Between her first and second birthday your toddler will learn that she is a separate person from you. As she realizes this, she will begin to worry that those she loves will leave her.
She will also start to assert her independence and once she can talk she will often use "'mine", "me" and "my" words. Your toddler cannot yet understand abstract concepts like truth, good, bad, wrong or right. You will need to remember this when you are teaching her how to behave. She will often appear to ignore you and you may need to take quick action when she is getting into mischief-physically removing her from danger or distracting her with another activity. Though you may think she understands the word "no", the urge to do whatever it is that is forbidden is often greater than this understanding.
Here are some tips for keeping your toddler safe (and in line!):
- Keep rules to a minimum. Decide on a few important rules with your partner and stick to them. For example, not touching the DVD player or the dog food.
- Give your toddler choices. For example, "Would you like a mandarin or banana?" Will we read this book or this book?"
- Use distraction. When trouble is looming, steer your toddler in another direction or offer an alternative.
- Show them the right thing to do. Toddlers can be quite hurtful towards other children; they bite, pull hair and poke. Explain that this is not the way to behave and show them the right thing to do when they want something, or are unhappy about something.
- Don't forget to praise your toddler when she behaves the way you want her to.
- Behave well yourself. Toddlers are very good at imitating and will copy your behaviour, good and bad.
- Make special time with your toddler every day. Reading time, bath time or a trip to the park are all important in the life of a toddler.
- Don't have tussles over things that are not really important. Sometimes we find ourselves making big issues of things that don't really matter.
- Dust off your sense of humour. Toddlers can be real little clowns and will have you in stitches at times. That said, don't let them see you laughing at something you don't want them to do.
How they grow
If your child has not been to the dentist yet, take him in the next three months. Whether he has teeth or not, this the best precaution you can take against dental disease, now or in the future. By the time your baby is 12 months he could have no teeth, four or eight teeth. When your baby is teething, he might develop a fever, sore throat, skin rashes or bowel problems - don't just put it down to teething! There is no medical evidence that these symptoms are related to teething, even though some doctors might believe it. These are symptoms of an illness that needs appropriate treatment.
Growth - weight gain
In early 2006, the World Health Organization issued new baby growth charts based on the normal growth of breastfed babies. Previously, weight gain had been measured against charts based on the growth of bottle-fed babies who grow at a different rate to breastfed babies. Babies classified as normal weight under the older guidelines may actually be overweight under the new guidelines. If you are told your breastfed baby is underweight, don't panic. First, find out which growth charts are being used for the calculations. If your baby has six to eight wet nappies a day, is bright-eyed and alert, and is meeting other developmental milestones, it's unlikely there's a problem.
The day your baby says her first word is a red letter day - it can happen any time up to the age of two. If your child is making sounds but not words by the time she is two and a half, then it is time to consult your doctor or a speech therapist. Many babies will be using the words "mama" or "dada" some time between the age of 12 and 15 months.
By 15 months, many toddlers will be using their hands to push themselves up onto their feet. Some may be able to walk alone using their arms for balance. Your child's walking skills will develop daily and he will soon gain enough confidence to walk alone, and maybe even start running. He may be able to kick a ball and he should be able to drink from a cup.
If at any time you are worried about your child's progress talk to your local child health centre or your doctor.
Measles, mumps, rubella and meningococcal C are on the National Immunisation Program for babies at 12 months. Hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b may also be part of your baby's schedule. Your doctor, council program or health system should send you a reminder; don't forget to take your child's Personal Health Record when you go.
Every day caring
Bath time and hair washing
Bath time is often the best time of the day in many toddler households. You can have lots of fun pouring, splashing, making soap bubbles, playing counting and singing games and generally getting clean! But when it comes to hair, it can be a time when your little person very firmly indicates that as far as he is concerned his hair is clean! It has to be done, so here are a few suggestions:
- Use a combined shampoo conditioner and just do it once.
- Use a shampoo shade, a plastic sun visor and/or goggles. Let baby wear them before you wash his hair. An alternative is to put shampoo on a washer and use the washer to soap and rinse his hair while he plays on.
- Use a hand held shower to rinse off the soap. You can buy simple ones to attach to a mixer tap. Have another adult hold your toddler and tip him back so you can rinse his hair off quickly.
Sleep: The family bed
There are plenty of vocal opponents to families sleeping together, but many families find this is the best way for everyone to get a good night's sleep. One of the most informative authorities on co-sleeping is Dr James McKenna. You can read more about Dr James McKenna's research on co-sleeping.
If you have been sleeping together, you may be ready to move baby into his own bed or his own room when he turns into an active toddler - especially if another baby is on the way. Begin by making his bed a special spot and the place he has his daytime naps. At night, you can start him off in his own bed and let him come in with you when he wakes, taking him back when he falls asleep. Expect a few disturbed nights as you gradually get him used to sleeping all night in his own bed. Another alternative is to put a single bed in his room and keep him company until he goes to sleep. Whatever method you chose, it is going to be musical beds until he gets used to the change.
Playtime: Six games to play on a rainy day
- Hide and seek is always a favourite. Hide behind the furniture or drape chairs with rugs, but stay away from doors where little fingers can easily get trapped.
- Happy families. Put eight objects on the floor-four red blocks and four red balls, or four wooden spoons and four wooden pegs. Let your toddler play with the items and watch what she does. Join in and move the objects into two groups, talking about what you are doing as you go along. Take one of the red blocks and put it to one side saying "Can you find me another red block?" She may not get the hang of it the first time-or for some time. Just let her play until she is tired of the objects, letting her lead the play.
- Tunnels. You can use small boxes, such as shoe boxes, or large boxes from the supermarket. Cut a tunnel in each end. Cars, small toys and dolls drive, roll and walk through the small tunnels and toddlers can wriggle through larger boxes! You can also make a tunnel by draping a rug between two chairs. Turn it into a game that you can all play.
- Where's the toy? Sit down with your toddler, a small box, a hand towel and a toy. Show him the toy, then put it under the box. Now put the towel on top. Under the towel turn the box over and bring it out from under the towel, leaving the toy behind. Ask baby where the toy is. Then ask him to find it. You will need to do it again-and again, and again!.
- Build block towers with your toddler. Sort the blocks into colours, talking about what you are doing. Line them up side by side and then watch what your toddler does. Use words that describe the building activity, like "beside", "under", "next to", "on top".
- Don't forget to read a book each day. Books with large bright pictures and simple stories are ideal. If you don't know how to choose, ask at your local library.
Eating: Your toddler's daily diet
This is a very basic list of what your toddler should eat each day-in an ideal world. Some days things will not work out, but overall she is probably getting a nutritious diet. Talk to your doctor or a dietician if you are at all worried about your child's nutritional intake.
Breakfast: One to two slices of wholemeal toast with grilled cheese or baked beans OR cup of whole grain cereal or porridge with full cream milk (no sugar).
Mid-morning: Piece of fruit and a drink of water OR a full cream milk drink.
Lunch: One of these: 1. Sandwich made with two slices of wholemeal bread and egg, cheese, chicken, red meat, canned fish, or peanut butter (if you don't have a family history of allergy); OR a salad of finger foods including meat, cheese or lentil burgers, served with a slice of bread and butter; OR if lunch is the main meal of the day, offer a serve of either chicken, lean red meat, fish, lentils, beans, egg or pasta. Add to this ¼ cup of green vegetables and ¼ cup of yellow vegetables, or a small salad.
Mid-afternoon: Either a pikelet, scone, mini muffin or homemade wholemeal cake plus a full cream milk drink.
Dinner: The main meal option listed above. If baby had his main meal at lunchtime, offer one of the lighter lunch options (the salad or the sandwich).
More for you
- Find great toddler-friendly recipes to keep your child happy and healthy.
- Read articles, tips and information on all things relating to your toddler.
- Discuss your toddler's development with Essential Baby mums in our forum.
- Sign up for the Toddler Quarterly Guide email - covering development, sleeping, toddler care, immunisation reminders, food tips and more.
This information is not a substitute for professional advice. If you have any concerns about your child's health or wellbeing it is important that you seek help from your doctor or a health professional.