Pay attention to these significant toddler indicators that show your little one’s growth is on track.

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In no time, your baby is a toddler! Not only is he moving around more, he’s also becoming aware of herself and his surroundings.

Your little one is also achieving developmental milestones — skills a child can do by a certain age — such as taking his first step, waving “bye-bye”, and even talking a little. And playing teaches your peewee social skills, like learning how to share and play “nicely”, and how to resolve conflicts.

Milestones are useful markers of a child’s progress, so refer to our checklist for a general idea of the changes you can expect as your toddler progresses:

PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES

1) Throwing and kicking a ball

Hurrah, your Energizer Bunny just kicked a ball! Most toddlers who are between 18 and 24 months old can already stand, lift the foot by maintaining body balance, and kick a ball (some children can catch a ball by age 3 or 4).

Kicking not only helps bubba develop body-eye coordination, it also improves their attention span.

Teach your child how to use her feet instead of hands to roll a small soft ball back and forth between the two of you. Show her how to throw by rolling the ball back and forth — from varying distances — as you move further apart with each pass. Soon, she will want to throw it back to you.

2) Climbing (12 to 24 months)

Climbing helps your child to develop the coordination she needs to walk up the stairs, for example. How about letting her practise by climbing up the sofa? Be sure to clear some space and place cushions or pillows on a carpeted floor. Or bring her to a playground where she can climb onto toddler-friendly equipment.

Remember not to let your curious mite climb onto tables, countertops and high stools and anchor bookcases to the wall and clear shelves of things that might topple over on your little one. Set up gates at the top and bottom of the stairs and always hold her hand and help your child as she climbs up and down the stairs safely.

Avoid [potty] training your child for weeks or months on end. …commencing potty training too early may only end up causing a lot of frustration for both of you.

3) Potty training (18 to 36 months)

The average age for potty training is 35 months for girls and 39 months for boys, according to a study by the Medical College of Wisconsin.

But you shouldn’t rush to potty train your tot unless she shows the following signs of readiness:

* She has control of her bladder and bowels.

* She is willing to cooperate.

* Your child tries to pull off her soiled diaper.

* Hiding when she needs to poop or pee.

* Awaking dry after a nap.

* Copies your behaviour whenever she sees you using the toilet.

* Tells you she wants to go or has just gone in her diaper.

* Squats or crosses her legs when she needs to go.

When your child displays the abovementioned signs of readiness, guide her to the potty by saying, “Let’s use the potty”. Play up the fun with activities like picking out rewards or create a special potty progress chart together ― don’t forget to heap on the praise!

Also, if you observe your child pulling down her pants and gets on and off the toilet, put her in training pants and observe her behaviour. If she has several accidents then she’s not ready but if she only has a few and is upset, you’re on the right track.

But do take note, you should avoid training your child for weeks or months on end. Also, commencing potty training too early may only end up causing a lot of frustration for both of you.

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SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL MILESTONES

4) Pre-reading (12 to 36 months)

Language development is an essential part of your baby’s socialisation. Some 50 per cent of your toddler’s speech that should be understandable by age 2. Your mini-chatterbox will soon be repeating the phrases and words that she hears from you, both good and bad!

Hone your child’s language skills by reading aloud. Fuel her imagination by letting her gaze at colourful pictures as you tell stories or sing songs and recite nursery rhymes together. Teach her early reading skills such as:

* How to open a book.

* How to read from left to right.

* Books tell a story.

* Stories have a beginning and an end.

Encourage your child’s love of reading by:

* Reading aloud.

* Letting her play with books, so she gets familiar with them.

* Keep reading brief — around five minutes. Tots have a short attention span.

* Engage her: Let her find a tree or an elephant.

* Don’t stop junior from grabbing the book you’re reading to her. Let her explore it on her own. Just cuddle her as she looks on.

Milestones aren’t set in stone, so don’t be anxious if bubba has a delay in reaching hers. Most developmental delays are not serious and children eventually catch up with early detection and intervention.

5) Gaining independence (18 to 36 months)

Your little one is becoming more aware that she’s an individual, like insisting on doing things on her own. For instance, she might refuse to hold your hand while walking together or throws a tantrum when you say “no” to something she wants to do. Give your peewee room to grow by:

* Allocating more time in your schedule, especially when bringing your child outdoors. Give her time to get ready if she insists on doing things herself — like brushing her teeth, dressing up or putting on her shoes.

* Letting your busy butterfly help with the chores, like watering the plants.

* Being patient. If bubba is feeding herself or buttoning her top, just let her keep trying. Don’t step in. Whenever possible, encourage your child to try new things for herself, even if it’s only for a few seconds.

6) Learning empathy (24 months)

At this age, junior is trying to make the first connections between her own feelings and behaviour, and those of other people.

Here’s how you can help her develop empathy:

* Teach your little one to cope by identifying different types of emotions for her. For instance, reassure her it’s okay to feel sad when she has lost her favourite toy.

* Watch your own emotions. Share how you feel — anger, sadness or disappointment — with your child, but don’t overreact to the situation, which can make her feel anxious or scared.

Don’t fret if bubba has a delay in meeting these milestones

Milestones aren’t set in stone, so don’t be anxious if bubba has a delay in reaching hers. Most developmental delays are not serious and children eventually catch up with early detection and intervention.

If junior tries but fails at something, distract her and restore her confidence with a task that she can do. If your toddler regresses, communicate constantly by talking or singing — and encourage repetition. Read daily to reinforce speech and language capabilities.

However, you should talk to your child’s doctor if she displays the following signs:

* Can’t throw a ball or jump.

* Can’t climb the stairs with alternating feet.

* Has trouble scribbling or drawing.

* Strangers find it difficult to understand her when she talks.

* Isn’t interested in other children.

* Avoids eye contact.

* Has trouble seeing or hearing things.

* Isn’t using three-word sentences.

* Doesn’t understand simple instructions.

* Is extremely sensitive to certain sounds, textures or lights.

* Doesn’t play make-believe.

* Loses the skills he had previously.

Photos: iStock

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