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Your 15 – 18 month old – toddler development guide

Toddler Development Guide - 15-18 months oldHaving spent the past few months learning to walk (and maybe even run and climb) your little one is ready to tackle the next big challenge – talking!

In fact, your toddler may even be talking already – you just can’t understand them yet. You might start to notice that your child is using the same word for the same thing, even if that word isn’t sounding quite right at the moment.

In the next few months your toddler will probably learn between 6 and 20 recognisable words, and understands many more (test this theory by naming body parts to see if they point to the right ones). At first a toddler’s pronunciation will be pretty interesting and often only you will understand him. Don’t shy away from big words though as they’re all helping to build your child’s vocabulary.

How is your toddler going?

Sleep

At 15-18 months, it is recommended that toddlers have about 11-14 hours of sleep each day.

If your toddler is still having two naps a day, they will most likely start the transition to just one nap a day during these three months. Watch out for signs your toddler is ready to drop to one nap including: they’re increasingly difficult to put to sleep in their first nap or second nap, their second nap is getting so late that it is pushing back their usual bedtime or they are not tired at bedtime.

Typically a toddler who is adjusting to one nap a day will probably be ready for that nap in the late morning. As they get older it will become a bit later. You may have to be flexible with your routine – have lunch, dinner and bedtime slightly earlier – until the adjustment period is over.

Feed

Don’t be too surprised if your toddler starts to become a more fussy eater. Fussy eating is quite a normal phase for toddlers and most will grow out of it. The key is to continue to expose your child to a range of nutritious food and to not panic. We have more advice in this article – tips for parents of fussy eaters.

Children at this age will enjoy playing with their dinner as much as they will enjoy eating it (maybe more). Try not to stress too much about the mess – it is all part of the experience, they are experimenting with food and at least they are enjoying meal time.

They are probably using their fingers to eat most of their food now but it is important to introduce them to cutlery as well. Teaching your child to use a spoon is beneficial for their motor development – a step towards able to hold a pencil and write. It will take some practice and will be messy while they’re still learning, so have some face washers and perhaps a mat under their high chair. Read more about the benefits of teaching your child to use cutlery from the perspective of an occupational therapist.

Play

Crack out the fridge magnets and get ready to hang some baby artwork. Your little one can probably hold a crayon in his fist and scribble on some paper – a little Picasso in the making, I’m sure! At this age, toddlers will also start to engage in imaginative play and imitate things you do, like talking on the phone or brushing your hair. If you haven’t already got some building blocks now might be a good time to invest in some. Your toddler will like to build small towers and will LOVE to knock them down again.

But don’t worry about buying too many toys for your little one at this age. Children are enthralled by the world in general and everything is a new experience for them. Check out these simple ideas from parenting educator Maggie Dent in this article – save your cash and pull out the pegs – there is so much fun for a toddler to have for little or no money.

Health

Vaccinations are due when your baby is 18 months old. Make an appointment with your GP or your local immunisation clinic.

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How are you going?

Are you settling into life with your growing toddler? Are you making some time for yourself? Are you reminding yourself that no one is perfect and it is OK to go easy on yourself sometimes?

It is important to be kind to yourself when you’re busy parenting young children even though you might feel guilty for doing so! Don’t stress about the little things – everyone is quick to judge parents and you might start second-guessing your choices. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed then read this brilliant open letter to every mum with a toddler – it will help put things back into perspective.

It also helps to look on the funny side of life with young kids. Things can get pretty bizarre when you’re a parent – you find yourself doing odd things like kissing stuffed animals goodnight as well as saying odd things such as these weird things parents thought they’d say (but did!).

2 things to do when you’ve got a 15-18 month old

Please note: All children are different, these are generic guides and aren’t a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to contact your health care provider.

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