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Toddler Care: Your 23 Month Old Toddler

Mar 01, 2022 | 2 Minutes Read

Your toddler is almost 2! Make a point of enjoying each day of the last few weeks as they reach another milestone birthday. This is the age where opposition makes its appearance, causing parents to wonder what they’re doing wrong. Most toddlers tend to have a short fuse as they explore their new independence and test boundaries. They can escalate in a split second, but then just as easily return to being calm and happy. Try not to use your toddler’s moods as a guide for yourself. They will look to you for help with regulating their emotions and making sense of the world. By staying calm and being reassuring and supportive, they will learn that no matter how they feel, you are there for them.

It's important for every parent to have a little time each day, just for themselves. Although this can be difficult, investing even half an hour into a pleasurable activity can be very restorative. Go for a walk, read a book, or talk with a friend on the phone. You may need to be creative about making this happen, but in the same way you nurture your children, you need to do the same for yourself.

Growth and development at 23 months old

Your toddler is almost half the height that they will be when fully grown. Their long bones are going through continual change as they mature, which means you'll need to make sure they’re getting plenty of healthy food to fuel this bone growth. Don’t worry if your 23-month-old still has bowed legs. Most toddlers have legs that straighten out somewhere between 18 months and 2 years of age. Their legs won’t have their permanent appearance until around 7-years-old.

Your toddler's facial appearance may still be quite immature now—their eyes, nose, and mouth are still concentrated in the lower of their face. This will make them look very cute, and it is hard to ignore their constant requests. If you feel the need to pick them up and give them a big hug and kiss, then just go for it. Nature has designed your toddler to be totally appealing to you, even though at times their behavior may leave you shaking your head.

Check your toddler’s shoes to make sure they still fit. Sandals are ideal to gauge correct size, but enclosed shoes can be more of a challenge. When buying new shoes look for ones that don’t have a rigid sole and don’t bend. Some flexibility in the sole is important.

When buying new shoes, look for a size that allows for at least your thumb width from the top of their toes to the tip of the shoe. Although buying shoes with the knowledge that they will grow into them may save you money, there is a point where shoes that are too big become risky to wear. Tripping is a common result when there is too much empty space at the front of a child's shoe.

Play and interaction at 23 months old 

If you can, provide your children with a variety of toys that are made from different materials. Wooden toys and those made from natural materials provide a different tactile experience than plastic ones and are often simplistic in their design.

Encourage your toddler to be creative and use nature-sourced items in their play. Seed pods, leaves, grass, and even feathers introduce another dimension. Your toddler will look to you for approval when they seek out different things to play with, so be encouraging when they are on their little voyages of nature discovery.

Look for games that balance interaction and solo play. Even at this young age, your toddler will be learning what's involved in entertaining themselves and keeping their brains active. If you have other children, they will eventually all be playing together.

What you can expect at 23 months old

Expect your toddler to have more imaginative play and be talking this month. Your toddler will be able to string together a few words and make more sense in their sentences. There will be times when you are able to have a conversation with them and share ideas about simple concepts. They will understand a lot more and will comprehend more than you might think. Your 23-month-old may surprise you with what they retain and how much they remember.

This is really the age of discovery and adventure which means your toddler is bound to get into a bit of mischief. Watch the messages you give them and try not to be negative. Frame your language in positive ways such as, “put the cup down gently” rather than “don’t bang the cup.” Of course, there'll be days when it seems that parenting is the easiest thing you've ever done and others where you'll question your own abilities. Parenting is a marathon not a sprint, so pick your battles.

Your toddler will let you know they're awake in the mornings, so shelve any plans for sleeping in. If they are in a bed, they'll come looking for you and probably want to climb in with you to snuggle. This can be a lovely time of the day when they are still sleepy and cozy, but ready for a new day of adventures. When time allows, make the most of these opportunities. Have a little chat about what they’d like to do that day, what they dreamed about, and what they want for breakfast.

Food and nutrition at 23 months old

Your toddler will still need to be persuaded to sit while they eat, which means using the highchair or booster seat positioned at the table. Their tolerance for staying put will be fairly short though, so avoid making them wait for long periods before serving. If they aren’t hungry or just want to pick at their meals, take the hint and end the meal. Try not to focus on what they've eaten at each individual meal, but rather their total intake over 1 to 2 days total.

It is normal for toddlers to vary their intake and go through stages of not wanting or needing to eat much. They make up for it at other times when it seems difficult to fill them up. Offer them only healthy food choices and think about whether their food is supporting their body to grow strong. Read labels, know what is in their food, aim for less packaged or processed foods where possible, and role model healthy eating yourself.

If your 23-month-old isn’t fond of drinking whole milk, offer it to them in alternative forms, such as in yogurt or cheese. These are all great sources of calcium and phosphorus. Mix grated cheese with their vegetables, add a little butter to their meals, or spread some cream cheese on a couple of crackers. Boneless fish and green leafy vegetables are also good sources of calcium.

Keeping your toddler healthy at 23 months old

Make sure your toddler has their own toothbrush and teach them to recognize it. Keep everyone’s towels separate and make sure each person knows which ones is theirs. Use sensible precautions when it comes to minimizing cross infections among family members—you’ll be glad you did when one person gets sick.

If your toddler has been sick and has now recovered, replace their toothbrush and change their bed linen. If they were prescribed antibiotics, make sure to finish the entire course. Make sure you have acetaminophen in the house and enough in the correct strength for your toddler's age and weight. Trying to find a late-night pharmacy is a situation best avoided.

If your toddler is toilet training, show them how to flush the toilet and wash their hands afterwards. Have a step stool in the bathroom and everything they need so good hand hygiene habits are formed from the beginning.

General tips

  • Play games which require matching and grouping like objects together. Recognizing similarities come with age and practice and is a lifelong skill.
  • Keep talking, singing, rhyming, and laughing with your 23-month-old every day. Try not to take life too seriously and aim to keep things simple. Your toddler won’t care how clean the house is or how organized the cabinets are. But they will notice if you are happy and animated and show pleasure in just being with them.
  • If your toddler is going to day care, learn to be very organized. Avoiding the early morning rush by preparing their clothing and lunch the night before. Try investing in a slow cooker and using whatever technology is available to make life easier.
  • Introduce your toddler to people when you see them and be aware that they are listening. The days of having an uninterrupted conversation are over and if your toddler wants to add their own thoughts to the conversation, let them.
  • When your toddler says something funny, write it down and keep in a safe place. You'll read back over these comments in years to come and they'll give you and your growing child a warm glow.

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.