Month 23

Your toddler is almost 2, so make a point of enjoying each day of the last few weeks before they reach another milestone birthday. This is the age and stage where a little opposition makes its appearance, causing parents to wonder what they’re doing wrong. All toddlers tend to have a short fuse and try to test the boundaries. They can escalate to distress in a split second, but then just as easily revert back to being calm and even tempered. Try not to use your toddler’s moods as a guide for your own. They will look to you for help with regulating their emotions and making sense of the world. By staying calm, reassuring and supportive they will learn that no matter how they feel, you are there for them.

It's important for every parent to have a little time each day, just for themselves. Although this can be difficult, investing just half an hour hour into a pleasurable activity can be very restorative. Go for a walk, read a book, talk with a friend on the phone. You may need to be creative about making this happen, but in the same way you nurture your children, you need to do the same for yourself.

Growth and development

Your toddler is almost half the height that they will be when fully grown. Their long bones are going through continual change as they mature which means you'll need to make sure they’re getting plenty of nutrition to fuel this bone growth. Don t worry if your 23 month old still has bowed legs. Most toddlers have legs which straighten out somewhere between 18 months and 2 years. But their legs won t assume their permanent appearance until around 7 years.

Your toddler's facial appearance may still be quite immature now, with their eyes, nose and mouth still concentrated in the lower of their face. This will make them look cute and it will be very difficult to ignore their requests sometimes. If you feel yourself driven to pick them up and give them a big kiss and cuddle, then give into temptation. Nature has designed your toddler to be totally appealing to you, even though at times their behaviour may leave you shaking your head.

Check your toddler’s shoes still fit them and they haven t outgrown them. Sandals are ideal to gauge correct sizing but enclosed shoes and boots are more of a challenge. When buying them new shoes look for ones which don t have such a rigid sole that they don t bend. Some flexibility in the sole is important, as is a shoe which is firmly attached to their foot.

An enclosed heel cup, adjustable straps, natural components and breathability are all important factors. When buying new shoes, look for sizing which allows for at least your thumb width from the top of their toes to the tip of the shoe. Although buying shoes with the view that they will grow into them may save you money, there is a point where shoes which are too big become risky to wear. Tripping is a common result when there is too much empty space at the front of a child's shoe.

Play and interaction

If you can, provide your children with a variety of toys which are made from different materials. Having masses of plastic scattered throughout the house does little to appeal to anyone's aesthetic senses. Wooden toys and those made from natural materials provide a different tactile experience and are often more simplistic in their design elements. Encourage your toddler to be creative and use nature sourced items in their play. Seed pods, leaves, grasses and even feathers introduce another dimension. Your toddler will look to you for approval when they seek out different things to play with so be encouraging when they are on their little voyages of nature discovery.

Look for games which balance interaction and solo play. Even at this young age your toddler will be learning what's involved in entertaining themselves and keeping their brains active. If you have other children they will inevitably all play together. But only children can look to their parents for constant stimulus and benefit from learning skills in self initiated play.

What you can expect this month

More imaginative play times and talking this month. Your toddler will be able to string together a few words and make more sense in their conversation. There'll be times when you are able to have a conversation with them and share input about simple concepts. They will understand a lot more too and will comprehend more than you sometimes give them credit for. Your 23 month old may surprise you with what they retain and how much they remember things.

This is really the age of discovery and adventure which means your toddler is bound to get up to mischief. Watch the messages you give them and try not to be negative. Frame your language in positive ways such as put the cup down gently rather than don t bang the cup . Of course there'll be days when it seems that parenting them is the easiest thing you've ever done and others where you'll question your own abilities. Parenting is a marathon not a sprint, so pick your battles and aim for an easy life.

Your toddler will let you know they're awake in the mornings, so shelve any plans you have for long sleep ins. If they are in a bed they'll come looking for you and probably want to climb in with you for a cuddle. This can be a lovely time of the day, when they are still warm and cosy from sleep and waking up to the day themselves. Where time allows, make the most of this opportunity. Have a little chat about what they d like to do that day, what they dreamt of and what they want for breakfast.

Food and nutrition

Your toddler will still need to be persuaded to sit while they eat, which means using the high chair or a booster seat positioned at the table. Their tolerance for staying put will be fairly short though, so avoid making them wait for long periods before serving. If they aren t hungry or just want to pick at their meals, take the hint and end the meal. Try not to focus on what they've eaten at each individual meal time, but their total intake over 1-2 days.

It is normal for toddlers to vary their intake and go through stages of not wanting or needing to eat much. But they make up for it at other times when it can seem difficult to fill them up. Offer them only healthy food choices and think about whether their food is supporting their body to grow strong. Read labels, know what is in their food, aim for less packaged/processed food where possible and role model healthy eating yourself.

If your 23 month old isn t keen to drink milk, offer it to them in alternative forms. Solid milk such as in yoghurt, cheese, ice-cream, white and cheese sauces are all optimum sources of calcium and phosphorus. Mix grated cheese through their vegetables, add a little butter to their meals or spread some cream cheese on a couple of crackers. Fish with edible bones and green leafy vegetables are also good sources of calcium.

Keeping your toddler healthy

Keep your toddler's towel and washer separate from the rest of the family's and make sure they know which ones are theirs. Show them their own toothbrush and teach them to recognise its colour. Don t share your toddler's pillows or bed linen and use sensible household precautions when it comes to minimising cross infections amongst family members.

If your toddler has been sick and has now recovered, replace their toothbrush, change their bed linen and wash any toys they may have been in contact with. If they were prescribed antibiotics it is important that they finish the entire course, otherwise there can be a resurgence of symptoms. Make sure you have Paracetamol in the house, in the correct strength for your toddler's age and weight. Trying to find a late night/out of hours pharmacy in a hurry is a situation best avoided.

If your toddler is toilet training, show them how to flush the toilet and wash their hands afterwards. There is no need to use anti-bacterial hand wash or soaps in normal domestic situations – standard household soap is sufficient.

General tips

  • Play games which require matching and grouping like objects together. Recognising similarities comes with age and practice and is a lifelong skill.
  • Keep talking, singing, rhyming and laughing with your 23 month old every day. Try not to take life too seriously and aim to keep things simple. Your toddler won t care how clean the house is or how organised the cupboards are. But they will notice if you are happy and animated and show pleasure in just being around them.
  • If your toddler is going to day care, learn how to be organised. Avoiding the early morning rush by preparing clothing the night before, investing in a slow cooker and using whatever technology is available can help so much.
  • Introduce your toddler to people when you see them and be aware that they are listening. The days of having an uninterrupted conversation are over and if your toddler wants to add their two cents worth, let them.
  • When your toddler says something funny, write it down in a safe place. You'll read back over these comments in years to come and they'll give you a warm glow.

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