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Baby development: Your twenty-month-old

Let's pretend

Posted: 20 September 2007
by ThinkBaby

Most toddlers are running around confidently by now and careering around in circles or circuits around the home is something that many enjoy. Of course, spinning out of control now and then is par for the course, but she should be taking a tumble far less frequently now.

Climbing continues to be big news for many toddlers as they explore and push their own boundaries. If last month she was climbing up into her high chair then this months she may be trying to get on the dining table. She'll probably be able walk up stairs quite well now, but will most likely still need help when it comes to walking down.

By now many toddlers can kick a large-ish ball, rather than just walking into it. Having a kick-about around in the garden together can be great fun and she may already be interested in amusing herself by trying to hit a large target that you set up for her like an upturned laundry basket or big cardboard box. Most toddlers develop the skill of throwing a ball after they can kick one, and she may have moved quickly on to picking up a ball and having a good go at throwing it, although it might still be more like dropping it with a flourish.

Communication / emotional development
It's common for 20-month-olds to use at least 20 words, though she will recognise many more, and she has probably begun using a few of them in two-word combinations, such as 'more milk', ' Daddy home' and 'big chair'. She may also frequently echo the last word or so of what you say, and you may be surprised at how accurate she can be, even over several syllables. She may have favourite nursery rhymes and songs and will be able to make requests for them through an action or using one of the song words.

Lots of toddlers this age have a special toy or blanket that they like to snuggle with to sleep at night or even to carry around. You might be wondering whether this is something you should discourage, but a security toy or blanket can give your child a great deal of reassurance and support for the time being, particularly when she is in potentially stressful situations such as sleeping in a new place. Eventually she will realise herself that she doesn't need her special toy to solve problems and feel secure. Meanwhile it can be helpful to encourage her to use two toys or two similar blankets, rather than one, in case one goes missing and in the case of blankets so that you can give her one while you wash the other.

Happily a special toy won't be the only thing she's affectionate with, and by now you and the rest of the family are probably enjoying lots of kisses and cuddles. If your toddler doesn't have a special, or security toy, then this isn't anything at all to worry about, just be thankful that you won't have to worry about losing it!

As your child begins to have some understanding of just how big and complex the world is, she may also show signs of anxiety or fear when separated from you, when meeting new people or in unfamiliar situations. Some toddlers of this age also begin to be scared of monsters and other nasties lurking in the darkness or behind the wardrobe. Laughing off her fears and telling her not to be silly won't be helpful. Probably the best thing you can do for your toddler is offer her understanding and reassurance that there aren't any monsters there, and that she is always protected and kept safe by you or someone else who loves her. If you need to leave your child then it's best to tell her that you are going, give her an idea of when you'll be back - after the next game / after lunch / in time for dinner - and make your goodbyes short and sweet but matter-of-fact.

At play
At twenty months most toddlers are already be in the wonderful realm of pretend play and she may pretend to feed her cuddly toys or dolls with a cup or spoon and might like to stir an empty saucepan or bowl with a wooden spoon. You'll notice that much of this pretend play involves her imitating what you do, showing how much she's learned - perhaps even a couple of things you didn't intend to teach her - but she'll now also take her play further, using her own imagination rather than simply imitating.

Your 20-month-old might also like to pretend to read to herself, or even to her toys, babbling away as she turns the pages of a book and maybe jabbing at the pictures.

You may have already noticed some changes to your toddler's scribbling as she may already have got to grips with holding her crayon with her thumb and two forefingers, rather than a whole-palm grasp. This will help her improve her control and sometime around now she may start to produce not just random squiggles, but horizontal and vertical lines, and perhaps even a circle. Don't worry if she isn't yet showing signs of more controlled scribbling though, this is a skill that she may not develop until shortly before her third birthday.

What you can do
Talking to your toddler is still the key to her language development, but by now you should have moved on from your earlier monologues on what what going on around you and what you were doing to something more like a dialogue, where you seek her input and reactions to the things around you, encourage her to give you information and respond to her when she tries to talk to you, even if you can't work out what it is she's saying.

You may have noticed that your toddler is becoming bored with some of her toys, but before you rush out to buy her a long list of the next set of age-appropriate developmental toys, there are a few things that you can do to make what toys you have go further. For a start you can hide away some of her toys and take a couple of them out when she's forgotten about them, when she sees a toy she hasn't seen in a while you may well find that she plays with it in a very different way to the way she did earlier. You can also look around your home for everyday objects that can make interesting toys for her, be that saucepans, tupperware, laundry baskets or even the mop.

NB: All babies develop at their own pace and some will reach developmental landmarks more quickly than others. This time line 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.

Developing baby

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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.

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?

Mum and dad

Feeling frustrated as a stay-at-home mum? - was just wondering if there were any other at home mum's out there who feel like me... I feel as if it is really getting me down. Have you got any advice for Lorraine?

Shift the baby weight- Want to finally shift all that persistent post-baby flabbiness?, check out our tips for getting started.

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.

Other months of age

Newborn | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20

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