Half-way through the second year your toddler has probably lost much of any baby plumpness and is now looking more and more like a little boy or girl.
By 18 months many toddlers are able not only to walk but to run, after a (usually comical) fashion, and seem to have near-boundless energy. Until they get tired and grumpy of course. On the one hand this can be quite tiring for you as you run around after her, picking up the objects that she scatters liberally across your home, but on the other hand it's wonderful and infectious to see such joie de vivre.
You may have been able to set some ground rules for climbing, but you'll still need to watch your toddler carefully as she tests her boundaries, remember that she'll often try new feats with no warning whatsoever and help make your life a little easier by making sure that your home is as toddlerproof as you can.
Communication / emotional development
By 18 months it's probably dawned on your toddler that everything has a name and this is very exciting for her. She'll probably repeatedly use the nouns that she already knows as well as point at objects wanting you to supply her with the names and may even ask 'what that' or just 'that' or often 'dat'. She's also getting the hang of using different tones of voice as a means of expressing herself and by now you can probably tell when she's simply labelling an object because she can, and when she's asking for something.
As your child walks more confidently and is beginning to talk, she's also likely to reach out to other children to make a connection with them. This reaching out is often literal and isn't always perceived as friendly by the child on the receiving end! It may be that your child shows interest in other toddlers by grabbing them or poking them in the face, or it could be that your toddler's more affectionate advances towards another child are met with a shove. While plenty of toddlers manage very sweet exchanges (perhaps offering and accepting something like a book or a spade), it's a good idea to keep a close eye on what happens when she meets a new child so that you can intervene if necessary.
The idea of cooperating with one another, an essential aspect of playing together, may still some months down the line, but 18-month-olds can still enjoy the company of other children even when play is largely parallel. If you aren't already doing so, it's a good idea to arrange frequent or regular meetings with parents who have toddlers of similar ages to yours. By 18 months many toddlers who see each other regularly will recognise each others' names and be able to express enthusiasm for seeing each other - some may even be able to say one or two of their friends' names.
If your toddler's penchant for emptying out boxes and cupboards and scattering the contents has had you tearing your hair out, then take some comfort from the knowledge that, if she hasn't already, she'll soon start showing an interest in putting things back. At the moment this comes less out of a desire for orderliness than out of curiousity about how things fit together and relate to one another. The same preoccupation should keep her busy with stacking toys, posting toys and maybe even very rudimentary big-piece jigsaws (depending on how developed her fine motor skills are). Anything with buttons, knobs, handles, doors or flaps will also be appealing and she'll probably be showing an interest in building things up as well as knocking them down, stacking three or four chunky building blocks on top of one another.
Is it potty time?
You might be wondering whether your child is ready to use the potty yet, but be confused by the conflicting opinions that abound. While many experts say that you should wait until your child is at least 18 months to think about toilet training, and some say even longer, your parents may be insisting that you were toilet trained just as soon as you could walk. So who do you listen to? Well, your parents likely aren't exaggerating (much) as they probably come from a generation that used difficult-to-use terry squares and pins in not terribly good washing machines, and so had a strong incentive to get you out of nappies ASAP. These days both cloth and disposable nappies are easy enough that the focus for timing is firmly on the child. The truth is that the 'right' age for potty training can vary greatly from child to child, and if you wait until your child appears ready for potty training you may find it is a far quicker and less frustrating process. Some signs that your child is ready to start using the potty include being able to tell or show you when she's doing, or about to do a wee or a pooh, showing an interest in other people's use of the toilet, and demonstrating that she has an understanding that certain things belong in certain places. Even if you don't think that she's ready to actually use the potty yet, you can begin to get her used to the idea by introducing the potty to her, telling her what it's for, and letting her sit on it while dressed, and by letting her watch as you use the toilet - she may start handing you pieces of loo roll!
What you can do
You can encourage her in her attempts to communicate by making a concerted effort to listen, try to understand her and respond to her as much as you can. Use plenty of clear and positive repetition to help her with the words she's struggling to say clearly. For example, if she says 'dook' instead of 'book', then you can say 'the book? Shall I read the book?' rather than 'no, it's not a dook, it's a book' - another time when you can avoid the word 'no'.
It can be a little tiring when your toddler points at everything asking for a name, particularly if it's something you thought she already knew, but do try to be patient and keep supplying those nouns for her as often as you can, she's learning at an incredible speed and her quest for knowledge is insatiable.
As your child's capabilities and independence grow she'll want to tests her own limits and is likely to become frequently frustrated when she can't manage a task she's set for herself, or when you intervene to prevent her from doing so. Chances are you'll both be saying 'no' to each other rather a lot right now. If so, remember that she learns a lot from you, and is keen to copy you; If you'd like her to use 'no' less then it may help to try and use it less yourself too. With things that may be dangerous or something you want to discourage, such as touching the oven or cleaning cupboard, or hitting in the playground, it's good to set a clear ground rule and stick to it: the repetition will help her realise that this rule is sacrosanct. But it also helps to place the emphasis on praising and rewarding the 'right' behaviour, rather than simply saying 'no' all the time. Likewise it's helpful to set a good example yourself, whether that's with good manners, showing affection or respect, or tidying up after yourself.
If something is simply inconvenient for you, rather than unacceptable, then it's better to either distract your toddler's attention away from the issue or allow her to do what it is she's determined to do - sweep the floor, take off her coat, put on her socks - at least sometimes, rather than always saying no.
Giving her plenty of scope to safely test her own limits can help avoid clashes of will. For example, why not try letting her (under your supervision) wash her own hands, sweep up the floor or help you make biscuits - she's old enough to be able to help stir, roll and cut out the mixture as long as you don't mind creating a mess.
NB: All babies develop at their own pace and some will reach developmental landmarks more quickly than others. This timeline is meant only as an approximate guide for parents. Premature babies will develop more slowly than full-term babies and can be expected to develop in line with their age calculated from their due date. If you are worried about your child's health or progress consult your doctor.
Childproofing your home - As your baby becomes faster and more agile, it's time to think again about how you can make your home safer for a toddler.
When to potty train? - When should you start potty training? I thought it was between 18 months and 3 years but a friend's mum was shocked that my 19 month old son was still in nappies?! Chip in with your opnion and advice on potty training.
Blogging your baby's development -
Keeping a diary of your baby's development is a great idea, on ThinkBaby you can keep an up-to-date online blog that you can email to your nearest or dearest or print out later for yourself, so why not start your own?
Working and feeling guilty? - If you're back at work and sometimes feel guilty about it then perk yourself up with our 10 things that are great about being a working parent.
Free and cheap activities for baby and toddler - Want to do something new but not keen to shell out too much cash on flashy courses? Take a look at our ideas for free or cheap baby and toddler activities.
Get support -
You can join in the discussions and share parental experiences and advice with other ThinkBaby members in the baby and toddler forum folders.
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