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Eighteen to Twenty-four Months Child Development Newsletter

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Your Child's Development

Language Development

Look for Your Toddler To:

  • Name six body parts (eyes, nose, etc.)
  • Understand many words; says 10-20 words
  • Combine two words ("go bye-bye")
  • Follow simple directions like "put your napkin in the trash"
  • Use words some of the time; use gestures and sounds the rest
  • Enjoy singing and music; may try to sing
  • Enjoy books with a simple plot or familiar subject
  • Say no frequently

Here’s What You Can Do:

  • Tell stories, read books, sing rhyming songs
  • Talk to your child about the names of body parts (nose, eyes), the noises animals make and other interesting words and sounds in the environment; encourage them to do the same
  • Encourage all language in a positive way, even if the child uses the wrong word. If your child calls a butterfly a bird, say "it’s a butterfly…it flies like a bird" rather than "no, it’s not a bird"
  • Give your child simple directions to follow and allow him/her time to process the words before they respond
  • Use "description" to expand your child’s vocabulary. If your child says "dog", respond by saying, "yes it’s a big dog".
  • Use "expansion" to develop your child’s vocabulary. If your child says "it’s a big dog", add another statement like "yes, the big dog looks like a friendly dog."
  • Toddlers like the word "no" because it feels powerful. Parents don’t need to take this personally or view it as defiance.
  • Use positive guidance techniques to direct your child’s behavior
  • Take time to play with your child; this is one of the best opportunities for language development

Brain Development

Look for Your Toddler To:

  • Begin understanding what things are for, like a hammer is for pounding
  • May try taking toys apart
  • Imitate by dressing up, "cooking," "talking" on the phone, etc.
  • Understand a simple plot in a book, and look at picture books, including turning the pages
  • Stack 4 or 5 objects
  • Be curious about everything in the world
  • Recognize and name familiar people in photographs
  • Start to repeat some things by memory when asked
  • Put together a 3-6 piece puzzle
  • Know where things are located in and around the house (garbage can, bedroom, shoes or toys)

Here’s What You Can Do:

  • Spend time talking to your toddler and explaining the world in simple language; remember that even the simplest things are new and interesting to your toddler
  • Provide items to stack, nest, and take apart. Be sure these things are not choking or strangulation hazards
  • Give your child toys that encourage imitation: dress up clothes, dolls and dishes, play phone, play tools
  • Begin reading books with simple plots that a toddler can relate to—eating, sleeping, playing, bathtime, etc.
  • Provide photos your child can handle and identify
  • Sing songs, repeat rhymes and finger games (such as Itsy Bitsy Spider). Encourage your child to join in, but remember, there is no need to push them
  • Provide simple puzzles and matching games

Social-Emotional Development

Look for Your Toddler To:

  • Do cute things to get attention
  • Still be self centered and have trouble sharing
    Enjoy helping
    Play beside other children, but not really with them
  • Still have temper tantrums
  • Often treat other children as objects
  • May be fearful of certain things
  • Test limits, not just to predict what you will do, but to begin to understand where the limits are

Here’s What You Can Do:

  • Take opportunities to give your child undivided attention. This simple approach may decrease the need for negative attention getting
  • Now is a good time to begin to introduce sharing, but don’t expect your toddler to share willingly all the time. Model sharing by sharing your things with your child. Introduce "trading". If you child wants another child’s toy, have him/her find something to trade. Use a timer to help your child understand when his/her turn will come
  • Give your child simple jobs to do (folding washcloths, putting spoons on the table)
  • Temper tantrums are normal. Pay attention to what triggers your child’s tantrums and avoid those situations if possible. It is not necessary or helpful to punish a child for having a tantrum. Self control will develop and these behaviors will eventually go away.
  • Supervise toddlers when they play together, until they learn more about social behavior
  • Try to understand your child’s fears without ridicule or making light of them
  • When your child tests limits in a negative way, try to use positive child guidance

Physical Development

Look for Your Toddler To:

  • Walk well
  • Kick a ball forward
  • Throw a ball overhand
  • Jump off the ground with two feet
  • Practice climbing
  • Walk up stairs putting both feet on each step, holding to a railing
  • Enjoy stacking, knocking down, pulling apart, feeling, twisting and squeezing
  • Use a fist to grasp a crayon or marker and scribble

Here’s What You Can Do:

  • Provide safe spaces for your child to walk, run, and climb; provide outside playtime as often as possible. Toddlers love being outside and it’s a great place for practicing large motor skills
  • Give toddlers opportunities to play with balls safely
  • Think of ways to let your toddler practice jumping and climbing safely
  • Provide blocks or other stackable objects; snap together building sets. Make sure all toys are age appropriate and are not a choking hazard
  • Buy some playdough or make your own! Find the recipe later in this newsletter. Squeezing and rolling playdough develops the small muscles in the hands that will be needed later for cutting and writing
  • Give your child the opportunity to use crayons and markers. Use large paper taped to the table and be sure to supervise

Learn more: Young Children: Communication is Key, Reinforcement for Appropriate Behavior and Discipline: A Teaching & Learning Experience

All Children Are Different

All children develop at their own rates. Don’t worry if your child is "early" or "late" in some areas of development. Notice their growth in each area so you can encourage each new stage. Your job is to provide opportunities for your child to learn new things when he or she is ready, without being pushed or pressured. If you have concerns, contact your health care provider.

Let's Make It Safe

Product Recalls

All parents should monitor recalls of children’s products (toys, equipment, clothing, etc). We recommend the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which will either email you periodic updates on product recalls or send a newsletter by mail. Visit

Toddler Safety

Older toddlers still do not understand many of the dangers in the world. Their physical development allows them to get into harm’s way frequently, but their cognitive development is not yet at a point where they can protect themselves. Parents still carry ALL of the responsibility to keep toddlers safe.

For general review of common safety concerns for toddlers: Let’s Make It Safe - 12 to 18 months.

For Specific information on safety issues click on the following links: Poison Prevention Guidelines, Preventing Suffocation and Strangulation In Young Children, Toy Safety and Drowning Prevention In Young Children

Car Seat Safety

All toddlers should ride in a REAR FACING CAR SAFETY SEAT until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer. If you have questions about your car safety seat, call (605) 322-3485.


Choking is still a major hazard for toddlers. Be sure your child sits while eating and is always supervised. Choking is called the "silent killer" because when the airway is obstructed, the child will not make any noise. Parents should take a class in infant/child CPR. Foods that most frequently cause choking are hot dogs, hard candy and lollipops, nuts (especially peanuts), large marshmallows, popcorn, and chewing gum, hard raw fruits and vegetables like carrots, apples, and grapes. But remember, ANY food can cause choking.

Health Hints

Protecting Little Smiles

All twenty baby teeth are usually in by age 2½. Keeping baby teeth healthy is important for:

  • Talking and chewing
  • Protecting the developing permanent teeth
  • Providing spacing for permanent teeth

Good dental care is important. Help your toddler clean teeth and gums with a damp cloth, gauze or a soft toothbrush. Check with your dentist for advice on which toothpaste to use for your child. Your child should have a first dental check up by age 2.

You can protect your child’s teeth by limiting sugary drinks, candy and sticky foods. Toddlers should be using a cup at mealtime. Work toward teaching your child to drink from an open cup, rather than a sippy cup. Sippy cups allow fluids to pool around the teeth while open cups let fluids go to the back of the mouth. A cup with a soft straw is another alternative.

If your child still uses a bottle, use it only for milk at feeding times. At other times, use the bottle for water. Never put a child to bed with a bottle. If your child still uses a pacifier, talk to your dentist.


Immunizations are important! They not only protect your child, but they protect the community as well. Follow your health care provider’s advice in scheduling your child’s immunizations. If you need help paying for immunizations or with transportation, call (605) 339-4357.

Little Bodies Need Big Nutrition

Toddler eating behaviors

Toddlers have small tummies and usually can’t eat enough at a meal to last until the next meal. A toddler may need three meals a day and 2-3 healthy snacks. Now is a good time to establish regular mealtimes for the whole family. Remember that your toddler may not yet have the patience to sit for the entire meal. Family mealtime is important, so try to make it pleasant and interesting. Mealtime is not a time for electronic media! Turn off the TV and other screens and talk to each other!

Many parents grew up with the "clean your plate" rule. While no one likes to see food go to waste, this is probably not the best approach. Provide a variety of healthy foods at each meal or snack and allow your child to decide how much to eat. A serving size for a toddler is 1-2 tablespoons of each food. If your child is consistently leaving food on the plate, start with smaller servings. Avoid using food as a reward ("if you eat all your green beans you can have ice cream") or as a punishment ("if you don’t taste your meat, you are going straight to bed").

Your toddler may be ready to try eating with utensils. This will take lots of practice for him and lots of patience for you. Give him small, child friendly utensils and avoid foods that might be more challenging (like soup!) until he gets better at it.

Learn more: Feeding Guide for Young Children and Children’s Nutrition Guidelines

Thinking about Guidance and Discipline

Thinking about Setting Limits

Toddlers have unique thinking strategies that make them seem naughty much of the time! Toddlers are not like four and five year olds, and can’t behave like them!

The main developmental goal of toddlerhood is independence. Toddlers like to do things for themselves and be in control at least some of the time. Favorite words for toddlers might be "no", "don’t want to", "don’t like it" and "me do it". Toddlers aren’t trying to be naughty or defiant; they are just trying to test their new independence. Be patient! Your toddler will gradually develop more self control and will begin to understand limits in the near future.

Techniques for Guiding Your Toddler’s Behavior

  • Let your child know when he/she is doing well. "Good job helping Mom!” “I like the way you are holding my hand!" Praise good behavior.
  • Tell him/her what he CAN do and minimize the "no’s".
  • Plan ahead for outings by talking to your child about behavior, taking along activities and snacks, and being prepared to leave if your toddler cannot handle the situation
  • Tell your toddler what you want him/her to do, instead of asking him/her. If you say, "Do you want to pick up your toys now?" He/She will probably say NO! Instead, say "It’s time to pick up the toys now. I’ll help you."
  • Make the things you want him/her to do, interesting. "Let’s sing a song while we change your diaper."
  • Give another idea. "I can’t let you jump off the couch, but you may jump off this stool."

For more information on toddler behavior: Terrific Toddlers

Punish or Teach? Think about Your Guidance Goals

Even at this young age, there are things you can do to help your child learn to control his or her own behavior. When parents try to teach the right behavior rather than punishing the wrong behavior, they give their child a better chance to begin to learn self control. Think carefully before slapping your toddler’s hand or spanking her. It may stop him/her behavior right now (or it may not), but it certainly doesn’t teach him/her the behavior you want her to learn. This doesn’t mean letting your child do whatever he/she wants. It means using positive ways to TEACH her how to behave.

Children get spoiled when parents give in to unreasonable demands, fail to limit annoying behavior, or let their child’s minor needs inconvenience others. Spoiling will not happen because you play with your child or listen to her needs. Set clear, reasonable limits for your toddler that are appropriate for her age. Let her practice the skills she has learned instead of doing things for her.

Time-out is a guidance tool to help your child take a break from behavior that is not okay. Your toddler may now be at an age where time-outs can be a useful technique. A time-out is a short break (1-2 minutes per year of age) to help the child gain control. Choose a place in your home for time-outs like a chair or mat which is separate from regular family activities. Avoid calling it the "naughty" chair. After the time-out, come back to your child and in a loving manner, remind them of the behavior that is not acceptable and what he/she can do differently in the future. Avoid "over talking"; toddlers do not respond well to lengthy lectures. Also avoid trying to make your child feel guilty about the behavior ("look what you did—you should be ashamed of yourself"). Tell your child you love him/her and reassure him/ her that he can do better in the future.

Another technique to try is called "Time-in". Instead of separation, time in suggests that a child needs closeness to learn appropriate behaviors. Time-in focuses on regaining peace between all concerned rather than on right or wrong. Time-in helps a child think about their behavior rather than concentrating on the anger and punishment itself. Choose a time in place—it could be your lap, a place in their room. The parent stays close by to offer help, love, care and encouragement to change behavior.

Hot Topics for Toddlers


Biting is a common behavior in toddlers, especially those in childcare. For more information on biting: Handling A Biter

Potty Training

In the United States, many children begin potty training between ages 2 and 2½ . Look for signs of readiness in your child:

  • Stays dry for 2 hours or more; wakes up dry from a nap or in the morning
  • Asks to have his diaper changed or tells you when he has gone potty or has had a bowel movement
  • Can get his clothing off and on
  • Is interested in the toilet

Choose a time when things are going well at home and stress is minimal. Potty training might need to wait if your child is going through changes like giving up the bottle or pacifier, moving out of the crib, etc. Approach potty training in a positive way. Remember, punishment never has a place in potty training.

Learn more about potty training: A Parent’s Guide For Toilet Training

Toddlers and Awareness of Sexuality

Potty training often generates a toddler’s interest in body parts and gender differences. This is a very normal part of your child’s curiosity. Be prepared to use correct names for body parts and body functions. Answer your child’s questions simply, calmly and factually with information they are ready to understand.

Touching private parts or genitals is also normal at this age. There is no need to punish a child for this behavior. Soon, your child will begin to learn about privacy and modesty.

Mommies Matter: Dads Do Too!

When Your Toddler Drives you Crazy!

Parenting a toddler is emotionally and physically exhausting! All parents get upset with their toddlers sometimes. If you feel angry and out of control, here are some ideas:

  • Take deep breaths, count to 10, close your eyes
  • Put your toddler in a safe place for a few minutes (crib, playpen) to give yourself time to calm down
  • Ask a trusted friend or relative to relieve you so you can have a break

Consider taking a class or reading a book on toddler development to help you understand your child at this stage

If you feel that your emotions are difficult to manage, talk to your doctor, spiritual advisor or counselor. Getting help means that you are responsible and that you care about your child.

Activity Corner

Your toddler now has the ability to begin using the small muscles in the hands. These muscles will be needed later when he learns to write and use a scissors. You can encourage this with some simple activities.

Squeeze Paint

Mix equal parts flour, water and salt. Add a little paint or food coloring and put into a soft squeeze bottle. Let your toddler squeeze the paint onto a piece of heavy paper or cardboard. (The salt will make the "paint" sparkle when it dries.)

Homemade Playdough

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 cup colored water
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 tsps. cream of tartar

Mix well. Heat on medium in a heavy skillet or electric frypan until thick and no longer sticky. Turn onto the counter and cool slightly. Knead well. Store in an airtight container or bag. Keeps a long time!

Homemade playdough is non toxic, but can cause a tummy ache if a child eats a lot of it. Supervise your child when using playdough. Offer safe toys to poke into the dough and make designs. Combs work well. Save the cookie cutters until about age three when fine motor skills are more developed. Encourage children to squeeze the dough and roll snakes or balls. This develops the muscles in the hands.

Medicine Dropper Play

Fill some of the sections of an ice cube tray with a small amount of water. Use food coloring to color some of the sections. Cover the table with an old towel. Give your child a large medicine dropper and let her move water from one section of the ice cube tray to another, mixing the colors. Supervise this activity; sometimes parts of the medicine dropper can be a choking hazard.

Childcare Corner

Continue to visit with your childcare provider often about your child’s care. Be sure your caregiver understands toddler development and uses positive guidance techniques. Older toddlers still need lots of cuddling, smiling and other emotional support. Toddlers sometimes need to be on their own schedules for eating and sleeping, even though it may not fit into the childcare schedule. Remember, this will not last forever!

Many parents wonder if childcare will affect the bond they have with their child. Research shows that in families where parents are actively engaged with their children and are sensitive to their needs, childcare will not hurt the attachment bond.

Quality childcare is very important. Childcare that is unstable, has frequent staff changes, has staff members that have little or no training or are not actively engaged with the children can be harmful to children. You and the staff should have a similar view on child guidance. Long hours in childcare—even quality childcare—can also have a negative effect on children.

Treat childcare providers as professionals and communicate with them in a positive way. Be sure to express your gratitude for your provider’s insight and care. Volunteer for your childcare or offer to serve on the parent advisory council. For more information on choosing childcare, contact the Help!line Center by dialing 211 in the Sioux Falls area or visit their website

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