What a huge milestone – your baby is now technically a toddler! You might have mixed emotions about this landmark, which is only natural. Even though your little one is now a toddler, they are still very much babies in terms of their dependence on you and their biological need for co-regulation.
However, your baby is becoming more and more a little person now, and their personality will shine through even stronger. Toddlers are a lot of fun, chaos, and cuddles!
Let’s take a look at what developmental milestones you might observe or will do at some point in your 1-2 year-old. And remember that this is only a rough guide, as every child has their own personal rate of development.
Toddlers like to do things their own way and in their own time, so it’s important to have a safe environment for them to play, explore, and learn in.
In terms of physical development, your toddler may be walking, climbing, or even beginning to run at this stage. You might find them crawling up stairs, climbing up on chairs, dancing, kicking or throwing balls, squatting to pick up objects, and scribbling with crayons held in their fist.
Socially, your little one may start playing alongside other toddlers (parallel play), and you will probably find them starting to get more curious and energetic, but still coming to you for reassurance.
Your toddler now knows that they’re a completely separate person from you. This is a time that your toddler could show increased separation anxiety, as well as seek comfort when they’re afraid or upset, particularly if they’re tired or frustrated. They may even offer others comfort by patting them or offering objects to show their sympathy.
With regards to their intellectual/cognitive development, they may have started pointing to objects or body parts when named, recognise themselves in the mirror or photos, and mimic household activities such as sweeping or dusting.
They will increasingly have more words in their vocabulary and begin to use two word sentences, such as ‘want milk’. They may have started calling themself by their name, and you’ll probably hear the signature toddler phrases: ‘mine’, and ‘I do it myself’.
Even though they understand the word ‘no’, they still can’t control their impulses enough to do what you say. The reasoning part of their brain is still very immature and underdeveloped. So, try to limit those negative words as they will have a powerful effect on how your child sees the world and themselves.
Instead, suggest alternatives or explain the dangers as simply as you can. By having ‘yes’ spaces in the home and when you go out where possible, your child will feel free to explore safely and positively.
Now that your child is over 12 months, they can enjoy the same food as the rest of the family. Solid foods are now your child’s main source of energy and nutrition. However, breast milk still provides important nutrition and protection, but other foods should be offered first.
It’s usually recommended that your child stops drinking from bottles at this stage, and transitions to cow’s milk or an alternative milk, unless they’re consuming enough calcium in their diet.
Your child can eat anything now, but each meal and snack should be packed with nutrients while they grow. Continue to avoid foods that are highly processed, and contain refined sugar and added salt.
They can drink from a cup (read about the benefits of open cups), and feed themselves efficiently. They might try to use a spoon or a fork now as well.
Nobody truly ‘sleeps through the night’, so don’t stress if your toddler’s sleep is still rocky – it’s biologically normal and healthy for toddlers to wake overnight until they’re at least 18 months of age and beyond. Their brain is undergoing significant development during this stage, which can impact their sleep. They may also develop nighttime fears and nightmares closer to 2 years of age or later.
You can usually expect that your toddler has moved to one lunchtime nap at around 15-18 months of age. They may or may not need parental support to go to sleep, or in other words, some toddlers can self-soothe while others still need help. When a child can fall asleep independently is developmental and will happen when they’re ready.