What is a toddler?
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Rebecca Chicot PhD

Child development expert with a Phd from Cambridge University. She has worked on several best-selling books and BBC documentaries. She is the proud mother of three children.
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Toddler / Toddler Development & Learning

What is a toddler?

The relationship between parent and child is ever-evolving. Toddlerhood is a huge learning curve for parents and it can really feel like everything you learned about parenting while your child was still a baby is worthless now he's turned into a toddler. But this is where the fun really starts (and there will be fun times, we promise!) It's during the toddler years your toddler's journey to independence begins in earnest.
In Short
During the transition from baby to toddler, there are big changes. Your child will become mobile, start to talk, refuse food, develop a strong will and is super-keen to learn new things.

Toddlerhood is a metamorphosis and as a parent of a toddler you need to adapt and change your strategies to support and enjoy your toddler.

The first two years of your child’s life are a critical period for your child’s development. Their brain will have tripled in weight since birth and they'll seem so grown up all of a sudden! However, they still need lots of love and attention to support them as they grow.

Toddlers have a language instinct and natural curiosity to engage with living things and to understand the laws of physics. They are industrious, open-minded and full of wonder.

What is a toddler?

During the transition from baby to toddler, there are big changes in your child and big changes in your relationship. Your child:

  • Becomes mobile
  • Starts to talk
  • Refuses food
  • Develops a will of iron
  • Needs to learn new things.

There are huge developmental stages affecting your child on all levels. This can mean that parenting your toddler is totally different from parenting your baby. Toddlerhood is a metamorphosis and as a parent of a toddler you need to adapt and change your strategies to support and enjoy him. This is a time to feel your way and develop confidence as you get used to your emerging toddler.

There isn’t a prescribed list of techniques to control your toddler. Rather, we suggest a more holistic approach. You need to understand your unique toddler, his brain development and how best to cope with and enjoy this amazing phase. That said, although all toddlers and parents are unique, there are some things that every toddler needs.

These are:

  • Love and warmth
  • Boundaries and limits
  • Consistency
  • Being emotionally present
  • A secure and sensitive base from which to explore the world.
Toddler brain development

By the time your toddler is two, his brain will have tripled in weight. This is not just padding. The first two years of your child’s life are a critical period of development. This can sometimes feel like a lot of pressure for a parent – to be the custodian of such a precious and miraculous brain. The good news is that toddlers don’t need complicated schedules and specialist education; the most important thing is your love and attention.

Loving parents around the world naturally do the things that meet their toddler’s emotional, physical and even cognitive needs. A loving parent:

  • Spends a lot of time talking and listening to their toddler (even if their toddler is not talking yet)
  • Cuddles their toddler a lot and provides a secure base for them to explore life
  • Provides boundaries and routines so that toddlers feel secure during their day-to-day life
  • Understands and treats their toddler as a unique individual
  • Respects their feelings (even if they seem to have extreme emotions).
Toddlers are natural scientists

Toddlers are very good at knowing intuitively what they need to learn. Your toddler will be drawn to the novel and will be good at integrating physical play with an underlying cognitive narrative. He has a language instinct and natural curiosity to engage with living things and to understand the laws of physics. He will be industrious, open-minded and full of wonder. Seeing the world through his eyes reminds us as parents of how wonderful and truly awesome it is.

You are the expert in your toddler

As you come to get to know your toddler and understand his motives and understanding of the world, you will quickly become the world expert on your toddler. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that one expert can dole out one list of commandments that works for all toddlers, their parents and every eventuality. Hopefully you will feel empowered and confident enough to enjoy the ride that is toddlerhood.

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DISCLAIMER
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.