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Eighteen Months to Two Years

Published February 14, 2008        by Nicole

Language Makes Life Easier for Everyone

When your baby can communicate some ideas to you, your parenting job becomes a bit easier.You can ask what’s wrong.You no longer are required to be a mind-reader and try to second-guess your toddler to figure out what is bothering him.

Much younger babies use gestures and single words to make their wants and needs known.Your baby may have developed some of his own unique gestures to express different wants.Many eighteen month olds have command over a number of words.These single words can mean whole sentences.Some eighteen month olds put words together in two or three word combinations.

Wise parents make use of their babies’ natural ability to acquire language to make their jobs easier.For example, one mother was so quick to get everything for her toddler that he didn’t need to talk.All his needs were being met without much effort on his part.When her pediatrician suggested that she wait for her son to ask for things, the little boy started talking in five word sentences.In this situation, the mother had been too good at reading her son’s signals.

If you have concerns about your baby’s development of language, be sure to discuss them with your pediatrician.Babies prone to frequent ear infections occasionally have fluctuating hearing losses.If you suspect your baby isn’t listening to you or doesn’t understand what you say, you might want to check this out.Sometimes children have behavior problems because of poor hearing.Kids can be particularly difficult to manage when they don’t hear what you say.

For some babies, having the words in one’s head but not having the words come out right can be a very frustrating experience.There is so much that they want to say, but they don’t know how to say it.Try not to place too much pressure on your baby to say the words correctly.A lot of internal and external demands are being placed on the almost two year old.Not only are these youngsters trying to master an upright world, they are also trying to become competent users of language.This is a time when gentle encouragement, assurance, and firm limits are needed.


At eighteen months, your baby has an egocentric view of the world-that is, she sees herself at the center of the world and is unable to see things through other people’s eyes.The term “egocentric” is often used to refer to self-centered adults, but it also depicts a baby’s view of her position of power in the world; she, too, thinks that the world revolves around her.

At this age, your baby recognizes that parents can do things for her.Adults serve a purpose for babies; they are a means to an end.However, while adults can give babies what they want; they can also make demands and set limits, which can be a source of conflict.For example, a mother can ask her toddler to begin to master independent living skills [such as giving up the nighttime baby blanket, using a cup and spoon, and using the potty] before the toddler feels she is ready.

Feeding can be a potential battleground for parents and babies-with the baby often winning.Babies can use the feeding situation as a way to control parents. A laid-back approach-allowing the baby some choice of food and not forcing her to eat detested foods-can prevent later feeding problems.There are also some tricks that you can use, such as disguising the disliked foods with preferred tastes.

Conflicts about self-care skills often center on dependence-independence issues.Some sort of balance must be achieved between your baby’s dependence on you, the caregiver, and your desire for your baby’s increased independence.Some of these skills-such as toilet training-may be best dealt with at a later date since some readiness skills may be needed.There is no single time table because children master developmental skills at their own rates.

No… No, No… No, No, No!

One of a baby’s first words is no. Babies often say no to your requests when they mean yes.Some say it is easier for a baby to shake his head from side to side than up and down, but defiance is certainly also the name of the game.We have all seen many a two year old throw a temper tantrum in the middle of a store because he didn’t get what he wanted.These temper tantrums are disruptive and embarrassing, but are all part of growing up.Though never easy to deal with, they are inevitable, and are faced by every parent.The difficulty is not yours alone.And yes, the phase will pass!

Although toddlers do have more language available to them, this stage is characterized by a great deal of opposition.It’s as if the toddler has to do the opposite just as a statement of his independence.This is a very important developmental step for your child.It is an assertion of your child’s sense of himself as an individual.These difficult times are important for your child to separate from you and move toward becoming a distinct person.

Like everything else in development, the timetable varies from child to child.Some very verbal children don’t hit the “terrible twos” until they are three.This is a consequence of the child’s and parent’s ability to talk about what the child is feeling, thinking, or wanting.Parents can explain a lot of different kinds of things to toddlers, sometimes what appears to be quite rational explanations can diffuse a potentially explosive situation.Other times, these explanations are totally useless, partially because the baby doesn’t have the necessary level of understanding to know what you are talking about.Also, there are times when your child just won’t give in.It is very important for parents to sit down and talk with each other so they can establish priorities as to what’s worth a fight and what isn’t.