Welcome to the 5th installment in our milestones series and in this article we will look at the milestones of your 12-18 month old. If you missed the previous editions in the series, then you can check them out here…
Congratulations, you now have a toddler in the house. You have graduated from the first step of parenthood. You also get to have a big 1st birthday party celebrating your survival (and that of your little one!). Don’t feel like the celebrating is over once you have that first birthday party though, there is still lots of exciting things going on with your toddler’s development.
How much and napping...
Just because your baby has grown into a toddler, it does not mean that they need any less sleep. In fact, with busy days full of learning and growing, they need as much as ever before. It is recommended that they should be sleeping for 14 hours a day with around 11 of that at night. Hopefully that gives Mum and Dad some time to rest too!
The rest of the sleep time should be made up with napping, aka time to fold the washing in peace. Around 12 months, your toddler might still be taking a morning and afternoon nap. But by the time they get to 18 months they may have dropped down to one long nap. This is a guideline only, you know your kids best. If they are tired and they need a nap then do it, but if they aren’t tired, and don’t need a nap, then let them stay up.
There is not much to add to what you already know about sleep habits at this age. Keep doing what you are doing with your bedtime routine, and using the sleep solutions that work for your family. Toddlers love structure and familiarity so will appreciate the same routine for sleep for both day and night. Within reason, try to keep the same nap times and bedtimes, even when you are away from home.
Be prepared for more nighttime waking. By this age it is less about them needing a feed, and more an excitement to practice their new skills, or trouble self-settling. If you can help them learn to self settle, then you should get some solid blocks of sleep yourself!
You might find that your toddler goes through ups and downs with their sleeping - going right through the night some days, and waking 6 times another day. Patience and consistence is the key. But of course, if you have concerns that they have trouble staying asleep, snore abnormally loud, have trouble breathing, or they are overly sleepy during the day, then you should seek professional advice.
Be prepared for food on the go, and we don’t just mean eating out. Your toddler will be so busy exploring, learning and having fun, that they might not be interested in sitting still to eat. They will want to take their food to go. Go around the house if they had their way!
This stage of eating will be a big change from the gentle spoon-feeding and finger foods. Don’t be surprised if more spaghetti ends up in their hair, up their nose, on the floor, in their lap, and all over you, than in their mouths.
Around this age you will want to encourage them to start feeding themselves. A pre-spoon utensil like the Num Num Utensil is a perfect start to helping little ones to learn self-feeding. Scooping and balancing utensils is hard at this age, so anything which can reduce their frustration and build their independence will help. You will find they use their hands just as much as any utensil you provide!
At this stage just let them be messy, table manners will come later. But what might come now is picky eating. You may find that your toddler begins to exert their independence by refusing foods. Even foods that they previously liked. One of the things they have complete control of is what goes in their mouths, so you might find they rebel here.
There are so many things to cover for Toddler Eating. Luckily we have an amazing collection of articles on the topic, check out these…
Alternatives to Milk, Veges and Meat for Fussy Eaters
Children and Messy Eating
How To Combat Fussy Eating
We have heaps of other articles on lot’s of toddler-related topics, so check them out here
You might be concerned about your toddler’s appetite and if they are actually eating enough. Just remember that they will eat when they are hungry! But if they are losing a lot of weight, or appear to be reacting to certain foods then definitely consult your doctor.
Active is probably an understatement for toddlers. Even if they are not walking independently at 12 months, they will be standing and walking along things like the couch, coffee table, or wall. If you thought they were fast when they were crawling, that will have nothing on the speed they get when they learn to drive their legs!
They will love any toys or activities that allow them to be active. Swings, wagons, scoot-along bikes and tiny climbing sets will all be favourites. Around this age the coordination they have with their hands will improve too, so anything that helps them work on these skills will be popular also.
Toys To Try:
Building Blocks: They will love to practice their coordination by stacking them up, and love to knock their creations down even more!
Sorting Toys: Another toy that will work on their hand eye coordination and their ability to conquer a challenge.
Crayons and Paper: Toddlers will love to see the effects of their scribbling. Letting them scribble at this early age is actually a precursor for writing skills later down the track.
Ride-on Vehicles: Your toddler will love to propel themselves around on these toys.
Picture Books: Encourage their interest in picture books. They will love the ones that include familiar objects like household items or animals.
Stay tuned for our next edition in the milestone series where we focus on 18-24 months.