Baby Calendar Month 21|17, May 2011
Children at 21 months may be trying out their independence. This may manifest itself as refusing to eat what you are serving, going off without a look when you arrive at the playground, or attempts at dressing (or undressing) themselves. While it can be frustrating, accommodating that need to do it for themselves may help thwart another common occurrence in the toddler years; the tantrum. Help your child with dressing by showing them how to slip on pants while seated, one leg at a time. Show them how to pull a shirt over their heads, and slip their arms through the sleeves of shirts. Let them practice buttoning, zipping or snapping on an item they are not wearing or put together a book with opportunities to develop these fine motor skills.
Children this age may be more reserved or talking in complete, yet most likely short, sentences. If you are at all concerned with your child's language skills, don't hesitate to speak with your pediatrician and have a screening performed. Early intervention can make a quick and often complete remedy to any delays. However, there is a wide range of normal in this area and children have their own timetables for development.
Children this age love to build structures and are beginning to develop a stronger sense of fantasy in their play as well. You can help them with both by building a fort from couch cushions, a castle from sheets and kitchen chairs or buy some lightweight large cardboard blocks to construct a house.
Your toddler should be off the bottle and formula and drinking milk by now. Until that second birthday, you'll want to serve him whole milk. If your child isn't a fan of milk, transition by mixing in breast milk or formula and gradually increasing the amount of cow's milk. If your child really isn't drinking enough, make sure she is getting her dairy and calcium needs met through cheese, yogurt, fortified cereals, broccoli, and calcium rich soy drinks. If your child is drinking less than 4 cups of milk a day, it's recommended that vitamin D supplements are given.
Hearing problems are something that parents are often the first to notice and bring to the attention of their children's pediatricians. Signs of a possible problem include language problems or significant delays, frequent tantrums or obvious frustration, inability to hear conversation in instances where there is a great deal of background noise or lack of response to sudden loud sounds or often not responding to calls for their attention if a visual cue doesn't occur. Children at this age can get a simple hearing test to check for any possible problems. Children who have experienced frequent ear infections are at increased risk for hearing difficulties.
Tips for Mom and Dad
Your pint-sized Picasso may be decorating your home in ways you'd rather they didn't. It's typical for toddlers to grab a marker, crayon or pen and graffiti the walls, floors, upholstery or any available surface. While washable markers, crayons, and wall coverings are recommended so is a fun intervention. Plenty of art materials and experiences can help limit a child's masterpieces to appropriate places and help a child's fine motor skills and imagination and gives them another outlet for emotions. A key to keep in mind is that art for toddlers is about the journey not the destination. The process is the focus for children this young, not the final product.
Moms and dads will certainly want to save many of the projects as treasured momentoes. Let children paint using all kinds of items in place of paintbrushes including small sponges, cotton swabs or balls, old combs or toothbrushes or even little cars. Let children sculpt with homemade play dough, or aluminum foil scraps or even pieces of bread squished in little fists. Give your lil artist some sidewalk chalk and free reign over the patio. Draw a family portrait or a hopscotch game. Writing a toddler's name in larger than usual letters is fun, too. Keep the attention on the fun and forget rules like staying in the lines, or what color something "should" be and just let them surprise you with their ideas, imagination, and accompanying storytelling.
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