Growth and development at 17 months old
The word “no” will come easily at this age and they will quickly learn how to register their protests and demands. Expect some opposition to your requests, especially when you need to disengage them from an activity they are enjoying. Stiffening in your arms, throwing back their head, and squealing in protest are all common forms of tantrums. These behaviors can come as a surprise to some parents who, until now, may not have seen any indication that their child had a will of their own! Remember that you are the parent, you are in control, and your toddler is learning about boundaries, rules, and self-control. It’s all part of growing up.
Your toddler could be getting a little big for their crib now, but it’s still a little early for them to move into a toddler or twin-size bed. Make sure they can still move freely and aren’t restricted by the crib sides. If the top rail is at their chest height or lower then they will need to start sleeping in a bed. Avoid using lots of bulky bed linen and pillows in their crib at this age. Adventurous toddlers can use these to form a step and hoist themselves up and over the upper crib rail. Scan your toddler’s room for unprotected power points, unsealed toiletries, curtain cords, and potentially harmful substances. Your toddler’s brain is still too immature to know what is safe and what isn’t.
Play and interaction at 17 months old
What you can expect at 17 months old
Sometimes your toddler’s behavior may make you frustrated and even angry as they exert their will and demand their own way. Their behavior may quickly alternate between being delightful and cuddly to demanding and angry. Sometimes it will be necessary for you to take a deep breath and walk away for a few moments. This is OK! Just make sure they are in a safe place such as their crib or playpen. They are still too little to understand logic or for you to provide a long explanation. It is your calm but firm actions that will mean the most to your toddler. Combined with love and affection, giving clear directions, setting boundaries, and being consistent, this basis will provide the best environment to positively shape their behavior.
Try to remember your toddler will not be deliberately setting out to be difficult. Their brain is still developing and being molded by their experiences. Children who grow up in homes where their parents commonly show aggression, chaos, or anger learn that these are normal emotions. If you feel as if your own childhood experiences are having an impact on how you care for your toddler, speak with a counselor. Repeating the patterns of abuse from one generation to the next can only be stopped by acknowledging there are problems and then doing something constructive about them.
Food and nutrition at 17 months old
They may want to eat more or less at each meal, may favor some foods over others, and take a liking or rejection to some foods. Much like adults, toddlers can change their mind about what they are willing to try or flatly refuse. Sometimes they may want to be more adventurous and at least have a taste of a new food, and other times they may only eat the same foods for days on end.
Avoid giving your toddler juice, tea, or sweetened fluids. You should not be giving them anything other than milk and water at this age. Their teeth are so vulnerable to decay that any substance which contains sugar will increase their risk of cavities. Snacking on sweet foods throughout the day can also increase the risk of dental decay.
If your toddler is still using bottles, consider stopping this month. Expect some emotional turmoil as they adjust to a sippy cup, cup with a straw, or child-sized open cup with handles.
Keeping Your toddler healthy at 17 months old
Simple measures can help your toddler stay well. Bathing, frequent diaper changes, hand washing, immunizations, tooth brushing, and limiting their exposure to sick people will all help.
It may not always be obvious when your toddler is becoming sick. It is common for children in this age group to become quiet, show a disinterest in food, fuss, or have other subtle changes in their behavior. Often when they are in the early stage of an illness and before any other symptoms emerge, they can be particularly clingy.
If you sense your toddler may be coming down with an illness, plan for a few days at home. This is often the time when illnesses are the most contagious.
- Close doors to rooms that you prefer your toddler doesn’t access. This simplifies family life and will reduce your stress levels by not having to constantly monitor where they are.
- Get some nursery rhymes and children’s music and play them at home and in the car. Singing and reciting rhymes can be a great way to defuse a building tantrum and helps enormously with language development.
- If your toddler won’t keep still to have their fingernails or toenails cut, do this when they are asleep.
- Your toddler will be using both of their hands equally now and it won’t be clear which will be their dominant hand. It will be clearer if they are going to be right or left-handed closer to preschool age.
- Don’t worry if your toddler looks bow- legged. This is part of the normal leg development, and it can take several years before a child’s legs take on their permanent appearance.
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.