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Milestones: 20 to 24 Months: Cognitive Development

Toddlers on the brink of their second birthdays are experiencing a cognitive explosion: they\’ve already learned how to use a few words, and now they\’re learning the names of new things practically every day and even stringing together short sentences. You can also expect your toddler to start singing songs to themselves and other people, to recite ABCs and 123s at seemingly random intervals, and to say the names of body parts when you point to them. Some children develop their cognitive skills faster than others, so don\’t be overly concerned if your child doesn\’t attain all the milestones listed below.

By 20-24 months, most toddlers can:

Know up to 50 words, although they won’t enunciate them perfectly.

Speak in short, simple sentences (“I want book,” “me have dinner,” “What doing?” etc.).

Repeat words spoken by other people.

Refer to themselves by name.

Sing familiar songs, although usually garbling the words.

Count two or three separate objects.

Point to various body parts when prompted (“where are your ears?” “Where is your nose?”).

By 20-24 months, some toddlers are trying to:

Identify the letters and numbers they see in books or in print on signs.

Identify and name shapes and colors.

By 20-24 months, a few toddlers can:

Spontaneously  say “please” or “thank you.”

Use words like “I” or “me” rather than referring to themselves in the third person.

Count up to 10 or more.

Understand that their things have a home and to put away their toys when they\’re finished playing.

Complete the sentences from familiar books.

More in milestones:

20-24 Months: Physical Development

20-24 Months: Emotional Development

Why developmental milestones will make you crazy


  • National Network for Child Care
  • Ages & Stages – 18 to 24 Months.
    Wisconsin Child Welfare Training System
  • Developmental Stages of Infants and Children.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Important Milestones: Your Child at Two Years

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