Your toddler is almost 2, so make a point of enjoying each day of the last few weeks before they reach another milestone birthday. This is the age and stage where a little opposition makes its appearance, causing parents to wonder what they’re doing wrong. All toddlers tend to have a short fuse and try to test the boundaries. They can escalate to distress in a split second, but then just as easily revert back to being calm and eventempered. Try not to use your toddler’s moods as a guide for your own. They will look to you for help with regulating their emotions and making sense of the world. By staying calm, reassuring and supportive they will learn that no matter how they feel, you are there for them.
It’s important for every parent to have a little time each day just for themselves. Although this can be difficult, investing just ½ hour into a pleasurable activity can be very restorative. Go for a walk, read a book, talk with a friend on the phone. You may need to be creative about making this happen, but in the same way you nurture your children, you need to do the same for yourself.
Growth and development
Your toddler is almost half the height that they will be when fully grown. Their long bones are going through continual change as they mature, meaning you’ll need to make sure they’re getting plenty of nutrition to fuel their bone growth. Don’t worry if your 23-month-old still has bowed legs. Most toddlers have legs that straighten out somewhere between 18 months and 2 years. But their legs won’t assume their permanent appearance until around 7 years.
Your toddler’s facial appearance may still be quite immature now, with their eyes, nose and mouth still concentrated in the lower half of their face. This will make them look cute and it will be very difficult to ignore their requests sometimes. If you feel yourself driven to pick them up and give them a big kiss and cuddle, then give in to temptation. Nature has designed your toddler to be totally appealing to you, even though at times their behaviour may leave you shaking your head.
Check your toddler’s shoes still fit them and they haven’t outgrown them. Sandals are ideal to gauge correct sizing but enclosed shoes and boots are more of a challenge. When buying new shoes, try look for ones that don’t have such a rigid sole. Some flexibility is important to ensure that the shoe is firmly attached to their foot.
An enclosed heel cup, adjustable straps, natural components and breathability are all important factors. When buying new shoes, look for sizing that allows for at least your thumb width from the top of their toes to the tip of the shoe. Although buying shoes with the view that they will grow into them may save you money, there is a point where shoes which are too big become a tripping hazard.
Play and interaction
If you can, provide your children with a variety of toys that are made from different materials. Having masses of plastic scattered throughout the house does little to appeal to anyone’s aesthetic senses. Wooden toys and those made from natural materials provide a different tactile experience and are often more simplistic in their design elements. Encourage your toddler to be creative and use nature sourced items in their play. Seed pods, leaves, grasses and even feathers introduce another dimension. Your toddler will look to you for approval when they seek out different things to play with, so be encouraging when they are on their little nature discovery voyages.
Look for games that balance interaction and solo play. Even at this young age your toddler will be learning what’s involved in entertaining themselves and keeping their brains active. If you have other children they will inevitably play together. Only children can look to their parents for constant stimulus and benefit from learning skills in self-initiated play.
What you can expect this month
Get ready for more imaginative play times and talking this month. Your toddler will be able to string together a few words and make more sense in their conversation. There’ll be times when you are able to have a conversation with them and share input about simple concepts. They will understand a lot more than you sometimes give them credit for. Your 23-month-old may surprise you with what they retain and how well they remember things.
This is really the age of discovery and adventure, which means your toddler is bound to get up to mischief. Watch the messages you give them and try not to be negative.
Of course there’ll be days when it seems that parenting them is the easiest thing you’ve ever done and others where you’ll question your own abilities. Parenting is a marathon not a sprint, so pick your battles and aim for an easy life.
Your toddler will let you know they’re awake in the mornings, so shelve any plans you have for long sleep-ins. If they are in a bed, they’ll come looking for you and probably want to climb into your bed for a cuddle. This can be a lovely time of the day, when they are still warm and cosy from sleep and waking up to the day themselves. Where time allows, make the most of this opportunity. Have a little chat about what they’d like to do that day, what they dreamt of and what they want for breakfast.
Food and nutrition
Your toddler will still need to be persuaded to sit while they eat, which means using the high chair or a booster seat positioned at the table. Their tolerance for staying still will be fairly short though, so avoid making them wait for long periods before serving. If they aren’t hungry or just want to pick at their meals, take the hint and end the meal. Try not to focus on what they’ve eaten at each individual meal time, but rather look at their total intake over 1-2 days.
It is normal for toddlers to vary their intake and go through stages of not wanting or needing to eat much. Offer them only healthy food choices and think about whether their food is supporting their body’s growth. Read labels, know what is in their food, and aim for less packaged or processed food where possible.
If your 23-month-old isn’t keen to drink milk, offer it to them in alternative forms. Solid milk such as in yoghurt, cheese and ice-cream are all optimum sources of calcium and phosphorus. Mix grated cheese through their vegetables, add a little butter to their meals or spread some cream cheese on a couple of crackers. Fish with edible bones and green leafy vegetables are also good sources of calcium.
Keeping your toddler healthy
Keep your toddler’s towel and facecloth separate from the rest of the family’s and make sure they know which ones are theirs. Show them their own toothbrush and teach them to recognise its colour. Don’t share your toddler’s pillows or bed linen and use sensible household precautions when it comes to minimising cross infections amongst family members.
If your toddler has been sick and has now recovered, replace their toothbrush, change their bed linen and wash any toys they may have been in contact with.
If they were prescribed antibiotics, it is important that they finish the entire course to avoid recurrence of symptoms. Make sure you have paracetamol in the house – trying to find an emergency pharmacy late at night is a situation best avoided.
If your toddler is toilet training, show them how to flush the toilet and wash their hands afterwards. There is no need to use anti-bacterial hand wash or soaps in normal domestic situations – standard household soap is sufficient.
Play games that require matching and grouping similar objects together.
Recognising similarities comes with age and practice and is a lifelong skill.
Keep talking, singing, rhyming and laughing with your 23-month-old every day.
Try not to take life too seriously and aim to keep things simple. Your toddler won’t care how clean the house is, but they will notice if you are happy and animated.
If your toddler is going to day care, learn how to be organised.
Avoid the early morning rush by preparing clothing the night before and invest in a slow cooker or whatever technology is available that can help.
Introduce your toddler to people when you see them and be aware that they are listening.
The days of having an uninterrupted conversation are over and if your toddler wants to add their two cents worth, let them.
When your toddler says something funny, write it down in a safe place.
You’ll read back over these comments in years to come and it’ll be the best!