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Toddler Care: Your 13 Month Old Toddler

Feb 27, 2022 | 2 Minutes Read

Now that you have a toddler in the house it will be as though you’re on a grand voyage of discovery each day. This is a lovely age, if a little exhausting for parents. Each day, you’ll need to be vigilant in scanning their environment for safety hazards. Try not to restrict their opportunities for growth and discovery; after all this is how they will learn about the world and all the fascinating things in it.

Although your toddler will communicate what they want—and maybe quite strongly—you will know what they need. A regular routine in your family’s life will help your toddler feel secure. You will find your toddler’s tolerance for long hours of shopping or being out of their own routine very limited. Take it in stride when they protest. As they grow and their verbal skills mature, they will be able to communicate more clearly with you what they want. At 13 months this is still a way off, so you’ll need to be pretty skilled at interpreting their early attempts at getting their point across.

Growth and development at 13 months old

If your toddler isn’t walking yet, they are likely pretty close. Parents who walked early themselves often have children who show the same ability. Expect your toddler to walk with their legs spread more apart. This will help them maintain balance, even if they look like they just got off a horse. As they become more confident, their legs will come together and they will adopt a more classic heel-to- toe gait instead of placing their entire foot on the ground with each step.

Developmental milestones are intended as a guide, so don’t become upset if your little one does not yet meet the criteria. You’ll find your toddler will have times when they don’t seem to be progressing at all with their development. Then, suddenly, away they go!

Your job is to provide a stimulating and safe environment for them to grow and learn. No need to push your toddler to develop new skills. They are likely to only become frustrated and lose interest. Aim to see your role as being supportive and encouraging, rather than pushing them. Remember that no matter how connected you feel to your 13-month-old, they are separate and unique individuals, with their own brain and abilities.

Expect a lot of inquisitiveness, curiosity, and interest this month. Your toddler will be into cabinets, under beds, and climbing onto any surface they can reach. This is a busy age and from the moment they are awake, they’ll be off. Your toddler will still be picking up the smallest items on your floors and place everything in their mouth.

Play and interaction at 13 months old

This is the age where push toys are very popular. Little wagons or anything with handles which can be pushed or pulled along are great. Cause and effect toys are also very popular and will teach your toddler about being able to control an outcome. Expensive toys are not necessarily better. Toddlers love simplicity so save your cardboard boxes and paper bags, empty cartons, and wrapping paper. They are all likely to become your 13-month-old’s favorite toy!

What you can expect this month:
  • A little more of your toddler’s personality will show as they learn to exert their own wants and desires. The word “no” will be added their vocabulary.
  • Spontaneous hugs and affection, especially when your toddler is tired. There will be moments when you are reminded that they aren’t so big after all, especially when they first wake up or when it’s time for bed.
  • Messy eating and lots of playing with food. Don’t expect too much of your toddler in terms of table manners. They won’t be able to use that spoon quite yet but will want to try. They will want to eat with their hands and smear food everywhere.
  • Not knowing what is safe to touch and what is not. You will need to child-proof your house. Put breakable items away for a couple of years or on a high shelf. Invest in cabinet locks, outlet covers, and safety gates.
  • Lots of baths, especially if it’s summer. Baths are a nice way to cool off, fill a bit of time, or just have fun. Remember, at 13 months your toddler is still too small to be left in a bathtub alone for even a second, so sit on the floor beside them or hop in yourself and join the fun. Show them how to make bubbles, have a supply of toys and cups, and rediscover your own inner child.

Food and nutrition at 13 months old

Around the time of a child’s first birthday, their appetite often changes. If your toddler isn’t eating as much, don’t despair; this is very common. This stage reflects a general slowing down of a child’s growth. Your toddler still needs to be offered foods from the following food groups each day:
  • Milk or dairy foods, around 3 to 5 servings a day. If you are still breastfeeding, keep it up! There are significant benefits for both you and your toddler in continuing to feed for as long as you’re both happy.
  • You can stop using formula now and use whole cow’s milk. If your toddler is getting too much milk, they may be low in iron and may not want to eat solid food that they need.
  • Fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, cereal, and breads need to be provided in their diet.
  • Try not to worry too much if your toddler isn’t eating as much on a particular day. It is their total intake over a few days that matters.
  • Make sure you offer your toddler water to drink if thirsty, not juice or milk. Water is better for their teeth and won’t add extra calories to their diet.

Keeping your toddler healthy at 13 months old

If your toddler missed their 12-month vaccinations, make an appointment today. Get into the habit of washing your toddler’s hands before they eat and before they go to bed. Let them see you practice reasonable hygiene practices around the house. Your toddler’s immune system is designed to handle thousands of toxins each day. There is evidence that allergies may be on the rise because we have been too careful insulating our children from germs. Look for a healthy, workable balance in your own home.

General tips

  • Take care of yourself as well as your toddler. Don’t neglect the basics when it comes to diet, exercise, and self-care. Make an appointment for a massage, haircut, or dentist if you haven’t been recently.
  • Check your baby’s car seat. Adjust the straps if they are too tight but make sure your baby cannot get out of the seat. Ensure it is strapped into the care correctly and is the correct type for your child. Make sure to know your state’s laws around car seats and car seat safety.
  • Develop strict rules about driveway practices. Check behind your car, use back-up cameras, or other clear prompts that will assure the driveway is clear and it is safe to backup.
  • If you smoke, make sure you aren’t in the same room as your baby when you have a cigarette. Babies of parents who smoke are at more risk of developing respiratory infections, asthma, ear infections, and long-term health problems as they mature.
  • You can move your baby into their own room now if they’ve been sharing your room. You may want to do this gradually or just over the course of a day. At 13 months, toddlers can disturb their parent’s sleep and be equally disturbed themselves by room sharing. The safe sleep recommendations to prevent SIDS or suffocation deaths are generally for the first year of life.

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.