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Toddler - Week #116

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Your 27-month-old toddler (week 116)

By Shelley Feldman, edHelperBaby

Fine and Gross Motor Development
           Despite the fact that your toddler's growth rate has slowed down a bit, his new skills and abilities continue to develop quite rapidly.  He is now beginning to thin-out and become more proportionate, and his muscle tone is also improving daily.  Watch closely because this is the month when you will catch the last glimpses of the chubby little cheeks that once drew such great attention, as they are beginning to fade away, and cherish every second that you have, because your toddler is now transforming from your baby to a child.

       Pushing buttons, removing labels, opening drawers, dissecting anything within arm's reach, and examining everything that he can get his hands on, are your toddler's favorite pastimes this month.  As if his dexterity has improved overnight, he is now ready and willing to handle the tiniest of objects with ease, and his interest in stacking and knocking things over has become relentless.

       One of your toddler's major accomplishments this month will be learning to draw, so give him a crayon and watch the magic unfold.  Despite his grip still remaining rather clumsy, he is able to control things just enough to create his first masterpiece, and he may even be able to identify an image for you among the scribbles.  Keep in mind that the end product is not what is important during this early exploration with art, so instead of focusing on the image that is created, look at the entire process from beginning to end, because that's where the learning takes place.

       If you are beginning to wonder if your toddler has settled on a hand preference this month, wonder no more.  Most toddlers this age will continue to change their "handedness" several more times before settling down and choosing one, so most likely he may switch once again.  Keep in mind that being right or left-handed is already predetermined, and has been since your little one was born.  When he's ready, he'll settle down with what feels most comfortable and natural, but until then let him test the waters for a little while longer.

       Not only is your 27-month-old toddler able to manipulate items with his hands right now, but his feet have also begun to cooperate.  Your little one is now able to hop, almost gracefully, from one foot to the next, and possibly even balance on one foot for a moment or two.  This month, his new jumping skills will also cause great delight, as your toddler is able to effortlessly play leap-frog with his teddy bear from one room to the next.  His sneaking and snooping skills have also improved, so don't be surprised if you catch him tippy-toeing around as he scavenges through your house in search of something new to take apart.

       If you haven't already noticed, at this age your toddler is constantly on the go, mentally and physically.  However you look at it, for good or for bad, this is how life with your toddler will be over the course of the next few years, so hold on tight and let the games begin!


Language Development and Vocabulary
           Over the past 27 months, your toddler's vocabulary has raced from zero to two hundred, in what seems like the blink of an eye.  Even more miraculously, she is able to comprehend at least 400 words, and is adding more and more to her growing vocabulary collection every day.

       By this month, your toddler may be able to give her first and possibly even her last name when asked, and she has finally figured out that everyone else has a name too.  She is also able to use the plural of words, and is able to easily point to and name various items as she makes her way through the world every day.  Your toddler is now beginning to understand how to use the words "I," "me," and "mine" correctly ("mine" being the all-time favorite), and enjoys showing off how much she has learned about the English language to anyone that will listen.

       No longer is your toddler interested in spouting out single word requests, as three-word sentences are much more appealing, particularly when she can throw in a bit of intonation as well.  Keeping quiet is not something that your toddler is showing much interest right now, so encourage her to speak and continue to engage her in conversation as much as possible.

       By the end of this month, you may find your toddler repeating parts of nursery rhymes, and singing songs to herself without prompting from you, a sure sign that she is truly becoming more and more confident with speaking.  And you are finally not the only one who can understand your toddler, because over the course of the past few months, she has gained greater control over the muscles that aid with speech.  It is still a good idea however to stick quite close, because sometimes your interpreting skills will still be needed.

       Although it may be difficult not to compare your toddler's verbal prowess to those around her, do your best to avoid it.  Right now, there is more of a variation found in language development than in any other area of development, so measuring her against others will do more harm (to both you and to your toddler) than good.  Keep in mind that some children are naturally more verbal than others, and that talking a lot at this age has no correlation to intelligence.  Interestingly, quite often toddlers who appear quieter actually have a richer vocabulary than those who steal the spotlight...but, they are just a bit more selective about when they choose to use it.


           Walk The Plank!       

       This fun activity is a great way to help your toddler practice her balancing skills.  It is also very versatile and can be played either indoors or outdoors depending upon the season and weather.

       First, gather together several sheets of heavy-duty paper or cardboard.  Second, cut the paper into numerous strips that are approximately 6 inches wide.  Third, tape or glue several strips of paper together forming a very long "plank" for your toddler to walk across (to make this activity slightly more challenging, piece the strips of paper together forming a zig-zag path for your toddler to follow, as opposed to keeping it perfectly straight).

       The final step in the activity is to have your toddler follow the path that you have created.  Show her how to walk across it, and teach her how to stretch her arms out to the sides for better balance.  When you and your toddler finally reach the end of your plank, show her how to bend her knees and pretend to "jump off," safely landing in the "water."


  Andrew and Devin's Opinion
           We had so much fun with this activity.  Knowing ahead of time how destructive my 27-month-old twins can be, and how regular paper would not last for one second up against Andrew and Devin's feet, I chose to cut up heavy-duty cardboard boxes (diaper boxes to be exact) for this activity.  After cutting out approximately 15 feet of strips that were 6 inches in diameter, I then attached them all together and formed a path that zig-zagged and wound around various pieces of furniture in my living room.

       After laying down our plank, I then stood upon it and encouraged Andrew and Devin to follow close behind.  I exaggerated trying to keep my balance, and pretended to almost fall off, which the boys found hysterical, and were also quick to mimic.

       When we finally reached the end of our "plank," I showed the boys how to jump off and "splash" into the "water" below, then "swim" safely across the carpet to the "shore."  After hesitating for a moment Andrew got up the courage to take his leap of faith, and jumped off of the cardboard and onto the carpet.  When he arrived safe and sound over to the couch, he then looked at me wide-eyed and said, "That was a close one."  Next, it was Devin's turn and without batting an eye, he ran to the end of the "plank," jumped as high as his chubby little legs could carry him (about one inch off of the ground) and yelled, "Cannonball!"...totally priceless.  I love this age.


  Have you begun to wonder...
           Should I still be concerned about choking hazards?       

       Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Despite your toddler appearing more aware of what he should and should not put in his mouth this month, it is essential that you remain vigilant regarding potential choking hazards.  Even at 27 months, your toddler continues to explore the world around him through all of his senses, and his mouth is still one of the first places that a new object will go.

       Not only is it important for you to be on the lookout for small toys and other non-edible objects within reach, but because your toddler is now eating a wider variety of foods, you must also use great caution when selecting what he will be fed.  In particular, do not feed your child hard pieces of food such as uncooked, raw carrots, or foods that may easily get stuck in her throat such as grapes, popcorn, hard-candy, or lollipops.  Also, be sure to cut everything up into tiny pieces for your toddler to chew, even if he does appear able to bite off a little at a time from a larger section.  Also, try your best to insist that your toddler be seated when eating and not running around.

       Often as toddlers become more independent little people, parents forget that supervision remains inherent, and that it is still necessary all day, every day.  Right now, your toddler is depending upon you to keep her safe, and with so many things in life that you can't protect her from, it is essential that you protect her from what you can.


Is My Child Ready for the Potty?
By Julie Stiglets, edHelperBaby

           Most children begin potty training sometime around 18 months to 3 1/2 years of age.  But age is not as important as readiness.  Everyone must learn at their own pace.  You should look for signs of readiness before actually starting the potty training process.  Here are a few signs to look for:       
  1. Does your child show interest in using the potty?  Is he interested in what you are doing when you go to the potty?
  2. Can your child stay dry for long periods of time?  (2 hours or more)
  3. Can your child follow simple directions? (such as "Give me the toy or sit down.")
  4. Can your child pull his pants up and down?
  5. Is your child aware of when he is urinating or having a bowel movement?
  6. Does your child use words like pee-pee and pooh-pooh?
  7. Does your child dislike having a dirty diaper?
  8. Does your child have a sufficient attention span?  Can he play with one toy for 5 minutes or longer?
       Remember, age is not the most important factor when it comes to potty training.  Look for some of the aforementioned signs and your child does not have to show every one.  If you can check off most of these signs, then you are probably ready to start teaching your little one how to use the potty and get rid of those diapers!       

       Good Luck!       


Time to Kick Those Diapers to the Curb!
By Julie Stiglets, About my child Riley Kate

           I remember when Riley Kate started becoming interested in the potty.  At around eighteen months old, she would follow me and even her big sister, Emma, to the potty.  She would just watch what we were doing.  I knew she was not ready to be potty trained yet, but she just wanted to do what we were doing.  So, I bought a little potty at the store to keep in our bathroom.  Now she could do what we were doing if she wanted to.   Her big sister, who was three at the time, got a big kick out of this.  I would let Riley sit on the potty like a big girl.  She even had to "wipe" herself.  She imitated exactly what we were doing.  Eventually during one of her practice and pretend potty moments, she peed in her potty!  I was so excited!  I do not think Riley even realized what she did!  She continued this potty practice for a while, eventually understanding the process of actually "using the potty".  After several months, a little after she turned two, she was showing many more signs that she was ready to be potty trained!  And I have to admit, I could not be more thrilled to say good-bye to the diapers!


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