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What are ways to help a toddler develop?

The following tips can help with your toddler's development:

  • Kids learn more from nonverbal signals than actual words. How you say something is just as important as what you say.
  • Finger paints may make a mess in the house, but art is good for the brain. Let the creative juices flow, even if you need to go to the garage to do so.
  • Get your child into the habit of washing his hands before eating, after playing outside and after using the bathroom (when he learns how). You don't want to be an over-the-top clean freak (some docs believe that makes kids more prone to allergies), but hand washing does help reduce the spread of germs.
  • Show him the fountain, the park bench, the bird, this and that, and on and on. Talk to your child. Teach him words by showing him the world.
  • Practice telling your child exactly what she did well ("Good jumping!") rather than giving general praise ("You're the best!"). Children learn and develop more if you honor their strengths rather than pump them with accolades they know you're saying just because you're the parent.
  • Don't leave home without your child's favorite blankie—and have an identical spare at home!
  • Ideal daily menu for a toddler: 100 percent whole-grain high-protein cereal, whole fruit and milk for breakfast; fruit or 100 percent whole-grain crackers (maybe with some cheese, or peanut or nut butter for protein), and water for snack; half a sandwich, applesauce and milk for lunch; yogurt for snack; protein, starch, colored veggie, fruit and water for dinner. You can also offer some milk before bedtime. (Don't forget to brush!)
  • If you can expose your child to two (or more) languages, do it. The brain structure of children who learn a second language after infancy but before age 5 shows more neural growth. Mamma mia!
  • Get out the pots and pans and let Junior play the kitchen band!
  • Talk, talk, talk to your child.
  • You should be comfortable choosing to "agree to disagree" with your pediatrician. But in some cases, choosing a different doc—one whose principles align more closely with yours—may be in order.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.