2.5 Years

At 2 ½ young children are busy exploring and learning independence. As they learn and grow, they may insist on doing things their own way. They need unconditional love, reasonable limits and, most of all, patience. Keep a watchful eye…your child’s curiosity may lead him to dangerous situations. 

Your Baby

At two and a half, your toddler may …


Walk up and down stairs with one foot on each step – Keep providing supervised opportunities to practice this skill.

Draw straight lines and circles in addition to scribbling – Draw together and encourage your toddler.

Start to speak more clearly – He / she may speak well enough to be understood by others more than half of the time. It helps when you repeat language back to your toddler. For example, if he says “more juice,” respond with: “Here is more orange juice.”

Want to choose his own clothes and dress himself – It is good to give your toddler some choices and practice in putting on clothing.

Desire routines – Provide a consistent predictable schedule.

Enjoy make-believe play – Pretend together. Assemble a make-believe box with dress-up clothes and props.

Bite – It is common for children at this age to attempt to bite others. Don’t despair – occasional biting under age three is a normal part of a child’s development and it’s temporary. Young children bite for many reasons – it may be a form of exploration, they may lack words to say what they want, or they could be teething. It is important to watch your child closely for rising emotions when playing with others – sometimes beginning a new activity can prevent a bite. Help your child learn to use words like “stop” or “don’t take.”

Your Family

Feeding your picky eater – Children at this age can be particular about the texture of foods. They usually don’t like foods that are gritty, stringy, gummy, spicy, or mixed together. Sometimes, your toddler may prefer only one kind of food for several days in a row, and then suddenly refuse it. Keep offering a variety of colorful, nutritious foods. Try smaller plates, portions, and utensils. Their appetites may change as growth spurts come and go. Family meals are important. Meals are important nutritionally as well as socially. Your toddler will want to imitate you, so set a good example with your diet and encourage them to be a part of the conversation.

Learning to use the Toilet – By this age, many parents may feel pressured to teach their children to use the potty. Most research shows that children who are pushed to start toilet learning before they are ready take longer to master the process. From a child’s perspective, it is a very challenging task to master. It is up to parents to recognize their child’s signs of readiness, be willing to accept messes, and most of all, be patient. Signs of readiness in your child can include:

  • Staying dry for two hours during the daytime
  • Telling you that he is wet or messy
  • Waking up dry from a nap
  • Imitating parental behaviors

Once your child begins to show some readiness signs, the next step is to begin preparing for the transition ahead. Some helpful activities include:

  • Read books about toilet learning with him
  • Provide a potty chair and let her explore and play with it
  • Show him how to dress and undress
  • Have regular times for using the potty
  • Show your child how to use the potty and let her use it

Times of stress – such as the arrival of another sibling or a move – can make the process more challenging. Once your child is ready to make the switch to underpants, be prepared for accidents. If needed, you can keep using diapers in the evening, as nighttime control takes longer to learn. Your child needs your support and assurance that he can do it during this learning process – unconditional love will have a lasting impact on how your child feels about his body!

Your Checklist

Turn off the TV and hide the devices to help your child’s imagination develop. Play is children’s work. Children learn best with the TV off. The simpler the toy, the more complex a child’s imagination will become. Young children enjoy playing with simple household items such as pots and pans, cardboard boxes, laundry baskets, and unbreakable containers.

Start scheduling regular dental check-ups at age three.

Starting children with good dental habits will help them grow up with healthy smiles. Regular dental checkups, a balanced diet, injury prevention, and brushing are important for healthy teeth. Before age 3, your child’s health care provider can handle most dental concerns. After age 3, or when all 20 baby teeth have come in, your child should receive regular dental checkups. At any age it’s important to ask your child’s health care provider about fluoride.

Keep up with your child’s changing safety needs.

  • Check your child’s weight and height to make sure they are in the appropriate car seat or booster. Car seats with an internal harness are a must until age four – it’s the law!
  • During any season, sunscreen is a must for outdoor play
  • Examine and properly store the toys of older children. Remember that toys that are appropriate for older children can be dangerous for toddlers.
  • If your child is able to climb out of the crib, it is time for a big kid bed. Keep your child safe by using bed rails and consider a safety gate in the doorway at night
  • Keep using safety gates across stairways to prevent falls
  • Put covers on electrical outlets

Keep poisons out of reach and know what to do if your child does swallow something that may be poisonous, including cleaning products, medicines, and vitamins.  Always call Poison Control if you suspect that your child has swallowed a poison. Post the Poison Control number by your phone: 1-800-222-1222.  In the past, syrup of ipecac was used in the past to make children vomit after they had swallowed a poison. Although this may seem to make sense, this may not be a good poison treatment.

Ask your health care provider if your child if fully immunized. Children attending licensed child-care centers or preschool are required to be fully immunized. Vaccine-preventable diseases can cause serious harm to children who are not fully immunized. Call your health care provider or health department for immunization information.

Remember to schedule your 2.5-year well child checkup.