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Toddler - Week #111

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Your 26-month-old toddler (week 111)

By Shelley Feldman, edHelperBaby

Playing It Safe
           Although keeping your child safe may be foremost in your mind, this month you're probably realizing just how difficult it can be.  At the age of 26 months, your toddler is into and intrigued by everything, and trying to simultaneously figure out how things work while pushing her limitations to the max, is an accident waiting to happen.  No matter how alert, aware and cautious you may be, or how big the bubble is that you are attempting to contain your toddler in, sooner or later, for better or worse, something is bound to happen.  However, despite the odds being stacked against you right now, there are a few precautionary measures that you can take in hopes of turning things around back in your favor.

       Be aware that most incidents over the next few months will occur when your toddler falls, trips over an object, or runs full speed ahead into something.  At this age, your child just wants to live in the moment and have fun, and is not yet able to sense a potentially dangerous situation before it occurs.  She'll spin around in circles until she can no longer stand, but is not aware of the sharp table corner that she may hit when she loses her balance.  Her ball rolls into the street and she will not hesitate to run out and retrieve it unless you are there to stop her.  Now, more than ever it is your job to be aware of your toddler's surroundings, sense danger before it may occur, and anticipate her responses before she acts.

       Also, be extremely cautious about leaving your toddler alone in places where she can climb.  Don't think that she can't or won't do it...because she can and she will.  You will be amazed at your little one's wall-scaling and furniture-mounting abilities, and at this age nothing is safe.  Along with her mountaineering skills, your toddler is also figuring out how to open doors, particularly those that are off limits, so be careful.  By simply placing safety gates in doorways where danger lurks on the other side, you may avoid disaster...that is until she figures out how to leap over them, but at least you've bought yourself a little time.

       Doors going outside can also pose a serious risk, so be certain that there is no way that your little one can escape under your watch.  Believe it or not, at this age your toddler can unlock almost anything, and if she is able to reach the knob, she is able to get out, so think pro-actively.  If you haven't already done so, go ahead and purchase a few safety locks, or place a simple eye-hook latch on the doors that may pose a danger.  Despite these measures being a bit of a nuisance for you to lock and unlock over the course of the day, when you consider the alternative, they are undoubtedly worth every extra second that they may take.


Checking In With The Doctor
           I am amazed to learn that so many parents skip the doctor for regular check-ups and only rush into the office when there is something obviously wrong.  Toddlers at this age grow so quickly, and they need to be monitored to ensure that everything is developing like it should be.  By seeing your doctor regularly, a "base-line" can be established, and if issues should arise she will be able to spot them early on and therefore, a more proactive approach can be taken.  Waiting until things get more advanced can lead to disaster in the end, so take the time for you and your toddler to develop a positive rapport with your pediatrician now when all is well.

       At this age, regular check-ups are recommended every six months, and if you have any special concerns about your child don't hesitate to go in sooner.  Right now your toddler is still incapable of telling the doctor what is going on in his head and in his body, so you'll need to be his advocate, interpreter and spokesperson as well.  Keep in mind that your doctor only gets a short glimpse of your toddler during these visits, and she is depending upon your feedback and observations to fill in the blanks.  No observation is too small, and no question is ever stupid when it comes to your toddler, so keep in mind that although your doctor may be an excellent detective, she is much better at her job when she is given all of the clues.


           Play Doctor       

       What better way to make your toddler feel more comfortable about going for a check-up or sick-visit, than to get her familiar with a few "pint-size" versions of the tools that your pediatrician may use?

       At this age, your little one has a very strong fear of the unknown in combination with an improving memory.  Help to take this fear away, by providing your toddler with her own play doctor kit, and let her take the reins.  This is the perfect activity to ease the stress of going to the doctor, and will also help her to feel more prepared about what may happen ahead of time.

       Once your little one has her own kit, take the opportunity to show her what each of the tools is used for, and help her to make the connection between her "toys" and the pediatrician's tools.  By providing your toddler with a little more knowledge and experience, you may help to erase (or at least soften) any of the negative connotations that she has made about going to the doctor, and less fear just may lead to one less tantrum.


  Andrew and Devin's Opinion
           Recently I've noticed that the older my 26-month-old twin boys get, the more difficult our visits to the doctor have become.  At this point, I am willing to try anything to make our visits a more pleasant experience for everyone involved.

       Despite making every effort to make our occasional visits "enjoyable," like clock-work, as soon as we pull into the office parking lot the tears begin.  Realizing how difficult our doctor visits have become with two hysterical children, I was thrilled to try this activity in hopes that it may give myself and our patient pediatrician a few moments of peace and cooperation.

       Knowing that we had a "well visit" coming up just around the bend, I immediately pulled out the boys' pretend doctor kits that had been sitting in the bottom of their toy box.  I was pleasantly surprised to find all of the "tools" intact and in good working order, and thrilled that we had pint-sized replicas of everything that our pediatrician usually uses during out routine visits.

       Noticing the boys' intrigue regarding the re-surfacing of their toys, I grabbed this opportunity and told Andrew and Devin that we were going to play "Dr. John" (our pediatrician).  Upon hearing the mere mention of his name, both boys looked at me and then at each other with those deer-in-headlights expressions and I swear their bottom lips started to quiver.  After clarifying that we were "playing" Dr. John, and reiterating that we were not "going" to see Dr. John, all was well and they went right along with our activity.  (I need to mention here that our pediatrician is the kindest, gentlest doctor that I have ever encountered in my life...definitely not the evil villain that my children have painted in their minds.)

       For our initial experience with this activity, both Andrew and Devin sat down in front of me and I proceeded to pretend that I was checking them, just as their doctor would.  I then encouraged the boys to gently check one another with the tools and made every effort to make the experience fun.  We looked for bananas in our ears, listened to dinosaurs in our tummies, found frogs in our throats...you get the picture.  Finally, after spending quite a bit of our morning on this activity and after all the members of our family, including the poor cat, were given a clean bill of heath, I was curious how incorporating this "game" into our regular play routine would impact our next doctor visit.

       Over the next few weeks, I made every effort to include this activity a few times a week in hopes that it may take the mystery out of seeing the doctor, and also displace some of their fears.  Needless to say, just yesterday we visited Dr. John, and miracles do happen.  Although pulling into the parking lot did bring out the water works...they were short lived and the boys were much better during their appointment.  I honestly believe that role-playing our visits to the doctor made them less fearful and more prepared...at least this time.


  Have you begun to wonder...
           When is it a good idea to begin teaching my toddler about water safety, and is 26 months too early to start swimming lessons?       

       Teaching about water safety, from the bath tub to the ocean, should begin at a very early age, and if you haven't already begun to start, please do it now.  However, on the flip side, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is not in your toddler's best interest to begin formal swimming lessons until the age of three.  And in fact, trying to teach your toddler to swim this early on can not only be unproductive, but it can also be very dangerous.  Studies show that children who take "lessons" too early may actually be at greater risk around the water than children who have not, simply because they have less fear surrounding the water and may take more risks.  Unfortunately, by placing children in swimming lessons before they are ready, parents may also develop a false sense of security upon seeing them "swim," and believe that their young toddlers are safe around water when in fact they are not.

       I can not emphasize enough...being able to swim, and being safe in the water are entirely different things, particularly before the age of three.  Supervised play in a wading pool, or simply floating around in circles in the arms of a responsible adult, is plenty for your toddler right now, and is all that she needs in order to gain confidence and feel more comfortable in and around the water at this age.  It's in everyone's best interest to stay away from the swimming lessons for the time being, and absolutely give them a shot next year when she is more prepared.


Fun Activities to Do While Taking a Walk with Toddlers
By Pam Worthen, edHelperBaby

           There are numerous things you can teach your toddler when you take a walk.  You will be opening up a whole new world to them while increasing their attention span and training them to focus.  Go on a scavenger hunt searching for colors that they already know and adding a new one you want them to learn.  Look for fuzzy, soft, hard, rough, dry, wet, hot and cold things.  Let them touch things so they can feel the difference.  Teach math by looking for things with two, four then six legs or count the petals of a flower.  Search for any shapes they know or a shape that you want to teach them.  Can they find something big or small?  Have toddlers look for something behind, in front of, up or down from them. Use your imagination.  The outdoors is such a fun classroom that they will not even know they are learning.  You could make a bird tic tac toe game as follows:
  • Toddlers can look for pictures of birds in a magazine.
  • Toddlers can practice using a safety scissors by cutting out the birds.
  • They can then glue them on a paper by gluing three rows of three in each row.  Alas, it is a tic tac toe game.
  • See who can find three in a row first or just try to find the birds on their sheet.

       Lie on your back and look at the clouds.  Do you see a cloud that looks like a duck?  Who would have guessed that taking a walk could be so educational?  Beware, toddlers will have such a great time that they will want to do it over and over again!


Giggles, Giggles and More Giggles
By Pam Worthen, About my child Leah

           Leah's personality is really developing.  If she hears or sees something funny, she just giggles and giggles.  When she does something that receives a laugh from others, she has to do it over and over again to gain more laughs until she is laughing so hard she can not continue.  She is a joy to be around.       

       She has noticed that she is getting older and getting a little bossy.  When toddlers are feeling all grown up they believe they have more authority.  When we are playing, she likes to tell me what to do such as exactly where to sit or stand.  She assigns everyone's role in our pretend play and tells us exactly what to do.  If we get it wrong, she will tell us no and instructs us on what she wants us to do.  She is becoming a good leader.       


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