Your toddler doesn’t understand the need to eat regular servings of nutritious food and get sleep to have energy and maintain co-ordination – that is your job and why routines can be important. Whingy and clingy behaviour escalates when days aren’t balanced as the risk of inadequate sleep and food intake is increased.
By around 24 months your toddler’s memory is more developed and they begin to retain more words and actions. They continue to build their memory with experiences. They are concrete thinkers, meaning they learn from seeing and touching which often gets them into trouble. They may begin to initiate toilet needs. They also start to question everything around them and their ability to communicate their wants and needs is increasing daily.
Your toddler’s attention span is increasing (although still very short). They will be beginning to think, understand, reason and remember. At around 2 years of age your toddler is able to keep their attention on one task and may persist with a particular activity until they master it. Your toddler is using their senses to explore and do.
A giant developmental leap forward occurs as your toddler begins to understand much of what you say and becomes more responsive. For example, you may tell them it is time for dinner and then find them standing next to their high chair. Or you might say to them that you’ve lost your purse—and they’ll go and find it for you. This makes talking to your toddler a lot more fun—but you may also find yourself spelling out words like n-a-p when they’re nearby and can hear you. Your toddler usually has more receptive language (understanding) rather than expressive (talking).
As your toddler develops language skills and learns more about how objects work and the world around them, they will begin simple forms of fantasy play, such as putting a toy telephone receiver to their ear, driving the car or imitating your actions such as leaning on your hand. Imitation and role play are a big part of how your toddler is learning and remember whatever you do or say will usually be copied or replayed over and over as they learn and master details of how to act. Your toddler will start to construct their own identity and begin to assert themselves when they don’t get things to go their way – the beginning of tantrums.
Some ways you can assist your toddler’s cognitive development:
* Allow your toddler to express their feelings openly;
* Help them do things to reduce their frustration;
* Allow them opportunities to make decisions from two choices;
* Help them get involved in their world through play, reading books and helping you;
* Talk to them as you go about your day;
* Ensure they get nutritious food regularly;
* Encourage good sleeping patterns.
Your toddler is developing mental growth, intelligence, responsiveness and perceptual capabilities daily. Your baby’s brain grows more in the first few years than it will the rest of their life!
By around 12 months your toddleris able to copy your actions. They can search for hidden objects and have a great interest in their surroundings.
By around 18 months your toddler is expanding their language skills by naming things that they know when they see them in books or elsewhere.
Your toddler has no real understanding of size and space and can develop a sudden fear of being sucked down the plug-hole or out through the flushed toilet. Don’t dismiss these fears, listen to their concerns and try to explain the reality of these situations.
Understanding Toddler Growth
Lovely toddler girl cleanng the roomYour toddler’s growth rate begins to slow from around 12 months old, although their height and weight will continue to steadily increase. It is important to track your toddler’s length and weight as this is one of the key indicators of healthy growth. Often this will happen at your child health nurse appointments.
You will notice your toddler is more on the move and with this increased activity their body fat begins to change in to lean muscle – unless of course their diet is unbalanced and their intake is not matched by what they burn off through activity.
As your toddler gets older (24 – 36 months), they will desire to be more independent – tantrums may increase as boundaries and rules are reinforced. It is important to have boundaries and rules even though your toddler will do their best to break them.
~Your toddler will amaze you more and more every day, they will develop new skills on a daily basis, many of which go unnoticed because there are just too many to keep track of – beginning to talk, walk, run, jump, and of course the dreaded tantrums. Our chapter on toddler development will cover many different milestones, and while you read on take time to enjoy the ones you’re noticing in your toddler. Keep in mind though the information in this chapter does not cover every little developmental milestone, if you have any concerns about your toddlers development you should contact your doctor or child health nurse. At 12 months your baby is now considered a toddler. In addition to physical growth and fine motor development they will experience great social, emotional, language and cognitive development. The speed of growth in these areas may depend on genetics and even their position in the family such as only child, oldest child or youngest of several siblings. Your toddler’s development will also be influenced by the opportunities they have to explore and the type of sensory stimulation they experience.
Understanding Toddler Development
Two of your toddler’s favourite words may be ‘no’ and ‘mine’. They’ll experiment with testing their limits and being more assertive. They may insist on attempting to spoon feed themselves or perhaps show anger when a toy is taken away. Your toddler may be more social or more wary of strangers. They may like meeting new people and following conversations—especially when they can join in. You will probably find that they love being with children their own age. Your toddler has become aware of their individuality and wants to let you and others know. Up until now it was you that made decisions for them but now they will begin to have their own opinion – perhaps a glimpse of the teenage years to come.
All toddlers do not develop the same or in the same way
Your toddler develops daily and each moment they will achieve a little more of a new milestone. Even though milestones are based on research each toddler takes their own time to attain these milestones. As you watch your toddler grow, remember that children develop at different rates. If your toddler isn’t developing like other children of the same age and you are concerned seek professional help.
What you can do to help your toddler grow
* Offer healthy food options;
* Offer water over juice or fizzy drinks;
* Avoid processed foods, foods high in sugar and takeaways as much as possible;
* Follow a routine and continue rest time during the day even if your toddler doesn’t actually sleep, toddlers love consistency;
* Encourage physical activity;
* Limit television and electronic games under 2 years old and restrict time spent watching television from two years old;
* Your toddler will need around 12 – 14 hours of sleep a day (many toddlers may still have a daytime nap);
* Provide your toddler with opportunities to play and explore safely – they have no concept of danger and need protection from injury;
* Encourage and praise your little ones efforts;
* Have your toddler help you with simple physical activities around the house, such as sweeping the floor and washing up and putting away their clothes. Turn learning a new skill into a game so that it’s fun for both of you.