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Growth and Development, Ages 12 to 24 Months - Promoting Healthy Growth and Development

During ages 12 to 24 months, children learn and develop best in a caring and loving home from which they can safely explore and experience life. You can help nurture your child by knowing the challenges of toddlerhood, learning basic parenting techniques, and using behavior management strategies.

Physical growth and development

Promote your child's physical growth and development by:

  • Adopting healthy eating strategies. Although picky eating is common during this age, a simple and relaxed approach to eating usually helps your child to eat well. Offer healthy foods at regular times. It may also help to set a pattern by being together at the table for all main meals. For more information on helping your child to eat well, see the topic Healthy Eating for Children.
  • Seeing your doctor for all well-child exams. During these visits, the doctor will measure your child's growth to make sure he or she is on track. The doctor will also give your child any needed immunizations.
  • Teaching healthy habits to help reduce your child's risk of infections.

Thinking, reasoning, and memory skills

Promote your child's thinking, reasoning, and memory skills (cognitive development) by:

  • Building with blocks. Help your child learn to stack blocks and knock them down.
  • Scribbling on paper. You can find washable and thick crayons and pencils that are made for a toddler's fisted grip.
  • Playing with balls and other moving toys. Toddlers love to watch a rolling ball. It helps them learn to track objects and fosters eye-hand coordination.
  • Finding toys he or she can turn, sort, pound, push, and pull. Examples include knobs, sort-by-shape toys, and thick-paged books.

Social and emotional development

Promote your child's social and emotional development by:

  • Spending time with him or her. Make an extra effort to sit and play, read, and talk to your child. Don't worry too much about having "play dates" and organized activities for your child between the first and second birthdays. Children this age don't interact much with each other. Rather, they tend to play alone but near each other, a behavior called "parallel play." Your love and attention are the most important factors that help your child's social and emotional growth.
  • Knowing about your child's individual temperament. Every child is different. Getting to know your child's personality helps you to predict and handle his or her reactions to everyday situations.
  • Praising your child. When your child reacts well to a difficult situation, such as leaving the park without protest, tell him or her how proud you are. Although your child may not understand the exact meaning of your words, he or she will associate the positive behavior with your approval.
  • Not responding to angry outbursts. When you react to a child's temper tantrum or similar behavior, it is more likely to continue. Unless your child's behavior is dangerous, ignore it (but stay nearby and soothe your child as needed). After the outburst is over, you can talk to your child calmly and reassure him or her that everything is okay. It is very important that you do not get angry or threaten to spank or hurt your child. Staying calm can sometimes be difficult. Keep in mind that you are the model for your child's behavior.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 19, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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