By definition, toddlers are just-after-infancy children who have learned to walk. These kids are considered to be in the second stage of development between infancy and childhood and usually span the ages of 12 to 60 months old. This stage is a very "formative" period in a child's development. Your toddler's overall health includes physical, mental and socialization issues.
- Childhood Obesity
- Child Health
- Research on Healthy Kids
Health Related Issues
Establishing Order and a Sleep Schedule
When they're infants, it's middle-of-the-night feedings. When they're toddlers, it's awakening to give medicine or soothe them after a nightmare. Establish positive sleep habits with your child at an early age. Here are some tips to help you and your toddler:
- Know how much sleep is appropriate for your child's age.
- Establish a 20-30 minute nightly "calm-down" routine that can include taking a bath, putting on pajamas, reading, and other relaxing activities.
- Have a set time for bedtime and for waking.
- Keep the same schedule for weekdays and weekends.
Mealtime and Nutrition
Involvement in the food preparation process helps to get picky eaters, or those toddlers who decide to assert their "nos" during mealtimes, to try new and healthful foods. Try these tips:
- Invite toddlers to join in as you tear lettuce, snap green beans, and break the coatings of peas. Physical involvement in the preparation process gets toddlers' interested in new foods. Be sure to offer some taste testing once the vegetables have been washed and are ready to serve as a reward for hard work!
- Encourage toddlers to help with the washing and scrubbing of fruits and vegetables served at snack time. Later, ask them to help you "whip up a dip" for a variation on snack-time treats.
- Let toddlers help with pouring. Whenever water or milk is required to complete a recipe, offer funnels, sifters, and cups of assorted shapes and sizes to add interest to the pouring experience.
At an early age, begin to explain the difference between good and bad foods and ingredients to lay a foundation for making good food choices. As a parent you must be careful to screen food ingredient panels for additives, preservatives, artificial colorings and unwanted sugar, alcohol, or animal products. Some synthetic preservatives have become controversial because they have been shown to cause respiratory or other health problems, and food colorings are often derived from industrial chemicals.
It is during the toddler period, as the child eats more foods, that you may become aware of the possibility of various allergies. The most common food allergies in children are dairy, peanuts and soy products. Consult with your health practitioner to screen your child to determine the best course of action for you and your family.
Playtime, Activities & Socialization for Toddlers
Please note that if a toddler refuses to play or interact with peers, it can be an indication of a physical or psychological problem. Children who complain of pain when they play or consistently refuse to join other children in outdoor play may need to be seen by a pediatrician.
Toddlers use play to explore and learn about the world. By encouraging even the youngest child to engage in active play, parents prompt a child's exploration and natural curiosity about how his body works.
Two and three year olds thrive on unstructured play. Play helps toddlers develop basic motor skills such as running, swinging, and climbing. Playing in a sandbox for instance, and carefully supervised water play are good activities which are fun and healthy. By age 2, active, fit children should be able to jump with two feet, skip and run. By age 3, they should be able to change directions (from left to right, from forward to backward) comfortably. (source: AMA)
Doctor Visits & Medical Care
You may be making less frequent visits to your pediatrician now that your child is older, but his growth and development will still be closely monitored. A description of these check ups are provided below.
- Examination of your toddler's growth and development.
- Review of feeding and sleep schedules.
- Screening height, weight and head circumference.
- Counseling for injury prevention, dental health, and diet.
- Screening test: blood level to check for anemia, screening questionnaire for lead poisoning risk
Keep in mind that many factors influence how children grow, including their genetic potential (how tall their parents and other family members are), underlying medical problems (such as congenital heart disease, Down syndrome, etc), and their overall nutritional status.
Helping toddler age kids to be more healthy
Help your toddler have a healthier happier life by spending quality time, feeding him or her nutritious foods, and engaging in activities with them.
For more information, be sure to check out the ToddlerHealth.net Web site!