Toddler: Your Toddler's Fourth Year

Your little baby sure has grown into a wonderful toddler! Here is what to expect development-wise in his/her fourth year (36 to 48 months).

One doesn't realize it until they become a parent, but babies really grow up fast. One day you are holding your baby in your arms as they drift off to sleep and the next day it seems they're already crawling around and falling asleep in their own beds. Shirts and shorts bought in the beginning of the summer season are fitting snug by the end of summer. Your child is growing both physically and mentally. Here are some developments you can expect during your toddler's fourth year (36 to 48 months).

Your child is becoming more and more like a little adult and leaving behind (albeit, not completely) his more childish ways. Instead of greedily hanging on to his toys and refusing to play with other children, he is beginning to learn how to share with others and be more generous. Whereas he may have felt uncomfortable or simply uninterested in playing with groups of children, he is now starting to realize how much fun he can have being part of a group of playing children. He can feel sympathy for a person or animal that has been wronged or hurt.

It will seem to you like his vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds. His use of merely phrases will grow to the use of full sentences. Instead of saying, "play with ball" he will say something more like, "I want to play with the ball." He is also starting to become more curious of the environment around him and will probably pummel you with questions. Be patient with him as he asks why the sky is blue or why your stomach is bigger than his friend's dad's stomach. This is his way of learning everything that he can. His mind is like a sponge, so fill it with interesting facts and good manners. To help his vocabulary grow even larger, be sure to continue reading to him every day and answer the questions he will undoubtedly have about the scenarios and characters in the books. You may also notice that he loves to tell you stories that he has made up, so be a great listener.

Physically, he is becoming a little more powerful and steady. He will be running and jumping and will love to play catch with you, although he may not be the best thrower or catcher just yet. Be sure to take him places to enjoy the outdoors and allow him to be physically active so he does not become a young couch potato.

By this time, he will more than likely be totally potty trained, although he may have an accident from time to time if forced to wait too long. He is brushing his own teeth in the morning and at night (provide him a stool, in case he is not high enough to reach the sink). In terms of eating, he is also beginning to use not only his child-sized spoon, but regular utensils like a fork and spoon.

When he draws, he may start drawing in much more detail. Those little blobs he used to draw and proclaim were you in a red dress are becoming more refined. Instead of just swirls of color, he is starting to draw people with arms and legs. Be sure to practice writing with him and allow him to copy basic geometric shapes like circles and squares. Also, with your help, he will be able to count to ten, so be sure to get him plenty of books that help him with counting.

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