Itâ€™s important for your toddler to eat foods from all food groups: protein foods, fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products. Your child should be learning to feed himself. He will use his fingers and may start using a spoon. This will be messy. Make sure you cut food into small pieces so that your child won’t choke. Most 1-year-olds have 2 or 3 snacks each day. Cheese, fruit, and vegetables are all good snacks. Avoid foods that can choke your child, such as candy, hot dogs, popcorn, and peanuts.
By now, most toddlers should be using an open- rimmed cup instead of a bottle. Although a sippy cup has the advantage of reduced spills, it can affect the position of your childâ€™s teeth and is more likely to cause decay. If your child is still using a bottle, it could start to cause problems with his teeth and might cause ear infections. A child at this age may be sad to give up a bottle, so try to replace it with another treasured item–perhaps a teddy bear or blanket.
Toddlers are very curious and want to be the boss. This is normal. If your child is safe, this is a time to let him explore new things. As long as you are there to protect your child, let him satisfy his curiosity. Stuffed animals, toys for pounding, pots, pans, measuring cups, empty boxes, and soft balls are some examples of toys your child may enjoy.
Toddlers may want to copy what you are doing. Sweeping, dusting, or washing play dishes can be fun for your child.
Reading and TV
Read to your child every day. Reading to your child helps him learn more quickly. Choose books with interesting pictures and colors. Children at this age may ask to read the same book over and over. This repetition is a natural part of learning.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not allowing children under 2 years old to watch TV at all. Watching TV keeps children from playing and interacting with people. Children this age need to be active because it helps their brains and bodies to develop.
Toddlers start to have temper tantrums at about this age. You need patience. Trying to reason with or punish your child may actually make the tantrum last longer. Itâ€™s best to make sure your toddler is in a safe place and then ignore the tantrum. Donâ€™t look directly at him and donâ€™t speak to him or about him to others where he can hear what you are saying. At a later time, find behavior to praise. Donâ€™t use food to reward your child for good behavior.
Itâ€™s not yet time to start time-outs. You can start time-outs when your child is about 2 years old. However, you may need to start earlier if your child has serious misbehavior, like hitting.
Itâ€™s important to take care of your childâ€™s baby teeth because they help your child chew food and speak clearly. They also help save space for the permanent teeth that will come in later. You can help care for your childâ€™s teeth by following these tips:
- Avoid sugary foods and limit juice to help prevent cavities. One cup of juice a day is enough.
- Brush your childâ€™s teeth with water twice a day. Use a child-size toothbrush with soft bristles. Once your child learns how to spit out toothpaste, you can start using fluoride toothpaste.
- Start flossing your childâ€™s teeth after all baby teeth are in.
- Talk with your healthcare provider or dentist if your child still sucks a finger or pacifier or still uses a sippy cup. These habits can cause problems with permanent teeth.
Your child should see a dentist every 6 months or as often as the dentist recommends.
Child-Proofing Your Home
- Go through every room in your house and remove valuables or anything that is dangerous for a child. Preventive child-proofing will stop many possible accidents, injuries, and discipline problems. Don’t expect your child not to get into things just because you say no.
- Install safety gates to guard stairways.
- Lock doors that lead to dangerous areas like the basement or garage.
- Check drawers, tall furniture, and lamps to make sure they cannot fall over easily.
- Put safety latches on cabinets.
- Cover unused electrical outlets with outlet covers to keep your child from sticking things into the outlet.
- Keep cords out of reach, especially for coffee makers, irons, or other hot devices.
- Throw away cracked or frayed electrical cords.
- Keep all electrical devices in the bathroom unplugged and put away.
- It is recommended that you remove guns from the home. If you have a gun, store it unloaded and locked. Store the ammunition in a separate place that is also locked.
Choking and Suffocation
- Keep cords, ropes, or strings away from your baby. Ropes and strings around your baby’s neck can choke him.
- Keep plastic bags, balloons, and small hard objects out of reach.
- Use only unbreakable toys that donâ€™t have any sharp edges or small parts that can come loose.
- Store toys on shelves or in a chest without a dropping lid. Small children can get trapped inside a toy chest.
- Make sure windows are closed or have screens that cannot be pushed out. Install window guards on windows above the first floor unless this is against your local fire codes.
- Donâ€™t place furniture near windows or on balconies. Don’t underestimate your child’s ability to climb.
- Always buckle the safety belts or straps when your baby is in an infant carrier or shopping cart.
- Use an approved toddler car seat in the back seat with your child facing toward the back of the car.
- Never leave children alone in a parked car, even for a few minutes. Children are at risk for heat illness and injury when left alone. Always check to make sure your child is not still in the car when you leave your car.
- Hold onto your child when you are near traffic.
- Make sure an adult is watching your child during play outdoors.
- NEVER leave your toddler in a bathtub alone.
- Stay within armâ€™s reach of your child around any water, including toilets and buckets. Keep toilet lids down, never leave water in an unattended bucket, and store buckets upside down. Infants and toddlers who have completed swimming programs are still not safe from drowning.
- Keep all medicines, vitamins, cleaning fluids, and other chemicals locked away. Dispose of them safely.
- Buy medicines in containers with safety caps.
- Do not store poisons in drink bottles, glasses, or jars or anywhere children can reach them.
- Put the poison center number on all phones.
Fires and Burns
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach.
- Keep hot foods and liquids out of reach.
- Do not allow children to play on the kitchen floor while you are cooking or baking.
- Use the back burners on the stove with the pan handles out of reach. Do not allow children to play on the kitchen floor while you are cooking or baking.
- Turn the water heater down to 120Â°F (49Â°C) or lower.
- Install smoke detectors. Check your smoke detectors as often as recommended by the manufacturer or at least once a month to make sure they work. For all detectors that use batteries, replace batteries at least once a year or when they are low.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen.
- Children who live in a house where someone smokes have more respiratory infections, like colds, flu, and throat infections. Their symptoms are also more severe and last longer than those of children who live in a smoke-free home.
- If you smoke, set a quit date and stop. Ask your healthcare provider for help in quitting. If you cannot quit, do NOT smoke in the house or car or near children. It helps keep your child healthy and sets a good example.
Immunizations protect your child against several serious, life-threatening diseases. At the 15-month visit, your child will get vaccines recommended for your child at this age. Ask your healthcare provider what symptoms or problems you should watch for after your child gets a shot and what to do if your child has them.
Bring your child’s shot record to all visits with your childâ€™s healthcare provider.
Your child’s next visit should be at the age of 18 months.
Written by Robert Brayden, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado.
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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