2 years 6 months
your baby has spent so much time not being ready to play with other children, and getting almost all the social interaction she's needed from within your family, but at this point, she’s reaching the age where a little extra socialization, and especially social interaction with other toddlers, could be fun, interesting, and helpful for her.
If your baby goes to a nursery school or daycare with other children, she may be getting all the socializing she needs already, but if she is at home with a caregiver, or in individual care, this can be a great time to start making regular playdates a little bit more of a priority than before.
Still, most toddlers won’t be ready for what’s called “cooperative play” yet, which is what many adults mean when they talk about children playing together. In fact, many toddlers won’t start to get the hang of real cooperative play until they’re around four or even five. In the meantime, toddlers playing together may play near each other, copy each other, share materials, or even take turns with some toys.
If your baby ends up playing with older kids, on the other hand, the picture might look a little different. Toddlers generally love to imitate older children and can learn a lot by watching them. This means that, on play dates with older children, you may find your baby following her slightly-less-little friend’s lead. It also means that, if your baby has a slightly older friend, cousin, or sibling who she wants to be just like, you can encourage any skills or habits you’re hoping she will pick up - whether that’s using the potty, trying new foods, or using silverware - by giving her the chance to see her friend doing those things.
Of course, this can also go the other way - bigger kids can sometimes help toddlers learn certain words that many parents hope they won’t pick up. If your baby is friends with an older child, or even a child her own age with a big personality, you may find yourself needing to have the “That might be okay in so-and-so’s house, but it isn’t okay in ours” conversation.
Making friends for the first time is an adventure for your baby, but it’ll also be an adventure for you. Have fun!
Takes turns in games: Whether it’s a toddler-friendly board game, a ball-pass game at nursery school, or waiting until the toddler who was there ahead of her on the slide takes a turn before sliding down, your baby is getting better at learning the rules of the game - both the literal game she’s playing and the rules of social interaction and being polite. She may slip up now and then, but once she starts to understand what’s expected of her enough to know that she should be taking turns, encouraging her to play nicely should start to go more smoothly.
Turns a door handle: It’s a different kind of “turning,” and she can do it based on a different kind of skill - her coordination - and a different kind of growth - her height. It’s going to take her places, too - literal places, unless you get really careful about locking doors and setting boundaries.
- “30-36 Months: Your Child’s Development.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 10 2016. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/108-30-36-months-your-child-s-development.
- “Activities for Bonding and Learning from 24 to 36 Months.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, April 18 2016. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1079-activities-for-bonding-and-learning-from-24-to-36-months.
- “Developmental Milestones: 2 Years Old.” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, June 1 2009. Retrieved August 14 2017. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/Pages/Developmental-Milestones-2-Year-Olds.aspx.
- “Developmental Milestones: 3 to 4 Year Olds.” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, November 21 2015. Retrieved August 14 2017. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/preschool/Pages/Developmental-Milestones-3-to-4-Year-Olds.aspx.
- “Developmental Skills for Ages 2 to 3 Years.” Fairview Health Services. University of Minnesota, Amplatz Children’s Hospital. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.fairview.org/fv/groups/internet/documents/web_content/developmen_201009262104505.pdf.
- “Feeding: What to Expect From 24 to 36 Months.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 16 2009. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/154-feeding-what-to-expect-from-24-to-36-months.
- “Learning and Development: Young Children 24 to 36 Months.” Better Brains for Babies. University of Georgia. Retrieved September 7 2017. http://bbbgeorgia.org/childDev_24-36.php.
- “Play Activities for 24 to 36 Months.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 17 2010. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/169-play-activities-for-24-to-36-months.
- “Physical Activity for Your Child: Age 2 Years.” Lancaster General Health. Penn Medicine. Retrieved September 7 2017. http://www.lancastergeneralhealth.org/LGH/ECommerceSite/media/LGH-Media-Library/Documents/Services/Service%20Lines/Healthy%20Weight%20Management/Fact%20Sheets/Physical-Activity-Age-2.pdf.
- “Stages of Play from 24-36 Months: The World of Imagination.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 26 2015. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/315-stages-of-play-from-24-36-months-the-world-of-imagination.
More articles at this age
Toddlers and body image
your baby is becoming more aware of her body, including what it can do, but also how it looks.
Long car trips with your mobile toddler
your baby can be anything she wants to be, but what she probably ISN'T is sitting still very often. When it comes to long car trips, though, she may not have much choice.
Finding kid-food at restaurants with no children's menu
Not every restaurant is set up with your baby in mind, but that doesn't mean she can't manage a lovely meal there!
Thorough tooth brushing in the third year
Scrub-a-dub-dub - not just for the tub! It's a lot harder to make tooth-brushing fun and exciting than it is with bathtime, though.
How long will my toddler stay attached to their comfort object?
It's sweet to see your little one all cuddled up to her beloved wind-up tractor, but aside from the worry about the meltdown that may happen if a toddler's comfort object gets lost, many parents find themselves wondering whether their children are relying too much on their comfort objects or whether relying on a comfort object may be a sign of insecurity.
Introducing your toddler to new social situations
your baby may be getting better at being social every day, but new people and places can throw anyone off.