Birth to 2 Years

Understanding Your Child’s Development

Welcome to the world of parenting! Your child will go through many changes in just a couple of years and their overall development will follow a pattern. As your baby grows they are able to do more—recognize people, hold objects, sit up, crawl, stand and eventually walk. As they become a toddler they will have constant energy and emotion. They will also start to question everything around them. Learning about your child at this age will help you to understand their development.  Read more about what your child is experiencing in this stage of development.

Here are some ways you can help your child understand and cope with feelings:

  • Describe to them what you think they’re feeling and show empathy for them.
  • Distract them with an interesting toy, game or song.
  • Redirect their attention by changing the activity or move it to a more suitable place.




  • Very rapid growth, however, your child will grow and develop at their own pace.


  • Learns about love and trust through touching and holding.
  • Becomes very responsive to physical touch and picks up non-verbal/verbal messages that begin to shape an understanding of their own sexuality.
  • Explores their own body parts. They have a growing awareness of bodily functions and the messages from parents and others about these functions.
  • Develops an increased interest in people’s bodies, particularly those of family members.
  • Experiences awareness of pleasure. From birth, boys experience erections and girls lubricate vaginally.


  • Begins to want and need independence and will start to resist limits.
  • Has a favourite toy or blanket for comfort and security.
  • Has mood swings and tantrums.

Cognitive (Learning & Thinking)

  • Needs to establish trust and feel secure in their relationships to significant others (e.g., parents, siblings, extended family members).
  • Often curious and explores through touch.
  • Focuses on themselves as they realize they are a separate person from you.
  • Needs to learn who they are before they can understand others.


  • Develops fear of strange objects and events, and separation from caregivers.
  • Likes to watch and be with other children but can’t play co-operatively yet.
  • Copies others’ actions.
  • Starts to show concern for others.
  • Not able to share yet.

For more information on healthy growth and development, visit Healthy Parents, Healthy Children.

For information on children with Differing Abilities, click here.

The love and warmth a baby feels helps them to develop trust and the ability to give and receive love and affection in later life.


What They Need to Know

In these early years, your child will need your help to understand their emotions and their bodies. Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Teach your child the correct names for private body parts and that their body is private. This may help children stay safe in that they can accurately tell a trusted adult if someone tries to touch them sexually.
  • Provide your toddler with lots of opportunities to play with other children their own age. Your child might not get along with others right away —they will learn this with time, practice and the help of you and others. This will help them to form healthy relationships as they grow older.
  • Help your child understand the difference between males and females. When children can express themselves, they will declare themselves to be a boy or a girl, or sometimes something in between.

Click here to learn tips for discussing sexual health.

Helpful Tools


Parent Guide (0-12 year olds)

This resource will help you prepare for the ongoing conversations you’ll have with your child about sexual health. Whether you’ve had conversations in the past or not, it’s never too late to start!


Sexuality Wheel

The Sexuality Wheel depicts just how broad the concept of sexuality really is.


FAQ Topic Flash Cards

See sample questions and answers to help you start the conversation about sexual health with your child.


Tips for Discussing Sexual Health

Here are some tips for starting or having conversations about sexual health, at any age.

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