21-Month-Old: Your Little Dreamer

Now that your baby has hit the 21-month-old milestone, her imaginative powers might be on an all-time high! She is likely to have active dreams which could be so strong that they wake her up. Due to this, your 21-month-old baby might have some trouble sleeping. But worry not, there are some steps you can take that might help her sleep through the night. Keep on reading to know more about what a 21-month-old baby's development would look like and the milestones that she might surpass in this time.

21-Month-Old Baby Development Milestones

Your toddler is a character at this age, and you can expect every day to be an adventure. She’ll start to do new things, progress in her abilities in others, and reveal more of her personality. Though individual children develop at different rates, at around 21 months, you may see your little one does the following:

  • Learn to hide and seek:

Around this age, your toddler may love to play hiding games. She’ll remember where things are hidden and will enjoy playing hide and seek with you, too. These games can help her understand that even when she doesn’t see you, you’re still there, and she might love the thrill of waiting for you to spot her hiding behind the sofa.

  • Begin make-believe play:

All types of play help children learn, and by engaging in make-believe or pretend play your toddler is picking up on how relationships work and how people interact with one another. She might imitate things around her, like pretending to make a phone call or drive a car or make a toy a pretend drink.

  • Become a little possessive:

Your toddler may be showing signs of possessiveness, especially if you pick up another baby or if another child has a toy she finds attractive. Her possessiveness with her toys may make “mine” one of the top words in her vocabulary. Don’t worry, though; this is common for a child her age, and she’ll grow out of it.

How to Support Your 21-Month-Old Baby’s Development

You can support your 21-month-old’s development with activities like:

  • Introducing words associated with emotions:

Help your child learn to express her feelings by teaching her to describe her emotions using words like “mad,” “glad,” and “sad,” for example.

  • Making brushing your toddler’s teeth fun:

Getting those teeth cleaned twice a day is an essential part of your toddler’s daily routine, but until she can do it herself, you may find it a challenge. So why not try to make brushing teeth fun? Try playing peekaboo with her while brushing or letting her practice her brushing skills on her favourite stuffed animal or doll with an old toothbrush (without water or toothpaste).

  • Helping your little one burn off energy:

Most toddlers have so much energy they don’t know what to do with it. Encourage your child to be active and help her burn energy through play, with at least 30 minutes of adult-led activity and at least one hour of free play each day. Getting her into the habit of being active from an early age will continue to provide benefits as she grows up.

  • Getting your toddler to help in the kitchen:

Many children love helping in the kitchen, so you may want to get your little one involved with a few simple and safe tasks. Perhaps pick an easy recipe to try, go shopping together, and delegate simple tasks, like washing fruits and vegetables, measuring out ingredients like flour or sugar, or stirring. Make sure you always supervise your little one.

  • Support your little one if she is shy:

All children have their own temperaments, and it’s natural for some children to be shy at this age. If you notice that your little one takes a while to warm up to new people and new situations, be supportive and understanding and don't try to force her or push her into doing something. Give her the time she needs to move forward at her own pace, with you close by for support. A little patience will go a long way, but if you’re concerned, reach out to your child’s healthcare provider for advice.

  • Finding words in the world:

In addition to reading together with your child, help her notice words to "read" in the world around her. Point out traffic signs and street signs. Look for "open" and "closed" as you walk by stores and help her find "milk" on the milk carton and "dog" on the bag of pet food. Not only is she learning how to recognize certain words but she's learning that words are important and that they're all around her.

Mealtimes and Menus for Your 21-Month-Old

A healthy, well-balanced diet is important to support your 21-month-old’s growth development. Offer three meals and two snacks a day. Your little one’s diet should be made up of a variety of whole grains, protein, dairy, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats.

Introducing New Foods and Flavours

The exciting thing about being a toddler is that every day brings new experiences. You can help your little one develops her taste buds by introducing new foods and flavours at mealtimes. Here are a few ideas you can try to make things more interesting at breakfast, lunch, and dinner:

  • Try different ways to cook and serve vegetables:

You may discover your little one prefers sautéed carrots over steamed, or that she’ll eat steamed broccoli if it's placed standing up in a bed of mashed potatoes ("little trees in the snow").

  • Experiment with sauces:

Introduce new flavours by offering a few exciting sauces on the side, like hummus, guacamole, creamy dressings, or applesauce.

  • Get your toddler involved:

Take your little one to the grocery store and have her pick out some items. For example, you may want to take her to the fruit and vegetable aisle and have her choose a new veggie or fruit to try.

  • Eat together as a family:

Avoid making separate dishes for your toddler; instead, serve her what you and the rest of the family are having and lead by example. If she sees you enjoying your meal, she’ll be more willing to try a new food she sees you eating.

  • Experiment with old favourites:

If your little one is resisting trying new things, get creative and make some of her favourite dishes while adding something new in. Add a new vegetable as a pizza topping, for example, or put a new fruit on top of a scoop of ice cream.

21-Month-Old Baby’s Sleep Schedule

Most toddlers at this age need 11-14 hours of sleep with 1 nap per day.

However, your 21-month-old may struggle to get a good night’s sleep as dreams become more intense around this age.

Active Dreaming

Your little one may wake up at night because of her dreams or nightmares and she may struggle to tell the difference between her dreams and reality. There are a few things you can do to help your toddler get a peaceful night’s sleep, such as:

  • Being mindful of the stories you read before bed:

Try to keep the stories happy and calming and avoid any scary topics or those with characters that could inspire intense dreams.

  • Letting her sleep with a comfort item like a plush toy or a blankie:

These objects can help your toddler feel reassured and may help her feel safer as she falls asleep or if she wakes in the night.

  • Providing reassurance when needed:

If your toddler wakes up from a bad dream, provide reassurance that everything is OK and you are close by, so she’s safe. Just remember to keep nighttime visits brief and “boring” (don’t pick her up or turn the lights on, for example) to encourage her to fall back to sleep.

A Day in the Life of Your Toddler

No two days are the same with a toddler in the house, but here’s what a typical day may look like:

Your Toddler’s Health and Safety: Healthy Skin

Many toddlers have sensitive skin, and skin problems can arise from time to time. Here are some of the skin issues your toddler may experience:

  • Dry skin

Hot baths, low humidity levels, and other factors can cause dry skin.

  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis)

When this common condition is present, the skin appears reddened and dry, and fluid-filled bumps may also appear. If you suspect your child has or you’re unsure about the symptoms you’re seeing, ask your toddler’s healthcare provider for advice.

  • Rashes or contact dermatitis

Rashes or contact dermatitis can occur if skin comes into contact with an irritating substance or allergen.

Only your doctor can diagnose exactly what may be causing your little one’s red, sore, or irritated skin, and advise on a treatment plan.

However, there are measures you can take to little one's skin healthy and comfortable:

  • Apply a moisturizer. Choose one formulated for sensitive skin to help ease dryness and itchiness.

  • Bathe your toddler in lukewarm, not hot, water. Once you’ve bathed him, rinse his skin twice to remove any residual soap, which can irritate delicate skin.

  • Avoid harsh or irritating fabric. Clothing made with wool or synthetic material can irritate the skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

All toddlers develop at their own pace, and some toddlers may say more at a younger age than others, so there is no exact rule for what your 21-month-old should be able to say. Most toddlers can say a few words and around the age of 2 may even be able to put 2 words together to form a short sentence, but at 21 months old, your little one may still be a few months from this point.

Your Life as a Parent: Worries About Your Little One’s Development

As a parent of a 21-month-old baby, it’s normal to worry about your baby’s development. There might be few instances where you wonder if he is meeting all his 21-month-old milestones as he should. Well, you need to keep in mind that every child is unique and develops at a different pace.

We understand that it’s easier said than done but try avoiding any kind of comparison between your 21-month-old’s development to that of others. This applies even for comparisons between siblings, and to that of your older child at the same age.

If you are too concerned about your baby’s development, consulting with your baby’s doctor is the right option. He is the one who can provide reassurance and recommend what needs to be done next if required.

Items You Will Need This Month 

You might need some of the following baby gear this month: 

  • Toddler car seat. Your toddler is growing every day, so make sure they’re safe in their car seat. Check that your current model is appropriate for their height and weight. If your child is nearing the manufacturer's limits for height and weight, you may need to purchase a new toddler car seat.  

  • Toddler bed. Your toddler may likely be able to climb out of their crib if they haven’t already. You can switch to a toddler bed or to a mattress placed on the floor. Or you reconfigure their convertible crib so it becomes a bed. A toddler bed rail is also useful for ensuring your little one doesn’t roll off their new bed. 

  • Travel stroller. If you’re ready to travel with your toddler, you may find your regular stroller too bulky and cumbersome. Consider a lightweight travel stroller or an umbrella stroller, both of which can make getting around much easier. 

  • Potty chair. Potty training is approaching, and a potty chair can be helpful for your 21-month-old. Letting them choose one they like may make the training process go more smoothly. 

  Checklist for This Month 

  • Start a quote book. Your little one will start to say the funniest things, so why not jot down those adorable remarks so you can remember them in the years to come? Buy a cute notebook and when your child says something that makes you smile, write it down alongside the date. You might also like to add little pictures of your toddler or handprints and footprints to make the book extra special. 

  • Do some star and moon gazing. If it’s warm enough, go outside and look at the sky with your toddler. Show them how the full moon is different from a crescent moon and try to spot shooting stars. 

  • Plan ahead if you’re pregnant again. If you’re expecting another baby, it may be time to move your toddler out of the nursery or to adapt the room to fit two little ones well before your due date. You may also want to look over the baby gear you already have to see what you can reuse and what new baby essentials you need to buy. 

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