There are several stages of a baby’s development, and each stage has a name. Knowing the stage of your baby’s growth could help determine the key attributes of their development, such as developmental milestones. Toddlerhood is the last stage of early childhood as the child progresses to become a preschooler. The toddlerhood stage is marked by several new achievements of the child’s life, including achieving new skills that last a lifetime.
Read this post to learn about the various stages of infancy, when does a child become a toddler, and some useful tips on parenting a toddler.
Who Is A Newborn?
A newborn is defined as a child in the first month of their life (1). Some experts may consider it a stage from birth to three months, while some may consider a baby newborn when they are less than a day old (2).
The newborn stage is when the child shows automatic responses to external stimuli, such as turning their head towards your hand or grabbing your finger. Newborns usually recognize their mother’s smell, cry to indicate their needs, smile when they see familiar faces, and are also able to move their head from side to side.
The stage is marked by several reflexes known as primitive reflexes or newborn reflexes. Some of the notable primitive reflexes are mentioned below (3).
Who Is An Infant?
A child is called an infant or baby from birth to 12 months (4). Therefore, a newborn could also be called an infant or a baby.
Infancy is an exciting period for parents since it is characterized by the baby’s rapid physical growth. It is also normal for parents, especially first-time parents, to be anxious during this phase. You may ensure that an infant grows healthily through timely feeding, emotional bonding, and stimulating the baby’s development through play and activities.
The baby must be exclusively breastfed for the first six months (5). Babies older than six months who can sit without support in a high chair can be introduced to solid food (6). Pureed vegetables and baby cereals make for ideal first foods for babies.
When Is A Child Called A Toddler?
A child is considered a toddler once they complete their first birthday. The toddlerhood phase lasts from 12 to 36 months, that is, from age one to three years (7). The phase is marked by several improvements in the child’s motor and cognitive skills. The type and extent of developmental milestones could vary depending on the toddler’s age.
Below are some of the notable characteristics of toddlers between the ages of one and two years (8).
- More aware of themselves and the surroundings
- Recognize parents and caregivers
- Inherent tendency to explore new objects and foods they eat
- Show greater independence and defiance
- Recognize themselves in a mirror or pictures
- Imitate others, especially parents
- Can understand simple instructions and sentences
By the time the toddler turns two, they display an increased desire to be independent. It often leads to frequent tantrums, causing many to call this phase ‘terrible twos’ (9). Toddlers at this age may also begin developing their personalities.
Below are some of the notable characteristics of toddlers between the ages of two and three years (10).
- Walk up and down the stairs
- Learn how to kick a ball, throw, and catch one
- Climb playground structures
- Ride a tricycle
- Name friends and siblings
- Initiate conversations with simple words and short sentences
- Understand how to use moving parts, such as buttons and levers
- Solve simple puzzles, such as jigsaw puzzles
- Remember and draw simple shapes
- Know their full name, age, and gender
- Name and recognize body parts, animals, colors, and things around them
Tips On Parenting A Toddler
Parenting a toddler could require stimulation of the various developmental milestones since many of them lay the foundation for skills useful at school later. Below are some useful tips and suggestions for parenting toddlers of various age groups.
Parenting a toddler between one and two years of age
Toddlers in this age group are still discovering their independence. A good amount of encouragement and positive parenting goes a long way in shaping their behavior and personality (10).
- Encourage your toddler to explore but make sure their area of exploration is safe.
- You can help them in their language development by reading to them, naming objects that they see every day, and teaching them the names of body parts.
- Your toddler is now beginning to get curious. It is a great idea to take them outdoors and indulge in outdoor activities, such as playing at the beach or walking in the park.
- Play with your toddler and encourage activities, such as solving puzzles, learning the shape of numbers, and sorting basic shapes. These stimulate cognitive development and lay the foundation for basic skills needed for preschooling.
- Speak to the toddler to improve their language. Correct the toddler’s mistakes by saying the correct sentence or word instead of telling them they are wrong. It helps in positive reinforcement of their skills.
Parenting a toddler between two and three years of age
- It is the right age to introduce the toddler to rules. Set rules and stick to them at all times. If the toddler breaks the rules, give them a time out in a chair for 30 seconds to a minute. Remember to reward them with stickers or special titles when they follow the rules.
- Since the toddler prefers independence, you may use it as a chance to teach them basic activities. For instance, encourage them to arrange toys on the shelf, put clothes in the laundry bag, put books or other items in a bag, and place their shoes in the right place.
- Offer the toddler meaningful choices to help reduce the chances of tantrums. For instance, if the toddler wishes to play for extra time in the park today, tell them that they may do so but provided they choose to play for a lesser duration tomorrow. Remember to stick to the choice made by the toddler, making them realize that their choices will have consequences.
- Observe a routine with provisions for the toddler to make simple choices independent of any rules. For example, have bedtime at the same time each night. However, the toddler gets to choose the story they wish to read or the pajamas they wish to wear.
- If a tantrum does occur, speak to your toddler politely instead of arguing since it could lead to a power struggle. Sit with your toddler and ask them the reason behind their annoyance. It could give you clues regarding the possible triggers for a tantrum, such as overtiredness, hunger, or siblings sharing the same toy.
- Toddlers often hate it when parents think of them as less than adults. Therefore, make them part of a plan or share updates in a way that they may understand. For instance, if you suddenly need to go somewhere, tell them about the change of plans earnestly.
- Your toddler will soon turn into a preschooler. Therefore, stimulate their cognitive growth by practicing letters, numbers, and words. The toddler may not remember all of it but will still have a basic understanding.
Toddlerhood is one of the significant stages of childhood since it marks the achievement of several milestones. Parents are bound to notice rapid changes in their toddler, who will learn their first words, take their first steps, and even go to a playschool for the first time. The foundation that parents lay for their child during toddlerhood could often go a long way in shaping the child’s skills and even personality.