The world of a two-year-old revolves around play – it’s the best way for them to discover and explore new sights, sounds, and activities. But as they move into their third year, you’ll see them start to develop new skills that will give them the chance for all new games and activities as the year goes on.
Fun, age-appropriate games
When they were younger, you might have thought you needed to dream up elaborate games or buy expensive toys to keep their busy. By now, it’s probably clear how hard it is to predict what a toddler will enjoy, and what they 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 their brand new developmental skills.
Walking and running: Baby had to walk before they could run, but now that they can do both, there’s no stopping them.
- 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 they can always try to beat their time from last time. Besides time, you can also count how many steps they take, or how high they can jump. See how long it takes Baby to get to the kitchen for breakfast, how long it takes them to put on their shoes, or how many steps it takes them 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 they play with their 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 they can take care of chores while their 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, they can give both animals check-ups with their 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 their own.
- Baby can make beds for their dolls by emptying shoe boxes and decorating them with all the colors of their markers’ rainbow – even if they isn’t allowed to do the same kind of decorating with their own bed.
- It’s never too early to start Baby’s correspondence! Help them fold paper in half and create designs with their favorite crayons so they can bring the cards to their 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 their 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 them 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 their head already, so anything they try 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