2–2.5 years old: Cognitive and linguistic development

2–2.5 years old: Cognitive and linguistic development

Your toddler’s cognitive and language development at 25–30 months old. Follow your toddler’s milestones step-by-step.

Cognitive development refers to the acquisition of skills such as memory, attention, reasoning, and planning. These skills allow children to manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviours, in addition to helping them store knowledge, solve problems, exercise judgment, and understand the world around them. Cognitive development also includes language development, which is a child’s ability to communicate, understand speech, and express themself verbally.

Cognitive and language development: 2–2.5years old

Cognitive skills

At this age:

  • Your toddler is learning to understand things through words or symbols, whereas before, they explored the world mainly through their senses and their body. For example, they no longer have to throw an object to see if it bounces, because they can imagine whether or not this will happen.
  • They increasingly engage in make-believe with others, reproducing actions from their daily life (e.g., feeding a doll).
Remember that not all children develop the same skills at the same speed. The material on this website is for general information purposes only. If you’re concerned about your child’s development, speak with a doctor.
  • They enjoy pretending and using objects in unusual ways, such as by grabbing a banana and pretending it’s a phone.
  • They have a better understanding of similarities and differences in shape and size, but may not be able to express them.
  • They’re learning to count.
  • They don’t often compromise, as they consider their point of view more important than others.
  • They have a longer attention span and stay interested in activities for longer periods of time.

Over the next few months, your toddler will begin to do the following:

  • Understand how objects with buttons, levers, and removable parts work, and enjoy playing with them.
  • Complete simple puzzles.
  • Combine toys and games in more complex ways (e.g., using modelling clay while playing make-believe).
  • Understand certain words and phrases that refer to the future, such as soon and a long time from now, without yet grasping the concept of the past (e.g., yesterday).

Language skills

At this age:

  • Your toddler can answer more questions (e.g., “Who’s coming?” and “What are you doing?”).
  • They understand concepts such as in, up, and down.
  • They use various types of words, including verbs, some adjectives, and articles (e.g., a, the).
  • Your toddler can form simple two- and three-word sentences (e.g., “Mommy eats apple”).
  • They can conjugate verbs in the present tense when forming these simple “sentences” (e.g., “Daddy pours milk”).
  • They start to use me when referring to themself.

Over the next few months, your toddler will begin to do the following:

  • Understand longer instructions.
  • Use more conjugated verbs.
  • Use more qualifying adjectives (e.g., big, dirty, wet, hot).
  • Increasingly participate in conversations and stories.

How can you help your toddler progress?

Find out how to support your toddler’s cognitive development through books. (In French)

Each child is different and develops at their own pace. That said, you can help foster your little one’s development by adopting the Comfort, Play, and Teach parenting approach, which can easily be integrated into your daily routine. The table below outlines small, age-specific actions you can take that will benefit your toddler’s intellectual development.

When you encourage your toddler to talk about things that interest them,
they know that you’re interested in what they have to say and are encouraged to talk to you more often.
When you incorporate numbers into daily tasks and count the number of toys or cans to put away,
your toddler gradually understands that numbers are a part of everyday life.
When you bake a cake together,
your toddler sees how the ingredients change in texture when cooked.
When you let your little one choose which books to look at with you,
they feel like their interests are important and are more willing to talk.
When you sing together,
your toddler practises saying parts of sentences while having fun with you.
When you encourage your little one to count while playing (e.g., “Let’s count how many blocks you used to build your tower”),
they learn to recognize numbers and repeat them correctly.
When you give your toddler different-size containers and lids and help them find the matching pairs,
they enjoy learning to solve problems with you.
When you play outside and describe your toddler’s actions (e.g., “You’re jumping,” “You’re playing,” “You’re running”),
they learn verbs that will help them make sentences.
When you and your toddler look at books together on different topics (e.g., animals, modes of transportation),
they learn new words.
When you give your toddler the opportunity to sort items (e.g., by putting all the puzzles in a box and pencils in a case),
they get to practise sorting objects based on similarity, size, etc.
When you play with modelling clay with your toddler while using a variety of utensils (e.g., cookie cutters, rolling pins) and describing what you’re doing (e.g., “You’re squishing the clay,” “You’re pulling the clay”),
they can compare the various shapes and sizes of their creations and learn new verbs.


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Marie-Ève Bergeron-Gaudin, speech-language pathologist, and Noémie Montminy, doctoral student in psychopedagogy at Université Laval.
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: August 2021


Photo: 123rf.com/Vasily Pindyurin



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