Toddler Development: From 21 to 23 Months

For the past few months, you’ve delighted in your toddler’s rapidly improving coordination, his increased attention span, and his better grasp of the world. As he enters his 21st month, you’ll see those skills becoming even more refined and polished.   

Around this age, your toddler is also making a bid for more independence. Encourage that do-it-myself spirit. So long as he’s safe, let him tackle some of his own chores, like brushing his teeth or fetching his own things.

The work of play

At this age, playing is your toddler’s most important activity and the main way he’ll learn to function in the world. Although he’s totally self-centered right now, your toddler is slowly mastering the skills that will allow him to become socially adept later on. Take advantage of that trait with these tips:

  • Let him take orders. Good news: Your toddler is starting to understand simple commands, which makes for more interesting play. Practice giving your toddler two-step commands like, “Kick the ball and run toward mommy,” or “Pick up the toys and put them in this box.”
  • Encourage mimicking. Toddlers this age like to imitate what adults are doing, such as sweeping the floor and raking leaves. Consider giving your toddler his own broom or rake to help out. Also show him how he can put his stuffed animal to bed the way you do with him.
  • Get outside. Going outdoors gives your toddler the chance to run, climb, and jump -- important skills that are helping him become more coordinated. He’s also becoming more playful. Take advantage of park playgrounds. Give him a piggyback ride. But keep an eye on your toddler’s safety while he runs around.
  • Host playdates. Sure, your toddler may be pretty self-absorbed. But don’t let that deter you from inviting other children over to play. Spending time with peers is the best way for your toddler to learn how to socialize. As long as they’re safe, let them figure out how to play together, even if it’s more parallel play than interactive playing.