By his first birthday, your child will probably be able to hold a spoon and put it to his mouth – ut until he's around 15-18 months, most of the food will probably end up on the floor! It's not usually until the age of two that your child's hand/eye coordination will have developed enough for him to eat with a spoon.
- Give him a spoon to play with as early as possible – the more practise he gets, the better.
- Plan for a mess – that way you won't get stressed!
- Make food sticky rather than runny where possible, so that it stays on the spoon. This will help give your child a sense of achievement.
- Make meal times fun: buy cutlery of his own, cut his finger food into interesting shapes, or let him choose what to eat from a (limited) selection of offerings.
- Eat with him so that he can see how the professionals do it!
Despite his best efforts, an 18-month-old toddler won't be able to control his muscles well enough to do up buttons or zips, but he will be able to undo them. When this starts to happen, undressing will become a favourite pastime! Most toddlers discover that running around naked, with you in hot pursuit, is far more fun than getting dressed.
- Try making a game out of dressing. For example, ask him if his socks go on his hands. Toddlers love showing off their new skills, and can't resist putting you straight.
- Offer him a choice of clothes so he can assert his independence.
- Leave lots of time for dressing and undressing so no-one's under pressure.
By the time your child is two, he should be well on the way to having a full set of milk teeth, with 10 each on the top and bottom gums. He probably won't be able to squeeze a tube of toothpaste or brush his teeth properly until he's around five, but now is the time to encourage him to try brushing them on his own. Remember to finish off the job for him to make sure his teeth are really clean, and make sure he spits out the toothpaste.
- Make brushing fun - use a jolly toothbrush or some brightly coloured toothpaste.
- Brush your teeth at the same time as him, so that he can copy the up-and-down motion.
- Let him watch himself in the mirror - he'll be fascinated!
- If he has trouble spitting, try target practice at the drain in the sink to make it more fun.
On average, children begin potty training by the age of two-and-a-half years. But whenever your child is dry for two hours or more during the day, it's probably a good time to start. It's important not to push your child before he's ready, so wait for his cues. After around six months of using the potty, he'll probably be interested in using the toilet.
- Let him choose where he'd like to keep the potty, so that he knows where it is when he needs it.
- When he uses it, say 'Well done!' but don't make a really big deal of it, because if he has an accident, he may feel he's been naughty.
- When it's time to empty the potty, let him flush the toilet himself.