By age two, your toddler should be eating three healthy meals a day, plus one or two snacks. They can eat the same food as the rest of the family. Do not fixate on amounts and do not make mealtimes a battle. Do, however, pay attention to adopting healthy eating habits and making healthy food choices as a family. Sitting as a family at mealtime is the beginning of a good habit too!
At age two, they can use spoons, drink from a cup with just one hand, and feed themselves a wide variety of finger foods. While they can eat properly, they’re still learning to chew and swallow efficiently.
Vitamin supplements are rarely necessary for toddlers who eat a varied diet. However, supplemental iron may be needed if your child eats very little meat, iron-fortified cereal, or vegetables rich in iron. Large quantities of milk (more than 32 ounces [960 ml] per day) also may interfere with the proper absorption of iron, thus increasing the risk of iron deficiency. Your child should drink 16 ounces (480 ml) of low-fat or nonfat milk each day. This will provide most of the calcium he/she needs for bone growth and still not interfere with his/her appetite for other foods, particularly those that provide iron.
A vitamin D supplement of 400 IU per day is important for children who are not regularly exposed to sunlight, are consuming less than 32 ounces per day of vitamin D – fortified milk, or do not take a daily multivitamin supplement containing at least 400 IU of vitamin D. This amount of vitamin D can prevent rickets.
Modeling appropriate language helps your child develop appropriate language skills.
Two-year-old children should begin using 2-word sentences or phrases such as, “want milk,” “have cookie,” “go home.”
Two-year-old children also should be able to follow simple 1- or 2-step commands such as “Pick up the doll and bring it to me.”
Read to your child every day. Many toddlers love to read the same story over and over. This is normal. Ask your child to point to pictures of objects, animals, or people on the page. If the story is familiar, pause every now and then for your child to insert a phrase or sound to help tell the story or to finish a familiar sentence or phrase.
Encourage your child’s language development by reading books and singing songs to her and by talking about what you both are seeing and doing together.
Many children struggle to respond quickly at this age, so talk and ask questions slowly so that your child has the opportunity to respond without pressure. Praise all efforts to respond and repeat what is said in an affirming way.
If you notice your child is squinting, holding books very close to their face, or failing to look at things you are pointing out to her, tell their doctor. He or she may have a vision issue.
Praise your child for good behavior and accomplishments.
Spend individual time with your child, playing with them, hugging or holding them, taking walks, painting, and doing puzzles together. Focus on activities that are enjoyable and of interest.
Listen to and respect your child.
Appreciate your child’s investigative nature, and avoid excessively restricting his explorations. Guide him through fun learning experiences.
Give your child opportunities to assert himself. Encourage self-expression.
Help your child express such feelings as joy, anger, sadness, fear, and frustration.
Promote a sense of competence and control by inviting your child to make choices limited to 2 equally acceptable options when possible. For example, allow him to choose between 2 kinds of fruit when picking out a snack.
Your child varies in how he reacts to different situations and he will quickly learn the different ways in which his parents and other family members respond to his actions and requests. Encourage family members to be consistent, patient, and respectful in how they respond to him.
Toilet Training Tips
Encourage toilet training when your child is dry for about 2 hours at a time, knows the difference between wet and dry, pulls pants up and down, wants to learn, and can tell you when they are about to have a bowel movement.
Here are some ways to help your child be successful: Dress them in easy-to –remove pants, establish a daily routine, place on the potty every 1 to 2 hours, and provide a relaxed environment by reading or singing songs while she is on the potty.
Children use the toilet more frequently than adults, often up to 10 times a day. Plan for frequent toilet breaks when traveling with your child, even if you are out for a short time.
Help them wash their hands after diaper changes or toileting and before eating. Make sure to wash your own hands often.
Clean potty chairs after each use.
Teach them to sneeze/cough into a tissue or their shoulder or elbow. Teach your child to wash hands after using a tissue.
Soap and water is sufficient for cleaning your child’s toys.
If your child is in child care, provide personal items such as blankets, cups, combs, and brushes for individual use.
Television Viewing Tips
The AAP recommends that children older than 2 years old should limit television and video viewing to no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality programming per day.
If you let your child watch TV, watch together and talk about what you see.
Be aware that the TV show may be appropriate for your child, but the commercials may not be.
Choose alternatives for together time after the allotted time for watching TV, such as reading, listening to music or playing games.
Be sure that the car safety seat is properly installed in the back seat according to the manufacturer’s instructions and the vehicle owner’s manual. There should be no more than a finger’s width of space between your child’s collarbone and the harness strap.
The back seat is the safest place for children to ride.
Do not start your vehicle until everyone is buckled up. Children watch what parents do, so it is important for you to model safe behaviors by always wearing your safety belt.
All children should see the dentist by age two.
We will check your child’s lead and iron levels at this visit.