Toddlers are just beginning to get a sense of who they are. They see the world with a sense of wonder while working to understand it. Guiding them through these years of rapid development is an exciting challenge! Here are some of the most interesting facts about toddlers.
1. Toddlers experience a language explosion. The typical 1-year-old only knows about 70 words. But by 18 months, they learn one new word every two waking hours!
2. Even though they understand thousands of words, toddlers may not speak as many.
3. Language development isn’t necessarily linear. Some toddlers learn phrases before words; others will go weeks without new words, then have a sudden burst of new ones.
4. Picky eating may be frustrating, but it’s perfectly normal. Just continue to introduce new foods and have patience as you serve up macaroni and cheese yet again.
5. Putting everything in their mouth is gross, but normal, toddler behavior. Toddlers explore the world through all of their senses, which means they will taste and touch things that most adults avoid.
6. Mobility makes big leaps and gains in the first 2 years. By 12 months, your toddler should be able to stand alone. Most toddlers can walk by 15 months; see a doctor if your child still isn’t walking at 18 months.
7. Once they’ve mastered walking toddlers make moves. By 18 months, most toddlers can walk backwards and climb stairs with help, can jump in place by age 2 and can ride a tricycle by age 3.
Behavior & Experience
8. Tantrums are normal—there’s a reason for the phrase the “terrible twos!” Toddlers experience a lot of frustration, which often leads to a meltdown. If handled appropriately, most toddlers outgrow the behavior.
9. Toddlers learn appropriate behavior by watching those around them. Keep in mind that your little one is watching you and will learn from what you do—even the things you wish they wouldn’t!
10. The toddler years are an important time for building social skills. Most 2-year-olds engage in parallel play with other children and have trouble learning to share, but should start having friendships by age 3.
11. They’re building fine motor skills. The earliest skills include scribbling and stacking blocks by about 15 months, using a spoon by age 2 and copying a circle by age 3.
12. Toddlers need help identifying their emotions. Talk to your child about the emotions they seem to be feeling, like sadness or frustration, and explain what it means and how to adjust.
13. A toddler’s desire to explore means they need your help staying safe. Protect your child from household hazards and keep a close eye on him or her at all times – their own sense of danger isn’t yet established.
14. Your toddler needs boundaries to feel safe while exploring the world. Set clear guidelines about acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Never compromise on safety matters, even if your toddler is upset. For example, many toddlers don’t like getting buckled in a car seat, but this has to be a non-negotiable issue.
15. Toddlers can begin to learn manners like saying please, thank you and I’m sorry. These will become habits you’ll be glad you created!
16. Toddlers need regular and predictable schedules. Keep sleep times and meal times as consistent as possible—and be prepared that changes to the routine may bring on a meltdown.
17. Toddlers develop the foundations of healthy self-esteem even before they’re verbal, based on what you teach them about themselves.
18. Reading to your toddler prepares them to become better readers in the future. Even if they can’t read words yet, you build the love of reading by taking the time to do it with them.
19. Potty training is a milestone that most children don’t learn until age 3 or later, so don’t be distressed if your 2-year-old isn’t ready. Watch for their readiness cues like staying dry for long periods or complaints about dirty diapers.
20. Colds and illnesses help build kids’ immune systems. Most toddler illnesses pass by without complications. But keep an eye on fevers with the Kinsa smart thermometer to know when an illness needs medical attention.
This post was written by Holly Case, a mom of three boys who lives in Texas. Learning how to care for her own kids was the start of a career in writing about parenting and health.