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Toddler Care: Your 26 Month Old Toddler

Mar 02, 2022 | 2 Minutes Read

You’ll need to start pulling back a little this month as your toddler develops more independence and mastery over their own little body. Sometimes their skill level won’t match their intent, so you’ll need to help them out when things get a bit too tough. “Me do it” will become a familiar cry. Although you know you’d be able to do what are trying to achieve in less than half the time, that’s not the point.

A wise parenting expert once said that one of the main objectives of parenting is to make our roles obsolete. Not in an emotional sense, of course, but in terms of not needing to do things for our children once they can do it on their own. It takes a lot of practice and skill-building to become proficient at tasks such as dressing, eating, and communicating. But with support and positive guidance, your toddler will learn that perseverance can be a good thing.

Growth and development at 26 months old

Your toddler will become longer and leaner over the next few months. Their appetite may still not be great and because they are so active, any extra fat they have will be burnt off through exercise. Current research has shown a strong correlation between excess weight in childhood and the likelihood of obesity and being overweight during adulthood.

Your toddler is probably attempting to run, jump, hop, and skip. By now they will be able to balance on one leg and coordinate their legs in sequences of hopping and jumping. However, it might not always be in a forward direction. They will still need to look down at their feet if they’re walking in unfamiliar territory.

Your toddler will become more proficient at undressing this month but not as skillful at dressing. Bath time will become a wonderful adventure. Your 26-month-old may need some persuasion to get into the bath, you won’t need to encourage them much to stay in there. Baths are fertile territory for imaginative games, so you’ll find your toddler creating all sorts of adventures. Water games, bubble play, squirting, and pouring activities will help them to link concepts and improve their fine motor skills.

Continue to keep a close eye on them when in the bathtub. They are still too young to be left unsupervised even if they are bathing with an older sibling. A rubber bathmat can help to avoid falls and encourage sitting rather than standing.

Play and interaction at 26 months old

Stacking and sorting toys will be interesting to your toddler. Name the colors as you play with them but don’t expect them to be able to recognize the shapes just yet. They will be able to group pairs of similar shapes and you may notice them looking for missing parts of a favorite toy. Your toddler would like to do things the same way and in the same order. Be patient and calm if they are getting frustrated.

Make a point of playing with your toddler every day. Research has shown that toddlers whose parents actively engage in play time activities and give positive attention tend to be less demanding. They seem to know that they will get lots of attention by playing nicely rather than needing to misbehave to get any. Your toddler’s attention span will still be short, so no matter how interesting, exciting, or new a toy is, it will only hold appeal for a little while.

Set up a craft table with colored sheets of paper, safety scissors, rubber stamps, and paints. Avoid overwhelming your toddler with too many choices; 3 to 4 choices should be sufficient. Rotate the different mediums they can play with such as Play-doh, clay, scissors and paper, and paints. They will need some help getting started on an activity but once they understand what’s possible, stand back and leave them to it. Some kids are more creative than others, and some are just not interested in crafts. Regardless, it is important to have a range of activities that will keep them stimulated and occupied.

What you can expect at 26 months old

Your toddler is still too young to have learned any social etiquette; their table manners will be non-existent. There is plenty of time for them to learn how to use tableware properly or how to eat neatly. Let them see your role modeling appropriate behavior. When they are eating neatly, make a point of praising them.

Your toddler will understand what you are saying to them if it isn’t too complex. This is the age where they will begin to link 2 concepts together in a sentence, such as “go to the table and get an apple.” Their language ability still won’t match their comprehension and there will be times when they are trying to make you understand something which makes sense to them, but you can’t figure it out. A process of elimination is often needed, as well as interpreting any context clues.

Expect your toddler to look for entertainment in the most interesting places: the bathroom cabinet, the toolbox, the pantry, and even your closet. Get into the habit of closing doors and blocking access to areas you’d prefer to be off-limits. Don’t expect them to keep their toys and belongings in one part of the house. For now, they are incapable of doing this so you may as well save your breath and change your expectations to being more realistic.

Food and nutrition at 26 months old

You won’t need to feed your 26-month-old now; they’ll be perfectly capable of doing this for themselves. Some parents continue to spoon-feed their toddler, especially when they are concerned that their child is not eating enough. However, this does not encourage independent eating.

Controlling what goes into their mouth and when to stop eating can only come from them. This means parents need to let go of controlling the child’s mealtime by doing less, not more. It is your job to make sure the meals and snacks they get are nutritious.

By now your 26-month-old can have reduced-fat milk instead of whole milk. Look for them to obtain fat in other sources of food to support their growth needs. Rice, soy, and other milks need to be calcium-fortified to meet the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of calcium for this age group. Get into the habit of reading labels and product information when you are shopping for the family. Becoming an informed consumer can take some time but it is well worth the effort.

If your toddler eats their evening meal at around 5PM or 6PM you could find they need another snack just before going to bed. Yogurt, a piece of fruit, cheese, crackers, and toast will be enough to fill their tummy and promote sleep.

Keeping your toddler healthy at 26 months old

Hand-washing will be straightforward now but you’ll still need to give lots of reminders. Bathing may be another matter, so you’ll need to be quick and organized.

Colds and respiratory infections are common, and for some, a runny nose may continue through the winter months. Use tissues once and encourage your toddler to sneeze into a tissue or their elbow.

Toilet training at this age is common, but expect to have some accidents along the way. Bladder control usually comes before bowel control and there can be a difference of months between the two trainings. Clean up messes as they happen and encourage your toddler to come and tell you if they’ve missed the toilet.

Although they’ll undoubtedly want to do everything on their own terms, you’ll still need to monitor all your little one’s grooming practices. Hair brushing, teeth brushing, trimming nails, and even wiping their bottom will still all fall onto your to do list.

General tips

Keep reading together every day. Have a few comfortable spots in the house where you can nestle together and become absorbed in a good book. Audio tapes that match a story are very popular. Check with your local library or bookstore.

Encourage your toddler to go wherever they want, so long as it is a safe option. Children learn about the world through their senses, including the soles of their feet.

If you have some spare cash, don’t automatically spend it on your child. There are always a million enticing things to buy for little people, but don’t neglect yourself. Think about your own needs and if you could do with a personal treat.

If you notice your toddler needs to get up close to objects to see them or needs to cover one eye to focus, have their eyes examined by an ophthalmologist. If visual problems are detected early, the outcome is generally more positive.

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.