Parents are the first and most important teachers.

By guiding your child’s simple, everyday activities, you are providing the building blocks to help your child grow up healthy and ready for success.

Guiding and caring for your toddler will be challenging and exciting. She’ll need attention and help from you. You’ll need a sense of humor, some time for yourself, and lots of common sense.

What’s it like to be 13 and 14 months old?

How I Get Along With Others

  • I love to have people watch me and I like to hear them clap for me; I’m beginning to do cute things just to get your attention.
  • I show I love you with hugs and kisses … sometimes. I still like to keep my mother and father in sight when I’m exploring.
  • I’m beginning to get used to babysitters, but I’m still shy with strangers.
  • I like to have you play with me.
  • Sometimes I drop things just to get you to pick them up for me.
  • I don’t like playing in a room by myself.
  • I may have tantrums and throw things when I’m angry.

How I Talk

  • I am learning simple words.
  •  I can look in the right direction when you ask where’s daddy, where’s the ball.
  • I will answer to my name.
  • I will wave bye-bye if you ask.
  • I have begun to understand the names of some people, animals, and things that are important to me.
  • I can let you know when I want something like a glass of milk.
  • I like putting sounds together.
  • I really try hard to make you understand me.
  • I like to repeat words you say.
  • Sometimes I like you to tell me the names of things in books.

What I Have Learned

  • I am learning what you will let me do and what you won’t let me do.
  • I will empty anything I can get to — such as dresser drawers, kitchen cabinets, trash cans, laundry baskets.
  • Sometimes I like to put things back in containers.
  • I like to copy your actions.
  • I have learned how to get you and other adults to help me do things.
  • I have not yet learned what is dangerous for me to do.
  • I may scream just to show you how powerful I am.
  • I have learned pat-a-cake and like to show it off to anyone who will watch.
  • Sometimes, not often, I will respond to a firm “no-no.”

How I Grow

  • I can climb up a step.
  • I don’t like to be held back.
  • I want to explore everything.
  • I poke, bang, turn, and twist everything I can reach.
  • I can probably stand alone and walk pretty well.
  • I may be able to stoop and stand up again.
  • I’m very interested in small things like crumbs, bugs, and little rocks.
  • I spend a lot of time just staring at things; this is one way I learn.
  • I may be afraid of the dark.

Play I Like

  • I like to push a rolling toy and put things in piles.
  • I can play alone, but mostly I like to play with you —especially chase-me, catch-me, find-me games and tickling.
  • I like putting little things in big things.
  • I like to listen to music and dance to it.
  • I’m beginning pretend play like driving a pretend car.

Some children do things earlier or later than described here. Most differences are normal. Focus on what your child can do and get excited about each new skill. If you notice that your child is lagging behind in one or more areas for several months, circle the things that your child cannot do. Check the things your child can do. Use this list to talk with your doctor about your child’s development.

When teaching new skills, start with what your child knows and enjoys.

Play is the way children learn. They love to play with their parents and other caring adults. Here are some simple rules of play:

  • Watch. Watch your child and observe his interests and his skill level. You are learning about how he plays.
  • Let your child lead. Join in and play at your child’s level.
  • If you try to teach too much too fast, your child might get upset.
  • Be accepting. Ask your child to tell you what he’s doing, and say something good about it.  Show him how to do something slightly more difficult. After playing the same games many times, you might show him something a little bit harder to play. If your child can put together a two-piece puzzle, try one with three pieces. If your child likes building with blocks, you might show him how to combine block play with toy animals.
  • Watch again. Every now and then, stop playing and just watch your child play. Watch how he explores his new activity. After your child learns to do something new by himself, you can join in and suggest another new activity. Remember, your child’s attention span is very short. When he decides to stop playing, let him.

Building a tower teaches balance.

How to Play

  • Sit on the floor or at the table by your child.
  • Place blocks in a pile in front of you and your child.
  • Build a tower with two or three of the blocks.
  • Don’t knock down the tower. Take it down, one block at a time.
  • Ask your child to make another tower.
  • If your child doesn’t start to make a tower, hand the child a block and say, “See, we can put one on top of the other.”
  • When your child puts one block on top of another say, “You can do it.”
  • If the tower falls, don’t make a big thing out of it.

Some children cannot do this until they are older. Don’t worry if your child needs more time or more practice. Be patient and helpful. Stop the game before your child gets bored or upset.

Gradually wean your baby from the bottle or breast to a cup.

Weaning from bottle or breast is a slow process. Most babies aren’t ready to give up the bottle or breast one day and begin drinking from a cup the next.

Give milk in a cup at mealtimes. Your child will be drinking less milk because she will be eating more solid food. With your doctor’s okay, she is old enough to drink cow’s milk — the regular milk at the store. The calcium in milk helps build strong  bones and teeth. Remember to give her whole milk, not low fat or skim milk, until she is 2 years old. Her brain needs the extra fat in whole milk to build and protect brain cells. She might drink 2 or 3 cups of milk every day.

Praise her as she takes this big step! Say, “You’re doing such a good job drinking from the cup!”

Keep the bottle out of bed. Some children may still want the bottle or breast when they wake up, or when they go to sleep. It’s OK to give it as long as your baby doesn’t go to sleep sucking on a bottle. Sucking on a bottle all night can damage your baby’s teeth.

After a while, your child will forget about the bottle or breast. Don’t offer it. Let your child ask for it and then give it only if she really seems to need it. See if she will settle for something else to drink instead. If you let your child carry a bottle around during the day, it will be harder for her to give it up. Give her a toy to carry instead.

Don’t offer fruit drinks, soft drinks, or fruit punches to your child. These drinks are not nutritious. They are mostly sugar and water. When your child is thirsty, offer her tap water or milk in a cup.  Give your child whole fruits like apples and oranges instead of juice. Fruits are more nutritious and have more fiber.

Some toddlers drink from a bottle longer than others. Be patient. Don’t force your child to give up the bottle or breast before she seems ready.

Television is not for toddlers.

Watching television does not give your child the exercise he needs. It does not give him a chance to explore or to play.

  • Television is not a good babysitter. If you need some time for yourself, or need time to talk on the phone, put your child next to you with some toys.
  • Talking with real people helps toddlers learn. The television makes it hard for your little one to talk to you and hear you. This can delay important language skills.
  • Turn it off! Experts agree that it is not good for children under 2 years old to be watching any television at all.

Baby-proofing makes life easier for everyone.

The upcoming months will test your patience and sense of humor. Why? Because there’s no simple way to make a baby this age, explore safely or obey your requests. Your baby needs time to learn.

Be kind to you and your child: Baby-proof! Your child loves to explore and he needs to explore to learn, but he can so easily get hurt. You’ll need to watch him every minute and protect him and
your belongings from harm.

  • Baby-proof your home by removing anything he can hurt himself with and anything he can damage. This may mean storing the coffee table and removing the plants for a while.
  • When accidents happen, know that your baby is not trying to be mean. He may be very curious, but he is not trying to upset you.

Let your child copy you.

Your little one likes to copy what you do — eating, washing, cooking, cleaning. She may try to feed you pieces of food the way you feed her. If you accept the food and show you enjoy it, she will laugh. This makes her feel important.

Copy each other.Your little one will really enjoy having you copy her. That shows her that what she does is important to you. Try copying her hand movements, her play activities, her body movements, or copy what she is saying. She’ll laugh, and she’ll be learning how her own movements look to you.

Mirrors are fun. She likes to watch you in the mirror while you copy her. She’ll also enjoy just watching herself in the mirror. She’ll laugh at her smile in the mirror and may pat or kiss it. “Let me show you how.” You can use copying to help your baby learn. When she is learning to drink from a cup, you can drink to show her how. When you want her to pick up toys, show her how.

Homemade toys teach as well as store bought toys.

Some of the best toys can be those you make from things you have around the house. Homemade toys and learning games are almost free, and they give you and your child a chance to make things together.

Let your child help you decide how to make the toy and let him help you put it together. This will help him be creative and learn new skills. Even very young children can help by picking colors and supplies.

Be careful about safety. Watch out for sharp edges, or other things that could choke or hurt your child if they are broken or go into his mouth.

Your child will learn that he can make things for himself, and that he doesn’t need to buy all his fun from a store.

Watch out for poisoning from house plants, perfumes, and garden sprays.

Did you know that children between the ages of 10 and 20 months are far more likely than children of other ages to be accidentally poisoned?

  • Poisoning often happens when children learn to crawl. They are curious about the world around them, but they have not learned what is dangerous.

These things can poison children:

  • Garden and house plants (oleander and castor bean can be fatal). Be careful of plants that have hairy leaves, milky juice or sap, thorny leaves, fruit or seed pods.
  • Colognes, perfumes, hair products, and cosmetics.
  • Tobacco, food flavorings, and spices.
  • Gasoline, insecticides, roach sprays, and powders.

Keep cigarettes and liquids out of reach. If a child eats one cigarette, it can kill him. To young children, all colored liquid looks like juice and all white powder looks like sugar. Your child needs to be protected from these things.

Do regular safety checks. Make sure everything dangerous is locked up or out of reach. Cover electrical outlets. As toddlers learn to climb, they can open cabinets that they could not reach before.

Keep the telephone number of the poison control center and your doctor’s number handy. If your child eats any part of a poisonous substance, call the poison control center.

National Poison Control Center: 1-800-222-1222

If your child needs emergency help, take a piece of the substance your child has swallowed (or the container) to the doctor or hospital with you.

Guidance and discipline will teach your child to cooperate.

You have done many things to help your child behave well. Babies who are loved, protected, and comforted during their first year feel safe and trusting. They have a close, loving bond with their parents.

During their second year, they will want to follow their parents’ simple requests. They will also copy their parents’ caring behavior. As a result, they will be more likely to accept limits, guidance, and discipline during the sometimes rocky months ahead.

Discipline means teaching children how to grow up to be responsible and loving. Discipline may be the most difficult
and the most important part of parenting. It is one way to show your love.

Until his first birthday, you kept your baby safe by distracting him, holding him, and putting harmful things out of his reach. Within the next few months, he will probably begin to understand “no,” but don’t expect him to respond to it very often yet.

Use words to guide.

  • Set a few rules like “No biting” or “No hitting” and stick to them.
  • If he tests you, stop him, tell him the rules again and why you have them, in simple words like “Hitting hurts people.”
  • Do not hit him because hitting is what you want him to stop doing.

He will learn more quickly and easily with teaching and guidance than he will with yelling and hitting. Be patient with him now; it will pay off later.

Practice deep breathing and ask for help to relieve stress.

Raising a toddler can make you feel really uptight sometimes. Your child is becoming more of a challenge every month. When you need some peace and quiet:

  • ask someone to watch your child.
  • put your little one in a playpen for a short time.
  • take him for a walk or a ride.
  • use your child’s nap time to get some rest for yourself.

It’s hard to be the one who is always responsible. Your body may get tense and you may feel like screaming or hitting something. When you think you just can’t stand it one more second, STOP. Take a “time out” for yourself.

Here are a few “time out” relaxers to try:

  • Close your eyes and take long, deep breaths.
  • Make sure your child is in a safe place, and then take a few minutes until you calm down.
  • Tell those around you that you’ve reached your limit and you need help right now.
  • Ask a friend or relative to watch your child for a short time.
  • Call: Child Help USA at 1-800-422-4453 to talk to someone. Keep the number handy with other emergency numbers.

When you take time out to handle your stress, you’re doing yourself AND your child a big favor. Besides saving your child from painful words and actions, you’ll be showing your child good ways to handle stress.