Be prepared for more dress ups this month as your toddler morphs themselves into whatever their little imagination desires. This is a highly imaginative, make believe age and stage where reality and fantasy can have very blurred edges. Your toddler may resist going to bed because they “see” things in their room, wake up after having vivid dreams and tell you wonderful stories about themselves. All of this is due to the powers of their imagination and the world of make believe they are so absorbed in. You will find they are still very ego-centric and not keen to play interactively with other small children. Protests will be common when there are groups of them together – getting along takes skill and motivation.
If reality is more your thing, you may find all this a bit hard to tolerate. But for a 28 month old processing what is real can be a very big task and it takes time and brain maturity for them to fully appreciate a more concrete world than the one in their imagination. Try to enjoy this phase. It doesn’t last and before too long, is taken over by need to question why everything is as it is.
This is also the age of business, drifting from one task to another with no foresight or intent, just impulsivity. Some parents’ worry that their toddler can’t sit and concentrate on one thing for very long at a time, but this is entirely age appropriate. With maturity, your toddler will develop skills in self control and concentration along with emotional regulation. But for now, their world is far too enticing just to sit back and not be right in the middle of it.
Those stacks of blocks will be creeping higher this month, as your toddler learns how to balance each one more precariously on top of another. Their patience will be increasing a little and if they’re really interested, they’ll become a little more absorbed in the play task they’re involved in. This means if you call them away to something else, they may not hear you or be even vaguely interested in what you have to say. This can be another cause for toddler tantrums and a battle of wills when you both want something completely different.
More practice this month with fine motor skills, which means being able to pick up small objects and place them down with precision. Running, jumping, hopping and skipping skills will improve – literally in leaps and bounds. Your toddler’s speech will also be expanding but don’t expect to always understand what they are saying. They will be able to join up to 5 or more words together in a sentence. If you have a girl you may notice she is a little more advanced with her speech and language than boys of her age. Inconsistency in development is common between genders because of the differences in brain physiology.
Dirt and your toddler will never be too far apart. It’s not until your little one matures more that they will be able to make genuine efforts to keep clean. Be practical in how you dress them. Save your energy and hours in the laundry by keeping play clothes and good clothes separate. Your toddler won’t have the same appreciation as you for looking after their clothes so avoid unnecessary dramas by matching clothing with their activity.
After an hour or so of quiet indoor play, your 28 month old will benefit from going outside. Gross motor activity will tire them out and help them fall asleep more easily. It will also boost their appetite and make meal times more pleasant because they’ll be likely to eat. Take them with you when you go outside so you can keep an eye on them and involve them in whatever you’re doing. Get them to “help” peg washing on the line, hose the path and look for flowers. Play for this age group does not need to be complex but it is worth remembering that play is your toddler’s work. Look for activities, rather than structure which they can engage in.
Quick escalations in mood this month as your toddler learns more about how they can influence you. If you are tired and worn out, your resolve to stand firm and stay calm will be challenged. Sometimes it is just easier to give in to our children’s demands and deal with the consequences later. No parent is consistent 100% of the time. The most any of us can do is aim to be fair and respond in a similar way most of the time.
You could notice your 28 month old has started to sit with their legs in a W shape. This position is common as it helps them to feel more stable and not invest so much energy into maintaining their balance when sitting. But this position does children no favours and can lead to hip and knee problems over time. It also restricts their opportunity to build skills in sideways or lateral movement. If you notice your toddler sitting in this way, a gentle reminder to “t” is generally enough of a prompt. You may feel like a broken record having to say it every day, but eventually they will stop doing it.
This is the age where food battles can emerge. In an effort to persuade their toddler to finish a meal or behave in a certain way, parents can offer food rewards. The problem with doing this is that foods can begin to be seen as “good or bad” and have an emotional value ascribed to them. These reward or bribe foods are often less nutritious and higher in salt, sugar and fat. At 28 months, your child needs minimal, if any, of these nutrients – so much of their energy is being directed into their growing that first class nutrition is important.
Some toddlers drink so much milk that this impacts on their appetite for real food. Milk is low in iron, and anaemia is not an uncommon condition at this age. Occasionally iron studies through a blood test are necessary and iron supplements are prescribed. It can take a long time for a child’s red blood cell count to rise as a result of increased dietary iron. This is why supplements are often necessary. Read more about iron deficiency in kids here.
This may be the month when the high chair gets packed away and a booster seat is added to the table. It is very important to include your children in meal time conversation, but not monopolize it. Encourage everyone to take a turn in talking about their day. For busy families, meal times may offer the only time when the family can all connect with each other. Make it a household rule that the television goes off and the focus is on the food and people.
Encourage your toddler to sit quietly when they eat. They are still too young to fully appreciate what having good table manners mean. But running around with food in their mouth is risky and can lead to choking. Consider enrolling in a first aid course. The Huggies team have all completed it (and link to article). These are often conducted over a weekend and cover basics of first aid as well as cardio pulmonary resuscitation. If you have a swimming pool make sure you have a CPR instruction guide in clear view. Keep the phone number of your local emergency services and Poison Information Service near your telephone and ensure your house numbers are clearly legible from the street. Small measures such as this really can contribute to saving lives.