Some children sail across developmental milestones like a well-thrown stone zinging across the surface of a lake. Other children make the journey more slowly, or in fits-and-starts, reaching some touchpoints sooner than others. Temporary delays or uneven progress doesn’t really matter, so long as the goal is reached within reasonable parameters. But how can a new parent distinguish between an acceptable lag or a serious developmental delay?
Consider these five categories of developmental milestones and the specific goals your child should reach by the age of two.
Gross Motor Skills
A healthy and active two-year-old should be getting into mischief. He’ll be able to walk unassisted. He’ll be determined to try to climb stairs, chairs, tables, and anything else that poses a physical challenge. To make your house more chaotic, he’ll also be able to pick up toys and carry them around only to dump them wherever they shouldn’t be. If you find yourself constantly chasing him around, picking up after him along the way, then your toddler has reached his gross motor skills milestones.
Fine Motor Skills
Though she won’t be writing calligraphy any time soon, your toddler should have mastered the art of the scribble, which you may soon find on papers, tables, and maybe even walls. Consider hiding the permanent markers. She should also be starting to pile objects one on top each other and enjoy knocking them over just as much.
Every child is unique, and not all of them will be speaking in full sentences by the age of two. However, a toddler should recognize the names of family members and close friends, be able to point at something you’ve mentioned, follow simple directions, and have a dozen words of working vocabulary that is increasing at a satisfying pace.
By the age of two, a toddler should be able to sort by shape, size, and color, and thus be able to complete small puzzles. He may start to have a sense of passing time in that he’ll recollect what happened a day or two earlier. Playing make-believe usually starts around this age, as well.
If your toddler is clinging to your leg all the time, consider it a measure of social development. She has become frighteningly aware that she is separate being from her parents. Alternatively, if your toddler is becoming increasingly defiant, consider this a measure of social development as well. Defiance is often a manifestation of her growing sense of independence. She may play near other children, if not with them.
At every well-baby visit, your pediatrician is keeping an eye on a multitude of developmental milestones. But the best observer of your child is you. Should you have any concerns about your child’s mental, emotional, or physical development, be sure to express them to your pediatrician or another professional. Early intervention can do wonders to help your child progress.