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What are the Milestones in Toddler Development?

Toddler Development is an exciting time. The toddler years mark the beginning of more independence. As your tinytot masters more and more functions your job is more to provide the stimulus and then get out of the way! Well, not really, your toddler will demand constant attention, and your interaction with your child is the most important aspect of toddler language development. However many parents help their children too much - this is such an important time of trying to master tasks, making lots of mistakes and learning patience. Yours and theirs!

If you have a specific question about toddler development, or parenting your toddler,
jump down to our Q & A Section.

18 month old painting outside Your toddler will learn to drink from a cup, using both hands, and an 18 month old will be fiercely independent. She wants to feed herself, and can use a spoon. She will start to understand object relationships such as cup and saucers, spoons into the bowl, and your tinytot will try to dress a doll.

When offered crayons and felt pens, she will love scribbling and uses her whole arm, and loves playing with chalks and paint. Let your kids paint the fence with non toxic paints. It washes off in the rain and keeps the mess outside! (Do check your paint, I still have Mia's painting on the back of my Garage wall!)

Toddler teeth develop rapidly at this time, during this next year your toddler will get six to ten new teeth.

Parenting Tips For Tiny Tots As parents we want to protect our children, we don't want them to get hurt, we don't want others to harm them. But teaching your child that the world is a safe and happy place to be is setting them up to be a much happier adult, rather than one who is fearful and mistrusting. Sure they will fall over and bump their head, but that is part of the learning process. Sometimes as adults we get too scared to try new things in case we fail or get hurt!

Toddler Development: Toddling!

My toddler running instead of walking You're off and running (well nearly!). Any time from now, your tinytot will be walking, and then running before you know it. (Boo hoo, no more little baby!!) There is a huge range as to what is normal in Toddler Development, so don't worry if your child takes a little longer than your friends.

I know a baby who sat happily for 18 months, hardly even crawling until finally deciding walking might be interesting. Whereas my daughter and son walked at 8 and 9 months so sadly soon left the baby stage behind. Nikole barely crawled, only to get to furniture and then would walk all around it to get to something, even if it would have been closer to crawl!

Toddler development growth rate slows around 18 month old, and they start to loose some of those lovely chubby rolls of baby fat.

Toddler Development Mile-Stones

  • Your baby can crawl incredibly fast, even when walking they will often drop to crawl to get somewhere quicker and more confidently.
  • He can get up to standing unassisted, and stands unsupported with legs splayed.
  • Your tiny tot starts to walk alone - even pushing your hand away when you want to help.
  • Can bend over to pick up toys (without always falling over!)
  • Toddlers get up/down stairs holding onto rail.
  • Learns to jump with both feet.
  • Tries running! (my son ran from the word go, I think he figured the only way he could keep upright was to move as quickly as possible!)

Toddler Development: Brain Power!

The toddler years are a time of incredible brain development. You can almost see the cogs turning as they try to figure things out! Their understanding of space and form increases - figuring out geometric shapes into holes, pegs in pegboards, large jigsaw puzzles are great educational toys.

Toddlers will poke smaller items into containers and then tip them out: pegs into bottles, sultanas or cereal into a cup. Tinytots will try to make mechanical toys work after watching Mom or Dad (and get very cross if you try to help!)

Toddlers love books and will help turn the pages and can point to pictures accurately. One of the best activities for good toddler development is Read, Read, Read!

Don't just ready baby books, you can read out of any book you are reading, or magazines, read the back of cereal boxes, point out the pictures. Click here to read about the importance of reading.

Toddler Development: Where's That Toy?

Toddler years are great for games, your tinytot will love playing hiding games. At first (when they see you hide it) they will look in the same place. Later as their little brain computes a bit more they will search in different places. Playing the game of where's baby (and pretending you can't see them) - and searching behind chairs, under cushions in boxes etc will delight your little one. Toddlers start to find things intensely funny, and love repetitive exciting games.

Toddler Development: Playtime is learning

Toddler development at this stage highlights the importance of playing. Your toddler will start to have more control over objects they are playing with, passing from hand to hand, holding more than one toy, and controlling a group of toys instead of drop and forget when they spot something new. Unlike infants, a toddler is less likely to put everything in her mouth as the primary way of exploring it.

Tiny Tots Playtime

  • Your Tinytot can carry toys from place to place.
  • She loves pulling toys while walking, or pushing boxes along the floor.
  • She will offer toys to you or hold something up she is pleased with.
  • Your toddler can stack blocks, maybe even up to six
  • Toddlers love ball games, and by this stage can start to have some control over where they throw. (something I've never mastered - maybe I missed a vital developmental stage!)

Toddler Language Development:
Talkie Talk, keep talking happy talk ....

Finally your Tinytot starts to be able to TELL you what they want (and most forcibly!) From the babbling of infants, to simple words, then chatting, toddler language development grows in leaps and bounds.

Initially one word says it all! "Me" has a multitude of meanings, from I want a drink, to give me one of those cookies. At this stage of toddler development, the world revolves around Me - an 18 month old is very egocentric!

Then your toddler starts to string words together, "bye daddy", "more juice". Then eventually short sentences, "where daddy gone?" He has many intelligible words (thank goodness!) and can name everyday objects.

He is able to understand and carry out simple directions; "give Mummy the ball" Your tinytot can identify different people, objects or toys and point when asked "where's Grandma? Where's Teddy?".

He loves pointing to body parts; "where's your nose?", "Show me your tummy?" He responds to simple questions with "yes" or "no" and shakes or nods his head.

Toddlers love rhymes and songs and your tinytot will try to sing along or make the movements, such as clapping, patting the tummy.

Parenting Tips For Toddler Development Take notice of what you are exposing your child to! Many a parent has been embarrassed when their child suddenly swears!

Play lots of different music. Play guided visualizations. Play CDs with rhymes, songs and stories for kids. Play CDs or downloads from inspirational teachers, expose your child to a variety of voices, languages, speech, but try to limit the negative stuff. Your child is naturally positive, why mess them up with a whole lot of negative junk?

Toddler Development: Socialization

Toddler Development, Socialization and Talking Toddlers are less wary of strangers and enjoys adult attention. Your tinytot will be quite happy playing by himself for short periods, so long as you, or a close adult is nearby. A Toddler will be very affectionate, showering you with hugs and kisses (yum!)

Although at this stage of toddler development, your child will enjoy the company of other children, they don't play together, but play along side each other quite happily. However you will begin to notice an 18 month old may pass a toy to a little friend as she gets older.

Your Toddler can be quite helpful when asked, putting toys in the box, or bringing you a book. I had my two children a year apart (to the day!) and my eldest was a wonderful help, bringing me nappies and putting washing in the basket. This is also the time where your little angel can become a little devil! Asserting her independence and refusing to cooperate. You may have the fun of a few tantrums when she gets overly tired or frustrated.

Parenting Tips For Toddler Development I have found tantrums are usually one of two things: Firstly your toddler is over-tired and overwhelmed with how he is feeling. Patience is the key! Try to avoid activities that require a lot of cooperation when he is tired. For example, does it really matter if he has a bath before bed? Bath time for some children is soothing and part of night time routine, but if it is something that is rushed and you are trying to get onto cooking dinner, then it can be a drama.

The second reason for Tantrums is your Tinytot knows VERY clearly what he wants and you are in the way! This doesn't mean his desires are more important that yours, but setting up a power struggle will have you both miserable.

Is it really important that he gets changed into pajamas for bed? Is it really important that he is dressed beautifully to visit grandma? I would rather see a smiley grubby baby than a grumpy clean one! (well, within reason! I'm not good with snotty noses, and kids HATE having their nose wiped!) Remember, make it all a game rather than a battle of wills.

Click here for answers to questions about Two Year Old Temper Tantrums

Toddler Development: Potty training!

A two year old will have started to become aware of the urge to urinate, and between two and three, your toddler will start to be dry during the day, apart from the odd accident.

There is something that is delaying Toddler Development and Potty Training - disposable nappies! Unlike cloth diapers, disposables mean a toddler does not become aware of a cold wet diaper. So it appears to be delaying the age our toddlers start to get the physical message about peeing. Apart from the environmental aspect of all those disposables, getting your toddler into pants without a nappy (diaper) will speed up the recognition process. Sure you will have a few puddles to wipe up, but think how much it will save you in purchasing disposables!

Toddlers love role play games, so using toys and pretending they do a wee or poo in the toilet and flush it away will have them amused and keen to try it. The little Monkey from Amazon, even comes with his own flush toilet!

However, a few children don't develop the connections in their brain to be aware of bladder pressure until they are quite old, occasionally even until puberty. So don't turn it into an issue, being cross or punishing for a wet bed simply turns a physical developmental problem into a psychological one. Most importantly, keep it light, make it fun, not a pressure, and your toddler will soon get the hang of it. If you can handle the lack of privacy, let your little kids see that Mummy and Daddy can get it in the toilet! (Clever Daddy!!) Yes, it is great to finally get rid of those nappies (diapers) but just chill out with the timing of it all.

Toddler Development is such a time of change and growth as they master so many new things. The toddler years are a busy time, filled with play and adventure.

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Answers by Parent Coach Annie Desantis

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Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one's self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily.

Thomas Szasz
Parenting Tips For toddler-development Let your tiny tot make a mess! Too often I see parents constantly cleaning up or telling a little one he is being dirty or making a mess.

Making a mess is a really important developmental stage. How will they ever learn to control their mess if they can never make one? Ask yourself why do you need to clean them up - is it that you want a magazine clean model baby so you look good?

I am always happier to see kids covered in mud or paint or surrounded by piles of things they are happily playing with. It doesn't mean you can't teach them to tidy up or wash hands for dinner, but let them go for it! And get stuck in yourself - maybe it is time you got down and dirty!

Toddler Development - Let them get messy!
Rodgers and Hammerstein
From the Musical, South Pacific

This Fits Toddlers to a Tee!

Happy talk, keep talkin' happy talk,
Talk about things you'd like to do.
You got to have a dream,
If you don't have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?

Talk about the moon floatin' in the sky
Lookin' at a lily on the lake;
Talk about a bird learnin' how to fly.
Makin' all the music he can make.

Happy talk, keep talkin' happy talk,
Talk about things you'd like to do.
You got to have a dream,
If you don't have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?

Talk about the sparrow lookin' like a toy
Pickin' through the branches of a tree;
Talk about the girl, talk about the boy
Countin' all the ripples on the sea.

Happy talk, keep talkin' happy talk,
Talk about things you'd like to do.
You got to have a dream,
If you don't have a dream
How you gonna have a dream come true?

Talk about the boy sayin' to the girl:
"Golly, baby, I'm a lucky cuss."
Talk about the girl sayin' to the boy:
"You an' me is lucky to be us!"

Happy talk, keep talkin' happy talk,
Talk about things you'd like to do.
You got to have a dream,
If you don't have a dream
How you gonna have a dream come true?

If you don't talk happy,
And you never have dream,
Then you'll never have a dream come true!

It's good idea, you like?

More Child Development Articles
The next step in Toddler Development, is Preschoolers
What have you got in store as your Toddler moves to the next stage of development? Heaps of information and tips to inspire you.

The Kindergarten child
Kindergarten years vary in different states and countries. What is in store for your preschool children aged between four - six years as they prepare for school?

Young Kids At School
Going to school heralds a major milestone in our children's life. Tips and information about behavior, school, and what you can expect developmentally.

Ask Annie Parenting Questions
Online Coaching with Annie. For General Questions about parenting, or to read lots of questions from other parents, visit our parenting questions page. For questions about toddler development or parenting toddlers, ask on this page!


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Did you know a two year old's brain is 80% the size it will be as an adult?

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