It’s hard to believe that nearly two years ago you had a newborn! Flash forward to many developmental milestones later, your 23 month old is taller, chattier, opinionated, and even more understanding about the world around them.
While toddlerhood is full of wonderment and growth, it’s normal for parents to wonder if their toddler is on track to reach their 23 month old developmental milestones. While every toddler develops at their own pace, our team of expert pediatricians and sleep consultants put together this guide on everything you may expect this month.
Life With a 23 Month Old
23 month milestones are all around practicing and refining the motor skills, cognitive skills, and social skills that they’ve been working hard to master.
From kicking a ball to stringing together words to looking to you for approval, their growth in these last 23 months is astounding. Even though picky eating and tantrums may be common in your household, it’s all part of a 23 month old’s development and figuring out who they are and how to interact with the world.
Expect a lot of energy, a lot of opinions, and maybe some clinginess, too. If you notice any behaviors that you’re concerned about, make a note to talk with your pediatrician at their two year checkup next month.
Sleep and Naptime at 23 Months
Sleep at 23 months old won’t be too different from last month, but you may start to see your toddler experiencing some teething pain as their second molars come in. This is not a fun 23 month old milestone, as teething often disrupts their naps and nighttime sleep—but it could mean extra cuddles throughout the day!
Our tip for you as you enter this month is to continue to stick with their bedtime and nap routine. 23 month olds still need about 11-12 hours of sleep at night plus one daytime nap lasting no more than 3 hours. Even if they have a harder time falling asleep at naps or bed, or wake up in the middle of the night, consistency is key for getting them back on track if something like teething causes a disturbance.
The Smart Sleep Coach by PampersTM app has already helped thousands of parents support their children through sleep regressions or disturbances. The app also offers a personalized program for you to build healthy sleep habits for children at any age.
What causes a 23 month sleep regression?
Between teething and separation anxiety, 23 month milestones unfortunately can affect sleep and cause a sleep regression. In addition to pain waking them up, if your 23 month old wakes up in the middle of the night and sees you’re not there, they may full wake up and cry out for you.
This is where the Smart Sleep Coach by PampersTM app comes in. The app is able to coach you through sleep regressions. It will tell you the best time to put your 23 month old to sleep so they fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, based on their circadian rhythm.
>> Expert tip: Are you struggling to get your 23 month old down for their nap? Don’t fret—it’s quite normal, as there are way more exciting things then sleep! Try moving it 15 minutes later and see if that helps. The Smart Sleep Coach will adjust the schedule for what works best for you.
Their improved motor skills mean they may physically be able to climb out of their crib (if they want). Make sure their crib is on the lowest setting. Most 23 month olds aren’t ready for a toddler bed but talk to your pediatrician to see what they think.
Motor Skills Milestones for 23 Month Old
The clumsiness of a toddler is almost behind you! At 23 months, milestones include improved coordination and balance. They may be better on stairs and playing on the playground, but still often need your help (even if they don’t want it).
The improvement in fine motor skills that come along with a 23 month olds’ developmental milestones are as impressive as they are surprising! Many 23 month olds enjoy coloring and building with blocks, and often they’ll insist on trying to feed and dress themselves.
Here’s a breakdown of what else you may see at this age:
- Taking the stairs with confidence. We still recommend baby gates and keeping an eye on them when they’re near the stairs—they likely are still a little clumsy.
- Artists in the making. From scribbling to attempt to color in shapes, their hand and finger strength is growing by the day.
- A righty or a lefty!? At this age you may see your 23 month old has a preference for using their right or left hand. Let them explore both—they won’t be a confirmed right or lefty until way later anyways!
Keep offering them opportunities to practice their skills in safe, nurturing environmenta. Create obstacle courses outside, encourage them to use utensils at mealtime, and draw together pictures of things they love!
Communication Skills Milestones for 23 Month Old
Improved verbal skills is a big 23 month old developmental milestone! The Mayo Clinic says that by two years old most can say about 50 to 100 words and can put together two word sentences and even ask one or two word questions! They also may be able to point to shapes or colors, and complete sentences in stories or songs they hear often.
Between speaking and verbal gestures, it is becoming easier and easier to understand what they are trying to convey. Of course there will be times when they aren’t understood, which can be frustrating. Cue temper tantrums! Don’t worry though, tantrums are normal for children under four and will subside once their communication skills and emotions become more mature.
Keep talking with them and encouraging them to use their words throughout the day. Imitation continues to be big at 23 months old so the more you show and tell them, the more they’ll soak up. If you’re concerned about your 23 month old’s communication skills, talk to your pediatrician.
Emotional Development of a 23 Month Old
23 month olds are becoming more aware of their surroundings, the feelings of others, and their own feelings. Here are some tips for nurturing 23 month old developmental milestones related to emotions.
- Plan playdates. At 23 months old, parallel play is normal, but it’s the start of learning how to socialize with peers. They will be observing them as they play—imitation is big at this age so it’s another way to help them grow and learn.
- Provide reassurance. Separation anxiety is common as emotions and awareness develop. Sometimes this can make things such as you leaving the room or house scary for them. Remind your 23 month old that you’ll be back when you leave and reiterate how you came back when you do!
- Model good behavior. From sharing your snacks to checking in on someone if they look sad, show your 23 month old how to relate with and be kind to others and show empathy.
- Understand what’s normal. If your toddler tries to hit or push another or isn’t sharing, don’t spiral—it’s normal! Just keep an eye on them and intervene if necessary. Remember though: they are just trying to figure out how to relate with others.
- Don’t forget about “terrible twos”. You may start to see signs which includes saying no, ignoring you, or being more physical. All normal...and all to be expected.
At their two year check up, your pediatrician will likely ask questions about your child’s behavior to see if there are any signs of developmental delays or sensory concerns. If you notice anything you have questions about, make sure to ask.
23 Month Old Checklist
Time is moving fast! Here’s a checklist of some things to do this month with your 23 month old.
- Book your 23 month old’s two year old checkup if you haven’t already and start making a list of questions for your pediatrician.
- Look around the house to see if you need to put up a toddler gate or move things off the counter—your taller, curious, more confident toddler may inadvertently look for trouble.
- To help support your 23 month old with separation anxiety, make sure to remind your 23 month old you’ll be back whenever you leave them. Also reiterate how you returned when you came back.
- Despite their picky eating, make sure to offer a variety of nutritious foods. Even if they reject something, the more you offer it, the more it’ll become something they’ll be comfortable at least trying.
- Optimize their sleep with the Smart Sleep Coach by PampersTM app. Sleep is crucial for developmental milestones for 23 month olds and the app makes sure you’re putting your toddler to sleep at the best time for the most restorative sleep. It also helps you build lifelong sleep habits so they continue to get the rest they need to grow (and you get yours, too!)
Enjoy the next few weeks. You’ll have a two year old before you know it!
How We Wrote This Article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.
CDC, “How Much Sleep Do I need?”
American Academy of Pediatrics, “Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5”
American Academy of Pediatrics, “The Wonder Years”
American Academy of Pediatrics, “Media and Young Minds”
Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, “Toddler Bedtime Routines and Associations With Nighttime Sleep Duration and Maternal and Household Factors”
Behavioral Sleep Medicine, “The Family Context of Toddler Sleep: Routines, Sleep Environment, and Emotional Security Induction in the Hour before Bedtime”
Mayo Clinic, “Infant and toddler health”