12 Things Your 2-Year-Old Should Do On Their Own
The toddler years are an exciting time for development and growth. Around age 2, your little one will gain more independence and start accomplishing tasks without your help. While each child develops at their own pace, here are 12 things your 2-year-old should be able to do on their own:
Drink from a Cup
By age 2, most toddlers have the motor skills to drink from an open cup without spilling too much. This is an important milestone, as it means your child is ready to transition from bottles and sippy cups.
To help your toddler master cup drinking:
- Use a small, lightweight cup that is easy for little hands to grip
- Fill the cup only halfway or less to start
- Expect some spills at first – that’s normal!
- Offer praise and encouragement when they drink without help
With practice and repetition, your 2-year-old will become a pro at drinking from cups and bottles will be a thing of the past.
Feed Themselves with a Utensil
Around the 2nd birthday, toddlers should be able to use a spoon, fork or kiddie chopsticks to feed themselves. This includes scooping up food, bringing it to their mouth, and only spilling a little bit in the process.
You can help promote self-feeding skills by:
- Letting your child practice with child-sized utensils
- Serving finger foods that are easy to pick up
- Modeling proper grip and scooping techniques
- Offering lots of praise for effort and ignoring minor spills
With time and consistency, your toddler will gain competence using various utensils. Self-feeding also builds self-esteem and aids the transition to the toddler years.
Follow Simple Instructions
Following 1-2 step directions is an important cognitive and listening skill that develops around age 2. Simple commands like “go get your shoes” or “pick up your toys” should begin to click.
You can encourage this development by:
- Giving clear, specific instructions
- Allowing time for your toddler to process and act
- Reinforcing instructions with gestures or visual cues
- Offering praise when your toddler listens and follows along
As your little one’s understanding grows, you can gradually give more complex, multi-step directions. This builds listening skills essential for learning and cooperation.
Point to Body Parts
Around the 2nd birthday, your toddler will start to learn and identify basic body parts like eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands, feet, etc.
You can help your child learn body part names by:
- Singing interactive songs like “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”
- Reading books and naming body parts in pictures or dolls
- Pointing out your own body parts and asking your toddler to do the same
- Playing games like “Where’s your nose?”
Learning body part names builds language skills and body awareness. With time, your toddler may even be able to point to body parts when you name them!
Kick a Ball
Developing coordination is a major milestone of early childhood. By age 2, most toddlers can kick a ball forward by swinging their leg. Although it may not go far or straight at first.
You can encourage kicking skills by:
- Using lightweight, soft balls that are easy to kick
- Demonstrating kicking technique, like planting your foot and swinging through
- Starting close together and kicking back and forth
- Offering praise for effort and not focusing on accuracy
Regular ball play will also help develop gross motor skills. And give your active toddler a productive way to expel energy!
Climb Stairs Independently
Around age 2, toddlers gain stability and coordination to climb stairs upright without assistance. Although they still hold onto railings for balance.
You can help your child climb stairs safely by:
- Staying within arm’s reach for support and supervision
- Using toddler gates at the top and bottom of stairs
- Teaching them to hold the railing and go one step at a time
- Offering encouragement and praise for small successes
This climbing skill marks an exciting transition as your mobile toddler continues to explore their expanding world.
Walk and Run Steadily
By the 2nd birthday, toddlers should be able to walk and run on their own without falling. They still have an endearing waddle, but can stand, walk, change pace, and stop with skill.
You can encourage this development through:
- Free movement and play time each day
- Holding their hand on uneven surfaces for balance
- Allowing them freedom to move at their own pace
- Celebrating successes like first solo steps!
With balance and coordination, your toddler will continue to gain confidence and independence in their movement abilities.
Jump Up with Two Feet
Jumping up a few inches off the ground is a common toddler milestone around age 2. Your child may first start jumping while holding onto furniture or your hands for support.
You can build jumping skills by:
- Providing supervised jump time during play
- Demonstrating two-footed jumps and encouraging imitation
- Starting on soft surfaces in case of falls or unsteady landings
- Offering cheers and claps to celebrate each jump
Two-footed jumping is exhilarating for toddlers and helps strengthen leg muscles needed for climbing and running too.
Walk Up Steps Holding a Railing
Before descending stairs upright, toddlers first learn to climb them with help. Around age 2, most can go up steps holding onto a railing for support.
You can spot them for safety and success by:
- Letting them lead, keeping close behind
- Offering a finger or hand for balance, if needed
- Going slowly, 1 step at a time
- Providing encouragement and praise
This crawling transition shows your toddler’s strength and coordination are improving by leaps and bounds!
Turn Rotary Knobs and Buttons
By age 2, your toddler’s fine motor skills will develop enough to turn simple knobs and buttons. While supervision is still needed, this allows them to engage with and manipulate toys and objects in their environment.
You can encourage this ability by providing:
- Toddler-safe devices with knobs, switches or dials
- Clear instructions and demonstrations for turning
- Assistance at first, then celebrate independent success
- Praise when they start operating toys on their own
With practice, your child will gain dexterity, curiosity and confidence through hands-on learning.
Use a Crayon with a Grasp
Around the 2nd birthday, toddlers progress from clumsy fist clenching to controlled grasping when holding writing tools. They can hold large crayons or markers between their fingers and thumb and make back-and-forth scribbling motions.
You can facilitate proper grasp development through:
- Providing large, easy-grip crayons
- Demonstrating proper grip and scribbling
- Coloring together on big paper
- Displaying their art around the house
This fine pincer grasp prepares your toddler for controlling pencils, utensils and other tools. And shows cognitive readiness for creating representations through drawing.
Turn Pages in a Board Book
Board books are the perfect way for toddlers to explore reading while building fine motor skills. Around age 2, your little one can turn sturdy board book pages one at a time.
You can encourage this early literacy skill through:
- Reading interactive books together
- Turning pages slowly yourself first
- Allowing them to turn pages at their own pace
- Offering cheers and claps as they master page-turning
With practice, your toddler will gain competence, confidence, and love of books. Laying the foundation for future reading success.
The toddler years represent an amazing period of growth and discovery. As your child approaches their 2nd birthday, they will gain newfound independence performing self-care, mobility, communication and play skills on their own.
With your support and encouragement, your toddler will continue to reach exciting milestones that build competence and esteem. Soon your little one will delight in showing off all the big things they can do all by themselves!