Important Milestones: By the End of 2 Years (24 Months)

As your child turns two years old, he or she may be making sounds such as that of a “meowing cat” or a “barking dog.” Your child may also be using simple easy sentences to communicate. Use the “Learn the Signs. Act Early” fact sheet to find out what usually happens when a child is two years old. You can also use the information in the fact sheet to talk with your child's doctor about the growth and development milestones.

The following fact sheet is provided courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control’s "Learn the Signs. Act Early." Campaign.

Introduction
Social
Emotional
Cognitive
Language
Movement
Hand and Finger Skills
Developmental Health Watch

two adults and a child blowing bubblesChildren develop at their own pace, so it's impossible to tell exactly when yours will learn a given skill. The developmental milestones below will give you a general idea of the changes you can expect as your child gets older, but don't be alarmed if your child takes a slightly different course.

Social

  • Imitates behavior of others, especially adults and older children
  • More aware of herself as separate from others
  • More excited about company of other children

Emotional

  • Demonstrates increasing independence
  • Begins to show defiant behavior
  • Separation anxiety increases toward midyear then fades

Cognitive

  • Finds objects even when hidden under two or three covers
  • Begins to sort by shapes and colors
  • Begins make-believe play

Language

  • Points to object or picture when it's named for him
  • Recognizes names of familiar people, objects, and body parts
  • Says several single words (by 15 to 18 months)
  • Uses simple phrases (by 18 to 24 months)
  • Uses 2- to 4-word sentences
  • Follows simple instructions
  • Repeats words overheard in conversation

Movement

  • Walks alone
  • Pulls toys behind her while walking
  • Carries large toy or several toys while walking
  • Begins to run
  • Stands on tiptoe
  • Kicks a ball
  • Climbs onto and down from furniture unassisted
  • Walks up and down stairs holding on to support

Hand and Finger Skills

  • Scribbles on his or her own
  • Turns over container to pour out contents
  • Builds tower of four blocks or more
  • Might use one hand more often than the other

Developmental Health Watch
Alert your child's doctor or nurse if your child displays any of the following signs of possible developmental delay for this age range.

  • Cannot walk by 18 months
  • Fails to develop a mature heel-toe walking pattern after several months of walking, or walks only on his toes
  • Does not speak at least 15 words
  • Does not use two-word sentences by age 2
  • By 15 months, does not seem to know the function of common household objects (brush, telephone, bell, fork, spoon)
  • Does not imitate actions or words by the end of this period
  • Does not follow simple instructions by age 2
  • Cannot push a wheeled toy by age 2
  • Experiences a dramatic loss of skills he or she once had

From CARING FOR YOUR BABY AND YOUNG CHILD: BIRTH TO AGE 5 by Steven Shelov, Robert E. Hannermann, © 1991, 1993, 1998, 2004 by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Used by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

See PDF version:
     Important Milestones: By the End of 2 Years (24 Months) [PDF, 136KB]

"Important Milestones: By the End of 2 Years (24 Months)." Learn the Signs. Act Early. DHHS/CDC. 2005. English. [PDF, 136KB]

Last Reviewed: December 2010

Last Updated: September 5, 2014