Toddlers (1-2 years of age)

 A happy toddler boy

Developmental Milestones

Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving “bye-bye” are called developmental milestones. Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move (like crawling, walking, or jumping).

During the second year, toddlers are moving around more, and are aware of themselves and their surroundings. Their desire to explore new objects and people also is increasing. During this stage, toddlers will show greater independence; begin to show defiant behavior; recognize themselves in pictures or a mirror; and imitate the behavior of others, especially adults and older children. Toddlers also should be able to recognize the names of familiar people and objects, form simple phrases and sentences, and follow simple instructions and directions.

Positive Parenting Tips

Following are some of the things you, as a parent, can do to help your toddler during this time:
Mother reading to toddler
  • Read to your toddler daily.
  • Ask her to find objects for you or name body parts and objects.
  • Play matching games with your toddler, like shape sorting and simple puzzles.
  • Encourage him to explore and try new things.
  • Help to develop your toddler’s language by talking with her and adding to words she starts. For example, if your toddler says “baba”, you can respond, “Yes, you are right―that is a bottle.”
  • Encourage your child’s growing independence by letting him help with dressing himself and feeding himself.
  • Respond to wanted behaviors more than you punish unwanted behaviors (use only very brief time outs). Always tell or show your child what she should do instead.
  • Encourage your toddler’s curiosity and ability to recognize common objects by taking field trips together to the park or going on a bus ride.

Child Safety First

Because your child is moving around more, he will come across more dangers as well. Dangerous situations can happen quickly, so keep a close eye on your child. Here are a few tips to help keep your growing toddler safe:

  • Do NOT leave your toddler near or around water (for example, bathtubs, pools, ponds, lakes, whirlpools, or the ocean) without someone watching her. Fence off backyard pools. Drowning is the leading cause of injury and death among this age group.
  • Block off stairs with a small gate or fence. Lock doors to dangerous places such as the garage or basement.
  • Ensure that your home is toddler proof by placing plug covers on all unused electrical outlets.
  • Keep kitchen appliances, irons, and heaters out of reach of your toddler. Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove.
  • Keep sharp objects such as scissors, knives, and pens in a safe place.
  • Lock up medicines, household cleaners, and poisons.
  • Do NOT leave your toddler alone in any vehicle (that means a car, truck, or van) even for a few moments.
  • Store any guns in a safe place out of his reach.
  • Keep your child’s car seat rear-facing as long as possible. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration it’s the best way to keep her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, she is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

Healthy Bodies

  • Give your child water and plain milk instead of sugary drinks. After the first year, when your nursing toddler is eating more and different solid foods, breast milk is still an ideal addition to his diet.
  • Your toddler might become a very picky and erratic eater. Toddlers need less food because they don’t grow as fast. It’s best not to battle with him over this. Offer a selection of healthy foods and let him choose what she wants. Keep trying new foods; it might take time for him to learn to like them.
  • Limit screen time. For children younger than 2 years of age, the AAP recommends that it’s best if toddlers not watch any screen media.
  • Your toddler will seem to be moving continually—running, kicking, climbing, or jumping. Let him be active—he’s developing his coordination and becoming strong.


Generally between the ages of 1 and 2, a toddler requires about 10 to 13 hours of sleep a day. Two to three hours in day time and 9-10 hours at night. From about one year, your toddler will settle down to sleep much more happily if the whole process of going to bed follows a routine.

Babies love routine and rituals. Start the routine in the same way every evening, by giving a bath or if she does not care for it much, give a bed time feeding if she still has one or lie close to her and pat her rhythmically so as to relax her. Any time between 7 pm to 9 pm would be suitable.

Position your baby’s favorite soft toy next to her while she’s sleeping. Just make sure your toddler is getting enough rest. And remember that every child is different, some need up to two hours more or less sleep than others.


By about 1 to 2 year old, your toddler should be moving towards eating the same food at mealtimes that the rest of the family are having. Although she may still be getting half or more of her daily calories from breast milk or formula, regular table food is helping to balance out her diet. Some toddlers may show a decreased appetite about now. In the second year of their life, baby’s growth is slowing down and they may add only about 3-4kgs of weight. Teething also can make your baby lose interest in food. Try to strike the right balance between letting her eat when she’s hungry and letting her pick at her food when she’s not. Don’t force food on her, but maintain control over her nutritious and healthful snacking between meals and breastfeed as often as your child wants and continue until a baby’s second birthday.  Although you can now start to offer foods you’ve been withholding milk, citrus fruits, egg whites, be on the lookout for any allergic reactions. Provide fruit or unsweetened yogurt for dessert at meals. Cheese is excellent too, because it neutralizes the acid that forms in the mouth and attacks tooth enamel. Take care to avoid foods that cause choking such as popcorn, hard candies, chunks of carrots, grapes, raisins and whole nuts. Cut or finely chop such foods, or simply wait until your baby gets older.

Bottle Feeding

It is important never to give sweet drinks in the baby bottle. This can be harmful once a baby’s teeth start appearing. Try not to let the baby develop the habit of sleeping with a bottle at night or at nap time. Infants and toddlers should not be put to bed with a feeding bottle or dinky feeder. Baby’s bottle should be used for feeding – not as a pacifier.

A baby will be able to use a cup at 6 months, and they can be weaned off a bottle by 12 months. Give baby plenty of cooled boiled water to drink and about 1 pint of milk each day (breast or formulated milk up to one year and cows milk after that).


Baby chewing ring

Some babies get sore gums when they are teething. Babies can get restless or irritable, and they might start sleeping or feeding badly. Sometimes this may lead to problems digesting food or to loose stools. Teething doesn’t make a baby really sick, though, so any sick child should be seen by a doctor – don’t pass it off as just ‘teething’.


Not all children need soothers or pacifiers. If you feel the baby needs a pacifier it is important to make sure it is of the correct design. An Orthodontic type one is the most suitable. Only use it when absolutely necessary and wean the baby off it as soon as possible. Otherwise it may have long term ill effects on the way a baby’s teeth grow. Never dip the soother into sugary liquid (honey, jams or syrupy medicines) to encourage the child to use it.Thumb sucking

Babies get a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from sucking things – including their own thumbs. There is no real harm in letting them suck their thumbs. Most infants will stop of their own accord. You can expect children to have given up sucking by the age of 4 years.

Thumbsucking is only really a problem if children go on sucking their thumbs after this age. Some children suck their thumbs very hard. This can pull their teeth out of shape. Children who suck hard should be helped to give up. It you want to help a child to give up sucking, remember that sucking makes the child feel contented and secure. Encourage the child to do other things instead.

Dental Injuries

When children are learning to walk they are especially likely to fall and injure their teeth or mouth. You should bring a child to see a dentist if they hurt their mouth and the bleeding doesn’t stop, or if they damage a tooth, or if they fall and drive a tooth back up into their gum. Your dentist will be able to take an x-ray and decide if anything needs to be done. Very often, all that is needed after an injury is to keep a close eye on the child’s teeth and gums for a while, but you should check with a dentist to make sure.

If baby’s gums seem sore or baby seems cranky and dribbles a lot, there are some things that you can do to help.

Try giving baby something to chew on. There is a good selection of teething rings on the market – but make sure they are made of soft material and are big enough so that there is no danger of choking. Some parents/carers find that teething rings containing fluid which can be cooled in the fridge are best. Milk, cooled boiled water, or very diluted sugar-free fruit juices may help – sweet drinks do not. If baby wakes at night and is irritable, you can use a mild pain reliever – preferably sugar-free. Ask your doctor or public health nurse to recommend one. Avoid ointments which numb the gum unless your dentist recommends them.

Height and Weight

While developmental growth is going full speed ahead, physical growth slows down during this year. After her first birthday, your toddler won’t put weight on steadily. He/ she may gain only 3-4kgs this year.

An average 15-month-old girl weighs about 22 pounds (10kgs) and stands 31 inches tall. Boys tend to be about a pound heavier at 15 months but about the same height. By age 2, both will stand about 34 inches tall and weigh about 27 or 28 pounds (12-13 kgs) on an average. Your toddler’s head size will also more or less remain steady. He’ll probably add about an inch to his head circumference, bringing him closer to his adult head size.

Physical Changes of your baby

Crawls well, stands alone, sits down. Towards the end of this year, your child may grow confident and skillful enough to go up and down the stairs alone, by holding onto the railing.

Touching and Holding
Likes to push, pull and dump things. Holds crayons. He may scribble,  but with little control. Turns pages in a book. Feeds self with spoon, waves bye-bye and claps hands. Rolls a ball. From about 18 months your child will be able to build a tower of four or even five blocks. Plays alone on floor with toys. Your baby will be fascinated by pictures long before she can talk, and will love looking at books.

Talking and Hearing
Says “hi” or “bye” if reminded. Says 8-20 words you can understand. At about 18 months of age, babies realize that words does have a meaning. When you ask him, he’ll point to objects or pictures and hand them over to you. He even points out his eyes, hands , nose, mouth etc if you teach him. By the age of two he may be able to say two words together such as ‘me go’, ‘wha is’ and will know about 200 words in all.

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