15 month old toddler
What should my 15 month old baby be doing?
Developmental: Most 15 month olds can walk well and some can walk backwards or run. Most can also crawl upstairs (so get those stair gates up!). They can stoop down and recover without sitting. They can build a two cube tower, and scribble on paper if you show them how. Toddlers at this age can drink from a cup, play by themselves, try to remove their own clothes and imitate a parent doing household chores. They may be able to use a spoon. They often say Mama or Dada (and pick the correct parent when doing so), and in general know at least 3-5 words. They may speak with mature sounding jargon, throwing in a real word they know here and there. Many 15 month olds can obey simple commands (even if the parent makes no gestures) and can point to 3 body parts. By this age they usually have true anxiety of strangers. This is the age when tantrums and attempted manipulation of the parent may begin, when some independence is asserted by the child, and when some children become pickier with food.
Finally, there is recent evidence that suggests that watching too much television may increase a child's chance of being more hyperactive or inattentive as they get older, so consider limiting television to one hour a day and avoiding shows that depict violence. Above all else, we encourage reading to children whenever possible, as this stimulation will encourage them to be better readers when they get older.
Sleeping: A 15 month old will sleep an average of 13-14 hours in a 24 hour period. This is a good age to develop (if you haven't already) a bedtime routine including teeth-brushing and a simple bedtime story or book. Use only a small amount of children's toothpaste (less than the size of a pea). Avoid putting the baby to sleep with a bottle in the crib. Now that baby may be able to pull herself up, it is important to lower the crib mattress to reduce the risk of falling, and remove the crib bumper pad so they cannot use it to climb out.
Feeding: At this age your toddler's appetite may decrease, which is normal because their growth rate slows down some. Fifteen month olds should be taking table foods (mashed or cut up when appropriate), and drinking from a cup (sippy or regular). Three meals a day are appropriate (at regular meal times with the family), with 2-3 snacks. Whole milk (3-4 cups a day) and water should be the main drink you child takes, limiting them to only one cup of juice a day if any. Avoid feeding the baby potential choking hazards, such as hot dogs (cut into coin shapes), grapes, hard candy, gum or peanuts.
Stooling: Most infants this age will have a bowel movement at least once every 2-3 days if not more often. As long as the bowel movements are soft there is no cause for concern. It is too early to attempt potty training yet.
What are the safety issues for a 15 month old?
CAR SEATS: The infant must be in a car seat, and if she weighs at least 20 pounds may be faced forward at this age, in the back seat. To learn more from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) regarding car seat safety, click here.
BURNS: Set the hot water heater to 120 F maximum. Cover all electrical outlets, and make sure electrical cords are not within reach.
POISONING: Keep the poison hotline number near the phone: 1-800-376-4766. All chemicals and household plants should be unreachable by the infants.
DROWNING: NEVER leave unattended in water (including the bathtub), even for a moment. Family pools should be fenced in and locked.
SUN EXPOSURE: Avoid direct sunlight exposure, or place sunscreen lotion on if outdoors for an extended period, SPF 30. Reapply the lotion every 2 hours while outdoors.
SLEEPING: Crib bumpers at this age may increase the risk of an infant climbing or falling out of a crib and should probably be removed. For more information about crib safety form the AAP, click here.
MONITORING: Never leave a toddler alone on the bed or dressing table, at any age. Baby walkers can be dangerous as well, especially in homes with stairs. Make sure you have window guards and stair gates if needed. Never leave them alone with a pet or sibling. Make sure you have a smoke detector in the home, and that you change the batteries at least twice a year. A playpen is a great idea at this age. Now that your child can walk, make sure they cannot leave the house without your help, and make sure that they are kept away from the road/driveway while outdoors.
CHOKING: Avoid toys with small parts. Also avoid the following foods: Peanuts, popcorn, hot dogs (cut coin-shaped), link sausages, carrot sticks, celery, whole grapes, raisins, tough meat, hard candy and gum. Make sure all solid food is cut into small pieces.
FIREARMS: Keep them locked up and unloaded!
SMOKING: Smoking can cause significant problems for infants. Toddlers exposed to cigarette smoke will grow up with a higher chance of getting ear, sinus, throat and lung infections. They will get more colds and those colds will last longer and have worse symptoms. If someone in the home smokes, encourage them to quit with the help of their physician. If they cannot quit smoking, then ask them to smoke outside and to wash their hands and face (and preferably change their shirt) before picking up the baby. Smoking in the car or in the home leaves chemicals behind that can still pose a risk to the child even if she is not present at the time--so always smoke outside if possible.
DISCIPLINE: Time-outs for bad or dangerous behavior is acceptable at this age, but it should be brief (no more than 1 minute), non-threatening (placing your child in a crib or playpen for time-out but not leaving the room) and consistent. At this age positive reinforcement may work better (praising your child for good behavior), and distracting them from potentially bad situations may also be useful.
The above information was obtained from a variety of sources including Nelson's Textbook of Pediatrics, the Denver Developmental Screening Form, Bright Futures, and American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines.