Infant & Toddler Development

22–24 Months

Helping your child feel good about himself is one of the greatest challenges of parenthood. Children begin very early to form positive or negative pictures of themselves. As the most important person in your child’s life, he develops his self-image from you. Let him know in very specific words that you notice and appreciate his appropriate behavior. “You did a great job of putting the blocks in the bucket.” “Thanks for putting the napkins on the table—good job.”

Tell your child what to do rather than what not to do. Instead of saying, “Don’t drag your jacket” say, “Carry your jacket like this.”

Avoid statements that put him down. Instead of saying, “You’re so clumsy” when he spills his milk, say, “Let’s get a sponge and wipe it up.” With your help, he’ll have a sense of success rather than failure.

What it’s like to be 22–24 months old

How I grow…

  • I turn doorknobs and open doors.
  • I walk up and down stairs. I put both feet on each step and hold on to the railing.
  • I can walk on a line and even take a few steps backward. I can run fairly well.
  • I wash and dry my hands with help.

How I talk…

  • I ask for food when I’m hungry and water when I’m thirsty.
  • I can say more words clearly and can understand more of your words.
  • I like to use my voice to make up my own music.
  • I can say “I,” “Me,” “Mine,” and my own name.
  • I have discovered that everything has a name.

How I respond…

  • I may cry if you speak sharply to me.
  • I may resist bedtime.
  • I am continually testing the limits you set. I like to have my own way in everything.
  • I may hit or bite when
  • I am angry or want something.
  • I do better on a schedule. Routines and rituals are very important to me.

How I understand…

  • I am beginning to understand what “today” and “tomorrow,” mean, but I cannot understand “yesterday.”
  • I have a good idea of where things are located around the house.
  • I remember some places where I have been.
  • I like to stack things and knock them down, pull things apart and fit them together.
  • I turn the pages of a book and “read” the story by myself. I know when a book is upside-down.

How you help me learn…

  • Make up a song or a story using my name. Change the words to match my actions or feelings. This may help to calm me when I’m upset.
  • Sing songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, “I’m a Little Teapot” and “Wheels on the Bus”. They will be easy for me to copy. I won’t really be able to “sing” until I’m closer to three.
  • Look at the sky at night with me. Point out the clouds, moon, and stars.
  • When we go for walks, take a bag to collect “treasures.” We can look at them and name them when we get back home.
  • Repeat the names of objects over and over again, using simple words and short sentences. Talk to me about what I am doing and what you are doing.
  • Let me get things for you.
  • Make some play dough for me. I will roll, pound, and squeeze it. It will be easier for me to handle if you put it on a plastic place mat. Protect the floor from spills and play with me.

Feeding Your Toddler

Managing Mealtime

Avoid arguing with your toddler about eating. Never force him to eat or to eat everything on his plate. Your demands will strengthen his refusal to eat. Give him small portions of healthy foods. Offer at least one food he likes at each meal. Allow him to choose what and how much he eats.

Serve one tablespoon of each food group for every year of your child’s age. The Basic Food Groups are:

  1. meat, fish, poultry, beans
  2. vegetables and fruits
  3. bread and grains (rice, noodles, cereals)
  4. milk and dairy products*

*(2 servings of milk, yogurt or cheese daily)


  • Don’t play tricks with food, such as hiding spinach in applesauce. Tricks with food encourage distrust and unhealthy attitudes toward eating.
  • Let your child be in charge of his own plate. Avoid scooping up messy food too quickly. Mangled carrots and pears may look terrible to you, but he may eat them happily.
  • Use a child-sized bowl. Small utensils and a cup with a heavy bottom that prevents tipping also help your child have more control.

Cooking Activities

Your toddler may want to be near you while you are cooking. Place him nearby where he can safely see what you are doing and hear you describe what you are preparing. When he wants to help, begin to let him do little tasks. Give him a spoon and some batter in a bowl. He’ll stir happily while you bake. Some lettuce or cabbage to tear into pieces will give him a real sense of being part of your activities. It will also keep him happy and busy while you work.

Play Dough Recipe

2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water (food coloring may be added)

Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Knead for ten minutes.
Keep in refrigerator in a covered container.



To the young child, all colored liquids look like juice and all white powders look like sugar. Keep cleaning supplies and medicines locked up or out of reach. Never refer to medicine as “candy.”

Keep all forms of tobacco, including used and new nicotine patches out of reach. If a child eats even one cigarette, it can be fatal.

Lock up all pesticides. Roach sprays and powders, rat bait, and snail and slug pellets are very dangerous.

Cologne, perfume, hair products, and cosmetics can also be poisonous to a young child. Hair and deodorant sprays can harm a young child’s eyes and lungs.

Call the Hawaii Poison Center or 911 in an emergency or to check on the safety of products in your home. Almost anything in your home, if misused, can be a poison.



Is there anything about your baby’s health or development that concerns you? Are immunizations up to date? Are you worried about delays in your child’s development? Call your doctor, public health nurse, or H-KISS.


Biting and Hitting

When young children play together, there will be some pushing, hitting, slapping, or biting. Most children who bite do so for only a short time. However, biting and forceful hitting must be stopped right away.

Some children bite when they are feeling frustrated and don’t have the words to express how they feel. If your toddler bites you or another child, say “No. Biting hurts.” Move him to a safe place, make eye contact with him and say “Let’s stay here until you feel calmer. No biting.” Within a minute or two, allow your child to return to his play. Remind him of the rule. Ask him, “Are you ready to try again? No biting.” Get him interested in a play activity to distract him from the other child.

Never bite a child back. It only confuses your child and does not stop the biting.

Do the same thing for forceful hitting. Hitting may continue for a longer time than biting.

Help your child to use words to explain how he feels and what he wants. Encourage him to say “That makes me mad”, “Stop that, I don’t like it”, or “That’s my toy.”

When your child uses his words and does not bite or hit while upset, say, “You did a good job of using your words”. As your child learns to express his feelings more appropriately, behaviors such as biting and hitting will decrease.

Toilet Learning

Your toddler’s body needs to be developmentally ready before he can learn this skill. Before he can have any success he must:

  •  Realize he needs to go to the bathroom.
  • Understand what he is supposed to do in the bathroom.
  • Get to the toilet or potty chair.
  • Remove his clothes.
  • Relax the right muscles.

Waiting until your child shows interest in toileting will increase his chances for success. The ability to stay dry for 3 to 4 hours shows physical readiness.

The average age at which a toddler begins to stay dry is 2 1/2 years, but the range is wide. Nerves and muscles take time to mature. He will probably be at least three years old before being able to stay completely dry during the day. Staying dry at night will take even longer. Be prepared for accidents for several more years.

You can be most helpful to your toddler if you:

  • Have a casual, relaxed attitude about teaching toileting to your child.
  • Teach him the words your family uses for going to the bathroom.
  • Explain calmly what you want him to do. This needs to be repeated many times.
  • Encourage him to tell you when he is about “to go”.
  • Use clothing that is easy for him to take off.
  • Understand he may fear flushing the toilet. Never force a frightened child onto a toilet. If he is afraid, he is not ready for the toilet, but may be willing to use a potty chair.
  • Help him learn to climb onto the toilet safely. A small step stool works well. A small seat that fits on top of the toilet seat may make it easier for him to use the toilet.
  • Treat “accidents” calmly. Punishing, scolding, or shaming hurts his self-esteem and does not help his learning. Suggest that “when he is ready” or “maybe next time” he’ll be able to use the toilet. Don’t refuse his request for a drink because you think it will help him stay dry.
  • Praise your child’s success when he makes it to the bathroom on time.

Patience, love and confidence in your child will help you both during this time.

Your child is unique and has his own growth timetable. Each child develops in his own way. If you have any questions about your child’s development, call your doctor or H-KISS.

Take Care of Yourself

Family outings can be fun and relaxing and are also a great time for you to really enjoy your child. Pick an activity and place that is of interest to both you and your child. Planning ahead will help the event go smoothly.

Before you go:

  • Tell your child what you will see and do.
  • Explain any special rules to him.
  • Plan for drinks, snacks, and a wet cloth for clean-ups.
  • Keep it short. Head for home before your child is tired and grumpy.

A Parent Asks

Q – Recently, we’ve noticed our son looking curiously at our bodies. Is this normal for a two-year-old?

A – Yes. It is quite normal for both boys and girls to be interested in parents’ bodies. A toddler’s curiosity about everything is intense. Interest about physical and sexual development is no exception.

As your child gets older, he will start to ask questions. Answer these questions honestly and simply. At first you may feel surprised and uncomfortable with these questions. But with practice both you and your child will be able to handle these questions in a more relaxed manner. Don’t be surprised if he asks the same questions over and over. This is the way children learn about everything.