Milestones 18-24 months
Welcome to the 6th installment in our milestones series and in this article we will look at the milestones of your 18-24 month old. If you missed the previous editions in the series, then you can check them out here…
Uh-oh, if you have entered the 18-24 month age bracket then you are about to enter the dreaded… Terrible Twos!
OK, so the terrible twos might be a bit of an old wive’s tale, but your little one will definitely begin to test the boundaries and express themselves around this time. You might also discover that the word ‘No’ appears quite frequently in their vocabulary! But it’s not all bad. Despite the tantrums and the flexing of their muscles, this is also a really fun age group.
Let’s not beat around the bush, toddlers can be terrors! Part of the reason for that is caused by the word that they love so much, ‘no’.
Now that they can walk, run, climb and do any other number of movement related actions, they are also able to get into everything. And they are fast! That means they are going to experience boundaries for the first time - they will hear ‘no’ a lot.
‘No, don’t climb over the railing on the stairs’, ‘No, don’t run in the carpark’, ‘No you can’t put your fingers in the power socket’, or ‘No you can’t have ice cream for dinner’.
They will be frustrated by this sudden clipping of their wings and try to communicate that frustration. Because their verbal communication can't quite keep up with their brain yet, the result is tantrums. Tantrums also occur when your toddler gets frustrated over not being able to complete tasks that she feels she should be able to.
The important thing to remember is that when a tantrum is in full swing, there is no point trying to reason with your little terror. Wait for them to calm down to discuss the situation with them. While they cannot verbalise their feelings well yet, their levels of understanding can be higher than you think.
Sleeping is another area where you might start to see resistance from your toddler. It is another area where they are able to exert their independence. If they try to push the boundaries, reiterate the bedtime routine, but allow them to make small decisions to give them some control over the situation. Let them choose the bedtime story, or which colour pyjamas they want to wear.
It is important that they get their 11-14 hours of sleep each day or you will see the grumpy monster a lot. They should get the bulk of that sleep at night, with a midday nap of a couple of hours.
Your little one should be getting good at self settling by now, especially if you encourage them to fall asleep unassisted in their beds. You might also see episodes of separation anxiety, night wakings, or even nightmares and night terrors.
But a more unique problem to this age is escapism. Your toddler may start trying to climb out of their cot. Obviously this is not something you want to encourage as there is a risk they could fall and hurt themselves. If you have a climber try lowering the mattress, take out any toys or bumpers that could be used as a stepstool, or police her. If she tries to climb out, firmly tell her no. Also, if she does get out, put her straight back into the cot with minimal interaction so it doesn’t turn into a game.
Around this time your little one will start to show their distinct food preferences, so you may notice a touch of fussiness. The fussiness factor is displayed really well in this table of food habits , broken down by age.
The great thing with this age is that they will still experiment with different textures, so they aren’t completely stuck in stubborn ways just yet. They will also love to eat with their hands, though are capable of using a spoon and fork.
This age group starts to get concerned about foods touching each other and of course there is always the accidental (or deliberate) knocking over of food bowls. To solve this problem, you can try the Happy Mat which is a placemat and plate all-in-one that controls portion size and suctions onto the table. No mess, no touching of foods, and a happy smile design that starts meals off on the right track.
Mess and Organisation: Toddlers love both mess and organisation. They love to get their hands dirty with paint and mud and goodness knows what else. But they also love the organisation of sorting and lining things up. So any activities with paint, or sorting are great! Try some of these activities suggested by Hands On As We Grow .
Water Play: Who doesn’t love splashing about in water? Whether it is tipping or pouring in the bath, painting scribbles on the concrete with a brush, or splashing about in a pool, they will be into it.
Pretend Play: They will enjoy mimicking familiar tasks in their play. So play tea sets or play cleaning sets will be a big hit.
Toy Instruments: Toddlers love noise, and love to achieve things themselves. So playing musical instruments is great fun for them. If you can put up with the noise, it helps them learn too.
Puzzles, Blocks and Balls: All these things will still entertain your little ones, work on their hand-eye coordination, give them the chance to problem solve and practice fine motor skills.
Crayons and Paper: Toddlers will love to scribble on paper (and anything else if they get the chance). Teach them about drawing on paper only, tape it to the table so it doesn’t move and give them a couple of crayons so they aren’t overwhelmed by choice. These are the precursor steps for learning to write in later years.
Stay tuned for our next edition in the milestone series where we focus on 2-3 years.