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16 Months and Growing

A happy toddler is a rested toddler that gets enough activity during the day and enough sleep at night. Try to establish a balanced daily schedule that offers your child the stimulation and relaxation it needs. In particular your child will need lots of mental stimulation this month to continue to expand its horizons and improve its ability to understand the things that are happening around it and how to communicate well with others.

Mental Development
Expose your children to different and new experiences such as taking them to the zoo or to a marine aquarium where they can expand their horizons and learn new things about the world around them. It's never too early to start educating your child about life, and the more intrigued they are by what they see, the more they will want to communicate with others about it.

Your child's vocabulary should be expanding from 15 words soon, enabling them to structure and use short sentences. Avoid using baby talk when conversing with your child and instead talk to them as you would to a young adult to get them used to proper pronunciation. Regardless of what you do, it's important that you keep talking to your little one and paying attention when it tries to say something to you.

Your toddler will start to notice that when it does something good, it gets positive attention such as praise and hugs, and that when your tot does something wrong, you will not be pleased. This is a critical time for disciplining your child, and experts recommend using lots of positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior.

Social interaction will be basic but a work in progress. In addition to learning how to wave, you child might be able to say "bye bye" and will be more likely to smile and play minor games with friends of the family. Your toddler might even initiate shows of affection, such as giving you a hug without being bidden to do so.

Physical Development
This month your toddler might learn to move on from walking and start to run! Since it still has to perfect its sense of balance it might topple over quite often, so make sure you childproof your home properly to ensure your child's safety. Try not to shelter your little one too much though, as doing so might hinder its ability to learn to walk and run, so as long as it is in no immediate danger let it move as it pleases. Your child will also be able to reach things that it previously couldn't, so move dangerous objects higher up or hide them completely and keep them out of sight.

Eating Habits
Experts recommend that a child's fiber intake be equivalent to every year of life plus five grams. Your 1-year old should thus be getting 6 grams of fiber. Excellent sources of fiber include fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and that you can get through certain types of bread and cereal. Your child's eating habits might seem somewhat erratic these days, as it might eat heartily one day and eat almost nothing at all the next, rejecting foods that it used to love. This type of moodiness is normal at this age, so as long as your toddler isn't losing weight and continues to be energetic, you have nothing to worry about.

Sleeping Habits
Toddlers in general will need up to 11 hours of sleep each night, so make sure that their sleeping environment is calm, quiet and conducive to comfortable sleeping so your little one can get the rest it needs. A golden rule to ensuring that your child remains rested is not to wait until it is exhausted and cranky to put it to bed. Determine what time it needs to be up in the morning and plan accordingly. Overtired tots have a harder time falling asleep and wake up earlier than children that go to bed early.