During this transition to toddler behavior, we have just one word of advice for you: babyproof! “If you haven’t done it already, now is the time to take care of the safety issues in your home,” says Cahill. Gate the stairs, lock up the cleaning liquids, medicines and cosmetics, and cover the electrical outlets. And remind your older kids to clean up after themselves. “A 4- or 5-year-old can leave Legos and other small toys around, which become a choking hazard for the younger sibling,” says Cahill.
The poet mimics. Speaking develops quickly now. A few single words at 15 months become simple phrases by 18 months. By 2 years, sentences of two to three words are common. (The short sentence “I want a snack” is bound to become way too familiar.) “By 2 years, most kids speak at least 100 words—some have 300,” says Bonifert. “They hear a word once from you or someone else and now it’s in their vocabulary.”
The athlete climbs and kicks. The little babe you used to wear on your chest not too long ago will be walking all by herself at 18 to 24 months. She’ll also be able to pull some of her big toys behind her and even carry them (saving mom from some schlepping duty). The furniture in your home will become her custom-made obstacle course as she climbs up on couches and under beds and tables. She’ll also kick balls, stand tiptoed and walk—usually with your assistance—up and down stairs. “By 2, a lot of kids can run, but you’ll see a lot of tripping, too,” says Cahill.
The scholar sorts and stacks. Between 15 and 18 months old, an independent streak emerges. At 24 months, she’ll want to show you that she can sort her toys by color and shape—and build a stack of blocks that won’t come tumbling. “Between 18 and 24 months your child will want you to be interested in what she’s doing,” says Lonzer. “Entertainment becomes two-way—rather than the parent doing all the entertaining.”
The apprentice becomes the artist. “Between 15 and 18 months, children start doing things themselves, such as eating with a fork or spoon,” says Lonzer. They also become ardent scribblers, and by 24 months you may notice that your child uses one hand to create her chefs d’oeuvre more often than the other. By age 2, your toddler will also have mastered the art of picking up and pouring out the contents of any container you’ve naively left within her reach.
NEXT: WELL-BABY VISITS