Now that you have a toddler in the household it will be as if you are on a voyage of discovery each day along with them. Be prepared to feel like you’ve had blinkers on – you’ll wonder just how you missed all the wonderful things your toddler is seeing for the first time. This is a lovely age, even if a little exhausting for parents. You’ll need to be extra vigilant in scanning every environment just to make sure it doesn’t pose any risks to your child’s safety. And this is what you are likely to find the most wearing aspect of parenting your young child. The potential for harm and the “what ifs”. But try not to restrict their opportunities for growth and discovery; after all this is how they will learn about the world and all the fascinating things in it.
Although your toddler will think they know what they want, you will know what they need. It is the predictability and regular routine of family life which will support your toddler to feel secure. You will find your toddler’s tolerance for long hours of shopping or being out of their own routine is very limited. Aim not to feel as if they are trying to make life difficult for you when they protest. As they mature and their verbal skills become more advanced, they will be able to communicate more clearly with you. At 13 months this is still some way off so you’ll need to be pretty skilful at interpreting their early attempts at getting their point across.
If your toddler isn’t walking yet, they are likely to be pretty close. Parents who walked early themselves often have children who show the same proficiency. Expect your toddler to walk with their legs some distance apart and to have a wide legged stance. This will help them to maintain their balance, even if it makes them look as if they just got off a horse! As they become more confident their legs will come together and they will adopt a more classic heel to toe gait, rather than placing their whole foot on the ground with each step.
Developmental milestones are intended as a guide only, so try not to see them as a prescription. You’ll find your toddler will have periods of time when they don’t seem to be progressing at all with their development. It might seem as if they are stuck on pause for a couple of weeks and don’t do or say anything new. Then all of a sudden, it’s as if someone has pushed the on button again.
Your job is to provide an interesting, stimulating and safe environment for them to grow and learn. Try not to push your toddler to develop or consolidate new skills. They are likely to only become frustrated and lose interest. Aim to see your role as being supportive and encouraging, rather than pushing them. Remember that no matter how connected you feel to your 13 month old, they are a separate and unique individual to you, governed by their own brain and abilities.
Expect alot of inquisitiveness, curiosity and interest this month. Your toddler will be into cupboards, under the beds and climbing onto any surface. This is a busy age and from the moment they are awake, they’ll be off. Your toddler will be able to pick up the smallest items now and still be driven by a strong biological urge to place everything in their mouth. Unfortunately this may not extend to their eating behaviours. (See food and nutrition for more details).
This is the age where push toys are very popular. Little wagons or trolleys with handles which can be pushed or pulled along are great. Cause and effect toys are also very popular and will teach your toddler about they can control an outcome. Expensive toys are not necessarily better, although they may claim to be. Toddlers love simplicity so save your cardboard boxes and paper bags, empty cartons and wrapping paper. They are all just as likely to become your 13 month old’s favourite toy as what you’ve bought them.
What you can Expect this Month:
Something seems to happen at around the time of a child’s first birthday when their appetite changes. If your toddler isn’t eating as much as they were and has become fussy, don’t despair, this is very common. This stage reflects a general slowing down of a child’s growth after the first year when they genuinely don’t need as many kilojoules to fuel their growth. Your toddler still needs to be offered foods from the following food groups each day:
If your toddler missed out on their 12 month vaccinations, make a point of having them done now. The childhood vaccination schedule changes frequently so check www.immunise.health.gov.au for up to date information. Currently, at 12 months the schedule is as follows:
Get into the habit of washing your toddler’s hands before they eat and before they go to bed. Let them see you adopting sensible hygiene practices around the house as well. Your toddler’s immune system is designed to cope with thousands of toxins each day. There is evidence to support the notion that allergies may be on the increase because we have been too careful about insulating our children from germs. Look for a healthy, workable balance in your own household. Work out a minimum standard which everyone can contribute towards and try to set realistic goals when it comes to what housework can be achieved in a day.