Baby Development Month-by-Month: Month twenty-three

Your toddler is 23 months old. Not long to go now and you will have a two-year-old! It is a cliché but time really does fly.

Each child will develop at their own rate but here is what you can expect at 23 months along with tips on how you can support your little one’s development.   

Feeding and sleeping

Your child will continue to need around 13 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, split into around 11-12 hours at night and an afternoon nap of 1-2 hours. Some children may have a shorter nap at this age or even start to refuse their nap altogether, making them super tired in the afternoon. For this reason, it is a good idea to try and keep the nap in if you can or encourage some quiet time with books on those days that she really does not want to nap. You can also try scheduling active play and activities for the morning to increase the chances of a good early afternoon snooze.

If your little one’s molars are breaking through, this can have a huge impact on sleep, causing her to wake during the night due to the pain of teething. Keep to her routine if you can, use teething remedies when you need to, and try gently massaging your fingers between the jaw to encourage the body’s natural painkillers to kick in.

Where food is concerned, continue to offer your toddler three meals per day, a couple of healthy snacks, and around 400ml of whole cow’s milk or breastmilk or two servings of foods made from milk (cheese, yoghurt, etc.), alongside her vitamin drops. Avoid anything high in salt or sugar and avoid adding these to her meals or offering drinks other than water or milk, which should ideally be offered in an open cup.

If you notice your little one is becoming fussy with foods she previously enjoyed, try not to make a big deal out of it, this is common. Continue offering those foods regularly and eat together as a family where possible so that she can see other members of the family eating and enjoying those foods. This will help to encourage healthy mealtime habits and may help that fussy phase pass a little quicker.

Communication

At 23 months old, your child may be saying 50 or more recognisable words and may also be able to say basic sentences and commands. She will likely enjoy ‘helping’ around the house, trying to unload the dishwasher, pulling washing out of the machine, and supporting you with caring for a newborn brother or sister. Encourage this independence and let her help where possible – her sense of accomplishment and pride at completing a task with you will be a joy to witness.

As she approaches two years of age, your little one will be experiencing a range of emotions and will not yet know how to communicate this to you, which can result in the odd meltdown. Try to remain calm, recognise that she is feeling angry or upset or jealous, and soothe and comfort her through it.

You may also notice that your little one is resistant to change or likes to play that annoying song on repeat several times a day. This is normal – children are reassured by repetition and a sense of routine so try to maintain this as best you can, helping her through any small and unsettling new things that come her way.

Senses and physical development

Your toddler will be pretty physically able by now and may walk confidently up the stairs while holding onto your hand or the bannister rail for support. She will likely be able to kick and throw a ball, open doors, stand on one leg, and may even attempt to pedal her tricycle. 

Some 23-month-olds might be showing signs that they are ready for toilet-training so keep an eye on her cues and perhaps start talking to her about using the toilet or invest in some inserts for when she does want to use it. It is still early days though and it is important not to put pressure on her to start too early. Most children are not ready for at least another few months yet.

Playing with your twenty-three-month-old

Shape-sorting and simple jigsaw puzzles are great games to play together at this age to support many different skills, from motor skills to language development. Name the shapes as you play, encouraging her to match like-for-like and to recognise the different colours of her toys.

Your little one will have a rapidly developing sense of independence and, while sometimes exhausting, it is good to encourage this. Try letting her take her own clothes on and off – she will likely need your support, but she will feel such an enormous sense of achievement once she reaches her goal.

Have fun and stay active together by getting outdoors for walks where possible, encouraging little games such as spotting the yellow cars, or not treading on the cracks in the pavement. Pull-along and ride-on toys are also brilliant for supporting physical development, coordination, and confidence.

Continue to read together regularly, before bed or for some quiet time during the day. This will allow her time to wind down after some energetic play, it will build her imagination and language skills, and will encourage a lifelong love of books and reading.  

While the above indicates what you can expect to see your toddler doing this month, it is important to keep in mind that all children are unique and will develop at their own pace. If you have any concerns about your baby’s development, talk to your doctor or health visitor.

Jen Dowding, Baby massage and baby yoga instructor, Basking Babies Laindon & Orsett

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