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Toddler Care: Your 22 Month Old Toddler 

Mar 01, 2022

Invite some little friends over for your toddler to play with this month. Watch how they relate to each other and communicate in their own special ways. Some toddlers are more assertive than others and will make their feelings very clear. Others are more passive and will be slower to warm up. At 22 months some character traits are starting to become obvious. It can be fascinating to see the evolution of a toddler’s personality as they mature into the person they will become.

Although your toddler will still be in the middle of their parallel play phase, they will enjoy being with other children as well. Just like adults, they may have their favorites and parallel play more easily with some than others. If your toddler is at day care, they will be exposed to lots of different personalities—adults as well as children. This is generally seen as a positive thing as it helps children learn about human differences and how to be adaptable.

Growth and development at 22 months old

If you’re tired of changing diapers, you could consider starting toilet train. Signs of readiness include your toddler communicating they are wet or dirty, waking up dry from naps, and being able to hold it for long enough to get to the toilet. There is a lot of physical maturity that must take place in order for your toddler to be ready, so if they aren’t showing any interest, don’t stress it and wait. Some parents equate toilet training with intelligence, but this is simply not true.

You may also be thinking about moving your toddler from their crib to a bed now, especially if they are tall. This typically occurs somewhere between 2- and 3-years-old. There can be a period of adjustment until your toddler acclimates to their new sleeping environment. Be patient and consistent in your approach. Your toddler is old enough now to understand simple directions related to sleep.

You may want to record your toddler’s height on a part of a wall in the house and show your little one how big they are. Your toddler will still be growing in an on-again, off-again way. If it’s winter, you’ll notice their pant legs are getting just a little short. It’s a surefire way to tell they had a growth spurt.

Play and interaction at 22 months old

Encourage your toddler to develop an interest in nature by taking them outside, to the local park, or for walks around your block. A trip to the zoo or a duck pond will entertain them for hours. A bored and under-stimulated toddler is prone to whining and fussing. They also are more likely to look to their parents for entertainment, get upset, or throw a tantrum.

Use your imagination to initiate some games and then leave the rest to your 22-month-old. They are designed to seek their own stimulation and fuel their brain growth but will need your help to get started. If money is tight, find some gently used toys from secondhand stores and garage sales. Swap toys with friends who have children the same age. Rotate your toddler’s toys so the novelty of playing with something new is maintained. Toys don’t need to be complex to keep your toddler entertained. Look for ones that combine color and noise and that are interactive. Those which have a cause-and-effect function, such as a drum and drumsticks, are still popular for this age group.

Don’t expect your toddler to handle their toys gently or appreciate them as much as you do. Special toys which require parental supervision are likely to last longer, but they won’t be considered much fun if you need to be with them every time they’re brought out of the box.

What you can expect at 22 months old

Emotional meltdowns—tantrums—are common in this age group, particularly if the child is tired or bored. Your toddler’s brain is still a work in progress and there will be times when they resort to primitive responses. The way to manage tantrums depends on what type is occurring.

Tantrums which result from frustration, distress, fear, or misunderstanding are best dealt with by using empathy and reassurance. But tantrums that stem from the child demanding the parent do something or give in to their child’s demands are best managed by ignoring and walking away. Kids of this age can become upset very quickly and overwhelmed by the magnitude of their own feelings. When this happens, they really need their parents support to know they are not on their own.

Everyone else may seem like an expert when it comes to toddler management, but don’t be fooled. If your 22-month-old has a meltdown at the supermarket, don’t get caught up in other people’s opinions of how best to deal with them. Have a plan of action in case you need it and follow through. There may be times when you need to abandon your plans and make a quick exit.

Time your outings for when your toddler is neither tired nor hungry. Take some snacks with you and be organized. Being restrained in a stroller while being pushed around a shopping mall for hours is a recipe for an unpleasant tantrum.

Food and nutrition at 22 months old

Don’t let your toddler skip breakfast; it really is the most important meal of the day. If they’re not fond of cereal, offer them whole grain toast with healthy jam, fruit, yogurt, muffin, eggs, or whole-wheat pancakes. Let them see you eating breakfast. Offer them a cup of milk after their meal. Avoid adding sweet flavoring to their milk as this can lead to a reliance on it tasting sweet and a refusal to drink milk at all if flavoring isn’t present.

Unless your toddler has an issue with their growth or it has been prescribed by your healthcare provider, they do not need toddler formula. This tends to be high in calories and will satisfy their hunger but will impact their interest in meals. If your toddler won’t drink plain whole milk, try a gradual weaning process of adding less flavoring over a period or simply stop buying it.

At 22 months, they are old enough to take their plate and cup to the sink and help a little with cleaning up. Plastic plates and cups are ideal for this age as some will inevitably end up on the floor. Keep any special or breakable plates and cups for fully supervised meals and let them know they need to be extra careful. Children who are fully insulated from having access to good things don’t have the opportunity to develop an awareness of what special or nice things are and the care that is needed when handling them.

Keeping your toddler healthy at 22 months old

Keep a supply of sunscreen by the front and back doors and get into the habit of applying it before you go out. Teach your toddler about sun safety and the need to wear a hat when they go outdoors. Look for shady trees for them to play under, dress them in sun-protective clothing, and restrict their time outdoors to before 10AM and after 3PM. Remember, the sun in winter is just as damaging to skin as it is in the summertime.

Children who see their parents prioritizing their own health and working to stay healthy learn that this is important and valuable. Try not to invest so much energy into your parenting that there is nothing left for yourself or your partner. Couples who retain some shared interests and look out for each other are in the best possible position to care well for their children. Avoid seeing the time you invest into yourself and your partner as being selfish. Your children can only benefit from this.

General tips

Learn the valuable strategy of distraction this month. When your toddler is getting upset, about to throw a tantrum, or wants something they can’t have, discover a fascinating item which demands their immediate attention. An upward tone in your voice and widened eyes are likely to have the most positive effect on heading off a looming meltdown.

Restrict your toddler’s screen time at this age or, better yet, don’t let them have any at all. Sitting down for long periods and focusing on a screen negatively impacts interactive play opportunities.

Show your toddler the moon, the stars, and the sun and make some early attempts at teaching them the seasons. Although they are still too young to comprehend the different seasons, it is important they have early opportunities in learning about seasonal cycles. Teach them to name how they fee—cold or hot, for example—and what they can do to become more comfortable. Showing them how to put on a jacket, how to ask for a drink, and how to take off their shoes are all tangible ways they can contribute to their own comfort needs.

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.