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Toddler - Week #88

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Your 20-month-old toddler (week 88)

By Shelley Feldman, edHelperBaby

Physical Development
           At 20 months, your toddler is starting to run circles around you, although he may trip over his own feet in the process.  Jumping has also become one of his favorite new tricks, but in actuality he's most likely getting just one foot off of the ground right now.  There are a few little ones out there that may have tackled this skill ahead of time and are able to get some air-time, but they're few and far between.

       The 20-month-mark is when stairs become a welcome challenge to your little climber.  He will most likely be able to tackle going up the stairs quite well, but stick close behind in order to catch the inevitable falls.  As for the "going down" portion of his adventure, be ready to lend a helping hand because he will definitely need some "spotting" along the way.  Generally speaking, climbing has now become a full-time hobby for your little one, and you will now find him positioned on top of things the instant you turn your back, and scaling furniture that you thought insurmountable.  Apart from flooring your entire house with pillows, be prepared with your catcher's mitt once again.

       Your toddler's gross motor skills are improving every day, and he is now able to coordinate his little feet to kick a ball.  It may take a few wind-up shots before he makes contact with the ball, but eventually he will succeed nonetheless.  He should also be able to throw a ball underhand, not necessarily at anyone or anything in particular, however, his overhand throw remains "under construction," so prepare to duck quickly when the balls coming flying.

       Physical activity is essential for your child now, so get going!  Not only is it important for him to practice all of his new skills and discover new ones in the process, physical activity of any kind is a good habit to form now that will stick with him for the rest of his life.  Best of all, it is your "Golden Ticket" to getting your little ball of energy to sleep, and who doesn't want that?


Language Development
           This month your toddler is miraculously learning up to ten new words a day.  It's amazing when you think about it, that's actually seventy new words a week, and potentially three-hundred new additions to her vocabulary this month alone!  This is not to say that she is actually verbalizing all of these new words back to you in conversation, but she is comprehending them.

       On average, your 20-month-old should be able to identify and name at least six body parts, and you will notice that she is very interested in "exploring" them all as well.  She has also begun to figure out that two words can be put together to get her point across more effectively, and is becoming more and more successful communicating in this manner.  Now that your toddler is getting the hang of stringing words together, her grammatical accuracy is improving but there's still a long way to go.

       Language development continues to differ from child to child at this age, and there are notable gender differences.  Girls continue to develop speech at a faster rate and some may even be speaking in understandable three and four-word sentences before the age of two.  On the flip side, some boys may not even speak until after the age of two and their vocabulary may be much more limited when they do talk.  Keep in mind that these are generalizations, and of course there will be boys talking up a storm and silent girls too.  The fact is that there is such a large range of variability regarding language and speech that we are left with plenty of room for unwarranted concern.

       Despite all parents wanting their children to adhere to a certain "developmental schedule", don't expect it.  It may make you nervous if your little one is not developing as quickly as those around, but try not to compare her to anyone but herself...she'll feel enough pressure as she grows up.  Learning new skills should be fun for you and your child, so cherish whatever stage she is in because she is growing up so fast now.


           Tunnel Time!       

       This is a great activity that can occupy your little ball of energy for quite a while, and the best part about it is all that you need are a few chairs and two or three blankets.  Making tunnels is not only fun, but it will also allow your toddler to learn about the area around his body, and how to control his movements in an enclosed space.

       In order to begin, you will need to completely cover the chairs with the blankets, making tunnels and turns along the way.  I found it easiest to place the chairs side by side (like they are against a wall facing out), and place the blankets only on the cushion portion of the chair.  Also, the heavier the blankets that you choose, the darker the maze, so you may want to try and make a few areas lighter or darker along your toddler's journey.

       When your tunnel is complete, you will probably have to show your toddler how to navigate through it (because of this you may not want to use small chairs!), but once she gets the hang of it she'll go again and again on her own.  Once she has mastered the basic layout of your tunnel, there are a few extras that may be added to make it a little more interesting.  Add pillows to crawl over between the chairs in the tunnel, or provide her with a flashlight to take along on the journey.  You may even want to place her favorite toy at the end of the tunnel for a job well done, or place yourself there instead for a great big hug.

       Just on a side note, you can also purchase little canvas pop-up tunnels for a very reasonable price...no assembly required.


  Andrew and Devin's Opinion
           This activity was FANTASTIC!  I am constantly looking for new ways to occupy my 20-month-old identical twin boys, and I feel like I struck gold with this one.  After learning the hard way with my older son, I now understand the correlation between physical activity and a nice long nap.  My goal every morning is to exhaust my little guys as much as possible, get them to eat a good lunch and follow it up with a little battle-free sleep.  All that I can say is, "mission complete" after this activity.

       About an hour before lunch-time I constructed our tunnel out of six dining room chairs and three comforters.  I went for the thickest blankets that I had in order to achieve the darkest and coziest tunnel possible, and little did I know then that they were going to be the key to my success.  Once my tunnel was secure and stabilized, and after a few trial runs of my own, I brought Andrew and Devin over to my construction site.

       As if on cue, Andrew immediately went down on all fours and scooted through the tunnel like a pro.  After getting the all-clear from Andrew and seeing that he did not mysteriously disappear through the maze, Devin then took a chance and gave it a go himself.  That was it.  They both were hooked from that point on.  One by one they shuffled through the tunnel giggling and laughing from one end to the other.  It was like they couldn't get through fast enough in order to start all over again.

       Poor Devin was run over by his more agile counterpart, Andrew, on more than one occasion but, it didn't seem to faze him, and I suppose he's somewhat used to being run over by now.  They even started their own little game of "Where are ooo Andoo?" and "I see ooo Andoo!" (at this point both of my boys continue to refer to themselves as "Andrew"...go figure.)  And the best part of this game was that it went on for about 20 minutes while I prepared lunch.

       After eating, both Andrew and Devin looked exhausted and I knew then that my plan had worked.  I brought them into their room, plopped each one of them into their toddler beds and crossed my fingers that I wouldn't see their cute little faces for at least two hours.  Wishful thinking on my part, because about 30 seconds later, I hear the pitter-patter of little feet and look up to see Devin running through the kitchen.  Deciding to follow and see what he was up to, I watched as he scooted back into the tunnel we had made...but, this time he didn't come back out!  Within seconds he had managed to curl up in a ball in the center of the tunnel, wrap himself around his blankie, and fall sound asleep.  A perfect ending...to a perfect morning.


  Have you begun to wonder...
           Is it time to make the switch from crib to toddler bed?       

       This is the month when your toddler may reach the minimum height needed to make an escape from his crib.  Although most toddlers make this transition closer to the age of two, if you have an agile child he may need to graduate sooner.  Scaling the walls may not only lead to injury, but it may also result in an escapee in the middle of the night with the house all to himself.  Scary thought.

       Most likely the transition from crib to bed will thrill your little one during the day, but at night it can be frightening.  And although your little one may have been a wonderful crib sleeper, don't necessarily expect the same for the toddler bed.  Toddlers just don't handle change well, and this is no exception.

       Once the crib has vanished, the wide-open space now available to your toddler at night is tempting, especially if he is surrounded by toys that have been out of his reach at night in his crib.  Expect him to get up numerous times, and bring every toy that he can carry into his bed, just because he can (or, if you have twins like we do, expect them to switch beds or pile into one in the middle of the night).  It may take a lot of extra time for him to fall asleep as well, and you can expect to be carrying him back to bed dozens and dozens of times (I counted 57 last night).  When he does eventually get some shut-eye, expect to find your little one sprawled out in the middle of his bedroom floor sound asleep on many occasions.  Safety railings are essential at first, and they do a great job, however he will still find the one small opening to fall out of, so cushion the landing area directly next to his bed.

       Keeping your toddler in his bed is challenging enough, but keeping him safe once he gets out is another.  A toddler on the loose in the middle of the night is a dangerous situation, so be sure to keep his room child-proof.  Don't just put dangerous things high on top of his dresser, because he will get to them eventually.  Make sure that there is nothing he can trip over on his late night adventures, including furniture, electrical cords, and toys, and you may want to add a nightlight, as long as he can't access it and get to the outlet.  Be sure that all blind cords and curtain pull-backs are completely out of reach, and be certain that windows are locked, and guards are in place if necessary.

       In order to contain your little night wanderer, you may want to install a child-proof gate across the open doorway (but don't forget it's there when you go to check on him in the middle of the night!).  Gates work wonders for this transition because he can still open the door (assuming he has already tackled that new skill) and see what is outside without actually leaving the confinement of his room.

       Overall, if you must move from crib to bed for safety reasons there is no turning back, it's time to switch even if it's early.  If you don't have to but want to, wait a little longer...and enjoy sleeping through the night while you still can.


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