Growth and Development, Ages 12 to 24 Months - Common Concerns
Keeping track of your fast-moving
12- to 24-month-old child can be a challenge. Also, your child who was loving
and well-mannered may suddenly start having "meltdowns" without warning. It is
normal to be both excited and worried about your child's new mobility and
During ages 12 to 24 months, your
Rarely mind and may frustrate you. It
is normal for toddlers to ignore you or protest when you ask them to do (or not
do) something. Their resistance to your directions are expressions of the inner
struggles they have while trying to become more independent. Toddlers do not
understand when you try to reason with them. Try giving your child clues ahead
of time about what you want and what is going to happen. For example, if you
are going to leave grandma's house soon, start waving "bye-bye" to people and
toys about 10 minutes before you go. Explain that you are going soon and repeat
the waving every few minutes. This gives your toddler time to adjust to the
idea of leaving.
temper tantrums. During this second year, toddlers
start to understand that they are individuals-a unique and separate person from
their parents and everyone else. This awareness brings up many new issues,
especially related to strong emotions and confusion about what they can and
cannot control. A toddler wants to be the master of his or her universe.
Toddlers become easily frustrated when they cannot do things they want to do.
Although they may say some words and a few phrases, they cannot express
themselves fully. This sets the stage for angry outbursts that can surprise and
confuse parents. Don't take it personally when your child has a temper tantrum.
This behavior is normal. Try using
methods to prevent temper tantrums, such as
distracting your child, rather than just saying "no." (Realize, though, that
sometimes nothing will work.) After a tantrum is in full swing, it may help to
ignore it. Stay close, be supportive, and talk
calmly. For more information, see the topic
picky eater. Often, being picky about food happens because your child wants to
assert his or her independence. Your child may also sometimes simply not be
hungry. Eating patterns can change suddenly. Toddlers may eat well for a day or
two, then eat very little for the next few days. As long as you
adopt healthy eating strategies, such as by offering healthy foods and snacks,
your child's unpredictable eating habits will likely not be a problem. For more information, see the topic Healthy Eating for Children.
Nap less. Usually by around 18 months of age, sleeping patterns
change and toddlers may try to abandon the morning nap. As a result, your child
may have tired, cranky periods.
Try to fit in an afternoon nap. Your child still needs rest. Adjust to changing nap patterns by planning quiet
times to regroup. Also, stick to a nighttime routine with a regular
bedtime. For example, give your child a bath, put on pajamas, and read books in
the same order each night.
Make messes. Many toddlers find it great
fun to open drawers and cupboards-and love even more to remove every item they
find. Be careful what you store in your bedside table and
other cupboards that are lower than your shoulder height. Many toddlers also
like to "sweep" all the contents off any shelves they can. It may help to give
your child his or her own cupboard or shelf to play with. Place soft toys on a
shelf or plastic bowls, lids, and containers in a cupboard. Your child can then
play freely and feel in control.
separation protest. Also called separation anxiety, this is an uneasiness or
fear your child feels when you or another caregiver leaves. Most children's
separation-protest phase peaks around 10 months of age, but in some children it
lasts longer or happens again. Your child's
temperament as well as your own personality affect how
strongly your child reacts to your leaving. Some ways you can help
manage your child's separation protests are to stay
calm and positive about your leaving, make the first few times you leave very
short, and set a routine you follow each time when you leave. If your child's
uneasiness with your leaving does not improve after about 15 months of age,
talk to your doctor.