I always thought I'd enjoy the 'baby' stage of my daughters life the most; when their just entirely dependent upon you and everything is new and adorable. It turns out the toddler stage is even more fun (and exhausting!)
The toddler stage, considered from 12 to 36 months, is a time of great learning and development. I can see that in my daughter every day. It's also a time when children learn to express themselves and you can really start to see their personality forming. The last two months have seen A take her first independent steps and last week, climb up the stairs. She's constantly learning and exploring as she's becoming more and more independent and inquisitive. To think in under a period of 8 weeks she's been able to learn so much is truly miraculous.
Between 12 to 13 months she was pulling herself up and hobbling along with the aide of tables, walls, sofas etc. I wasn't really worried about her walking and was quite happy to let her crawl for as long as she wanted. I know parents really want to see their children reach each developmental stage as quickly as possible, but my dad has instilled an air of chill in me. Children will reach their milestones when they're ready, until then just enjoy whatever stage their at, the time truly flies by. My eldest sister didn't walk until she was 2, and as my dad says, she been walking independently since with no problems, just like her friends and cousins who started walking at 8 months.
A little after my daughter turned 13 months I went to stay with my eldest sister for a week, who has two children aged 10 and 4. My daughter adores them both (and they her) and just wants to follow them about all day. I don't know if being around them gave her the encouragement she needed, but within 24 hours of being there she had taken her first steps, and from that point there was no looking back! She stubbles and falls regularly but she is very confident on her feet, and given I'm 28 weeks pregnant this need for independence couldn't have come at a better time.
The only time I have been carrying her is up and down stairs, that is until last week when she started to crawl up them herself. Basically one evening last week after her nappy change and book, I was about to pick her up from the sofa and carry her upstairs to bed, but she climbed down from the sofa herself and started waddling to the stairs, and then, with me 2 steps behind her, she just started crawling up them! Obviously I whipped out my phone and made a video! We don't have a stair gate (and I'm not planning on getting one) our stairs are situated in clear view and I never let her leave a room without following her or asking someone else to. I'm not sure how she'll learn going down them, but it's really helpful for me that she has somehow learnt to go up!
The other key development in the last two months is how much she understands. I've never been a proponent for baby speak, I've always spoken to her in clear English and Urdu, never baby speak or babbling. So although she doesn't say many words back to me and does babble herself when we're "talking" she understands so much. She can lead me to any room in our house, including upstairs and downstairs, she knows when I'm going to work, when we're going out, body parts, food/play/book times and tidying up. Not that she's always willing to participate but she certainly understands most things now. It's fascinating how much toddlers pick up through words, volume and even tone. I'm learning so much about my own communication skills through her (mostly I shout too much!!!) as she mimics me in her own communication, so I've set myself a 'whisper' challenge – when I'm irate (usually at my husband) I have to lower not raise my voice… it's been interesting!
Ever since baby A has been on solids I've encouraged her to eat herself. It's messy and frustrating and I find food in all sorts of odd places, but I think it's good for her dexterity and independence. In the last two months she's definitely improved, to the point of wanting to use a spoon rather than her hands to feed herself. It's actually really lovely (and really messy) to have her sit with us for dinner and babble away in conversation while throwing food over her shoulder or into someone else's plate! She's really becoming an interesting and fun person in her own right.
The best thing she's learnt in the last two months is to hug and kiss; and she knows exactly how to use these two new skills to her advantage! And to be honest, how can anyone deny a charming little toddler who lays her chubby arms around your neck or her head softly on your lap and convinces you with just a touch, that she really does deserve that extra bowl of blueberries!