I will never forget the time I told my toddler we would visit animals at the fair next week. She was ecstatic. We looked at a calendar to count four days until we would visit the animals. No big deal, I thought. If you have ever promised a toddler anything they are excited about, then you understand my rookie parenting mistake. Every time we got our shoes on, or got into the car, or left the house, she would enthusiastically proclaim, “We’re going to see the animals!”
If you are a parent of a toddler, you’ve probably wondered what milestones your child should be achieving at this age. These are the 8 most important toddler milestones and how to reach them.
1. Walking Independently
Toddlers often begin taking their first steps around the time they turn one. To encourage children to walk, parents can place a desirable object out of reach of a standing toddler and enthusiastically encourage the toddler to take steps toward the object. Another technique is for two caregivers to sit a few steps apart from each other. Then, have the toddler take steps from one person to the other.
As a toddler’s independence grows, he may begin to show interest in feeding himself. Parents can assist their child by placing bite size pieces of food in front of the child at meal time. In addition, the parent should provide plenty of time for the toddler to practice self-feeding because it often takes much longer. It makes me smile thinking of when my daughter first started feeding herself yogurt. By the end of the process, her entire face and arms would be smeared with the flavor of the day.
3. Walk Up and Down Stairs
Toddlers are often eager to try new tasks independently. Parents can help their child learn to walk up and down stairs by modeling how to hold onto a handrail and look down at each step as they go. In addition, parents can gently guide their toddler by holding his hand for support. To learn more about toddler needs, click here.
As a toddler learns to become proficient at walking, he will likely begin experimenting with running. It may be one of the most precious sights for proud parents to watch as your little one waddles herself into a run. As a parent, it’s best to encourage your child’s progress and not make a big deal of mistakes. Like many new skills, when toddlers learn to run, there are bound to be a few falls and bumped knees along the way. As hard as it may be, parents can support children by only intervening if the child’s safety is at risk. This strategy encourages independence and self-confidence.
As a parent, it’s best to encourage your child’s progress and not make a big deal of mistakes.
When a parent notices a toddler attempting to step over obstacles this is a good indication that the child may be ready to practice jumping. To begin, parents can play a game where the parent can help the toddler run over small obstacles. Also, parents can have children practice jumping off objects into their arms, of course always keeping the child’s safety as the first priority. Another technique is for parents to place two hula hoops on the ground to see if the child can hop from one to the other.
6. Uses 2-to-4 Word Sentences
Parents can promote using sentences by talking to their child often. Parents should explain what they are doing in daily situations like driving, shopping, cooking, reading, etc. This will help the toddler learn a variety of vocabulary. Caretakers can persuade their toddler to talk by responding to sounds or words, even if they don’t understand what the toddler is saying or if it’s not grammatically correct. One example of this is when my toddler would hide behind objects and pop out shouting, “Here is me!” Another technique is for parents to ask their toddler questions that require more than a yes or no answer. For example, instead of saying “Would you like to go on the slide?” they can ask, “What part of the park would you like to play on?”
7. Follows Simple Instructions
One simple way parents can encourage toddlers to follow directions is to praise the child when he follows the directions given. The younger the child is the more simple the instructions should be. Another strategy is to play the game Simon Says. To play this game, the parent would say “Simon says” followed by an action. For example, “Simon says, touch your head.”
8. Potty Training
Parents should watch for cues to signal their toddler is ready to potty train. Common cues are showing interest in what is done in the bathroom or telling the parent when he pees or poops. Parents can begin by experimenting with removing the toddler’s diaper for a period of time and allowing them to wear underwear or sit on the potty. In addition, parents can read books and talk about what is involved in going to the bathroom like wearing underwear, flushing the toilet, and washing hands. When parents believe their toddler is ready, they can reward any small progress the toddler makes.
How do you encourage your toddler to achieve important milestones?
Amy Lu is a Midwest mama from Michigan who enjoys sharing parenting and pregnancy resources with parents of young children on the blog, Making Motherhood Matter.