Offer 3-4 meals and 1-2 snacks a day of carefully cut table foods, and include 12 to 16 ounces of whole milk. Your child can eat the same foods that you do, and will probably wish to feed herself without your help. Fingers will still work much better than utensils, but encourage appropriate use of spoons and forks. Having your child eat only in her high chair (for all meals and snacks) encourages her to be a part of the family meal, and avoids "grazing" habits and potential choking situations.
This is an excellent time to take your child completely off the bottle if you have not already done so. Carrying a bottle around the house can lead to cavities in the front teeth, and is a difficult habit to stop.
The typical toddler eats well at only one or two meals each day (dinner is usually the pickiest) and eats better away from home. Avoid battles at the table. Your responsibility is to provide healthy food choices and praise whatever is eaten. You cannot make your child eat. See our handout "Feeding Your Toddler, Age 1 to 3" if you are interested in more information on age-appropriate serving sizes and choices.
Parents are encouraged to brush their child's teeth with a toothbrush twice daily. Toothpaste is unnecessary, but a small dab may be just the incentive for a resisting toddler. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends routine dental visits starting now.
Most children sleep 10-12 hours each night and may take one nap during the day. Be gentle, but firm, with nighttime and nap routine. If your child tries to climb out of the crib, place the mattress of the floor and start looking for the bigger bed. The convenience of the crib is not worth the risk of a fall.
Believe it or not, you have already started toilet training your child. Every time you acknowledge her diaper you are giving information about her body that will be used later when she learns to use the toilet. Consider the terms you will want her to use regarding elimination, and be positive ("wet", "dry", "urine" versus "messy", "stinky"). This is a good age to put the toilet chair in the bathroom, mainly to make it a normal part of the room and not something strange that shows up when the time is right for training. It is also helpful to decrease attention to diaper changing. There are many entertaining books out there regarding this topic!
Toddlerhood is one of the most dangerous ages due to lack of good depth perception and inability to control impulses. Energy is relentless! Recheck all previously childproofed areas, including the garage and lawn.
Children at this age have more courage and speed and often go down unguarded stairways or fall on or off sharp-edged furniture; constantly supervise.
Keep the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222) phone number handy.
Prevent drownings. Never allow your child near a pool, lake, bathtub, or bucket of fluids unless you are with her.
Burns happen quickly at this age. Irons, curling rods, lamps, light bulbs, cigarettes, candles and hot liquids are all within reach of a busy, exploring toddler. Vacuum cleaners (in use) are also a hazard.
Toddlers are wonderful, but can be frustrating. Avoid the potential for Shaken Baby Syndrome by taking breaks from your child before your temper flares. Call a relative or friend for help, or the Parent Warmline (612-813-6336). If you're at the end of your rope, call the Crisis Connection (612-379-6363) or Minneapolis Crisis Nursery (763-591-0100); they can help you get a break.
We would like to see your child again for a routine checkup at age TWO. By then your child will be verbal and animated, bringing out all of your best traits! No vaccines are usually due at that visit. Please try to be at least 10 minutes early for all scheduled well-child visits.
As the saying goes, don't sweat the small stuff.