Your 21-month-old

Spotlight: Fine motor skills
Your toddler’s fine-motor-skill development started back when she was an infant: opening and closing her hands, batting at objects and reaching for things were all part of the learning curve.

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Spotlight: Fine motor skills
Your toddler’s fine-motor-skill development started back when she was an infant: opening and closing her hands, batting at objects and reaching for things were all part of the learning curve.

Now the best way to help your toddler develop fine-motor-skills is to let her practise them. Try to leave lots of time for breakfast and dressing in the morning so that you can respond to her pleas to do it “Self, self!” Rushing a volatile toddler who is struggling to pull off her pajama top can easily backfire. If you can, slow down and let her flick the light switch, stir the pancake batter or soap up her own hands. She’ll relish the chance to show you what she can do.

Do the hokey pokey
Toddlers don’t just sit back and watch or listen as life goes by, they like to jump in with both feet  — and hands. So make a place in your musical repertoire for action songs. Tying the words to gestures is not only fun, it’s a great learning activity for language, memory, and coordination. If you prefer a group atmosphere, look for a parent and tot music program.

Your mini-me
Have you ever noticed the way that toddlers like to do grownup stuff? Your phone, your vacuum, your car keys — these are the adult trappings that attract a toddler’s attention. After all, who in his world is more important than the all-stars, mom and dad?

Toy appliances, tools, food and vehicles are popular with kids in this age group. Old “real” stuff might be even better: gather up some useless keys and put them on a ring, or make a “stove” out of a big box and donate your old camping pots so she can cook.

And then there’s the ‘work’ they do with you. She will love to pull the clothes out of the dryer, pour the sugar into the butter for cookies, or put the oranges in the fridge. By taking the time to include your toddler in day-to-day chores you’re helping her build social and cognitive skills, not to mention teaching tidy habits!

What’s wrong with juice?
Juice, like many good things, is best in moderation. Too much can lead to a variety of problems: it can fill toddlers up, taking the place of other important parts of their diet, and it can even cause a low-grade, chronic diarrhea. The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends limiting juice for kids under two to four to six ounces a day.

Mom’s night out
After coming this far, you don’t need anyone to tell you that it’s important to take breaks. But parents need opportunities to take time off in different ways — sometimes it’s couple time you crave most, other times you might be looking for some privacy and solitude.

Staying in touch with your friends might not be a top priority in your baby’s first year, but now that things have (hopefully) settled a little at home, this, too, can recharge your batteries. For two-parent teams this can be simpler than going out together. After all, you don’t need a babysitter, and the staying-home parent has the benefit of getting a one-on-one evening at home with your toddler. Just make sure that next time, you switch it up!

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