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Toddler Care: Your 19 Month Old Toddler

Feb 28, 2022 | 2 Minutes Read

You’ll certainly know there’s a toddler in the house now–just think about all the toys and mess scattered throughout. Something will catch your toddler’s eye and become their new favorite thing for a little while. Then it will be cast aside in favor of the next best thing. Don’t take your 19-month-old’s busy-ness too seriously or worry that they can’t focus for too long. Having a short attention span is characteristic of this age and is entirely normal.

It’s also completely age-appropriate for your toddler to protest and escalate easily to frustration. This is not an indication that they will always be impatient, it’s just that they don’t yet have the cognitive ability to understand how things work. Blocks which fall over when they’re stacked too high; shape toys that aren’t inserted in their matching holes; and even toys that won’t line up and sit as they should do may all create a fresh outburst.

Stay calm and in check of your own emotions when your toddler escalates. They still need your help to learn how to regulate their emotions and not feel overwhelmed by their angry feelings.

But it’s not all angry frustration at 19 months. This is also the age when humor makes an appearance and you’ll find your toddler has discovered how to laugh! If you flash a silly face or make a little joke, tickle them gently, or sing a silly song, they will understand the ridiculousness of it all and let you know it.

Growth and development at 19 months old

Are you noticing your toddler’s clothes seeming a little tight these days? Or did they just wake up one morning, having seemingly grown overnight? Reassure yourself that this is in fact is probably true. Children do grow more when they are asleep; this is when they release growth hormones. They are also conserving energy and consolidating memories which are all vital processes in their development. Your toddler’s growth now will have slowed down compared to their growth in the first 12 months so don’t expect the same patterns of weight gain as previous months.

Your toddler is likely to grow more during the spring and summer and slow down a little during the cooler months of the year. They will go through periods where their growth seems to plateau, and then it seems like someone flipped the switch and away they went into another growth spurt. Stops and starts—also called intermittent growth—seems to be the usual pattern of development over the toddler years.

Play and interaction at 19 months old

Busy and active are the words to describe your 19-month-old. From the moment they wake up to the moment their little head hits the pillow they’ll be into everything. Which means you’ll need to be vigilant about where they are and what they’re doing. If they are out of sight and there’s an odd silence, be assured that your toddler is up to something.

Keep gates across doorways and stairs. Close doors if you want to limit their access to certain rooms. Teach them what’s involved in climbing and descending stairs and make sure they always go down backwards. Show them how to use the handrail and encourage them to wait for you to come be with them.

Although this is an independent stage for your toddler, they will still need your help to engage in play. You’ll become very used to hearing your toddler calling you throughout the day now (and perhaps the night), which is why many parents develop a touch of selective deafness at this time.

Constant calls for “mama” or “dada” at various levels of intensity will make you feel as if you are at their beck and call. They will also need comforting when life just gets a little too much for them. Just when you think your toddler is growing up too quickly, they will remind you that they are still very young.

What you can expect at 19 months old

New words and sounds will come from your toddler this month, some more intelligible than others. They’ll be learning how to string 2 to 3 words together such as “my ball here,” and they will able to identify familiar people by name. They’ll also look for family pets and make different animal noises when they spot one. Cows may be known as “moos” dogs as “woof woofs” and cats as “meows.” At 19 months toddlers love to mimic, so if you’re prone to a little swearing watch your own language— someone is listening!

You’ll have a tired little person in the household each night, and by 7PM or 7:30PM, they will be looking for their bed. Most toddlers still need around 12 hours sleep each night; without it, they’re pretty cranky. When combined with a nap of 1.5 to 2 hours, this is enough for most toddlers to get through their day with sufficient enthusiasm.

Expect your toddler to be involved in everything you are these days. They will want to help you and be part of your world. Gone are the days of you being able to leave an orderly pile of papers or a project sitting in a corner. Before you know it, your piles will be rearranged and relocated to the farthest reaches of the house.

Food and nutrition at 19 months old

If your toddler isn’t interested in trying new foods, offer what’s unfamiliar with other foods they like. It is common for toddlers to need to see a new food 6 to 7 times before they give it a try. It is also normal for toddlers to be suspicious of anything new and this behavior will be reflected during mealtimes.

Limit main meals to around 20 to 30 minutes and snacks to around 10 minutes. Your toddler will lose interest in eating after a reasonably short time so be sensitive to their cues that they have eaten enough. Turning their head away when you offer more, saying no, trying to climb out of their booster seat or highchair, or pushing the plate away are clear signs that they have had enough. Avoid offering your toddler treats or rewards of food. This can set up poor eating patterns which can lead to problems later.

If your 19-month-old is drinking too much milk, it will impact on how much food they want to eat at mealtimes. More than 2 to 3 cups per day can be too much. If you are still breastfeeding more than 3 to 4 times a day it will impact your toddler’s appetite. If you’re finding your toddler is breastfeeding through the night and is picky with their meals then you would both benefit from stopping these overnight feeds and limiting breastfeeds to the daytime. Toddlers whose main source of nutrition is breastmilk tend to be low in iron and can develop anemia. Because of this, their appetite is reduced further. Talk with your pediatric healthcare provider about your toddler’s diet to make sure they are growing as they need to be.

Keeping your toddler healthy at 19 months old

Some toddlers seem to develop a permanent cold, especially during the winter months. Having an underdeveloped immune system and not yet having the opportunity to develop much immunity to the hundreds of cold viruses can cause them to be particularly susceptible. Viruses do not respond to antibiotics. That’s why there is no cure except time and support. If your toddler develops a cold make sure they have plenty of fluids to drink, give extra hugs, and schedule a few quiet days at home to support their immune system as it does its work.

Ear infections are also common in toddlers whose Eustachian tubes are shorter. If you’re finding your toddler is prone to middle-ear infections be reassured that most children grow out of this problem as they grow.

If you are worried about your sick toddler, if they refuse to drink, if they are vomiting, or if they are especially sleepy, have them checked by a doctor. Breathing difficulties or an elevated temperature are also signs that they need to be seen. They may also seem just “not quite right” or you may have a sense that they aren’t well. It’s important to follow your own instincts and have them checked if you are concerned. You are the expert when it comes to your toddler, and you know them better than anyone else.

General tips

Your toddler may recognize and complain now when they have a wet or soiled diaper.

If your toddler is prone to constipation, make sure they are drinking plenty of water. Reluctant water drinkers can often be persuaded to drink when in the bathtub or from a special or novelty cup.

Get your toddler a little bike or tricycle to wheel around on. Learning how to coordinate their leg movements and balancing will come with time. Take them to a park or a quiet part of a local bike path, but don’t venture too far from your car. Their legs will tire after a short time and you’ll be left carrying the bike.

Watch the toys your toddler has access to and make sure they’re suitable for this age. This is still an oral period of development and your toddler is likely to want to bite, chew, suck, or gnaw their way through the contents of their toy.

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.