Offer 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day. Most toddlers do not have huge appetites and may eat only 1-2 good meals; your job is to offer only healthy choices so that no matter what your child eats, you will both be successful. Most children can have skim or 1% milk (12-16 ounces daily) and can be encouraged to increase daily water and fiber intake. Remember that your child will mimic your eating habits.
Offer what you prepare for everyone else. Even though food jags are common (when a child wants to eat only one food for a period of time), you'll want to avoid becoming a "short-order cook" and allowing mealtime to become a battleground. Quietly remove and dispose of food not eaten at a meal.
Toothbrushing should take place twice daily with a soft toothbrush and minimal toothpaste. Since toddlers are just developing fine-motor skills, it is recommended that you follow up your child's brushing until he is school-aged.
Most children sleep 10-12 hours a night and may take a 1-2 hour nap. It is not uncommon for bedtime resistance to develop, as going to bed means separation from a parent or from playtime. Establish gentle but firm bedtime routines, and follow the same steps if you are away from home. It is sometimes helpful to mention something that will happen the next day to reassure your child that you will see him soon (for example, "I'll see you when the sun comes up again").
If your child climbs out of his crib, place the mattress on the floor and start looking for the bigger bed. Falls are a big risk at this age. Also, if you are expecting another child, making the move to a regular bed 2-3 months prior to the new sibling's arrival will help your toddler adjust. He will see the new bed as a "right of passage" rather than having his crib taken by the new baby.
The average age of toilet training is 2 ½-3, but go by your child's signs of readiness. These include, 1) awareness of the need to urinate or have a bowel movement (demonstrated by facial expression, telling you, or by hiding); 2) ability to stay dry for 2-3 hours; 3) dislike of wet or soiled diapers (may take them off); and, 4) desire to use the toilet chair and imitate you. Explain the process in simple, relaxed terms, and decrease attention to the diapering process. Believe it or not, most children almost train themselves when the time is right.
Minnesota law requires all children to be in appropriately sized, federally approved car restraints until age 4 and 40 pounds.
A toddler's incredible speed and ambition can lead to dangerous falls, haste into streets, parking lots, and onto unsafe playground equipment.
Accidental ingestions are one of the biggest safety hazards of this age. Keep the Poison Control (800-222-1222) number handy. Remember that children imitate parents, so avoid taking medications in front of your child.
Coins are never toys or entertainment. Children choke on these even under strict supervision. Keep purses and piggy banks out of sight.
Burns occur quickly. Evaluate all potentially hot items (water, candles, matches, curling/clothes irons, coffee cups, pots/pans) for accessibility.
Animals are very attractive at this age, and most children do not have fear. Teach your child to approach all animals (even your own) with caution.
If you have a gun, lock it out of site and lock the ammunition separately. If your child spends time away from home (friend's home, daycare, grandparents' home, etc.), ask to see if guns are accessible.
Shaken Baby Syndrome is preventable by taking breaks before you are desperate. Discuss this with your child's caregivers, too, and make sure everyone has the Crisis Connection phone number available (612-379-6363)
The best way to decrease illness in the family is to wash your child's hands often and teach him to do this for himself. Change household towels often.
This is a good age to assign simple tasks to your child, as this will heighten his sense of accomplishment and belonging (at an age when he'll actually enjoy having a household chore!). Continue to keep consistent limits while encouraging exploration of his world beyond you.
We look forward to seeing your child again at age THREE. Interest in "school" learning (counting, colors, ABC's, more detailed drawing) is usually more evident by then. Please try to be at least 10 minutes early for all scheduled well-child visits.