A child’s early years lay the groundwork for their long-term development and well-being. But due to the pandemic, The Guardian reports parents are worried about how their children’s cognitive and social development may have been affected by the ensuing lockdown. While I understand these concerns as a parent, assessing our children’s growth and development based on external standards can be stressful. What I personally value is celebrating the milestones as they come—and not merely waiting to check them off the list. This paves the way for a more open and flexible development journey. Here are a few developmental milestones to look forward to and celebrate as your toddler grows!
1. Walking well
This milestone is directly linked to gross motor development, so observe the moment when your toddler gains more balance and confidence in their steps. It’s incredibly common for your toddler to fall or bump into things from time to time. In my experience, those serve as chances for them to grow steadier and learn how to pick themselves back up. Just enjoy every step they take. Before you know it, you’ll be the one hurrying to keep up with them!
2. Dressing themselves
A toddler who gets involved with dressing themselves may start out by lifting their arms and legs as you put on or take off their clothes. More than the development of fine motor functions and sequential thinking, however, self-dressing can also have an emotional aspect: when children learn to not only put on clothes but also choose which clothes make them feel good and confident!
3. Using the toilet
Going to the toilet involves many steps, from recognising body signals to cleaning up properly right after. As with all skills, toileting takes patience and practice, so take it step by step. Jamie Glowacki’s guide to potty training breaks down the skill into blocks, each signifying a specific toileting task. Following Glowacki’s Oh Crap approach, my toddler and I learned to master one block before moving on to the next. You can start by introducing your child to using the potty naked and then going commando, and over time they learn how to self-initiate and make it through nights and nap-time without nappies. Toilet steps or seat supports can also help your child feel safe and secure. I make sure to include hand washing in my kid’s potty training, too!
4. Expanding language skills
Another area of child development is language. It’s important to note when your toddler develops from following/responding to basic instructions to using simple words or phrases to express themselves. Emily Oster’s data-driven parenting guide explains that the primary indicator for children learning to speak and growing their vocabulary is not educational apps or videos, but parents reading them books! As parents, we serve as our kids’ models for pronunciation, grammar, and sentence structure. I try my best to talk to my child in complete sentences instead of mimicking gibberish or baby talk. Doing so can definitely help you notice significant developments in your child's language use.
5. Feeding self neatly
Feeding oneself is significant for your child’s fine motor skills and sense of autonomy. Not only do they learn how to grip and grasp food of varying sizes and shapes, but self-feeding also helps them respond to cues for hunger and fullness. I’ve learned to be patient, even if self-feeding results in a few smears and spills here and there! It’s all worth it when you notice how they transition from using their fingers to using utensils to spoon their favourite foods into their mouths. It’s best to avoid meals or ingredients that could be choking hazards, e.g. corn kernels or uncut grapes. In a recent post on Child Development, we remind parents that teaching your child the necessary skills doesn’t have to be boring or coercive. Rather, incorporating fun and engaging activities like singing or preparing a meal together may be more effective for learning. The Onoco app is helpful for parents who want to track their child’s milestones, as well as celebrate these achievements with other family members and close friends by sharing them in the secure photo timeline. The app’s milestones are modelled after the UK’s Early Years Foundation Framework, which makes it easier to understand and support our children’s holistic development and progress, and you can attach milestones with activities and photos for a fully holistic approach with less box ticking and more celebrating!
Article written by Cassey Kent for Onoco.