Congratulations! Your little one is now 2 years old! You might have heard of the “terrible twos” and those infamous temper tantrums, but there are so many other exciting things going on in your toddler’s life that more than make up for these challenges. For example, you can start to create family rituals together to help make great memories you’ll both cherish. If you don’t have any family traditions yet, now is the time to start making them!

Toddler Development Milestones

No two 2-year-olds are quite the same, and your little one will continue to develop at his own pace. However, you may see some of these milestones at 24 moli>ths:

  •  Tantrums.

     

    There is a reason why 2-year-olds get such a bad rap. Around this age, your 2-year-old may throw a tantrum when you ask him to stop doing something he enjoys (because it's lunchtime or bedtime), or he may put up a fuss when he doesn’t get something he wants at the grocery store. Welcome to the “terrible twos.” Your child is probably feeling a lot of emotions he can't handle or even express right now, and tantrums often occur when he can’t get his way (remember, your toddler, like all toddlers, thinks the world is all about him). Tantrums are perfectly natural at this age, and almost all children will have them occasionally, especially when they're tired or hungry.

  •  Expanded vocabulary. Thanks to a rapidly increasing vocabulary, your child may be able to say a bunch of words by now. He may also be able to use a few simple two- to four-word sentences. When you name a familiar object or person, your 24-month-old may recognize it and point to it.

  •  Confident walking. Look who's walking like an expert now! In the coming months, your child may even start to run. Before you know it, you’ll be struggling to keep up!

  •  Improved motor skills. Your 2-year-old might be able to kick a ball, climb up and down furniture unassisted, or carry a large toy or several smaller toys around while walking. Seeing this shows you that your toddler’s ability to coordinate and control his arm and leg movements is improving.

How to Support Your 24-Month-Old’s Development

These are a few steps you can take to help foster your 2-year-old’s development:

  •  Speak to him clearly and with simple words. He may even reply to you with simple words of his own, and you may be starting to have little conversations.

  •  Create some family rituals. Routines help your little one feel safe and secure, so why not create a few family rituals? You can get your little one more involved with traditions your family already has, or create new ones together, like scheduling a weekly walk in the park, a weekend family dinner, or singing and reading together every Thursday evening.

  •  Consider starting potty training. Now that your little one is 2 years old, he may be  ready to start toilet training. Signs of readiness include showing an interest in using the potty, letting you know that he needs to go, and being able to pulling his pants down and pull them back up again. Even if he’s not quite ready yet, you can start to introduce the concept to him—maybe let him choose a potty that he likes, keep the potty in a place where he can see it, and explain how it works. In the meantime, you can also read up on so you feel more prepared for what’s to come.

  •  Take steps to handle temper tantrums. Try not to take temper tantrums personally and avoid feeling embarrassed by them—everyone who’s had a toddler will know this period all too well. In the meantime, you can help your little one through this period by offering praise for good behavior and providing distraction when possible.

  •  Tell your child a story. You could start with something that happened in your own childhood, or think of a character your child would like (maybe a favorite animal), and then give free rein to your imagination. As he listens, your child is learning about structure—that stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. If you've always wanted to be an actor, have at it! Your voice and your facial expressions are nearly as important as the words in your story.

Mealtimes and Menus for Your 24-Month-Old

Your 24-month-old toddler needs a variety of healthy foods. Offer him three small meals and two snacks a day with plenty of vegetables, fruit, dairy, protein, and whole grains in the mix.

It’s never too early to teach your little one some good habits. Although, at 2 years old, he may be too little to behave perfectly at the table, here are some ways you can introduce good table manners and healthy habits:

  •  Have family meals. Sit down at the table together at least once a day for a family meal. Turn off the TV and put away the devices. Take this opportunity to discuss the day, and involve your toddler in conversations—even if he isn’t saying much yet, he may be paying more attention than you think.

  •  Eat healthily yourself. If your toddler sees you eating and enjoying all kinds of nutritious foods, he’ll be more likely to want to try the healthy foods you offer him as well.

  • Teach good table manners. Although he’s still too young to be expected to say please and thank you on a regular basis, you can begin by setting a positive example and using “please” and “thank you” with your partner or older children. You can also encourage your little one not to talk with his mouth full, or to close his mouth while chewing. Even just mentioning these occasionally helps set the ground rules for what you would like him to learn later on.

  •  Treat dinnertime as a ritual. Perhaps assign a specific time for the meal, set the table, and have all the family sit around together without any phones or distractions. This is a wonderful opportunity to bring the family together, and ensures your little one is likely to look forward to dinner as a special family time.

Meal Ideas for 2-Year-Olds

Not sure what to serve your 24-month-old? Check out these meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks:

Daily menu for a 2 year old

24-Month-Old Toddler Sleep Schedule

When your little one is 2 years old, he may sleep around 9 to 13 hours per day. However, he may still need an afternoon nap, which might be around two hours long.

What Are Nightmares and Night Terrors?

You may wake up to your little one calling out your name from his bedroom, or to screams or cries in the middle of the night. These nightmares or night terrors can be upsetting for him and worrying for you, and you may be wondering what is happening.

A nightmare is a frightening dream that often takes place during the second half of the night, during the most intense stage of dreaming. When your little one has a nightmare, he may wake up crying or feeling scared, and may have trouble falling back to sleep, especially if he remembers what the nightmare was about.

Night terrors are a little different. These tend to happen earlier in the night, during the deepest stages of sleep, and in fact your child won't be fully awake (even though it looks like he's awake). During a night terror, your child may

  •  cry uncontrollably

  •  shake, sweat, or hyperventilate

  •  have a terrified look in his eyes

  •  thrash around, kick, scream, or stare

  •  not recognize you are there

  •  push you away, especially if you try to touch him.

Night terrors can last up to 45 minutes, but more often than not, they are much shorter. Because your little one does not wake up fully during a night terror, he can fall back into deep sleep more easily and may not remember that he's had one. Here are guidelines to follow when your little one has a night terror:

  •  Stay calm

  •  Do not try to wake your child

  •  Make sure he cannot hurt himself; if he tries to get out of bed, try to restrain him and keep him away from any harmful objects

  •  Keep in mind that your child will relax and sleep quietly afterward.

If your child tends to have night terrors, it's a good idea to let babysitters know ahead of time that these might occur and to provide guidance on what to do.

Dealing With Nightmares and Night Terrors

There is not much you can do to prevent nightmares or night terrors, but it's worthwhile to set up your toddler for a good night’s sleep by following these tips:

  •  Keep a regular sleep schedule. Stress and overtiredness are common triggers for bad dreams, so try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule as much as possible. This means keeping naptime and bedtime at the same time each day, and following a calming routine just before bed as well.

  •  Go to your child quickly if he sounds distressed. You may not want to rush to your toddler’s crib if he’s just fussy, but if your little one wakes you up after a bad dream and calls out your name in distress, or you hear screaming, then go to him right away.

  •  Tell him he is safe. Be reassuring that there is nothing out there that can hurt him and that he is safe.

  •  Encourage him to recall his dream and remind him it’s not real. Help your little one understand that dreams are not real and everything is OK.

  •  Keep the light on if it helps. Sometimes children feel safer sleeping with a night-light on or with the door open a little, letting some light from the hallway in.

  •  See if there is anything that scares your child. Are there any creepy-looking shadows or items that may make your little one uneasy? Try to remove them.

A Day in the Life of Your Toddler

Now that you have a 2-year-old, here’s what a day in your home might look like:

24-month-old daily routine

Your Toddler’s Health and Safety: Water Safety

When it comes to playing in or near water, you need to be particularly vigilant to keep your toddler safe and reduce the risk of drowning. Here are some water safety tips:

  •  An adult must be there to supervise. Whether your little one is learning to swim, splashing in a shallow pool, or simply taking a bath, you or another responsible adult must be there to watch her at all times.

  •  Pay constant attention. Avoid distractions like reading or using your phone, even if a lifeguard is present.

  •  Get in the water with her. If she is in the water paddling or learning to swim, get in the water with her and keep close by, within arm's distance.

  •  If you cannot supervise, assign a responsible adult to keep an eye on your toddler. Never leave the responsibilities of watching your toddler to a child.

  •  Use life jackets. If you’re on a boat on a lake, sea, or river, or you’re doing activities close to the water, make sure your little one has a life jacket on that fits.

  •  If you have a pool, make sure it is fenced on all sides and that the gate is closed at all times. Keep your toddler out of the pool area if she is unsupervised.

  •  Empty the wading pool after use. A wading pool can be fun for your little one, but if you do use one, ensure you empty it after use and put it away.

FAQs at a Glance

  • Each toddler develops at her own rate, but at this point, or sometime soon in the coming year, your child may be able to understand most sentences, do simple puzzles with three or four pieces, play make-believe, and run. However, don’t worry if you don’t notice any or all of these just yet—again, each toddler is unique and develops at her own pace.

  • Try to aim for three healthy meals a day and two snacks. Avoid offering foods that could lead to choking, such as nuts, gum, hard candies, popcorn, and whole hot dogs. Here are a few ideas for a meal plan for your 2-year-old:

    • Breakfast: ½ cup cereal with ½ cup low-fat or nonfat milk, 1/3 cup sliced banana or strawberries, ½ slice whole-wheat toast with ½ teaspoon jelly.
    • Lunch: ½ whole-wheat sandwich with a slice of cooked meat or cheese, veggies like lettuce, tomato or avocado, a couple of carrot sticks cut up into bite-sized chunks, ½ cup berries.
    • Dinner: 2 ounces cooked meat with 1/3 cup cooked rice and two tablespoons cooked veggies.
    • Snacks: Four crackers with hummus, ½ cup chopped berries, or half a sliced apple.

  • When your toddler is around 24 months old, she may start to use simple sentences. Her speech will become clearer and coherent, so that even strangers who aren’t familiar with her speaking patterns and made-up words will start to understand her.

Your Life as a Parent: Handling Tantrums

Even if you've been told about the frequent temper tantrums that can erupt around now, it can still be a shock when your normally good tempered child suddenly becomes prone to bouts of screaming, kicking, fist pounding, and more.

What's helpful to know is that tantrums are simply a way for your little one to deal with conflict or emotions she’s unable to articulate, such as fear, frustration, and anger. At this age, most toddlers believe the world revolves around them, so she may act out when she doesn’t get her way, which may also be a reason behind the tantrum.

The good news is you can minimize these tantrums with a few strategies:

  •  Use a friendly tone and polite words when making requests. When you ask your child to do something, avoid stern-sounding commands when possible. Using a cheerful tone and words like “please” and “thank you” is more effective in getting her to cooperate.

  •  Don’t overreact when she says “no.” For many toddlers, "no" is a favorite word that is used automatically to respond to any request, so don't be surprised if this happens in your house. Your child may even say no when she means yes (such as when you offer ice cream) to show she is in control. It's best to just repeat your request in a calm and clear manner, and not to punish her for saying no.

  •  Distract your toddler. Your little one has a short attention span, so try to use that to your advantage by offering something else quickly before a tantrum has the chance to begin. Start a new activity or change the environment by moving her to a new room, for example, or keep walking along the grocery aisle.

  •  Reward good behavior. If she does something right or behaves well, offer plenty of praise and attention, even if it just means spending extra time with her as she quietly plays or reads.

  •  Anticipate tantrum triggers. If your little one tends to make a scene in the grocery store, for example, you may want to leave her at home if it’s at all possible. Over time, you may notice what triggers her tantrums, and then try to avoid those triggers altogether or prepare for them by having a distraction up your sleeve.

  •  Pick your battles. If it’s a matter of safety, like putting the seat belt on, it’s worth fighting her, but if she simply wants to wear a different colored top, then it may not be worth the fight.

  •  Give your toddler choices. You may be able to prevent some tantrums by offering two choices you are happy with, and letting her pick. Instead of telling your toddler that she has to wear a jacket, for instance, you can tell her she can either wear two sweaters or a jacket. Or let her decide to wear her jeans or her overalls.