As your toddler approaches 3 you'll find she's crying less as her vocabulary increases, she's becoming increasingly fussy about what food she likes to eat and might even be ready to transition to a bed. Read more...
Toddlers gradually become conditioned to respond in certain ways when in particular situations either through classic conditioning (learning by association) or operant conditioning (learning by effect).
Signs that could suggest your toddler has a developmental problem include preferring to be in her own world rather than interacting with others, not being able to run smoothly or safely climb stairs or onto low furniture, persistently drooling or speaking unclearly, always having extreme difficulty in being separated from her parents, not responding to her own name, not being able to interpret non-verbal communication such as facial expressions or gestures, not maintaining or making eye contact, or being overly sensitive to sensory stimulation such disliking to be touched.
How they grow
Appetite aligns itself with your toddler's growth rate so when your toddler's is growing less rapidly she will eat less of her own accord. Children who gain excess weight may be eating too much and because early childhood eating behaviours can increase the risk of obesity later in life, it is smart to keep an eye on this.
Growth charts are created to monitor how your child grows starting at babyhood and they can also be used to detect any development delays or to highlight anything out of the ordinary when it comes to checking your toddler’s height and weight. By measuring and weighing your toddler at regular intervals between her second and third birthdays you will notice anything unusual sooner rather than later and you may also find your toddler will enjoy doing this as it demonstrates how 'grown up' she is.
Physical and motor skills
As your baby approaches her third birthday, crayons and pencils will still be held with a fist like grip but with better wrist action which usually results in artwork with lots of dots, blobs and lines. Scribbling will gradually start to give way to more legible images.
Your toddler will attempt to dress herself and wipe her nose with help as well.
Even favourite foods can suddenly be refused by your toddler at this age.
A toddler who is approaching age three is now not only likely to be wary of new foods but fussy about the ones she does eat as well. If she likes to eat the same familiar foods, prepared in the same way, she won't get much variety, so you will need to maximise the nutritional value of what is eaten by allowing her to frequently eat the foods that she likes that have health benefits until she tires of them. So if your thirty one to thirty three month old toddler says she will only eat apples and potato chips, let her fill up on apples with the knowledge that they are good for her.
But even favourite foods can suddenly be refused by your toddler at this age. In that case, try serving food in a different dish, or as a scaled-back version what she would normally eat such as bread and butter instead of Vegemite on toast or by serving foods in conjunction with other foods, such as chocolate milk instead of just plain milk so that she gets calcium in some form.
Your toddler will call herself by name frequently between thirty one and thirty three months of age, and she will also establish what her sex if she is asked and could use proposition words such as on, in and over around this time. Crying will lessen as vocabulary increases and she will also understand simple conversations, stories songs and poems and listen without being too distracted. But she will interject with her own comments, especially those that relate to home and family events.
Emotional and social skills
Your toddler is still unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy and can become very emotional when scared although if a child is extremely fearful there may be an underlying issue so consult with your doctor. A small percentage of children can have an imaginary friend who serves as a companion at this time in their childhood and there should only be concern if the child won't interact with anyone else or is withdrawn all the time.
Often hands on explorations can help them distinguish between fantasy and reality such as when they walk up to the television and look behind it to figure out how things are appearing on the screen.
Head banging among children between two and three can occur for several reasons – as a way of testing their strength and pain threshold, as a form of tension release when they are overwhelmed or overstimulated, or because it may provide some relief from other pain such as an ear infection. This behaviour will usually pass by the time your toddler is four but if it continues after this time you should consult with your child's doctor as this could be a sign of autism or another neurological disorder.
Art activities are another way for toddlers to manage their feelings such as banging on play doh when frustrated or scribbling fast when excited. Let your toddler draw freely without instruction as much as possible and get her to talk about what and why she has decided to draw something.
A toddler of this age is laying the ground work for reading and writing – she won’t quite understand the connection between letter graphics and sounds but she will use the pictures in books to prompt recall of the story and will recognise some signs, symbols and words that she sees on an ongoing basis even though she can’t actually read the print.
Further knowledge is stimulated by singing the alphabet song, lots of reading, playing with magnetic letters and writing her name.
Your toddler should be able to count to three although she may know more numbers than this, but she might get them mixed up when she shows you how she counts. Matching shapes such as circles and squares and stacking a set of rings on a peg in order of size, and matching objects that have the same function such as a plate and a spoon are other things she will know how to do.
Most toddlers enjoys playing with play-doh and sculpture but will be more focused on the sensory experience and the process of creation and not the final product.
Most toddlers will also be ready to sleep in a bed between thirty-one and thirty-three months, which is usually determined by your toddler growing to such a degree that she no longer fits in her cot or if she is increasingly standing up and climbing out of her cot.
Interruptions to your toddler’s sleep might start when she moves into a proper bed until she gets used to it and you may find that she will get out of bed to assert her new found freedom, especially if she usually resists sleep. But when she does stay in bed reward her. Often letting your child choose a quilt and pillows that she likes will make having a bed more fun and 'grown up' and therefore more appealing for her to sleep in.
You may find your toddler uses the toilet well during the day but has less control at night and this is perfectly normal as her intestinal muscles are still developing to be strong enough to retain urine for long periods and some toddlers simply have small bladders or sleep so deeply that they take longer to toilet train at night time. It is quite common for a toddler to use the toilet only during daylight hours and wear pull ups at night but when you want your toddler to start sleeping without pull-ups you will need to be prepared for accidents, even if she isn't having any during the day.
Mattress protectors and plastic sheets will make it easier for parents when accidents do happen and if possible a child should always be changed into fresh pyjamas to avoid them catching a chill.
To help avoid night time accidents, get your toddler to use the toilet at bedtime and let her call you during the night to ask to go to the toilet, or if she is in a proper bed, allow her access to walk to a bathroom if she wakes up needing to go. Try also not to let her drink anything an hour before bed.
Night time accidents are not the same as bed-wetting that occurs because of emotional distress or a medical issue such as a urinary tract infection. Bed wetting can start or continue up to the early primary school years and most children will grow out of it, but any underlying issues should be addressed so that it isn’t prolonged.
Discuss your toddler's development with Essential Baby Mums.