2 years 1 month

It’s easy to see all of the skills Baby is gaining as you watch them walk – they might be starting to walk with a heel-toe gait, much more like an adult than their earlier steps. Their stumbles are probably getting more and more rare as they get more comfortable with their own body.

What might be harder to spot, though, is how much their thinking skills are growing. There’s no real way to take a peek inside their brain, and see all the growth that’s going on in there, but there are external signs that show how much stronger and more mature their thinking has become. One of the biggest, and also most fun ways to take a look at that growth is to watch as they play.

Specifically, imaginative play can show you a lot of growth in thinking skills. At first, when Baby played pretend, they probably acted out simple scenes, scenes they saw around your home every day, or both. A lot of the toys they used in pretend-play probably closely mimicked objects they recognized, too. These days, they might be focusing on more detailed play-pretend scenarios, but more than that, they might be using more obscure objects as stand-ins for the real deal – soup made out of rocks, a wand made out of a paper towel roll, or a napkin off the dinner-table as a cape.

Symbolic play like this is a sign that they're developing the ability to think figuratively, instead of just literally. Figurative thinking is important for language development, creative thinking, and problem-solving as they grow.

Another way that their mental and emotional growth might start to show around this time is for your toddler to start to show a strong preference for one parent or caregiver over others – or, if they were already showing a preference, by switching that preference to a different parent or caregiver. This might not be the most fun stage of development, but it’s a strong sign that they are looking for chances to make choices, and to have some control over their life.

When Baby expresses their preferences around this time – whether it’s a preference for your partner to tuck them in to bed instead of you or a preference to not have to try another bite of spinach – listening to those preferences when you can helps to build their trust both in you and in their new communication skills.


Stands on tiptoe: All they need to know now is how to pirouette! Baby’s ability to stand on their tiptoes is a sign of their growing foot- and ankle-strength, which they're been developing since they started trying to walk, as well as their balance.

Starting to use one hand more than the other: Baby isn’t definitively a righty or a lefty yet, but they might be starting to use one hand more than the other often enough that you’re starting to get an indication of which one they're going to be.

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