Toddler Development - The 17th Month

This month you can expect quite a few developments in your child's emotional and mental progress. You will also notice that your child will become more adept at walking and getting around, which is both a reason to be happy and worried. Do not underestimate the level of mischief your toddler can get into if left unattended, so never leave them alone without supervision.

 
Mental Development

With greater independence and the ability to get around by themselves, your children will want to explore different places and venture further away from you when you take them on outings, whether it's in the park or at the grocery store. Instead of jumping up in panic every time your toddler walks further away than it should, try calling out "bye-bye" to your child; chances are that your beloved one will come running back to you fearing that it might be left behind.

At 17-months-old toddlers tend to be very clear about what they do and do not like. This includes types of activities, food and clothes. Your child might even occasionally deliberately disobey your orders to see what you will do if it breaks the rules. For example, you might caution your child against touching a vase, but he or she will deliberately approach it and touch it while watching you. In such cases experts recommend against making a big deal out of your child's defiance; instead ignore what your toddler is doing and it will grow bored of trying to get a reaction out of you.

Young children thrive on routine, so if you forget to read your child a bedtime story they will most likely remind you. Children in general enjoy the comfort of knowing what's going to come next, so scheduling your child's day might actually help keep them calm and content.

 
Physical Development

90% of children this age will be able to walk well, squat, and pick an object off the ground. Some will even have mastered stooping to play with a toy on the floor before straightening and walking away. For most walkers, this month will be spent in fine-tuning and combining skills. Climbing in particular will continue to be a thrilling challenge for toddlers this age, and they will enjoy climbing upstairs alone or with minor help. The importance of having a properly childproofed home cannot be stressed enough at this point, as there is little that can stand in the way of your mobile child from reaching dangerous items and getting into risky situations. You might even have to lower your toddler's crib mattress as some children can climb out of the crib at this stage.

If you're concerned because your child hasn't started walking yet, talk to your pediatrician. Some children take longer to walk because they're afraid of falling, while others are such good crawlers that they have no desire to stand up. Few children are late walkers because of a medical or developmental problem that requires professional attention. Encourage your little ones to take their first steps by letting them hold on to your hands as they walk, and clap and cheer them on when they stand or cruise.

 
Eating Habits

Try to establish a healthy and balanced diet for your toddlers by offering them a wide range of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, meats and grains. If your child is a finicky eater, look for ways to get it to accept different foods. More often than not children this age will need time before they're used to a new food enough to accept having it, so do not give up on a certain type of food if your child refuses to eat it at first. Try mixing it in with foods that your toddler enjoys, or find different ways of disguising it until your child gets used to the taste.

Sleeping Habits

Young toddlers will sleep better in near dark situations, so use a soft nightlight in your child's room or your own room if that is where your child sleeps. You can also use a fan to drown out noises from the street or other parts of the house when your child is napping during the day. Sleeping in a quiet and calm environment helps maximize the benefits of sleep. You should aim to get your child to sleep up to 11 hours per night for proper rest.