Kids transition from babies to toddlers during the second year of life, as tentative
first steps give way to confident walking. As your toddler starts exploring, be sure to
childproof your home
to prevent household accidents.
Language. Kids this age also make major strides in understanding
language and figuring out how
to communicate. At 12 months, most say their first word and start to use hand
gestures and point to things. Gradually, their vocabulary will grow from one or two
words to 50 words or more.
Your child will learn about language through interaction with you and other
caregivers. During year two, a toddler's vocabulary increases slowly over the first
6 months and then expands quickly during the second 6 months, when many start to use
simple two-word sentences. By the second birthday, you'll probably lose count of the
number of words your toddler can say!
Understanding of language also improves — most toddlers understand much more
than they can express.
Hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity will also improve. Toddlers gain better
control over fingers and hands and can explore toys and surroundings more than before.
Look for toys that encourage this, as mastering age-appropriate toys and games gives
toddlers a sense of satisfaction and encourages them to move on to more challenging
How kids play also changes. As an infant, your child may have "played" with toys
by shaking, banging, or throwing them. Your toddler now is aware of the function of
objects, so is more likely to stack blocks, listen or talk into a toy phone, or push
a toy car. In addition, the concept of pretend play starts. Your little one may
pretend to drink from an empty cup, use a banana as a phone, or imagine a block is
Emotions at Play
Play Dates. Many parents introduce play dates now. Toddlers
enjoy having other kids around, but don't expect them to "play" cooperatively with
each other or to be thrilled about sharing toys. Have plenty of toys for everyone
and be prepared to step in when they don't want to share. Older siblings can
be role models when it comes to teaching, sharing, and taking turns.
are more common during the toddler years, so expect your child to get frustrated
from time to time. If you see a tantrum coming on, try to create a distraction with
a book or interesting toy. Avoid letting your child get too tired or hungry, particularly
while trying to master new tasks, as this can set the stage for tantrums.
While learning to walk during the second year of life, kids start becoming increasingly
independent. But expect your toddler to go from wanting freedom to clinging to you
for comfort and reassurance, and back again. Allow the freedom to explore but be there
when you're needed.
If it hasn't come up yet, your child may develop separation
anxiety, crying and clinging to you when you try to leave and resisting attention
The start of separation anxiety — and how long it lasts — varies from
child to child. It often starts around 9 months of age, but can be later. It improves
as kids master the language and social skills to cope with strange situations and
start to learn that the separation is not permanent.
Encouraging Your Toddler to Learn
Once toddlers learn to walk, there's no turning back. Yours will want to keep moving
to build on this newfound skill. Provide lots of chances to be active and to
learn and explore in safe surroundings.
Games that your child might enjoy include peekaboo, pat-a-cake, and chasing games.
Toddlers love to imitate adults and are fascinated with housework. Provide age-appropriate
toys that will encourage this, such as a toy vacuum to use while you're cleaning or
pots, pans, and spoons to play with while you're cooking.
Other toys that toddlers enjoy include:
brightly colored balls
blocks, stacking and nesting toys
fat crayons or markers
age-appropriate animal or people figures and dolls
toy cars and trains
shape sorters, peg boards
push, pull, and riding toys
continues to be important. Your toddler can follow along with a story and point
to objects in the pictures as you name them. Encourage your little one to name
things he or she recognizes.
Chat about the books you read together and the things you did that day. Ask
questions and encourage your toddler to reply by waiting for a response, then expand
on those replies.
Remember that some toddlers develop slower or faster than others, and this variation
is normal. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns.