Toddler: Your Toddler's Third Year

As your child hits his 24 to 36 month stretch, what new developments can you expect from him?

Many parents turn to their children during the toddler years and inevitably ask each other, "Where did our baby go?" In the place of the pink newborn that was so dependent on them for food and love is a mobile child that wants nothing more than to assert his/her independence. During your child's third year, specifically months 24 to 36, he will make many long strides both physically and mentally, so here are a few things to get prepared for.

Even more so than when he was a baby, your child loves to have his routines all set. If you read him a bedtime story and tuck him in at night, he will want it every night, NOT just some nights. If bath time is at 7:30, then bath time should be at that exact time every night or else he is liable to get a bit cranky and out of sorts.

You will begin to notice that as each month passes, his attention span is getting to be longer and his memory is starting to get much better. Whereas before, his attention was the span of a gnat's, now he is able to focus on the matter at hand for minutes at a time before he gets bored and antsy. Also, you will notice that he is staring to remember names, faces and events more. That time his older brother accidentally broke his building block creation will be talked about for weeks and weeks.

As far as dressing goes, he is slowly but surely learning to dress and undress himself, so be sure to buy him clothes that have easy snaps and zippers, as opposed to clothes with tiny buttons that are hard for even adults to work with. You will still want to help him pair outfits together, but he is in the middle of an independence movement and may want minimal help.

Along with this new assertion of independence, you may notice that he is saying "No" much more than he used to and outright defying instructions you have given him. If you ask him to put his toys up, he may turn his back to you and absolutely refuse. Although it is easier said than done, be patient with him during these times as he is simply doing those things he can think of to make sure you know he is no longer a helpless baby.

He wants very much to be treated more like an adult and less like a baby, so buy him a backpack or easy-to-carry bag that he can carry with him when you go out shopping or running errands. Allow him to pack the backpack with a few select toys or some personal items (big colors and sheets of paper for drawing). This will make him feel like the happiest and biggest kid on the block.

Toilet training will more than likely take place anywhere from the 24 to 36 month range, so don't be upset or worried if your child does not yet know how to use the potty. During this time, you will probably want to invest in a potty training seat so that when he is ready to go, you'll be ready, too.

Since your child is much more mobile these days, make sure that your entire house has been outfitted with the proper child safety items, like locks for the cabinets and drawers and gates for the stairway. Finally, speak with your doctor about any immunizations that your child may need to have during his third year.

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