Toddler’s Second Year: A Thrilling Voyage of Progress and Curiosity!
Client families know that the nannies we represent are not only experienced and professional, but knowledgeable about the various developmental milestones that children experience. Monitoring these milestones determines whether a child’s development is on track, and can provide warning signs for developmental delays. It also can explain children’s behavior (what is healthy development versus concerning), and give you direction for age-appropriate activities to reach those milestones.
Milestones can be social/emotional, language/communication, cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving), or movement/physical development (or a combination). Here are some key milestones to be aware of from 1-2 years, although there are many more.
- Mobility: first, they walk independently or with minimal support, then climb stairs with assistance, and eventually can run and explore their surroundings enthusiastically
- Speaking: they start by uttering a few words or phrases, expand their vocabulary to 50+ words, and eventually speak in two to three-word sentences (they learn about 1 new word per week between 1½ and 2 years), and be understood by others about half the time
- Understanding/Emotions: the child can follow simple instructions, then demonstrate basic problem-solving skills, recognize themselves (in photos or a mirror) and names of familiar people and objects, point to body parts when asked
- Play: they can engage in parallel play with peers, then imitate household activities and behavior of others (eg, playing house with a mini kitchen and fake food), start to sort objects by shape or color, point to interesting objects or events, and engage in imaginative play
- Independence: child may start with attachment to caregivers, begin to express likes and dislikes, begin to show defiant behavior, start to increase independence, exploring new objects and people, and eventually express a wide range of emotions
- Other: child may show interest in potty training; the toddler also may became a picky and/or erratic eater – offer a selection of healthy foods and keep trying new foods
While each child is at their own pace, and there is no formula to make sure each child hits every milestone on time, there are some ways to encourage the child’s development year 1-2, including:
- Encourage Independence and Movement: allow the child ample time and a SAFE (MOST IMPORTANT) space to explore, move freely (running, kicking, climbing, or jumping – let them be active as they are developing their coordination and becoming strong), and try new things (such as dressing and feeding themselves)
- Foster Emotional Bonds: show affection through cuddling, hugging, and tickling, reinforcing the emotional connection between you and the child
- Offer Stimulating Toys: provide toys with diverse textures, colors, and sounds; these stimulate sensory development, fine motor skills, and creativity; games with sorting, matching, and/or simple puzzles work great
- Praise Efforts: celebrate the child’s achievements, no matter how small; Positive reinforcement encourages them to explore new skills and boosts their self-confidence
- Engage in Conversations: keep up the dialogue with the toddler, even if their vocabulary is still limited; Naming objects and waiting for them to respond helps foster communication skills and reading to the toddler builds the vocabulary and understanding
- Promote Social Interaction: encourage the child to interact with peers at playdates, classes, the park, etc.; these experiences aid in developing social skills and cooperation
A Word of Caution
This age of exploration means the child will be moving around more and coming across more dangers. You will of course need to keep a close watch on the child, but there are a few specific things to consider:
- Do NOT leave a toddler near or around water without someone watching them at all times
- Block off stairs with gates
- Lock doors to dangerous places such as the garage, sheds, etc.
- Place plug covers on all unused electrical outlets
- Keep kitchen appliances, irons, and heaters out of reach
- Keep sharp objects (including pens) in a safe place
- Ensure that medicines, household cleaners, and poisons are locked up or out of reach
Watching little ones grow and reach these milestones is an incredibly rewarding journey. Remember, there’s no need to stress over the child achieving every milestone precisely on time. Each child is a unique individual and will progress at their own pace. The key is to provide a nurturing and stimulating environment, offer them love, and applaud every step they take towards growth and development. So, savor the ride, cherish these moments, and let your amazing toddlers continue to astonish you with their brilliance!