Babies this age are maturing rapidly, and so is their
understanding of the surrounding world. As they grow, they'll
be seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching things that are
Between 1 and 2 years old, your baby's sight will improve
dramatically. By age 2, these young toddlers usually have 20/20
vision and can see details and appreciate all colors.
Your role is to provide pleasant, stimulating visual
information. Picture books, colorful toys, and kids their own
age are great things for babies to look at and learn about.
Steer clear of disturbing or scary images, though - your
toddler is not able to distinguish between the real and the
Take your little one on frequent outings. The park, the
grocery store, and a friend's house can all provide interesting
and novel sights.
No matter when toddlers say their first words, they'll
already understand much of what is said to them before that.
Your child should be able to respond to commands ("Roll
the ball to Mommy or Daddy") and be fully aware of the names
of familiar objects and family members.
By about 15 months, your child will be able to point to
different body parts, even if he or she can't yet tell you
their different names. This shows that your baby's hearing is
functioning well and language skills are developing.
Although toddlers know a handful of words, most still indicate
their wants and ideas in nonverbal ways. They enjoy the other
pleasures of hearing: listening to children's songs and music,
laughing and yelling with friends in the park, or having you read a
Taste and Smell
With their newfound language skills toddlers will tell you
which tastes they prefer and which they dislike. At this age
most like bland foods the best. Pasta, dairy, and chicken tend to
But don't forget to offer a variety of foods to taste -
fight the urge to serve only what your little one likes.
Research shows that it can take a few attempts before a child
will accept a new flavor. Just keep providing opportunities to try
new things, and one day your child will surprise you by
Help your child label tastes and smells by using descriptive
words during meals or trips to restaurants.
Although toddlers may seem too busy to enjoy a cuddle or
kiss, such affection is still a necessary part of their lives.
Your child is experiencing and understanding so much more, but
still needs to feel loved and secure. Take every opportunity to
Don't forget that little fingers this age will be into
everything. Hopefully you've already childproofed your home
well, but take another look around from a toddler perspective and
put unsafe items out of reach. Then you can encourage your child to
touch and learn as much as possible.
Toddlers also start to use their hands to show frustration or
look for attention, so don't be surprised if your little one
starts hitting. Although very common, teach your child that hands
are not for hitting. Initially, finding a distraction may be all
that is needed; however, using "time-outs" may be
necessary if the hitting persists.
Should I Be Concerned?
By now you have probably addressed any concerns you've had
about your baby's eyesight, but be sure to contact your doctor
if any of these irregularities develop:
- eyes that wander in or out
- inability to see or recognize distant objects or people
- persistent tearing, fluid discharge, crusting, or redness of
- eyes that don't move together
- frequent squinting or sensitivity to light
- droopy eyelids
- pupils of different sizes
- excessive eye rubbing or scratching
Hearing problems may become more apparent as
speech emerges. Some kids speak earlier or later than others,
but there should be signs that they can understand simple
instructions even if they are not yet using many words.
Don't hesitate to report any concerns to your doctor,
especially if you feel your child is not babbling or responding to
your speech patterns. Chronic ear infections can sometimes leave
kids with excessive fluid buildup that can interfere with healthy
hearing. Special tests can check for hearing loss at any age.
It's common for parents to feel concerned or frustrated with
their toddler's behavior, as kids love to touch and
explore everything. They're naturally very busy and curious
little people, so it's important to make sure that yours has a
safe environment to explore. If you're not sure about how to
guide your toddler's behavior, talk to your doctor.
Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: August 2008
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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