Your toddler is no longer a baby! Here are some parenting tips on how you can help your little one grow into a healthy, happy toddler. Bear in mind, all toddlers develop differently. If you have concerns unique to your toddler’s development, it is best to seek professional advice.
This article was written in collaboration with Professor Daisy Chan, Chairperson, Chapter of Neonatologists.
Developmental milestones are behavioural or physical checkpoints in the toddler’s development as they grow. In general, your toddler should exhibit a variety of behaviours after his/her first birthday:
You are encouraged to assess your child’s development using the Development Checklist within the
Child Health Booklet. There is also the convenient option to use the
Digital Health Booklet to electronically capture your child’s developmental milestones and immunisation schedule.
Act early and talk to a doctor if your toddler is not able to walk independently, say any meaningful single word or identify his caregivers by 18 months old. If you suspect that your toddler does not obey instructions because he/she cannot hear you, bring your toddler to see a doctor to screen his/her hearing as soon as possible.
At this age, your toddler’s digestive system should be mature enough for him/her to eat the same food as you, as long as the food does not contain any added salt and sugar. Here are some ways to help your toddler eat well:
Read more about providing the nutrition your toddler needs.
You can also check out this
guide to early childhood nutrition and
recommended portions for toddlers.
Physical activity helps your toddler develop motor skills, build stronger bones and muscles, learn social and communication skills, and achieve a healthy weight. A toddler who is physically active will likely mature to be an active adult and continue leading a healthy lifestyle1.
As soon as your toddler is mobile (e.g. crawling, walking with or without assistance), he/she is ready to have at least
180 minutes of structured and unstructured physical activity spread throughout the day in a safe, supervised environment. Where possible, engage in daily outdoor play and allow your toddler to also engage in social play and interact with other toddlers early while being active.
Provide your toddler opportunities for free movement and floor play at home:
Do not be afraid to experiment and allow your toddler to explore active movement in different settings as well. Encourage your toddler to:
Check out these activity ideas to get your toddler moving.
Plan for family trips to the playground, the pool or the park. Not only does this introduce the different types of physical activities for your toddler’s development but it also facilitates bonding.
Young toddlers can be vulnerable to infections. Besides maintaining a safe, clean and healthy environment, cultivating good personal hygiene is also vital for their well-being.
The handwashing habit should be introduced into day-to-day activities as early as possible. Your toddler should be washing his hands often enough – before meals, after sneezing, after a trip to the washroom or after an outdoor play. Parents and caregivers, set a good example by demonstrating such personal hygiene habits too.
Read about the importance of clean hands for toddlers.
Equip your toddler with toothbrushing skills and share with them the importance of teeth cleaning early. Schedule your toddler’s first oral assessment six months later from the first tooth, at about one year old.
Watch this video to learn how to brush a toddler’s teeth.
Gaining independence is a natural and important part of growing up and self-discovery. You may feel sad to find that your toddler is no longer asking you for help, but take great pride and joy in watching your toddler gain confidence and achieve things on his/her own.
Provide your toddler with a safe environment to master new skills and build self-esteem. As your toddler increasingly seeks autonomy in making decisions, you will also need to introduce reasonable boundaries and start teaching them what is acceptable and unacceptable. Do not introduce
screen time as a way to manage your toddler’s behaviour. It is also important that your toddler does not engage in a behavioural tantrum, just to gain access to your screen-device, such as a phone app or electronic tablet.
You can pick up simple and practical strategies to manage your toddler's behaviour by signing up for the
Triple P (Positive Parenting Programme) Online programme offered by the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
As your child enters the toddler stage of life, he/she will become more active and increasingly independent. This could be a new challenge for some of you. Just as you are figuring out how best to manage your toddler, he/she is exploring the world and discovering his personality and interests as well. Find joy in the milestones, both big and small along this once in a lifetime journey. Remember, you are your child’s first influencer. During this period of tremendous growth, give your toddler a good head start in life by inculcating the right values and introducing healthy lifestyle habits.
Parent Hub for more useful tips and guides to give your child a healthy start.
The article has been endorsed by the following representatives, listed in alphabetical order by institutions: A/Prof Tan Lay Kok (Obstetrics & Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital), Dr Moira Chia Suyin (Consultant, Department of Paediatrics, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital), Ms Adeline Kooh Seok Koon (Asst Director, Nursing (Maternity), Mount Alvernia Hospital), Dr Angelia Chua (Family Physician Consultant, National Healthcare Group Polyclinics), Prof Lee Yung Seng (Group Director, Paediatrics, National University Hospital), Ms Susan Kok (Senior Asst Director, Nursing, Gleneagles Hospital, Parkway Pantai Group), Ms Helen Cruz Espina (Senior Lactation Consultant, Raffles Hospital Pte Ltd), A/Prof Yong Tze Tein (Head & Senior Consultant, O&G, Singapore General Hospital), Ms Fonnie Lo (Asst Director, ParentCraft Centre (Clinical) and Lactation Consultant, Thomson Medical Pte. Ltd).
1. Singapore Integrated 24-Hour Activity Guidelines for children under seven years launched.
KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. https://www.kkh.com.sg/news/announcements/singapore-integrated-24-hour-activity-guidelines-for-children-under-seven-years-launched
This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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