted behaviors more than you punish unwanted behaviors (use only very brief time outs). Always tell or show your child what she should do instead.

  • Encourage your toddler’s curiosity and ability to recognize common objects by taking field trips together to the park or going on a bus ride.

Because your child is moving around more, he will come across more dangers as well. Dangerous situations can happen quickly, so keep a close eye on your child. Here are a few tips to help keep your growing toddler safe:

  • Do NOT leave your toddler near or around water (for example, bathtubs, pools, ponds, lakes, whirlpools, or the ocean) without someone watching her. Fence off backyard pools. Drowning is the leading cause of injury and death among this age group.

  • Block off stairs with a small gate or fence. Lock doors to dangerous places such as the garage or basement.

  • Ensure that your home is toddler proof by placing plug covers on all unused electrical outlets.

  • Keep kitchen appliances, irons, and heaters out of reach of your toddler. Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove.

  • Keep sharp objects such as scissors, knives, and pens in a safe place.

  • Lock up medicines, household cleaners, and poisons.

  • Do NOT leave your toddler alone in any vehicle (that means a car, truck, or van) even for a few moments.

  • Store any guns in a safe place out of his reach.

  • Keep your child’s car seat rear-facing as long as possible. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Cdc-pdf, it’s the best way to keep her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, she is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

 Healthy Bodies

  • Give your child water and plain milk instead of sugary drinks. After the first year, when your nursing toddler is eating more and different solid foods, breast milk is still an ideal addition to his diet.

  • Your toddler might become a very picky and erratic eater. Toddlers need less food because they don’t grow as fast. It’s best not to battle with him over this. Offer a selection of healthy foods and let him choose what she wants. Keep trying new foods; it might take time for him to learn to like them.

  • Limit screen time. For children younger than 2 years of age, the AAP recommends that it’s best if toddlers not watch any screen media.

  • Your toddler will seem to be moving continually—running, kicking, climbing, or jumping. Let him be active—he’s developing his coordination and becoming strong.

  • Make sure your child gets the recommended amount of sleep each night: For toddlers 1-2 years, 11–14 hours per 24 hours (including naps) Newborn babies will sleep about 16 hours a day at first although each baby requires a different amount of sleep. Parents/caregivers will soon learn what is “normal” for a particular child. Babies don’t know the difference between night and day and will sometimes get them mixed up, sleeping more during the day and less at night. Babies in the first year still sleep a lot. They need at least two naps a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, each lasting from one to three hours. 

       Toddlers between ages two and three may sleep 9 to 13 hours a day. Many toddlers will take one long nap                     around lunchtime. Or, they may take two shorter naps.

Child Safety First

Take your completed Child Development Tracker form, created by age, with you and talk with your child’s doctor at every well-child visit about the milestones your child has reached. 

Content Source: 

The CDC are partners that support children & family wellness. Their researchers, scientists, doctors, nurses, economists, communicators, educators, technologists, epidemiologists and many other professionals all contribute their expertise to improving public health and is a major component of the Department of Health and Human Services and is recognized as the nation’s premiere health promotion, prevention, and preparedness agency.

The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) strives to advance the health and well-being of our nation’s population, including our most vulnerable populations. National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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