Your baby is becoming more independent and gaining control over his muscles. These are the “teachable twos”, explains Tarynn McMillan, an educator and BabyGym instructor, when your baby is starting to view himself as independent from you. “This is a wonderful age of self-discovery and independence. Your job now is to teach your baby impulse control and self-discipline: stop means stop and no means no. You also need to give your baby every opportunity to do things for himself – feed himself, bath himself, tidy up for himself. This tells him you have faith in his abilities,” she says.
These mini milestones will help your little one reach the bigger milestones:
Pulling a toy while walking
Your little one will love the feeling of being in charge of another object and push-pull toys continue the learning of cause and effect. He will need plenty of balance skills to pull this off successfully.
“Hold your baby firmly under his arms and swing him gently from side to side and back and forth,” says Charmaine. You can also hold your baby close and spin him around.
Once he’s comfortable with this, you can begin to separate your upper body from your baby as you dip him upside down.” Most children delight in this safe roller-coaster ride and “it shows your baby how he can move on different planes and levels, which activates his balance system in the inner ear and tells your baby where he is in space”.
While you can’t expect your toddler to put on his own T-shirt or change his own nappy, he will be showing more interest in taking care of himself – from brushing his teeth to taking his shoes and socks off.
Dressing and undressing himself requires fine motor skills. Play dough is an excellent way to encourage these skills while having some sensory fun, too. Roll snakes, use blunt tools to cut out shapes and encourage your tot to roll balls of dough in his palms and between two fingers.
Walking up and down stairs
This is another milestone that shows your child’s growing independence and curiosity. He may begin using the stairs on all fours and progress to standing and holding on. Either way, it requires core strength and stability.
“Start playing crawling and climbing games with a pile of pillows, a mattress or sofa cushions. Encourage your baby to crawl up and down, over and under, making sure you have lots of tumbling fun at the same time. You could even make a slope with the mattress for your baby to crawl up and down,” suggests occupational therapist and CEO of Clamber Club, Liz Senior.
Marianne is a freelance content creator and copy editor. She has been part of the Living and Loving team in various capacities over the last six years, but since becoming a mom to a boisterous boy, she has found a special interest in parenting issues including discipline, education and early childhood development. When not running after, and negotiating with, her three-year-old, you’ll find her experimenting in the kitchen.