Toddler development and milestones: Your 26-month-old toddler

Get ready to sweat it out, mums, because you have a chatty and energetic 26-month-old toddler running around the house now!

Time sure flies quickly! Until just yesterday you were holding your newborn for the first time, and today you have a chatty 26-month-old toddler running around your home. Your not-so-tiny tot can now string together short sentences and has over 50 words in his vocabulary. So the next time you hear "more milk," don't be surprised. 

At this point, your little chatterbox can even recognise friends by name and identify objects based on their shape and colour.

You'll also notice a lot more confidence in the way your 26-month-old toddler now walks and talks. Your little trooper is getting big enough to try the heel-to-toe motion and is no longer wobbling or holding objects to walk properly. So it's a good time to let him run around in the house. 

He'll also avoid his second nap, and his average sleep time with be twelve hours by now. That means you might also get a little shut-eye in the morning as he may sleep in late. That one nap is usually cut from his daytime sleeping schedule.  Let him take the lead when it comes to his naps. 

Since your toddler is also a little person with his own individual personality, now it means you'll have to get ready for some truly cranky days. He could be grumpy and emotional at this juncture in his life and needs your patience and extra TLC. 

26-Month-Old Toddler Development: Is Your Tot On Track? 

Cognitive Development

Your growing toddler is learning more about the world around him by touching, listening and looking at people and objects. This process is also more thoughtful for him now. As his grasp of language increases, so does his ability to form mental images and understand concepts and instructions. 

He can also solve problems mentally through a trial-and-error process. So you may not notice him breaking apart a toy anymore. Simply by looking at it, he might gauge its concept and use.   

As his intellectual abilities develop further, you'll notice that he now understands time concepts. For instance, when you tell him "You can play with this toy after you've finished lunch," he is able to understand the meaning of "after" in this sentence. 

At this juncture, your 26-month-old toddler is also capable of solving simple puzzles and recognising the purpose of numbers, especially in counting objects.

Another notable milestone would be his ability to create a more complex and logical sequence during his playtime. You'll notice that for instance, he'll pick up his truck or doll and add another layer to the game. He may keep it under a blanket and then pretend to sing a lullaby to make it go to sleep.

As the days go by, this sequence will become more realistic, and he will continue his make-believe plays. He may even incorporate his daily routine — like getting up, going to school and playing with friends — into this kind of play. This can be quite a joyful experience for any parent.   

The only limitation for a 26-month-old toddler is how to grasp complicated emotional concepts. He won't understand that a parent is getting divorced or a family member is unwell. He may think it's his fault, and reasoning with a toddler at this stage is often difficult. Similarly, jokes about how he won't get to play if he doesn't finish his food will  go over his head. 

Social and Emotional Development 

As happy as your toddler is all the time, get ready for some major tantrums and whining. On most days, you might find a cranky and grumpy toddler on your hands.

He may also become possessive of his toys now and because of this, he may not want to share his toys with anybody else. He might even become angry and aggressive if he is unable to complete a task, like building with blocks. That's because at this stage he doesn't understand the concept that others have feelings too. His empathy has yet to develop.

Some of the most typical triggers of an emotional rollercoaster include hunger, fatigue, boredom, over-stimulation, lack of attention or illness. While there are no fixed cures to these, you may decrease the frequency and length of tantrums with some extra tender love and care.

For instance, if he is feeling irritated, you can set up activities and playthings for him to focus his energies on. If he is whining more than usual, just sit him down and listen to what he has to say.

Another loathsome game for most toddlers at this age is "give me." While you should listen to your toddler, don't just give him everything he wants.  

Instead, give him hugs and attention because that is always better than material things he won't be interested in after a minute. Your toddler will respond better to these than discipline or reason. 

Speech and Language 

As a brand new preschooler, your toddler can now form short sentences with his 50-word vocabulary. However, many words may elude him at this age. So don't worry if he cannot say words that begin or end with "sh," "ch," or "th." 

It is quite normal for a 26-month-old toddler to not be able to pronounce those words with efficacy. What matters to him is that you and those close to him understand the meaning he wishes to convey. 

So speak or read to your toddler as often as possible so that he may be able to pick on more words and sentences. You will find that he will repeat sentences and syllables over and over again, when he sees the same happening around. 

Your not-so-tiny tot will also be able to describe objects by their name and may even recognise pain and its location in his body. 

Health and Nutrition

By the age of 26 months, your child is twice the height from when he was born. As a result of this growth, his chest circumference will be slightly broader than his head circumference now. He may also weigh four times his birth-weight, anywhere between 11 kilos and 13 kilos. The good news is that he will put on one to three kilos each year along with approximately 9 cms of height. 

You will also notice that since his head is proportionate to his body, your toddler's adorably chubby body will start to become lean. The torso will grow and his posture will also get better as he begins to walk straight on his own. He could have easily cut 15 milk teeth by this point as well. 

As far as nutrition is concerned, get ready for some tantrums in the kitchen. An aversion to certain tastes will be noticeable. You can try cutting the foods into fun shapes or serving various colours on a plate. Or you can puree foods that he has never tried before. 

Your toddler may also be interested to see how you eat your food, so eating together can be made into a fun activity. If your kid makes a mess of his table, let him. It's important to let your child explore what goes into his mouth. And if he wants to lick and smell his food before eating, so be it.  

Tips for Parents 

At this stage in your 26-month-old toddler's life, your attention and extra care can help him develop a more relaxed and calm personality. His whining and tantrums may irritate you. But your ability to patiently hear him out can not only calm your kid but also help you develop a deeper bond with him. 

You'll be happy to see that he is like your little shadow, following you around everywhere you go. This also means he will imitate you and repeat words and actions. You can utilise this change by giving him interesting tasks and engage him in activities that help him further develop his motor and cognitive skills. 

For instance, you can ask him to work on puzzles, build blocks, zoom cars and dress up dolls. You should also allow him to run around the house so that his walking and hand-eye coordination becomes better.

In rare cases, a child may not achieve these milestones at 26 months. Head to a doctor to understand why this might be happening with your tiny tot. It could be the result of a delayed growth spurt or developmental disorders.

In the meantime, you can give extra attention to your 26-month-old toddler, spend time playing with each other and hear him out. All of these methods will help him develop faster, and he may even overcome any growth delays.    

Your toddler’s previous month: 25 months

Your toddler’s next month: 27 months

Do you have questions on this 26 month toddler development guide? Share them with us in the comments!

Sources: Mayo Clinic, HealthyChildren