Some milestones, like walking, children tend to reach without much encouragement beyond seeing that that’s how the adults in their lives get around. Other skills, though, are a little harder to pin down the timing for, and that’s because they have a lot to do with environment. For example, toddlers who live in homes with more than one story tend to learn to climb stairs faster than tots who live in single-level homes.
Baby may have mastered the stairs by now, no matter what the floorplan of your home looks like, but there are plenty of other milestones that depend on her opportunity and interest as much as her development. She may pass certain milestones in her drawing or pre-writing skills sooner if she loves to color, and spends lots of time doing it. And she’s not going to start pedaling a tricycle if she’s never seen one.
Some of this will be guided by Baby’s interests, and some of it may be related to where you live – city-dwelling tots may have fewer chances for rough-and-tumble outdoor climbing, for example. But giving she a lot of opportunity for free play both indoors and outdoors (assuming outdoor play is safe where you live, of course) along with a lot of unguided arts and crafts time is a great way to make sure Baby is getting all the opportunities for exploration she needs.
Of course, a toddler’s life isn’t all fun and games – this is a great time to start having her help you out with small, age-appropriate tasks around your home. Small tasks like helping you pair socks while you fold laundry, sweeping with a child-sized broom, or using a pail of warm, soapy water to wipe baseboards while you clean the floor can introduce the idea of being partially responsible for keeping her home running smoothly – but they also give her self-confidence in her abilities and will make her proud to be able to help you out. They also give her the chance to use new physical skills and try new things – and when you look at it that way, chores can be pretty fun, so maybe it is all fun and games after all.
The kinds of tasks you can ask Baby to help you out with these days might not actually help in the sense that they make your life that much easier – or not yet, anyway. But they’re a starting place that lays the groundwork for more help in the future, and with a little creativity, you can come up with tasks that might start to take a little bit off your plate. Of course, different families follow different philosophies, and you might not be ready to assign little tasks like this, but there are plenty of other ways to start to teach toddlers about the basics of personal responsibility – the first and most important of which is just modeling.
The way you and your partner act informs the way Baby will grow up to feel that adults should act. This means that the way you and your partner work together to look after your home and family is making an impression on her even as you’re reading this.
Asks “what,” “why,” or “how,” questions: Not every toddler goes through a “why” phase, or the less catchy “how,” or “what’s that?” phase, but many tots Baby’s age do, and when they do, it’s part of a bigger phenomenon of her fascination with the world around her and the way she is starting to understand how some key parts of her world work. This shows her that the world is something that can be understood, though it all seemed mysterious in the past. This doesn’t mean you need to know the answer to every question she asks, though – and “I don’t know, let’s find out,” is always a good answer.
First “mural”: Baby’s artistic abilities are growing all the time, and it’s fairly common for these fast-growing skills to expand so fast they end up spilling off the page. When Baby draws or paints these days, she isn’t generally trying to paint a picture of something yet, she’s just enjoying the process, and the process of painting on the wall can seem even more fun for being so new and different.
- Rebecca Parlakian and Claire Lerner. “From Baby to Big Kid: Month 30.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, May 16 2016. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1271-from-baby-to-big-kid-month-30
- “30-36 Months: Your Child’s Development.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 10 2016. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/108-30-36-months-your-child-s-development.
- “Activities for Bonding and Learning from 24 to 36 Months.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, April 18 2016. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1079-activities-for-bonding-and-learning-from-24-to-36-months.
- “Developmental Milestones: 2 Years Old.” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, June 1 2009. Retrieved August 14 2017. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/Pages/Developmental-Milestones-2-Year-Olds.aspx.
- “Developmental Milestones: 3 to 4 Year Olds.” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, November 21 2015. Retrieved August 14 2017. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/preschool/Pages/Developmental-Milestones-3-to-4-Year-Olds.aspx.
- “Developmental Skills for Ages 2 to 3 Years.” Fairview Health Services. University of Minnesota, Amplatz Children’s Hospital. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.fairview.org/fv/groups/internet/documents/web_content/developmen_201009262104505.pdf.
- “Feeding: What to Expect From 24 to 36 Months.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 16 2009. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/154-feeding-what-to-expect-from-24-to-36-months.
- “Learning and Development: Young Children 24 to 36 Months.” Better Brains for Babies. University of Georgia. Retrieved September 7 2017. http://bbbgeorgia.org/childDev_24-36.php.
- “Play Activities for 24 to 36 Months.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 17 2010. Retrieved September 7 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/169-play-activities-for-24-to-36-months.
- “Physical Activity for Your Child: Age 2 Years.” Lancaster General Health. Penn Medicine. Retrieved September 7 2017. http://www.lancastergeneralhealth.org/LGH/ECommerceSite/media/LGH-Media-Library/Documents/Services/Service%20Lines/Healthy%20Weight%20Management/Fact%20Sheets/Physical-Activity-Age-2.pdf.
- “Stages of Play from 24-36 Months: The World of Imagination.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, February 26 2015. Retrieved September 6 2017. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/315-stages-of-play-from-24-36-months-the-world-of-imagination.