Eating meals together as a family has many benefits. Mealtime is a great time to let your child tell you about her interests, concerns, and worries. Encourage your child to talk and to listen to others as they share stories and experiences. This helps your child to learn new words and keeps your family feeling close and connected. Donâ€™t have the TV on during family meals.
You can model healthy eating by what you eat and how much you eat. Give your child chances to choose what foods to eat. Be sure to give her only healthy foods to choose from. For many children, lower fat content in milk and other dairy products is often a good idea. Ask your healthcare provider if 2% or skim milk is a good choice for your child.
Let your child feed herself. Your child will get better at using the spoon, with fewer and fewer spills. Make sure that your childâ€™s food is not too hot.
It is very important for your child to be completely off a bottle. Ask your childâ€™s healthcare provider for help if your child is still using one.
Spend time teaching your child how to play. Encourage imaginative play and sharing toys, but don’t be surprised that 2-year-olds usually donâ€™t want to share toys with anyone else.
Mild stuttering is common at this age. It usually goes away on its own by the age of 4 years. Donâ€™t hurry your child’s speech. Ask your healthcare provider about your child’s speech if you have concerns.
Your child will learn reading skills while watching you read. She will start to figure out that printed symbols have certain meanings. Young children love to open flaps, ask questions, sing along, and make comments.
Set rules about TV watching. Limit TV and video watching to no more than 1 to 2 hours a day. If you allow TV, watch with your child and talk about the program. For the rest of the time, choose other activities, like reading, games, singing, and physical activity.
Some children at this age show signs that they are ready for toilet training. When your child tells you that she has wet or soiled diapers, itâ€™s a sign that your child prefers to be dry. Praise your child for telling you. Young children are naturally curious about other people using the bathroom. If your child seems curious, let her go to the bathroom with you. Buy a potty chair and leave it in a room in which your child usually plays. It is important not to put too many demands on your child or shame your child about toilet training. When your child does use the toilet, let her know how proud you are.
At this age, children often say “no” or refuse to do what you want them to do. Itâ€™s normal for 2-year-olds to test the rules that parents make. Be consistent with rules that are not too strict and too lenient. Be gentle but firm with your child. Many parents find this age difficult, so ask your healthcare provider for advice on managing behavior.
Here are some good ways to help your child learn about rules:
Talk to your childâ€™s healthcare provider if you have questions about discipline or need help with behavior problems.
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.
- Make sure that your child brushes her teeth after meals. Think up a game and make brushing fun. Once your child learns how to spit out toothpaste, you can start using fluoride toothpaste.
- 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.
- Use stair gates or lock doors that lead to dangerous areas like the basement.
- Keep all electrical devices in the bathroom unplugged and put away.
- Keep cords out of reach, especially for coffee makers, irons, or other hot devices.
- Donâ€™t put furniture near windows or on balconies and teach your child not to climb on furniture or cabinets.
- Install window guards on windows above the first floor (unless this is against your local fire codes.)
- Always buckle the safety belts or straps when your child is in a shopping cart.
- Use an approved toddler car seat in the back seat. Sometimes children may not want to be placed in car seats. Gently but consistently put your child into the car seat every time you ride in the car. Give your child a toy to play with once in the seat.
- 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.
- Provide a play area where balls and riding toys cannot roll into the street.
- NEVER leave your child in a bathtub alone.
- Watch children and never leave them alone around water, including wading pools, swimming pools, spas or hot tubs, ponds, lakes, streams, or any other open water. If a child is in the water, an adult should also be in the water close enough to reach and grab the child if needed. Toddlers who have completed swimming programs are still not safe from drowning.
- Keep all medicines, vitamins, cleaning fluids, and other chemicals locked away.
- 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 curlers, iron, or things on the stove or in the microwave out of reach.
- Turn your 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.
- Practice a fire escape plan.
- 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, 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. Your child should get a flu shot every year. Your childâ€™s healthcare provider will let you know if your child is up to date on all recommended vaccinations. Be sure to bring your child’s shot record to all visits with your provider.
A checkup at 2 1/2 years is recommended.
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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