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Toddler - Week #69

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Your first week with a 16-month-old toddler (Part I of IV)

By Shelley Feldman, edHelperBaby

  Your little world traveler (...at least in their eyes!)
           Imagine this...your little explorer on hands and knees searching for Cheerios under the couch.  While there, he discovers your lost sock, Mr. Potato Head's foot, 3 Legos, and the remote you thought was lost years ago.  After tasting, smelling, and thoroughly examining each new discovery with every sense imaginable, they proceed to the kitchen and empty the entire contents of your Tupperware drawer in search of that perfect, way too large to carry, bowl.  You then watch them weeble and wobble, bowl in hand (of course) back to their excavation site, and fill it cautiously with all of their "couch" treasure.  For the grand finale, he then attempts to carry his favorite blankie on top of his head, and the enormous bowl of goodies all around the house shrieking "OOK MAMA!  OOK!" appearing so proud to show you what he has done, while providing you with a fountain of unidentifiable babble explaining what you have missed on the most exciting day of their lives...........Sound familiar?  Then congratulations!  You have survived your child's infancy and entered the wonderful toddler world.


  Intellectual Development/Thinking Skills
           After 16 months of forgetfulness, your toddler is now able to recall another person's earlier actions and behaviors and attempt to repeat it themselves at a later date.  Does he often see you multi-tasking and attempting to balance many things at once?  Your toddler is watching your every move, so don't be shocked to see your little shadow pulling drawers apart, and re-organizing your closets!  Now, more than ever, you should be showing him how to play with toys and other objects appropriately, and patiently showing him how to push the buttons, turn the knobs, and stack the blocks.  Basically, it's time to start teaching your toddler how the things he has been recently sucking on and throwing really work.  Although he may not repeat your actions immediately, he may surprise you by doing it alone later.  This is an important stage in the learning process, and you will be amazed at what his growing memory allows him to do.  Best of all, your 16-month-old is now able to imitate and initiate displays of affection as well....and now the more hugs you give....the more hugs you get!  It's a win win situation for everyone!       

       Now that your toddler's memory has begun to flourish, it's also a great time to start (ever so gently) laying down some basic rules.  Your child can now begin to understand the concept of positive and negative reinforcement, recall and repeat what he is positively reinforced for, and hopefully recall and not repeat what has been met with a less than pleasant reaction.  He is beginning to learn that rewards of hugs, laughter and praise come about for good behavior, and want to repeat those positive actions...over, and over, and over.       

       It's also time to keep a watchful eye out, as your savvy little toddler is becoming quite intuitive and quickly learning that different people react differently to the same situation.  Your 16-month-old is becoming much more aware that throwing a toy at the family cat may illicit a frown from Mom and Dad, but, laughter and giggles from big brother!  That sibling bond is a beautiful thing, but definitely can make disciplining difficult when your cat is dangling from the chandelier 10 feet off of the ground, and everyone (including yourself), is left in hysterics.       

       Just remember that even at this young age, along with their tantrums and protests, children crave limits and boundaries (despite how difficult it may be for you to do so, and keep a straight face simultaneously.)


  Physical Development
           Your 16-month-old is now ready to begin to challenge their physical limits to the max.  Objects you never deemed "climbable" have become jungle gyms, and obstacle courses made up of pillows, coffee tables, bookshelves and chairs suddenly have begun to sprout up in your living room overnight.  Your toddler understands that he can walk (or waddle), and now craves new adventures.  Basically your wonderful child is now more determined than ever to give you a heart attack, so if you haven't done so yet...it's time to childproof your home right now.  Above and beyond the general childproofing tips, here are a few essential safety tips to be aware of this month:  in the kitchen, cook with the burners towards the back of the stove and turn pot handles inward and out of reach of curious hands.  In the bathroom be sure to lock up all cleaning supplies and medications, never leave your child alone in the tub, and never leave water in the tub after the bath.  In the bedroom, be sure blinds, cords, and all curtain tie-backs are completely out of your toddler's reach.  Lastly, in the general household, be sure that bookshelves and dressers cannot be pulled over and are securely attached to the walls (you may also want to purchase dresser safety locks so that the drawers cannot be pulled out and used as a ladder as my twins did last week...)


  Language Development
           This month your toddler's babbling skills have begun to increase with leaps and bounds!  Now that your toddler can talk, he at last (and somewhat sadly...) is beginning to understand that he is his own little person apart from you.  They now appear to hold a real conversation (often with himself) and are starting to understand the value of communication and language.  Be prepared to have lengthy wide-eyed discussions throughout the day as your toddler attempts to share his daily adventures with you and continue to practice his new found skill- speech.  Don't be surprised though...at this age it is very normal that your toddler continue to rely mostly on nonverbal communication, as this is what he is most comfortable with, and will resort to in a pinch.       

       Around 16 months of age, your toddler will begin to develop receptive language skills such as locating everyday objects that are not readily visible (Where is your teddy?), pointing to body parts, understanding up to 50 words spoken by a familiar adult, and possibly following a two part direction with one object (Go get Elmo and put him in the toy box).       

       Along with developing language skills, your toddler is becoming better able to understand you as well.  In fact, at this point your toddler actually understands much more than he is able to express, and the challenge is actually one of coordinating lips, tongue and breath well enough to make himself understood.  Your 16-month-old is now developing expressive language skills and may be able to say 10 meaningful words and label objects correctly (flip through a picture book and have him point out pictures you name).  He can now begin to use basic words rather than pointing, and may attempt to imitate your adult speech.   Your toddler may even begin asking for "More" and the never ending question of "What's that?" has finally begun.  No, you're not dreaming.....your 16-month-old toddler really does understand what you're saying.       

       This month it is very important that you speak slowly and clearly to your toddler in order to increase communication skills.  Use simple words and phrases when you talk, and make an extra effort to banish the singsong speech that you have used over the past 15 months.  Begin to use correct words for objects, and most importantly listen to your toddler without interrupting.  Remember, children become better listeners when they themselves are listened to.


           Make a Junkyard Band!       

       You don't need any real instruments for this one!  Your 16-month-old will love to bang on anything that makes noise, and it is a perfect activity for beginning to develop creativity and imagination.       

       All you need is a few cardboard tubes from empty paper towel rolls, pots, pans, lids, wooden spoons, whisks, and anything else you can find around the house.  Also, let your toddler safely explore the cabinets with you, and see what he finds.  Often they're better explorers than we are anyway because they are without preconceived notions!  Ahh, Ignorance is bliss.....       

       Take your "instruments" and place everything down on the floor.  Show your toddler how to blow through the cardboard trumpet and make ridiculous sounds.  Bang the pots and pans together, and if you want to really get crazy grab two lids and go to town!  Laugh, have fun and make some noise.  One of the most important lessons we can teach our children is to let loose and be silly.       

       Don't be surprised if your toddler actually stays with this activity longer than expected.  Because these are new "toys" he will need to explore them in his usual multi-sensory way and check them out from every possible angle before he's ready to play.


  Andrew and Devin's Opinion
           I was very curious to see how my 16-month-old twin boys would respond to this activity.  Despite the fact that they are identical, I am learning that their only similarities lately are the purely physical ones.  When it comes to playing rambunctiously, and particularly making lots of noise, Andrew is always right there in the midst of the action.  Devin has, since day one, been his polar opposite, often removing himself from the chaos and much preferring his quiet space with his blankie and thumb under my older son's loft bed.  When I think about it, they are actually great little representatives for the vast differences in the personalities of toddlers which you will begin to see at this age.       

       To begin this activity, I had prepared the boys' room before they entered with a wide variety of pots, pans, and utensils.  Prior to revealing their surprise waiting ahead, I also allowed them to sift through the Tupperware drawer and pick out anything else they found interesting.  I then led them into their room and just waited.  It took them both about 2 seconds to waddle over to the pile on their floor, and begin their first adventure of the day.       

       Like I expected, Andrew immediately grabbed two large wooden spoons and played the pots like he was a professional drummer in a band.  Dancing and laughing as he experimented with different sounds....he was in his glory.  Devin just stood there watching Andrew with a look of confusion on his little face, and then slowly and cautiously, picked up a little whisk a few seconds later.  Of course it went directly into his mouth, but soon after he was done "exploring" it, he found a little bowl and gently began to tap it.  Every few seconds Devin would look up at me with his big blue eyes seeking constant approval and confirmation that he was alright, but, the grin on his face became wider and wider and it became evident that this activity was a winner with both of them.  Within, 10 minutes Devin was actually right there with Andrew alternating bangs and booms with giggles and laughter.       

       I was amazed at the amount of time that Andrew and Devin actually remained on this task.  From start to finish (that is, when they decided to throw their entire "band" over the safety gate and into the hallway) they actually remained focused for 25 minutes.  Like most 16-month-olds, their attention spans are dwindling, and I am constantly looking for new unconventional ways to entertain them.  Since the birth of my 4-year-old son, I have truly tried my best to avoid purchasing toys with all of the bells and whistles, and batteries.  Toys that play by themselves, and only require the push of a button just don't seem to entertain my children as well as the pots and pans did today.  This activity further proved to me that children at this young age actually enjoy, and will spend more time with "toys" that they get to be creative with and require the use their little imaginations to have fun!


  Have you begun to wonder.....
           Question - Where has my toddler's attention span gone?!  Most importantly, will it ever come back?       

       Around 15 to 16 months, a toddler's ability to remain on task for long periods of time slowly diminishes.   Their curiosity for exploration is beginning to peak and it's very normal that they want to continuously move from activity to activity, while you struggle to keep up!  Two great old stand-bys that temporarily occupy a toddler for a few minutes while you catch your breath are a good round of peek-a-boo or "Where's your nose" for starters!  If your toddler used to love to sit and read in your lap for what seemed like an eternity as an infant, don't be offended if now you only get through a page or two before he gets up and walks away...more likely than not, he will come back eventually.   Although your 16-month-old may not sit still anymore, they're likely to show a bit more interest in having stories read in brief blocks of time throughout the day by you.  He may prefer to point out specific pictures (over and over and over!) instead of listening to the text, but, quality time is still quality time in my book.   I promise your little one's attention span will gradually return....even if it is a few months or years away.


Title not necessary this week
By Liz Hanson, edHelperBaby

           Wrote comments above for week 69       

       Since there was no article written for "General Topic," the proofing corrections were made on the comments in the "Comments Section" and corrections made following the comments. Diana

Listening is a Learned Behavior
By Lindsey Hill, edHelperBaby

           Understanding basic skills before the age of eighteen months is essential for creating respectful young children. Being an active listener is an essential skill that encourages learning to speak and read proficiently. Try out these two games and/or activities with your child in order to teach listening as a skill while re-connecting after a busy day:
  • Name that Sound

       This simple activity invites your child to identify sounds. Gather objects with familiar sounds such as keys, a whistle or a maraca and place them in a small container or box. Ask your child to close his eyes while you choose an item from the box. Next make the sound with the familiar object and then ask your child to name the sound. Do this again and again with different objects.
  • Sound Station

       Choose several familiar objects that make their own sound such as a maraca, a wind chime or a siren from a toy. Gather these items into a small container or box.  Ask your child to close his eyes while you tiptoe to one part of the same room and make a sound with an object. Ask your child to point to where you are standing as you continue the sound. Invite him to open his eyes so he can verify whether or not he has guessed correctly. Do this again and again as you change the object and your location.       

       Switch roles with your child. Have your child complete these activities as you actively listen to the sound of an object. Have him choose different objects from the box and you can try to identify those sounds, as well.       


Title not necessary this week
By Liz Hanson, About my child Amelia Pearl

           Wrote comments above for week 69       

       Since there was no article written for "About My Child," the proofing corrections were made on the comments in the "Comments Section" and corrections made following the comments. Diana

Iím Speaking English . . . Why Arenít You Listening?
By Lindsey Hill, About my child Cory

           As Cory approaches four, some days he listens on the first try and other days it takes a lot of repeating to get him to do anything. Therefore, any new game to play together that encourages listening is high on our priority lists. While Camden, our one year old, played quietly across the room, we grabbed sound making objects without Cory's knowledge and put them into a small basket from our toy room. Cory was then asked to close his eyes and guess what sound he was hearing. We started with a maraca and then used a siren from an ambulance. Cory giggled as he guessed many of the items on the first try. We then added a few unfamiliar action sounds like typing on a keyboard, shutting a cabinet door and sweeping the floor. A few guesses and clues later, Cory guessed what the sound was. We had him so excited that he wanted to find different sounds around the basement for us to guess. My one year old eventually saw the fun we were having. He then toddled over and began discovering the sounds they made, too. It was such a simple activity that supported practice of active listening but Cory did not realize we were actually teaching him a new skill.


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