Make sure your child is on the right track.

What Factors Affect the Normal Growth and Development of a Toddler?

by Eliza Martinez

Your amazing little one makes great strides in development during his early years, and many factors contribute to normal growth and reaching milestones. Luckily, most growth and development occurs without much effort on your part and shouldn't cause concern. However, if your child is struggling to stay on the growth curve or isn't reaching his developmental markers on time, talk to his doctor. The cause could be an underlying problem that needs attention.

1. Nutrition

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, and many generations of mothers have woken up in a cold sweat worried that their child isn't eating enough to achieve good nutrition. Adequate vitamin and mineral intake contributes to your child's overall good health, but foods that contain a good dose of nutrients also contain calories, which are important for growth and development. You might opt for the rice cake, but make sure your toddler is getting a well-rounded mix of foods from each food group. If your child is very picky or only wants to eat a bite or two throughout the day, talk to his doctor about supplemental drinks.

2. Stimulation

Toddlers need to play; it's vital to their learning and development. Playing can be very educational, even if your toddler doesn't realize it. But having just one or two toys probably isn't going cut it. Yes, this gives you license to hit the toy store, but keep in mind that children will play with anything. The more variety your toddler has, the more active his brain can be during playtime. So go ahead buy those fancy toys at the store, if possible, but don't underestimate the learning potential of an empty box or old pots and pans. Children who lack early stimulation may struggle at some point down the road with complex problem solving, according to The Permanente Medical Group.

3. Sleep

Nap time is a magical time for mothers. You can get chores done, read a magazine -- even if it is last month's -- or take your own nap. Sleep, both during naps and at night, is vital to a toddler's growth and development. When he sleeps, his brain gets a chance to rest and process all the knowledge that has been crammed in there during the day. According to The National Sleep Foundation, toddlers generally need 12 to 14 hours of sleep in every 24-hour period. If he only sleeps 10 hours at night, his nap should be at least two hours. Toddlers are masters of resisting sleep, but stick to your guns. Adequate sleep contributes to proper height and weight development, according to Gerber.

4. Love and Attention

Showing your toddler love and attention assures him that he's safe, which provides an environment conducive to reaching his full potential. Play with your child, but allow him time to play alone, too. Create a routine so he knows that he will be eating and sleeping at approximately the same time each day. This consistency comforts him and lets him focus on his own play and learning. Knowing he can trust you is also vital for your toddler's development. The World Health Organization says that parental love and attention are the most important aspect of a toddler's development.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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