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Your Toddler's Development

I remember when my nephew was about fifteen months old. His mom and dad took him to the beach, where they sat on a bench eating an ice cream cone and watching a crane building a bridge. When he was three, they returned to the same spot and the bridge was completed. Out of the blue, my nephew asked his dad, "Where did the crane go?"

Even if your baby can't talk to you and tell you exactly what he's thinking, everything you're doing is registering and sinking in.

  • I think toddlers get a bad rap. They shouldn't be labeled "The Terrible Twos." I think we should rename them "The Terrific Twos."

  • Toddler is a general term, but it's mostly used for babies between the ages of twelve months and twenty-four months.

  • A toddler's main interest is usually himself, so keep lots of plastic mirrors around him. Full-length mirrors at his eye level are perfect.

  • Toddlers learn from using their five senses: seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting.

  • Toddlers consider their toys their most valuable possessions and won't share them easily. Sharing is a learned skill, so get yours in a social setting with other children.

  • Toddlers learn who, what, and where long before they learn when, why, and how. The words "early" and "later" mean nothing to a toddler, but "Where is daddy?" "What is this?" and "Where are my shoes?" are perfectly understandable to them.

  • Toddlers want everything right now. Innocent statements like, "Today we will go to the park for a walk," can create havoc when your toddler wants to leave for the park immediately.

  • Once toddlers learn something, they want to do it, do it again, and do it again. Repetitious behavior like reading the same book, watching a favorite program, and doing the same puzzle over and over again is completely normal for toddlers.

  • By twenty-four months, your baby should be able to say at least two or three one-syllable words in a row with purpose. For example: "My bed," "I want drink," "My teddy."

  • Toddlers should be able to say words like "kitty cat" by at least the age of two. If your child substitutes easy words like "choo-choo" for "train" or "ee-ee" for "monkey," arrange for a speech-and-hearing test. Many towns offer free early-intervention programs

  • Check to be sure your child can lick ice cream cones or lollipops, and does not just bite on them. If he can't lick, tell your doctor, because this could indicate a condition that is affecting his speech development.

  • Expand your toddler's vocabulary by constantly introducing new words. Use the word "silverware" instead of always saying "fork" or "spoon."

  • Toddlers tend to generalize objects until around age four. Don't be surprised if your child calls all meats "chicken" or all vehicles "cars." It takes time for toddlers to learn about categories.

  • Let your child master challenges at her own pace. If you push her too hard to crawl down a stairway, you could end up with two problems: a toddler that's afraid of the stairs and a toddler that's afraid of you. The same is true with potty training.

  • Children become their parents, so do what you can now to help them become great parents later.

  • Traditions are important. Every year my mother gives the same Easter bunny to the kids to play with for a week, then she takes it away until the next year. You should see their faces light up each Easter when they see their old friend!

More on: Babies


Copyright © 2006 by Jeanne Murphy. Excerpted from Your Happy Toddler with permission of its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.

To order this book visit

August 30, 2014

Keep it hot (or cold)! No one likes cold soup or warm, wilted salad. Use a thermos or ice pack in your child's lunch box to help keep his lunch fresh until it's time to eat.

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