Growth & Skill Development
Tips for your toddler’s independence
Around her first birthday, your child will begin the transition from dependent baby to independent toddler. This will be a fun and exciting time for both of you. More than ever she’ll need your physical support, emotional encouragement, and patience.
Here are some ways to help your baby on her journey to independence:
- Encourage your baby to pull herself up to a standing position. Although she’ll bob and weave, she’s learning to become mobile. Clap, smile, and sound excited to show her how proud you are of her accomplishments.
- Introduce her to new, safe objects and foods. Give her objects that have a variety of textures, shapes, materials, and colors. Then let her explore them. As she holds them, describe the textures, tastes, sounds, and smells so that she can connect words to what she’s experiencing.
- Let your baby begin to help herself at bathtime. With your help she can learn to wash her body and even help dry herself off afterward. Be sure, however, never to leave her alone in the bathtub.
- Encourage your baby to play independently for short periods of time. Make sure she’s in a safe environment, such as a playpen, and leave her with some favorite toys. Peek in periodically to make sure she is happy and feeling secure.
- Don't rush or push beyond her abilities. She’ll progress when her little body and curious mind are ready.
- Teach your baby independence at the table. Your baby is getting old enough to eat many foods on her own. Place cut-up food pieces onto her plate and let her pick and choose. Keep an eye on her so that she doesn’t place too much food into her mouth at once.
- Let your baby drink out of a cup. Some weeks your baby may refuse the cup, but that’s okay. The key is to gradually develop the skills needed to drink from a cup, so she’ll be ready for the transition when the time is right.
- Give your baby a spoon at mealtime. After you’ve shown how a spoon works, let your baby try using it by herself. Be sure that baby wears a bib, and consider placing a spill cloth on the floor beneath the high chair.
- Give your baby a damp cloth and encourage her to wipe her mouth on her own. She will probably like that a lot better than your efforts to clean up!