Family meals are important for your child. Letting your child eat with you makes him feel like part of the family. Switch from whole milk to 2% or skim milk. It’s very important for your child’s teeth that he is off the bottle. Ask your doctor for advice if your child still takes one.
Your child should be offered foods from all food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products). Don’t force your child to “clean the plate,” but also don’t allow your child to dictate what’s served. Allowing your child to choose between two healthy options will avert many battles (“Would you like apples or bananas with your sandwich?”). If she doesn’t like what’s served and refuses to eat it, wrap up the plate and serve it later when the child is hungry.
Your child will not go hungry if there is food available. A child will quickly learn that she can get sweets or junk foods with every meal if she gets them every time she refuses to eat something healthy. Your child’s appetite may still vary greatly from one day to the next. Small meals with healthy snacks are recommended: yogurt, fruit, vegetables, cheese, cereal or baked goods that are not high in fat or sugar (crackers, pretzels, Cheerios, etc.). Limit fast food.
Vitamins and Fluoride/Teeth
Vitamin D supplement is necessary if your child does not drink at least 32 ounces of vitamin D-fortified milk/day. Give your child a multi-vitamin that contains 400 IU of vitamin D per day. If your water supply does not have fluoride, fluoride supplement is needed until the age of 12 years.
Young children are unable to rinse and spit effectively, and should use either no toothpaste or a non-fluoridated toothpaste. Excessive fluoride ingestion will cause fluorosis (mottling of the permanent teeth) in children. Teeth should be wiped or brushed before bed.
Development and Discipline
Make an effort to catch your child being good, and praise him. It is important at this age for your child to hear praise when he does something you like. Children are often having temper tantrums at this age. He is frustrated and trying to get what he wants.
Now is the time to teach him that this is not appropriate behavior. Trying to reason with or punish a toddler may make the tantrum last longer and teaches the child that he can get attention by throwing a tantrum. Also, if you give in to the child’s demands during a tantrum, the tantrums will increase.
Make sure your toddler is in a safe place, and then ignore him. Do not make eye contact, speak to him, or speak about him to others. Continue this until the tantrum has stopped, and then resume normal interaction with the child. Toddlers can be stubborn and demanding, and often say “no” or refuse to do what you ask them to do. Here are some good methods to teach your child about rules:
- Divert and substitute. If a child is playing with something you don’t want her to have, replace it with another object or toy. This approach avoids a fight and does not place the child in a situation where she will say “no.”
- Teach and lead. Have as few rules as necessary to ensure safety, and enforce them. If a rule is broken, provide a short, clear explanation (“No. We don’t climb on the furniture.”), and then place the child alone in “time-out” for two minutes. Do not give any eye contact or speak with the child during this time. It is important that the “time-out” IMMEDIATELY follows a broken rule.
- Be consistent with discipline. Don’t make threats that you cannot carry out (e.g. don’t tell your child you won’t be taking her to a party if you cannot change these plans at the last minute). If you say you are going to do something, do it. The response to a broken rule should occur EVERY time the rule is broken, so the child understands that this behavior is never acceptable.
- Be sure to childproof your home. Read the tips for safety we have provided. Preventive childproofing can avert many discipline problems. You won’t need many rules if your child does not have access to dangerous, valuable or messy things.
Read to your child frequently; this will help your child learn more quickly. Make reading to your child part of every day, and choose books with interesting pictures and bright colors. Set rules for TV watching. Limit total TV time to 1-2 hours/day, and watch TV with your child to monitor the topics that arise. Children should not watch shows with violence or adult themes. Turning the TV off will allow your child to pursue physical activity and creative play. These are very important for your child’s development.
Most children at this age have a least 20 words and are beginning to use 2 word phrases. Stuttering is normal at this age, and usually resolves spontaneously by age 4 years. Your child should begin scribbling and getting more comfortable with crayons. Most children can climb up and down stairs, and can kick a ball. They usually can turn doorknobs and flip switches. They often imitate activities like talking on the phone and caring for dolls. Ask your doctor if you are concerned about your child’s development.
Some children at this age are showing signs that they are ready for toilet training. When your .child starts reporting wet or soiled diapers, this is a sign that your child prefers to be dry. This is a good sign and you should praise your child. Toddlers are naturally curious about using the bathroom, and should be allowed to watch you or other family members use the toilet. Buy a potty chair and put it where your child usually plays. If your child does use the toilet, be sure to praise her and provide a reward (stickers are often used; avoid using food treats). Don’t be too demanding with your child or shame the child during this process. The bladder of a child this age is still developing and accidents are unpredictable and unintentional.
A regular bedtime and routine are important. Routines make your child feel secure and help him fall asleep easily. This routine may include a snack and book, and should include brushing teeth. If your child awakens a lot at night, ask your doctor for advice. Never allow a bottle or cup in the bed. Many children have moved to a bed around this time, but this is not necessary if your child does not try to climb out of the crib, and you feel your child is safe.
Call Your Child’s Physician If:
- You are concerned about a fever or if your child is listless
- Your child does not want to drink fluids or vomits multiple times in a day
- Your child does not urinate for 8 hours
- Your child exhibits difficulty breathing
Routine infant vaccinations are usually completed before this age. Your child may need to catch up on some shots at this year’s visit. The next check-up is in one year. Before starting kindergarten, your child will need more vaccinations.