The world of a two-year-old revolves around play – it’s the best way for her to discover and explore new sights, sounds, and activities. But as she moves into her third year, you’ll see her start to develop new skills that will give her the chance for all new games and activities as the year goes on.
Fun, age-appropriate games
When she was younger, you might have thought you needed to dream up elaborate games or buy expensive toys to keep her busy. By now, it’s probably clear how hard it is to predict what a toddler will enjoy, and what she will think is boring. Often, though, a little imagination and a few simple items are all you need to create games that will let Baby show off her brand new developmental skills.
Walking and running: Baby had to walk before she could run, but now that she can do both, there’s no stopping her.
- Take advantage of Baby’s exuberance and mobility by spending as much time outdoors as you can. There’s a game you can find in every outing, whether it’s a walk-run-walk pattern all the way to the post office one day or a formal march to the store the next day.
- Ready, set – I’ll time you! Toddlers love the idea that a parent or caregiver has turned a stopwatch on them, and it’s the game that keeps on giving, since she can always try to beat her time from last time. Besides time, you can also count how many steps she takes, or how high she can jump. See how long it takes Baby to get to the kitchen for breakfast, how long it takes her to put on her shoes, or how many steps it takes her to get from the front door out to the car.
Imitation: Imitation is a classic ingredient of two-year-olds play, and this year you can expect to see Baby mirroring the way you act as she plays with her stuffed animals and dolls.
- If you have a large cardboard box hanging around, try turning it into a car so Baby can drive, just like you. If you’re a non-driving family, the box can be an oven or washing machine, and she can take care of chores while her stuffed animals take a nap.
- If the whole family has been battling a cold, maybe Baby’s stuffed giraffe and elephant are sick, too. In addition to offering them extra attention since they aren’t feeling well, she can give both animals check-ups with her doctor’s kit tools, or take their temperatures with a popsicle stick.
Drawing or coloring: Hand and finger dexterity are getting better all the time, too, and Baby can hold markers and crayons on her own.
- Baby can make beds for her dolls by emptying shoe boxes and decorating them with all the colors of her markers’ rainbow – even if she isn’t allowed to do the same kind of decorating with her own bed.
- It’s never too early to start Baby’s correspondence! Help her fold paper in half and create designs with her favorite crayons so she can bring the cards to her daycare teachers the next day, or mail them to a relative who lives far away.
Building or manipulating: In addition to drawing, toddlers’ motor skills mean they can now stack blocks, as well as pick objects up and turn them over.
- When the weather grows warmer, put plastic cups filled with water on a cookie sheet and bring them outside. Let Baby drop food coloring into the cups and then pour the water into different cups, watching the colors change before her eyes!
- Two can be a great age to get started in the kitchen. The next time you make cookies, stand Baby on a secure chair and have her help you pour flour into the mixing bowl and help fold the chips into the batter.
The important thing to remember is that Baby doesn’t have all of the established ideas about what fun is in her head already, so anything she tries can be a fun game, with the right attitude.
- “Playing is How Toddlers Learn.” Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics. 11/21/2015. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/fitness/Pages/Playing-is-How-Toddlers-Learn.aspx
- “Developmental Milestones: 2-Year-Olds.” Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics. 6/1/2009. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/Pages/Developmental-Milestones-2-Year-Olds.aspx
- “Hand and Finger Skills: 2-Year-Olds.” Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics. 11/21/2015. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/Pages/Hand-and-Finger-Skills-2-Year-Olds.aspx