These three months can be really easy or a bit of a challenge. They might be really easy if your toddler sticks to two naps a day. If your toddler moves to three, however, you might find yourself wondering what to do with your child during all of this extra time.
By 15 months old, most toddlers are walking and can say at least one word. I personally love toddlers. They are so fun. Everything around them is so fascinating, and as you spend time with them, you come to see and hear things you hadn't paid attention to in years.
Much of the advice for 15-18 months is the same as 12-15 months. After listing the different activities for the day and special considerations for each activity, I am going to delve into the whys behind the activities to help you keep a focus in mind while you do it. Having a goal to work toward is a big difference between making it through the day and more than making it through the day.
Be sure to see this post for schedule ideas: Sample Schedules: One Year and Up
- Self-Feeding: The biggest concern with mealtimes during this time will be your toddler learning to eat from a spoon. Expect things to be messy as he learns. He can't be perfect. See this post for more: Toddlers and Spoons
- Throwing/Dropping Food: Your toddler might start to throw or drop food from the highchair as he now has more control over his food. See this post: Throwing/Dropping Food off of the Tray
- Food Amounts: Just because he is now a toddler does not mean you will worry less about his food intake. See Food Amounts for Toddlers for guidance.
- Dropping Naps: A Quick Reference
- Dropping a Nap: A Weaning Process: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/02/dropping-nap-weaning-process.html
- Dropping the Morning Nap (from 2 to 1 naps): Transition Time
- In Action: Dropping the Morning Nap
- Timing Naps for Toddlers
- Playing in the Crib/Bed
- Independent Playtime: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/independent-playtime.html
- Independent Playtime Lengths
- Resistance to Independent Playtime
STRUCTURED PLAYTIMEStructured playtime is when Mom decides the activity. This is a good thing for your toddler to learn to accept; in educational settings (and life), we don't always get to choose what we do. This time can be art, music, puzzles, or other learning activities. The child can work alone or with a parent or sibling (see below). See structured playtime (blog label) for more.
SIBLING PLAYTIMEIf your toddler has siblings, you can have sibling playtime. This can overlap with other activities if needed. For example, the siblings can both color at the table together for structured playtime. Or maybe they will go outside to play together for outside time.
Keep in mind that most 15-18 month olds are not interactive players. They play in tandem. They won't necessarily play with the older sibling. However, some will. Kaitlyn is very social and would actually play with Brayden during this time. From what I read, it is common for younger siblings to be more socially interactive at an earlier age than the oldest who was an only child.
ONE-ON-ONE TIME WITH PARENTS
The importance of this activity never diminishes. Continue to be sure to incorporate one-on-one time with each parent each day. This can overlap with structured playtime. Mommy or Daddy can sit at the table with the toddler while he colors and join in the coloring. It can also overlap with other appropriate playtime activities.
FRIEND TIMEThe older your toddler gets, the more he will enjoy playing with friends. At this age, play is still very much in tandem; they don't really interactively play with each other. But being in each other's presence is fun. Be sure you take things at the pace of your individual child. Some toddlers will love jumping in with a bunch of other rowdy toddlers. Others will need some time to get used to the activity and might prefer starting with just one other toddler.
It is fun to do activities together as a family. You might go for walks, read books, work in the yard, go out to dinner, take a vacation, go to a museum...the possibilities are endless.
Bath time can be a fun time to get water play in. It is a good opportunity for your child to fulfill that curiosity with water. What happens when I dump a cup of water out? Your child can figure that out in the tub. It will also stimulate the sense of touch. Best Toys for Baby: Bath Toys
LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENTAs your toddler starts to speak more, it will be easier for this to be a focus for you. Your toddler will demonstrate more and more the vast amount that he understands. You will most likely be quite shocked. We were even shocked with Kaitlyn. Continue to work on language development.
- Sign Language: It isn't too late to start this. Watch for words that would help your child avoid tantrums or words that your child seems to try to communicate but can't say yet. It can also come in handy for those words that sound the same. Many toddlers pronounce words very similarly. If you have signs to turn to, you can help have more effective communication. If you have been doing this for a while, you can most likely do a new word each day, or at least several per week. Sign Language
- Reading: Reading is a fun activity to have as one-on-one time with a parent. Be sure to point to the objects in the book and name them for your toddler. Non-BW: The Value of Reading: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/non-bw-value-of-reading.html
- Talk Back: When your child talks to you, listen and talk back. Keep in mind the principles from the previous making it through the day post for ages 9-12 months old.
- Sledding: You can still spend time outside if there is snow. Be sure to dress your child appropriately. I have heard it is a good idea to not allow a child to be out in the cold for longer than 15 minutes at a time, though I have nothing to back that up with.
- Sandbox: The sandbox is a fun place to play.
- Mimic: Toddlers love to mimic their parents. If you garden, you might get some gardening toys for your toddler. If you have a lawn to mow, a lawnmower.
- Bubbles: This is always fascinating for the toddler.
- Outside Toys: See this post for outside toy ideas: Baby Stuff I Love: Outdoor Toys
Your child's interests and abilities will continue to mature as he gets older. See this post: Best Toys for Baby: 12-18 Months
You might be especially interested in learning activities now. Keep in mind that your child can't learn things he isn't taught, so this is up to you. See these posts:
- Factors that Influence Learning
- The Learning Process (Toddlerwise)
- Critical Phase of Learning: Toddlerwise
- Blog label learning
- Moral Training: You teach self-control, obedience, manners, patience, sitting, focusing, concentrating, and relationship with peers, siblings, and adults. Independent playtime, free playtime, structured playtime, sibling playtime, friend playtime, and one-on-one time with parents all contribute to meeting these goals. See also:
Training in Times of Non-Conflict
Hand Folding: Establishing Self-Control: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/02/hand-folding-establishing-self-control.html
Creating a "Good Helper"
- Academic Skills: This is teaching ABCs, mathematics, language, reading, and more. Structured playtime and one-on-one time with parents are both excellent points in the day to teach academic skills. You can also learn to work these things in throughout the day. When you are on a walk, you can count how many cars, cats, birds, etc. you see. You can get foam letters for the bathtub and sing the ABCs during bathtime. These skills can always be incorporated into your activities. Remember that people learn line upon line. Teach your child in steps (see learning section above for more about learning).
- Spiritual Training: This involves anything spiritual that is appropriate to teach your child. This can be teaching to say prayers, which at first is done by the parent showing the example of how to do things. You can read scripture stories and teach about important people in your faith.
Also, On Becoming Toddlerwise is written for ages 1-2 years old. Be sure to read it. On Becoming Toddlerwise
- Proactive and Directive Parenting
- Boundaries (Toddlerwise)
- Boundaries: Part II (Toddlerwise)
- Controlling the Young Temper
- Get To Know Your Child's Personality: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/02/get-to-know-your-childs-personality.html
- Hand Folding: Establishing Self-Control: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/02/hand-folding-establishing-self-control.html
- The "Mini-fit"
- Overstimulation for Toddlers
- Problem Solving Using Beliefs, Goals, Why, and How
- Substitution: Toddlerwise
- Tantrums and Discipline: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/02/tantrums.html
- Tantrums: Stop and Think
- The Choice Addiction (for Toddlers)
- Training in Times of Non-Conflict
- "Yes Mom"
- See the blog label discipline