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Ways Babies and Toddlers Learn Skills

by Tania Cowling | August 1st, 2016 | Development, Infants/Toddlers

Toddler-playing-with-a-blockBabies and toddlers have distinct ways of learning skills and showing developmental milestones. It’s amazing what your little learner can accomplish in a short amount of time. I don’t really think you can prep for a milestone — it just happens. But, if you present your child with the appropriate toys and games, this helps these developmental skills surface.

Infants and babies learn by experiencing the environment, by means of their senses: hearing, smelling, feeling, and by all means tasting. Everything goes in the mouth! Infants love to see and hear things and especially love to be touched. Babies feel safe in a parent’s arms, experiencing the movements and hearing a parent’s words. Even if they don’t understand words, they are absorbing them.

As the baby grows older, freedom to move about safely is vital for exploration. Mobile infants begin to scoot and crawl. They also begin to use and manipulate tools. Examples are dipping a cup in water, climbing into a box, and pulling a toy with a bell that continues to clang. Their senses are developing everyday.

Babies are acquiring these new-found skills. They develop small muscle skills when they grasp, pull, push, mouth, and throw objects. As a mother I wasn’t too fond of the throwing part, but I realized this skill was needed in the milestone process. Babies also develop their first words, which are usually the names of important family members and/or objects in their world.

Toddlers learn with their whole bodies and not just their heads. They learn by doing, not necessarily by thinking. Toddlers definitely learn through exploration with a lot of fantasy and creation alongside. This is why adding props for productive play is so important. Make sure to give your toddler chances to figure out things on her own, while still remaining close if she asks for assistance.

Toddlers think differently from older children. For example, they believe that all moving things are alive. This period from 18 to 36 months is filled with exploration, questioning (you know, all the “whys”), discovery, and a continual determination to find meaning in everything they do. These little kiddos will repeat actions until they figure out how things work in their own way.

Since these little tykes are learning skills daily, make sure to provide picture books, puzzles, puppets, and alphabet blocks for language skills. Realistic toys will encourage toddlers to engage in “real-life” play. Make sure they have space for active play such as jumping, running, and dancing both indoors and outside. Their developing muscles need a workout.

Toddlers and twos are learning valuable social skills; however in playgroups make sure to provide several of the same type toy, as children of this age are not yet able to understand the concept of sharing. Temper tantrums and fighting don’t make for a happy child or parent.

Enjoy your child each day. You can be concerned about milestones, but don’t push it. Remember you can’t really prep for development; each stage is a support for the next one. Skills will happen!

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