Was that a shriek? A song? A sentence? Your toddler is more vocal than ever, using simple sentences and correctly naming things as they insistently point at stuff they want NOW NOW NOW, but sometimes only close family members can decipher what they’re saying. Then again, other times they’re not really saying anything at all; toddlers like to test their vocal cords with screeches and screams just to see what their voices can do (spoiler alert: their favorite thing for their voices to do is be loud).
• Is it time to ditch the diapers? Your toddler might be showing early signs of potty training readiness (tells you when he needs to go and can hold it long enough for you to find a toilet, acts uncomfortable in a soiled diaper and takes an interest in other people’s potty habits, for starters) but odds are you’re a lot more ready for them to be out of diapers than they are. If things aren’t clicking yet (and often they don’t for several more months, especially for girls) take solace in the fact that there are plenty of great reasons to put off potty training.
• Socialization is really important for developing essential social skills, so if you haven’t already you’ll want to consider organizing a play group, taking a child-focused class, or meeting up with friends regularly at a park — (un)fortunately you’ll probably have a little extra time for this, since your toddler has likely ditched her morning nap by now. Younger toddlers mostly engage in parallel play (playing alongside others without interacting much), but now they’re ready to start learning to share, cooperate, take turns and use words to resolve conflict. Keep your expectations low (toddlers at this stage are still heavily into everything being “MINE!”) and keep visits short, as a combination of being self-centered, tending toward aggressive reactions like biting and hair pulling, and a lack of impulse control mean toddlers like each other best in small doses.
• Pick your battles wisely. For someone so fiercely independent, your toddler doesn’t get to control very many things in his little world. So just humor him when he goes through phases where he insists on wearing the same shirt every day, or refuses to eat a sandwich unless it’s cut into triangles — as long as it isn’t a safety or health threat, let your toddler make some small decisions and save putting your foot down for the big stuff.
• Let’s party! If you took our earlier advice, you skipped having an elaborate first birthday party on the grounds that your baby had no idea what the heck was going on anyway (or you had a GIGANTIC bash for yourself, in honor of the fact that you survived). At two years old a toddler is capable of enjoying her own party, though you still shouldn’t feel any pressure to go overboard; truly, all a toddler really cares about is being the center of attention. Oh, and presents, they like those too — though don’t be surprised when they’re just as excited about the box a toy came in as the toy itself.
Scary Mommy tip: As your toddler approaches age two, continue avoiding the temptation to compare him to others his age. There’s a huge range of motor skills, cognitive abilities and physical growth that are all considered “normal.” Sometimes one child will really focus on cognitive development and their vocabulary will explode, while another child the same age only speaks a handful of words but can stack a tower of blocks without knocking them over, or has already started choreographing their own dance recitals. All toddlers are awesome in their own ways! Appreciate whichever specialties your toddler has chosen to develop; the rest will come soon enough. And, if yours is one of the toddlers who has become an early expert at quickly undressing in public places — our sincerest sympathies.