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You are your child's first - and best - teacher

12 to 24 Months

As your baby grows to become a toddler, he'll also explore and experiment with his world, including the limits you set for him. This is the time to start teaching your child good health habits, including how to wash his hands often. You'll start to have two-way conversations and find many new opportunities to help him learn to succeed.


By the time he's 24 months or 2 years old, you can expect your child to:

  • Begin to show stubborn behavior.
  • Show more independence, but may also cling to his parents.
  • Begin make-believe play.
  • Recognize the names of familiar people, objects and body parts.
  • Say several single words by 15 months.
  • Use two- to four-word sentences by age 2.
  • Seek out and enjoy other children.
  • Climb onto and down from furniture unassisted.
  • Begin to run.

Warning Signs

Every child develops at his own pace, so it's impossible to tell when your child will learn a particular skill. But here are some warning signs to watch for by the time he is 24 months old:

  • He cannot walk by 18 months.
  • He does not speak at least 15 words by 18 months.
  • He does not use two-word sentences by 24 months.
  • He cannot push a wheeled toy by 24 months.
  • He does not imitate words or actions.
  • He cannot follow simple instructions.
  • If you notice any of these warning signs, be sure to talk about them with your pediatrician at your child's next checkup.

Tips for Success

  • Keep holding and hugging your child, and read with him every day.
  • Use words to describe objects and people.


Build vocabulary by grabbing and naming a variety of objects. (What you will need: A small bag; items that your child can name like a doll, pencil, toothbrush, key, ball, spoon, etc.)

Show your child how to take an item from the bag, and then name it using a complete sentence. "I have a toothbrush." Let your child do it. Encourage him to use complete sentences. You can also trace or draw the objects onto a piece of paper and have your child match the object from the bag to the outline.

Tips for Success

  • Try to have family meals, naps and bedtime at the same time everyday.
  • Respond to and encourage his pretend play.


Use dress-up fun to teach your child how to dress himself. (What you will need: Different types of clothing with zippers, buttons and snaps) Let your child put on dress-up clothes and look at himself in the mirror. Ask neighbors to donate clothing so your child can practice "being" a mechanic, doctor, nurse, fireman, etc. You can also put different outfits on a doll and talk about how to button and snap different types of clothing. If necessary, help your child with the activity to keep it fun.

Tips for Success

Help him use words - such as love, happy, sad, funny, mad - to describe emotions and express feelings. Find time for him to interact with other children in safe, supervised settings. Invite your friends' children to visit for playtime.


Help your child learn colors by searching for them. (What your will need: Cards or objects that have specific colors) Hold up a card or object that shows one color. Name the color. Ask your child what else he sees that is the same color as the one you're holding. Allow time for him to search all around the room. At home, let him carry the card around the room to look for a match. You can also play this game during car trips, shopping and in waiting rooms. You may want to stay with one color for several days until your child has learned that color.

Checkups and Immunizations

Take your child to a pediatrician for checkups at 12 months (1 year), 15 months, 18 months and 24 months (2 years). Talk about what your child is doing and not doing. Ask the doctor or nurse about any warning signs or problems you're having with your child. This is also a good time to ask about when to plan your child's first visit to the dentist. Remember to bring his immunization record to each checkup.

Content provided courtesy of Success By 6 ™ of United Way of Greater Cincinnati