What Happens During the Toddler Years

Now that Dylan has turned three and Blake has had his first birthday, I am thinking a lot about just how much growth and development occurs during the two years that a child is a toddler. For example, right now even though he is technically a toddler, when I look at Blake I still see a baby because he is just beginning his journey through the advances in physical ability, physical appearance, and verbal skills that are the milestones of the toddler years.

Blake has taken a few steps here and there, and he cruises around a lot, but his primary way of getting where he wants to go is crawling. Dylan went from crawling to walking about a month after his first birthday, and then shortly thereafter to running, jumping, and climbing like he was born knowing how to do so. By two and a half years of age, he was doing things with his body that required considerable balance, eye – hand coordination, and focus like climbing up ladders and rock climbing style play structures in the big kids’ area of the playground and swinging a baseball bat (and actually making contact quite a few times). He can also throw a ball in a controlled way (when he wants to) and pedal a little bicycle with training wheels. I look forward to seeing Blake master these physical skills as he strives to join his older brother in play.

Blake’s body is still very much like a baby’s body, with adorably chubby legs and feet that I take time to cherish every day because I know that over the next few months they will transform into longer, stronger, more muscular legs and feet that will likely resemble those of his very active older brother. Blake also still has the chubby cheeks of a baby, as well as chubby little fingers that love to reach out, grab, and explore everything within reach. While I will enjoy watching Blake develop into a little boy, I know that I will miss being able to scoop him up, lavish him with kisses, and hold him like a baby.

The amount of verbal and social development that happens during the toddler years is nothing short of amazing. From what I remember, Dylan had just a handful of words around the time that he turned one year old – Dada, Mama, and cat were his first three, followed very closely by “b”, which was his word for ball until he was nearly two years old. By the time his third birthday rolled around, Dylan had abandoned his cute little toddler words in favor of correct pronunciation, complete sentences, and even lengthy conversations and stories. He can communicate his needs clearly and can demonstrate that he understands many things. At one year old, Blake has just a few words – Mama, Dada, ball, yum, and uh-oh. I am looking forward to seeing his ability to communicate expand by leaps and bounds over the next couple of years. Talking with toddlers is something that I don’t think I will ever tire of, as it is utterly fascinating.

The toddler years are filled with amazing growth and development. Of course, I know that Blake is likely to have plenty of tears and tantrums along the way, as most toddlers do. We plan to keep our family the same size that it is now, so I plan to do my best to savor Blake’s toddler achievements because it will be the last time that I will go through this particular developmental phase with one of my kids.