Turning two

Turning two

Your toddler is fast approaching their second birthday. Find out about toilet training, disturbed nights, independence and how to put on a birthday party for a two-year-old.

How they grow

Teeth
It is much better for your child's teeth and her general health to give her low-sugar snacks such as fruit, cheese and vegetables. Avoid high-sugar, high-fat snacks such as muesli and fruit bars, chips or anything sticky and chewy. You should still be cleaning your toddler's teeth for her, but you may need two toothbrushes so she can also give it a try. Children under the age of two don't need toothpaste and you shouldn't use it. However, your toddler may not understand this, especially when she sees you using toothpaste. So, it is important to teach her to spit the toothpaste out, not swallow it and not swish it around her mouth.

Growth
Remember that children grow at their own pace-they don't follow the books or lists of developmental milestones. By the time she is two, the child who was born prematurely is likely to have 'caught up' with children who were born full-term.

Speech
Your child's vocabulary is likely to be growing by the day. At age two, some toddlers know several words, though their speech may not always be intelligible to those outside the family. By his second birthday, your toddler will be able to say his own name and ask for things he wants, such as "cake" and "milk". His sentences will be very simple, often just two or three words like "Mummy sit" or "No more". By now your toddler will be well into practising speech patterns and he will copy your tone and your speech patterns. Quite enlightening at times!

Moving along
Every day is an adventure for your toddler as she learns more about her world and develops new skills. Over the next three months she needs to be given opportunities to learn about jumping, kicking a ball, putting on and taking off her own clothes, brushing her own teeth, and washing and drying her hands.

If at any time you are concerned that your child may have a problem it is reassuring to seek expert advice from your doctor or your local child health centre.

Toilet training
Most toddlers are not physically or mentally ready to use the toilet instead of nappies until around their second birthday, though some may have shown interest a couple of months earlier. If you attempt to toilet train your toddler before he is ready you'll probably just end up training yourself to anticipate his bodily functions!  Waiting until your child is ready makes the whole process so much easier. Often children with older brothers and sisters will learn very quickly and girls are often ready before boys. Warm weather makes the whole process much easier for everyone than cold or rainy days. Bladder control usually comes before bowel control and daytime toiletting comes well before night time control. In fact, it is not necessary to seek help for bedwetting issues until around the age of seven or eight.

A child is ready to use the toilet or potty when:

  • He knows he wants to do a wee or poo and he can hold on for a short time.
  • He tells you he is going or that he has just gone.
  • He watches others going to the toilet and takes an interest in what is happening.
  • He can pull his pants up and down.
  • His nappies have been dry for a couple of hours.
  • He tells you his nappy is wet and that he doesn't like it.

Waking at night is a natural part of sleep for all of us-including little ones.  


It's up to you whether you use a potty or a toilet seat, whether you take the potty with you when you go out, whether you use trainer pants or simply pants that are easy to pull up and down. There are no right and wrong ways to introduce a child to using a toilet. But it is very important that as soon as your child starts using the toilet you impress upon her that she must wash her hands with soap and water after every visit. Make sure she does it every time. Of course, it is also important that she sees you-and other members of the family-washing their hands when they use the toilet.

Find out more from the Parent and Youth Health Toilet Training Fact Sheet.

Read our Diary Dad's humorous blog on toilet training 'Toilet Training: The Sweet Smell Of Failure', and comment here.

If at any time you are concerned that your child may have a problem it is reassuring to seek expert advice from your doctor or your local child health centre.

Sleep: Disturbed nights

Waking at night is a natural part of sleep for all of us-including little ones. Toddlers naturally surface from deep sleep about five times during the night. They might turn over, mumble or grunt, even open their eyes and move about before falling back to sleep. A toddler who wakes in a strange environment may stay awake because she is frightened. You and your toddler will sleep better if you establish a regular bedtime routine, put her to sleep in a familiar environment and comfort her quickly and quietly if she calls out for you.

If your toddler starts to wake frequently at night after being a good sleeper then you need to look for a reason. Controlled crying and similar methods are not going to lead to peaceful nights if there is an underlying problem. If there are any signs of illness such as abdominal pains or an ear infection (often indicated by a yellowish discharge from the ear) then take your child to the doctor for a checkup. The other common problem is pinworms or threadworms. A child who wakes at night with scratch marks around her anus is likely to have pinworms. Adults as well as children can have pinworms and they can survive on bedding for up to two weeks. They don't live in cats and dogs. If you suspect pinworms then see your doctor and start a course of treatment as soon as possible.

Every day caring

Dressing and undressing
Your little one is quite capable of getting himself dressed and will enjoy being so independent. If he is not already putting on his own shirt and pants, then take the time to teach him now; it will save you a lot of time in the long-run. He'll be slow at first, so plan ahead so that you are not impatient or late!

As soon as he able to stand on one leg without falling over he is ready to put on pants. You will still be needed because it is quite common for a toddler to get his arms into his top but not be able to get his head through! Sometimes he will get tangled up - he may put his head through the armhole or is arm through the neck and you will need to come to the rescue.

You can make it easier by:

  • Showing him that the clothing labels go to the back.
  • Choosing clothes that are easy to put on; buttons, snaps, laces and zippers make clothes more difficult.
  • Choosing together what he will wear next day.

Washing
Your toddler is also quite capable of washing himself; under your supervision of course. He can wash himself with a small wash mitt or cloth then rinse off the soap with a plastic cup-clean and fun!

Playtime - The second birthday

This year you might want to give your toddler a real birthday party, but be realistic. The biggest trap birthday parents can fall into is expecting too much. It's only natural that you want to make your child happy on her special day; you want to give her a wonderful celebration. But, two-year-olds don't need a big production. Jumping castles or your own backyard; clowns that do tricks or mum and dad doing something silly; hamburgers at a family restaurant or food on the table in your family room-it's all the same to them. Having friends around and being the centre of attention are enough at this age. It is easier for everyone if you invite parents to your child's party and best to do the invitations by phone. If you send emails or written invitations you will probably have to follow-up by phone anyway.

Two hours is plenty of time for two year-olds. And early afternoon is a good choice because it leaves plenty of nap time for those who need it. You will probably need to serve more food if you have a late morning or lunchtime party. If you don't have room at your house, host the party at the park or the beach, but have a contingency plan in case it rains. The park gazebo is always good but you need to stake it out early in the day.

Here is a suggested party plan:

  1. Don't forget your camera and designate someone to take photos for you.
  2. Open the presents as soon as everyone has arrived.
  3. Next serve the food. Find a low table or put a tablecloth on the floor or ground. Little sausage rolls and pizza for lunch or small wraps if you are in the park. Ice creams and fresh fruit cut into pieces are perfect for dessert. Adults can eat the same food as the children. Drinks should be milk, juice or water and don't forget some cold drinks for the adults. Only offer hot drinks if you have a helper.
  4. Put on some of your child's favourite music (the Wiggles are always a popular start). Sing-along to the music and do the actions.
  5. Be ready with some games. Old favourites are ideal, such as Follow the Leader, Ring-a-Rosie, Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush, I'm a Little Teapot. Other popular games are finger games such as Incy-Wincy Spider, This Little Piggy and Put Your Finger on your Nose.
  6. Eat the birthday cake, then let the party-goers play for a while.
  7. Hand out party bags as each child leaves. These can be really simple for this age group. When you are choosing the contents do not include anything not suitable for under three year-olds. Pop two or three of the following treats in a brown paper bag with the child's name written on the outside in bright felt-tip pen: a little box of dried fruit, a large bell, a large pretzel, a paint brush and a paint with water book, a small pot of homemade play dough, a finger puppet, a plastic farm animal.

Birthday tears
Sometimes the birthday person seems to be unhappiest person at the party. Reasons why this can happen are:

  • Too many children
  • Other children playing with birthday person's toys
  • Too much attention
  • Too much confusion.

 

Recipe ideas
Find great Toddler friendly recipes to keep your toddler happy and healthy.

Discuss your toddler with other parents
Visit our forums for great parenting tips on Toddlers aged 24-36 months.

Toddler news, features and factsheets
Read articles, tips and information on all things relating to your toddler.

 



Find out more:
The Parent Easy Guides from Parenting SA, a government organisation and the fact sheets from the Children, Youth and Women's Health Service are amongst the best and most up to date sources of information for Australian parents. Here you will find PDFs on all these topics and more.


These guides are written for Essential Baby by child care author, Carol Fallows. Carol established Australian Parents magazine in the early 1980s as Australia's first parenting magazine and managed it for nearly 18 years. She continues to write about and for parents. Her most recent title is Having a Baby. The essential Australian guide to pregnancy and birth. (Random House, 2005).

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.

Unless otherwise indicated the pronoun he or she refers to either sex. We have chosen to alternate.

Discuss your toddler's development with Essential Baby Mums.

How they grow


Teeth
It is much better for your child's teeth and her general health to give her low-sugar snacks such as fruit, cheese and vegetables. Avoid high-sugar, high-fat snacks such as muesli and fruit bars, chips or anything sticky and chewy. You should still be cleaning your toddler's teeth for her, but you may need two toothbrushes so she can also give it a try. Children under the age of two don't need toothpaste and you shouldn't use it. However, your toddler may not understand this, especially when she sees you using toothpaste. So, it is important to teach her to spit the toothpaste out, not swallow it and not swish it around her mouth.


Growth
Remember that children grow at their own pace-they don't follow the books or lists of developmental milestones. By the time she is two, the child who was born prematurely is likely to have 'caught up' with children who were born full-term.


Speech
Your child's vocabulary is likely to be growing by the day. At age two, some toddlers know several words, though their speech may not always be intelligible to those outside the family. By his second birthday, your toddler will be able to say his own name and ask for things he wants, such as "cake" and "milk". His sentences will be very simple, often just two or three words like "Mummy sit" or "No more". By now your toddler will be well into practising speech patterns and he will copy your tone and your speech patterns. Quite enlightening at times!


Moving along
Every day is an adventure for your toddler as she learns more about her world and develops new skills. Over the next three months she needs to be given opportunities to learn about jumping, kicking a ball, putting on and taking off her own clothes, brushing her own teeth, and washing and drying her hands.


If at any time you are concerned that your child may have a problem it is reassuring to seek expert advice from your doctor or your local child health centre.


Toilet training
Most toddlers are not physically or mentally ready to use the toilet instead of nappies until around their second birthday, though some may have shown interest a couple of months earlier. If you attempt to toilet train your toddler before he is ready you'll probably just end up training yourself to anticipate his bodily functions!  Waiting until your child is ready makes the whole process so much easier. Often children with older brothers and sisters will learn very quickly and girls are often ready before boys. Warm weather makes the whole process much easier for everyone than cold or rainy days. Bladder control usually comes before bowel control and daytime toiletting comes well before nighttime control. In fact, it is not necessary to seek help for bedwetting issues until around the age of seven or eight.


A child is ready to use the toilet or potty when:

    * He knows he wants to do a wee or poo and he can hold on for a short time.
    * He tells you he is going or that he has just gone.
    * He watches others going to the toilet and takes an interest in what is happening.
    * He can pull his pants up and down.
    * His nappies have been dry for a couple of hours.
    * He tells you his nappy is wet and that he doesn't like it.




It's up to you whether you use a potty or a toilet seat, whether you take the potty with you when you go out, whether you use trainer pants or simply pants that are easy to pull up and down. There are no right and wrong ways to introduce a child to using a toilet. But it is very important that as soon as your child starts using the toilet you impress upon her that she must wash her hands with soap and water after every visit. Make sure she does it every time. Of course, it is also important that she sees you-and other members of the family-washing their hands when they use the toilet.


Find out more from the Parent and Youth Health Toilet Training Fact Sheet.


Read our Diary Dad's humerous blog on toilet training 'Toilet Training: The Sweet Smell Of Failure', and comment here.


If at any time you are concerned that your child may have a problem it is reassuring to seek expert advice from your doctor or your local child health centre.



Sleep: Disturbed nights


Waking at night is a natural part of sleep for all of us-including little ones. Toddlers naturally surface from deep sleep about five times during the night. They might turn over, mumble or grunt, even open their eyes and move about before falling back to sleep. A toddler who wakes in a strange environment may stay awake because she is frightened. You and your toddler will sleep better if you establish a regular bedtime routine, put her to sleep in a familiar environment and comfort her quickly and quietly if she calls out for you.


If your toddler starts to wake frequently at night after being a good sleeper then you need to look for a reason. Controlled crying and similar methods are not going to lead to peaceful nights if there is an underlying problem. If there are any signs of illness such as abdominal pains or an ear infection (often indicated by a yellowish discharge from the ear) then take your child to the doctor for a checkup. The other common problem is pinworms or threadworms. A child who wakes at night with scratch marks around her anus is likely to have pinworms. Adults as well as children can have pinworms and they can survive on bedding for up to two weeks. They don't live in cats and dogs. If you suspect pinworms then see your doctor and start a course of treatment as soon as possible.



 
Every day caring


Dressing and undressing
Your little one is quite capable of getting himself dressed and will enjoy being so independent. If he is not already putting on his own shirt and pants, then take the time to teach him now; it will save you a lot of time in the long-run. He'll be slow at first, so plan ahead so that you are not impatient or late!


As soon as he able to stand on one leg without falling over he is ready to put on pants. You will still be needed because it is quite common for a toddler to get his arms into his top but not be able to get his head through! Sometimes he will get tangled up - he may put his head through the armhole or is arm through the neck and you will need to come to the rescue.


You can make it easier by:

    * Showing him that the clothing labels go to the back.
    * Choosing clothes that are easy to put on; buttons, snaps, laces and zippers make clothes more difficult.
    * Choosing together what he will wear next day.



Washing
Your toddler is also quite capable of washing himself; under your supervision of course. He can wash himself with a small wash mitt or cloth then rinse off the soap with a plastic cup-clean and fun!



Playtime - The second birthday


This year you might want to give your toddler a real birthday party, but be realistic. The biggest trap birthday parents can fall into is expecting too much. It's only natural that you want to make your child happy on her special day; you want to give her a wonderful celebration. But, two-year-olds don't need a big production. Jumping castles or your own backyard; clowns that do tricks or mum and dad doing something silly; hamburgers at a family restaurant or food on the table in your family room-it's all the same to them. Having friends around and being the centre of attention are enough at this age. It is easier for everyone if you invite parents to your child's party and best to do the invitations by phone. If you send emails or written invitations you will probably have to follow-up by phone anyway.


Two hours is plenty of time for two year-olds. And early afternoon is a good choice because it leaves plenty of nap time for those who need it. You will probably need to serve more food if you have a late morning or lunchtime party. If you don't have room at your house, host the party at the park or the beach, but have a contingency plan in case it rains. The park gazebo is always good but you need to stake it out early in the day.


Here is a suggested party plan:

   1. Don't forget your camera and designate someone to take photos for you.
   2. Open the presents as soon as everyone has arrived.
   3. Next serve the food. Find a low table or put a tablecloth on the floor or ground. Little sausage rolls and pizza for lunch or small wraps if you are in the park. Ice creams and fresh fruit cut into pieces are perfect for dessert. Adults can eat the same food as the children. Drinks should be milk, juice or water and don't forget some cold drinks for the adults. Only offer hot drinks if you have a helper.
   4. Put on some of your child's favourite music (the Wiggles are always a popular start). Sing-along to the music and do the actions.
   5. Be ready with some games. Old favourites are ideal, such as Follow the Leader, Ring-a-Rosie, Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush, I'm a Little Teapot. Other popular games are finger games such as Incy-Wincy Spider, This Little Piggy and Put Your Finger on your Nose.
   6. Eat the birthday cake, then let the party-goers play for a while.
   7. Hand out party bags as each child leaves. These can be really simple for this age group. When you are choosing the contents do not include anything not suitable for under three year-olds. Pop two or three of the following treats in a brown paper bag with the child's name written on the outside in bright felt-tip pen: a little box of dried fruit, a large bell, a large pretzel, a paint brush and a paint with water book, a small pot of homemade play dough, a finger puppet, a plastic farm animal.



Birthday tears
Sometimes the birthday person seems to be unhappiest person at the party. Reasons why this can happen are:

    * Too many children
    * Other children playing with birthday person's toys
    * Too much attention
    * Too much confusion.