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The 18th Month

What a busy time you've got in store for you! In addition to your child being increasingly active, you're going to have to contend with them becoming more and more defiant and opinionated as well! But your child's stubbornness is a good thing: it means that they are starting to form their own views, which is a part of becoming a thinking, self-aware little person. Be creative in the ways that you handle your child and try to involve it in making choices.

Mental Development
Your toddler will be bent on succeeding at the various things it attempts, as it will be testing itself and its abilities on a regular basis. Failure to succeed will leave him or her feeling frustrated, such as when your child attempts to put on shoes and fails or you stop him or her from doing so, or if they attempt to climb a chair and you get in their way.  As your child's confidence in its abilities increases, so will its willfulness. Try to be supportive and allow your little one to try different things as long as it’s not dangerous; it's a good learning experience for it.

By now your child has probably begun to realize that everything around it has a name, and it will be looking to you to label everything for it. Name the things your child points at and take the time to read picture books to it to help it learn the names of new objects and things.

Your toddler might also be interested in making friends and establishing relationships with other people. Set up play dates to help it mingle with other children close to its age and monitor how things go. You're going to have to teach your child the proper way to interact with others, which means how to take turns and how to share.

Physical Development
This month your child should be surer on its feet and better at climbing. Your little one might even be able to kick a ball if they concentrate hard enough. Gross motor development in general will be more advanced than fine motor development, but that's mostly because children at this age are too impatient to sit still long enough to do many activities that require hand dexterity. To help your child progress their fine motor skills, let them color with crayons, finger paint, stack blocks, turn knobs on doors and cupboards, and push buttons on telephones. You might also want to keep a few toys available in the back of your car for when you have to take your child on long trips; this will give them time to practice since it can't move around.

Eating Habits
By now your child's diet should consist of whole milk and other dairy products, iron-fortified cereals, a wider variety of fruits and vegetables, proteins, citrus and non-citrus juice, and a bit of honey. Try to get creative with your recipes by looking up interesting dishes online that have been a great hit with children. To save yourself some time in preparing meals, prepare extra portions ahead of time and leave them in the freezer until you need to heat them for your baby when you're in a rush.

Sleeping Habits
All child experts agree that establishing a bedtime ritual will help ease your child into a more peaceful sleep. Setting a calming and consistent bedtime ritual can involve anything from giving your toddler a pre-bedtime bath to reading a bedtime story before tucking your child in and giving it a goodnight kiss. Each bedtime routine differs from one child to the next, so choose something that suits your little one's temperament. And remember: stay consistent.