Toddler development

Stages of Play: Two to Three Years Old

The terrible twos aren't so bad if you know how to keep them engaged.

By Kaili Ets

Stages of Play: Two to Three Years Old

Want to know what to expect from your growing toddler? These guides share general timelines for developmental milestones and how to encourage new stages of play.

Before you get started, learn how to calculate your baby's adjusted age based on their due date and birth date. Much of your baby's development is tied to time in utero so babies born early may need time to reach full-term development.

What to expect at this stage

Your active toddler is getting busier and busier. They’re also getting more vocal about their growing independence. While this is often a challenge for parents—it’s a challenge for your toddler, too—everything is new.

Is there such a thing as a toddler support group? We think there should be.

Your toddler is becoming more proficient on the playground jungle gym at this age, climbing up and down the ladders, going down a small slide (and likely trying to climb up it as well).

  • They’ll find tremendous joy in jumping (especially in puddles) off small steps or balancing along sidewalks or wooden garden edges like a balance beam.
  • Will enjoy throwing and kicking a ball and may try to do this while running.
  • This is the perfect age to try a tricycle or balance bike - be sure to pick one of the best toddler bike helmets!

child riding a tricycle outside

How to incorporate play at this stage

Are you raising a future engineer? Many toddlers love to build at this age. Whether it’s train tracks, towers, or Duplo—building and taking things apart will keep your toddler’s interest.

  • They will enjoy placing rings onto a toy and be able to do them in order of size or even color.
  • Their curiosity for books and stories will grow, especially books that have tactile components or flaps.
  • Pretend play will still be a significant component of play, and they will still love helping around the house.

Scribbles are starting to look more like lines and shapes, and your toddler may be able to copy a vertical or horizontal line or a circle.

This is also the age when they start to show interest in zipping zippers and buttoning/unbuttoning (just make sure buttons are on the larger size as their little hands are still learning to work intricately).

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