Toddler development

Stages of Play: 19 to 24 Months Old

Start crafting and reading with your almost two-year-old.

By Kaili Ets

Stages of Play: 19 to 24 Months Old
Want to know what to expect from your growing baby? 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 toddler is picking up speed (and never seems to slow down). Grab your running shoes as they explore just how fast those little legs can go. Your toddler is growing their special awareness and can navigate obstacles more effectively—unfortunately, this doesn’t mean fewer bumps and bruises. They will also explore their body and may try walking on their tiptoes or heels. Want to make them laugh? Try walking backward; they may even follow suit. Around this age, toddlers become more skilled in using the smaller muscles of their hands. You may notice a greater ability to interact with toys requiring fine motor skills such as unscrewing caps or knobs, nesting cups, more extensive puzzles, and placing the correct shape into the shape sorter.
  • Your toddler will likely still hold their crayon with a fisted grasp instead of the more mature tripod grasp we have as adults.
  • Shorter and thicker crayons and markers will be the easiest for your toddler to use at this age.
  • Sensory play is still a fan favorite, including Play-Doh, sand, Jell-O, and other items.

child playing doctor with her doll

How to incorporate play into this stage

Pretend play continues to mature during this age, especially around everyday activities like caring for a doll, cooking in the kitchen and playing house, cleaning, and grocery shopping.

Rainy day activities like puppet play can be a fun way to mix things up. Being just like you is the most fun. And your child will likely want to help you do daily activities like cooking, cleaning, and the laundry—allow them to participate.

Not only are you spending some quality time together while getting necessary chores done, but you are also encouraging their development and learning of those things, too.

Encouraging reading habits is a great developmental activity for toddlers, but don’t expect them to sit still for an entire book. You can read to them while they climb all over you or on the couch.

Be flexible in where you start the book and how much you read (they may want to start in the middle and not sit through it from start to finish). Let them guide you, even if you’re only reading one to two pages at a time.

This is also the age when your toddler will start to test boundaries and want to experiment more with their newfound independence.

You will often hear them say, “me do”. Go ahead and let them try. Make sure to plan some extra time into your day to allow the many, many attempts.

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