How to Help Your Toddler Thrive

Parents typically have expectations about the progress of their children. They expect them to hit milestones accordingly. When they don’t, they understandably worry.

When confronted with seeming delays, parents tend to receive advice on the varying developmental rates of children. There might even be some mild admonishment about comparisons.

If you’re a parent, your temperament and parenting style will likely determine your reaction to unexpected hitches in your child’s progress. Those who are more laid-back may adopt a wait-and-see attitude and those who are more excitable may take action before even determining whether action is indeed necessary.

While it’s true that children develop at different rates, parents have the gift of intuition regarding their children. In any case, you need to listen to your gut because there are times when fears turn out to be warranted. For instance, speech delays may translate to a special needs condition and growth delays may end up being a case of failure to thrive.

Beware of FTT

When children don’t meet the expected standards of growth, they are diagnosed with the label “failure to thrive” or FTT. This means that they’re not gaining weight or growing as expected.

Failure to thrive isn’t always about malnutrition. In some cases, the child may have a condition that inhibits the body from taking in or using the calories that would promote growth.

The FTT diagnosis usually occurs in the first couple of years of life, a crucial time for children’s physical and mental development. Poor nutrition at this time could have permanent harmful effects on the child’s brain. Treatment should be done right away to address the diagnosis as well as the underlying cause of the condition.

Encourage Growth

To give children a good start in life, they must have somebody taking care of their basic needs. They need lots of energy to devote to growing and learning, so make sure they are well-fed, well-rested, and comfortable. If you have concerns about your children’s eating and sleeping patterns, consult a doctor.

Growth slows down a bit during the toddler years, but proper nutrition is still very necessary. Depending on their age, size, and level of activity, toddlers require anywhere from 1,000 to 1,400 calories a day. They must also get the proper amount of nutrients their body needs, such as about 7 mg of iron, 700 mg of calcium, and 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D every day.

Here’s a guide to what and how much toddlers should consume in a day.

  •         3 to 5 ounces of grains – Bread, cereal, rice, and pasta are good sources.
  •         1 to 1.5 cups of vegetables – At this age, they should get well-cooked soft veggies that have been cut into small pieces.
  •         1 to 1.5 cups of fruits – Cut them into manageable sizes and watch out for possible sensitivities.
  •         2 cups of dairy – This requirement typically consists mostly of milk, but yogurt and cheese are popular alternatives or supplements.
  •         2 to 4 ounces of meat or equivalent – Servings may include meat, poultry, fish, egg, or beans.

Help Them Truly Thrive

Man does not live on bread alone, and this is just as true in the toddler years. What should you include in your effort to promote thriving?

1.      Love, affection, and attention

Scientific findings tell us that these have a direct and measurable impact on a toddler’s physical, emotional, and mental growth. In fact, neuroscientists say that a loving touch actually causes a child’s brain to grow.

Hugs, smiles, encouraging words, focused attention, and play time from a parent go a long way in helping children thrive.

2.      Extensive talking

According to research, toddlers with parents who talk to them throughout the day develop more advanced verbal skills and richer vocabularies than those who don’t get as much spoken stimulation. Don’t use baby talk. It’s important that they acquire good language skills from the get-go.

Reading out loud to toddlers also helps a lot. This not only helps them build their vocabulary and improve their language skills, but stimulates their imagination as well.

3.      Sensory stimulation

Studies indicate that children who grow up exposed to a wider variety of experiences that engage the senses have larger and more active brains than those who only get adequate stimulation.

You don’t need to spend a lot on classes and trips either. You don’t even really need to pay for anything at all to provide children with plenty of stimuli. Music, one-on-one games, neighborhood walks, grocery trips, free play and exploration – these are sufficient.

4.      Appropriate challenges

Some light struggles help children toward independence. While it’s important not to frustrate them with too difficult challenges, some problem solving and effort exertion are good for them.

Make sure that you resist the urge to do everything for them. They build better brains when they work things out for themselves.

Thrive All Around

In helping children grow and develop, parents should make sure that they’re also taking care of themselves. You should sufficiently rest and recharge in order to properly care for your little ones. You’ll also need help, so establish a support system.

At the end of the day, what you can do help your children thrive is to love them deeply and to keep yourself healthy to ably meet their physical, mental, and emotional needs.