I can’t figure out why two year-olds get such a bad rap. I’ve got a two year-old and I keep waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. Frankly, I think it’s a lot easier than the 15- or 18-month stage, because they are finally able to articulate their wants and desires.They can tell you what is going on in their little minds, and that to me is a beautiful thing. Sure they still have their moments demonstrating independence in the grocery store, but what child doesn’t right? As far as I’m concerned, two isn’t so terrible.

Safety

  • Car: You can now use a forward-facing car seat in the back seat of the car.
  • Sleep: If still in a crib, ensure the mattress is on the lowest level. If your child can get out of the crib, you need to change to a bed. The fall from a crib is a safety hazard, obviously.
  • Smoking: Make sure your home and cars are smoke free zones. Also, check smoke alarms to ensure that they work properly and change batteries annually.
  • Water: Do not leave a child alone in the bathtub (even for a second to answer the phone). Empty all buckets of water and play pools.
  • Riding: Wear a helmet on all things a kid can ride (e.g., bicycles, tricycles, scooters, ATVs, as passengers on adult bicycles, etc.).
  • Childproof your home:
    Use outlet covers.
    Remove dangling telephone, electrical, and blind cords.
    Keep matches, cleaners, chemicals, and toxic household products out of reach. (TIP: Post poison control’s number near your phone: 1-800-222-1222)

Nutrition

  • Transition to low fat dairy products (e.g., milk, yogurt, and cheese).
  • Provide 3 meals and 2-3 nutritious snacks a day.
  • You have no limitations on what food to offer your child at this age. The key is offering your child a variety of nutritious foods.
  • Limit the number of fats and sweets your child gets in a day. In addition, your child does not need juice, it is essentially fruit sugar. If you choose to give juice to your child, do so in limited quantities (e.g., 4 oz a day).
  • You choose the menu. I am a firm believer in good nutrition at an early age to build good lifetime eating habits. In addition, consider the fact that you are fueling your child’s growing brain. It is my opinion that we as a society are propagating this notion of ‘kid food’, e.g., mac n’ cheese, hot dogs, French fries, chicken nuggets. These have very little nutritional value. Instead, offer meats with good protein, fruits and vegetables with good vitamins, etc.
  • Eat meals as a family. Expect and enforce reasonable behavior, but do not force feeding. Provide a booster seat or high-chair so your child can be at table height.
  • Provide appropriate-sized utensils for your child to use.

Oral Health

  • Start brushing with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Brush teeth twice a day, morning and night. Your independent child will probably want to do this himself/herself. I have found the simple solution to this problem is investing in two tooth brushes, one for your child, one for mommy. Once your child is “done,” then mommy gets to finish to her satisfaction.
  • Schedule an appointment to see a dentist every 6 months.
  • Fluoride supplementation, this depends on the level of fluoride in the drinking water in the city where you live (your pediatrician or dentist can prescribe fluoride if needed).

Milestones

  • Walking well, starting to run
  • Going up and down stairs (1 step at a time)
  • Kicks a ball
  • Stands tip toe
  • Imitates adults
  • Follow 2-step commands (more than one task; e.g., pick that up [step 1], and throw it in the garbage [step 2])
  • Stack 5-6 blocks
  • Say at least 20 words, 2-word phrases
  • Speech is 50% intelligible by a stranger
  • Makes horizontal and circular strokes with a crayon

Other

  • Media Exposure: Limit total media time (TV, movies, video games) to no more than 2 hours a day; less than 1 hour is ideal. Watch programs together.
  • Sexual Education: Expect curiosity about genitals at this age. Use correct terms when making reference to anatomy.
  • Social Interactions: Reinforce limits, encourage self-expression, praise good behaviors, be consistent, read and play together.
  • Toilet Training: Begin when your child shows readiness.