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On the grow: Month 21

Playtime is getting more complex. And that's a good thing! As your little playmate's coordination continues to improve, they may start to choose activities that require more complex skills than, say, banging and flinging things around.

For fun, your kiddo may enjoy things like:

  • Coloring.
  • Putting large shape blocks into their matching holes.
  • Stacking four or more blocks and knocking them down.
  • Taking simple toys apart and putting them back together.
  • Finger-paint with pudding or making shapes with cookie dough. 

Mastering skills like these can open up new ways for you and your toddler to play together.

How your child's changing

Here are some other skills your kiddo may start to show over the next few weeks.*

Fun with fashion. Arms up! Your little one may be interested in dressing themselves. The pants may go on backward and the socks may be inside out, but encouraging your little one to try dressing on their own can help them build self-confidence.

When helping them dress:

  • Give choices. Provide two shirts and let your toddler decide which one to wear. That gives your kiddo a sense of control and lets them know you value their opinion.
  • Talk it out. Count your cutie's toes when it's time for socks and shoes. Name their clothes and point out the colors. By listening, watching and doing, your child can learn about numbers, colors, body parts and following directions.
  • Get silly. Your toddler may be more attentive (and less wiggly) when you make dressing fun. Slip a sock on your toddler's hand or a pant leg on their arm. Laugh and say, "Oops! That's not right. Where should this go?"

So much to say. Every week your little chatterbox is learning about one new word. They may even start to combine two or more words to make a phrase.

To help boost their language skills:

  • Turn your toddler's words and phrases into complete sentences. For instance, if your child says, "Me down," respond with, "You want to get down."
  • Play goofy word games. Try switching a word in a familiar song, like "Row, row, row your car!"

Mirror, mirror. Guess who can recognize themselves in the mirror? Toddlers as young as 15 months may react to seeing their reflection, but it may take others up until 24 months to acquire this skill. 

This is a major milestone in self-awareness. Self-awareness lays the groundwork for other more complex emotions, like empathy, confidence and embarrassment. You can continue to foster your clever little one's self-awareness by:

  • Playing in the mirror. Move around with your child. Point to their clothing. Talk about the movements they're making.
  • Looking at photos. Put together a photobook with pictures of your toddler and other important people in their life. Flip through the pages together and ask your little one to point to themselves and to others by name. 

*Keep in mind, no two children follow the exact same path when it comes to development. There can be great variation from child to child. Speak to your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your child's development.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; Zero to Three

Reviewed 2/18/2022

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