Shaken Baby Syndrome

A large number of child deaths are reported in South Africa each year. A lot of deaths relate to neglect, abuse or murder. Despite this, there's a knowledge gap in relation to understanding the issue....

Amniotic fluid problems

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Choosing a pre-school

Becoming a parent is a momentous; life-changing event filled with hopes, expectations and naturally some fears. Parents often learn and grow alongside their children, as they face the challenges of pa...

Newborn reflexes

Although newborn babies are physically helpless and vulnerable at birth, they have a number of amazing innate abilities or reflexes. Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions, designed to protect ...


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Pelvic floor exercises

Although your new baby will probably bring you immense emotional satisfaction, physically you may feel uncomfortable and strange in your own skin. After 9 months of pregnancy and hormonal changes, you...


Babies cry because they need to communicate something and most parents, especially new moms, find it distressing to see or hear an unhappy baby. In time, you will learn to recognize the various causes...

Antenatal Classes

Antenatal classes are informative sessions provided to prepare expecting parents for the birth of their child and the early days of being a parent.Most antenatal classes are run by Midwives and occasi...


The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was launched on the 11 May 2011. It is a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities. According to Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP Minister of ...

  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52

Growth & Development

Motor development

·       Toddlers in this age group generally enjoy and are able to stack 3-6 blocks.

·       Advancement in fine motor development is evident in your child’s progressive ability to do simple line-drawing and circle drawing, rather than the scribbling of the previous stage. 

·       In terms of gross motor development, by the age of 2 your child’s walking is refined into a rhythmical arm-swinging gait.

·       Your child’s locomotive repertoire may also include running, jumping, walking backwards and pivoting.

·       When it comes to stairs, there is a progression from crawling, to walking while holding a parent’s hand, scooting down stairs, walking up and down unassisted, and finally climbing the stairs by placing both feet on each step (; Leary, 1990).


Social and emotional development

Toddlers are beginning to recognise and manage their feelings. Increasing language development is one of the means by which they are better able to control their impulses. However, if they are tired, hungry, bored, overstimulated or frustrated, they are more likely to get upset. For instance, your child may be frustrated by her own limitations, such as the inability to button her shirt, or she may not have sufficient verbal skills to tell you something. Anger at not being able to have something may also provoke a tantrum. When a tantrum does occur, often the most effective strategy is to ignore it completely, provided that your child is in a safe environment. The purpose of a tantrum is for your child to get what she wants. If you give in, she will begin to associate tantrums with having what she wants. Toddlers may also respond to conflict by hitting, biting, screaming or crying. This stage of development is marked by an increasing need for autonomy, evinced in saying ‘no’ to adult suggestions, insisting on doing it ‘by myself’ or the ‘my way’ attitude. This may sometimes conflict with clingy behaviour only moments later, or the need for parental assurance, in the process of developing independence (Collins, 2003; Raising Children Network, 2006-2010).


How to deal with a tantrum

·       Your reaction: It is pointless trying to reason with a 2-year-old when she is having a tantrum. Although it may sometimes be funny, it is important not to laugh when your child is having a tantrum, as this not only invalidates your child’s emotions but gives her the message that you are not in control. Occasionally children may hold their breath during a tantrum. Although this may be frightening for parents, it is not harmful. If your child holds her breath for long enough, she will pass out and then start breathing naturally again.

·       Distraction and avoidance techniques: It is sometimes possible to distract a child out of a tantrum by offering a favourite toy, for example, or by just talking calmly and quietly. Only give your child attention once the tantrum has subsided. Engage in an activity your child enjoys and does not find frustrating, such as reading a book together. Give your child a cuddle to remind her of your continuing love.

·       Averting a tantrum: Provide your child with ample opportunities to run around and let off steam by running around the garden or in a park, or allowing her to play noisily in the house when it rains. Routine is very important for young children in particular; ensure your child has regular daytime naps, bath and bedtime routines. Avoid lengthy periods without food by carrying snacks when you go out and offering them before your child’s behaviour deteriorates. Toddlers enjoy being offered simple choices because it allows them a certain measure of control, and may help minimise tantrums. If you are a working mom, spend quality time with your child when you get home from work, rather than trying to offer something more exciting than your child minder does. And finally, it may be useful to keep a record of your child’s tantrums to ascertain when they are most likely to occur, what provokes them, and how you can try to avoid these situations (Collins, 2003).


Emotional development

·       By this age, you child will have formed close attachments to parents and other familiar adults, using these relationships as a secure base to explore, i.e. going to play in the garden and running back to dad for a cuddle in between.

·       Children of this age are developing the concept of ‘I’. They frequently use the words ‘me’ and ‘my’, and know their own names.

·       Toddlers are also beginning to show signs of self-consciousness, e.g. they may hide behind a chair and look ashamed after doing something they know is forbidden.

·       18-month to 2-year-old children are increasingly aware of others’ emotions and facial expressions (before climbing the tree, they may look back at their mother’s faces for encouragement or warning).

·       Their emotional management changes from being purely impulse based (e.g. tantrums) to learning how to use various strategies to control emotional expression, such as the use of teddies as comforters when upset or when needing to calm down (Leary, 1990; Raising Children Network, 2006-2010).


Social development

·       Your child is becoming increasingly aware of other people, both children and adults. Children of this age begin to play alongside other children, but generally do not understand the concept of sharing. Toddlers also enjoy imitating the actions of people and are beginning to understand that they can get attention from others by ‘showing off’.

·       They begin to enjoy exploring objects with adults as a means of building relationships, e.g. they may offer grandma a block, as a form of initiating play.

·       Toddlers in this age group may make simple overtures to other children. For instance, they may look for and smile at another child at the shops, or offer a toy or hug to a child at pre-school, whether the gesture is welcome or not.

·       Children of this age often exhibit ‘contagious distress’, e.g. if another child is crying, they may begin crying too.

·       Toddlers frequently respond to conflict with another child or adult by acting out, either physically or emotionally, in the form of pushing, screaming, etc. When another adult intervenes and resolves the conflict, they generally calm down (Raising Children Network, 2006-2010).



Toddlers are great imitators; they enjoy putting on mommy’s lipstick, walking in mommy’s shoes, or carrying daddy’s briefcase. The combination of learning through imitation and the emerging concept of ‘I’, results in the ‘I do it myself’ phase. It is normal for toddlers to want to brush their own teeth, feed themselves, dress themselves, go to the fridge and get their own food or drink and wash their own hands. Since imitation is a primary learning stimulus, utilise your toddler’s desire for independence and imitation by demonstrating various tasks to him in a careful, deliberate manner (Leary, 1990).


Developing understanding

In the second year, babies are in the process of assigning objects, characters and animals they come across in their world into understandable categories. For example, if they have seen and remembered a chicken, they are likely to say ‘chicken’ when they encounter a duck for the first time, because both have wings and feathers. Their powers of observation and their emerging ability to categorise various aspects of their world is amazing to witness.

·       Your child’s improving memory is evident in her ability to sometimes think before acting, e.g. remembering something is hot. During the previous stages, your child’s behaviour was primarily directed by impulse and trial and error, whereas towards the end of the second year, it is based more on thinking and calculation.

·       18 month to 2-year-old children are beginning to recognise the differences and similarities between various things and enjoy sorting things into groups, such as cars, blocks or animals.

·       Your child also understands that certain things go together, such as paper and pen.

·       Children of this age both remember and copy past events, as well as enjoying simple make-believe games.

·       Toddlers have little concept of time or abstract concepts (pretty, heavy, empty) and are unable to talk about anything they can’t experience directly with their senses (touch, pick up, see).

·       An inability to conceptualise time or space sometimes accounts for your toddler’s fears, e.g. she may be frightened of falling down the plughole in the bath or the toilet (Leary, 1990; Parenting & Child Health, 2009).


Language development

During the 18-month to 2-year period, language is the primary developmental milestone that triggers a whole series of achievements and mirrors your child’s development in other ways. Toddlers now have words for objects and actions and are developing words for feelings and desires.

·       Your child’s vocabulary increases to include as many as 100 words during this time and her understanding of words is even greater.

·       Your child may practise her new ability to talk by using different tones and inflections, mixing ‘babble’ with real words, or repeating certain sounds and words over and over.

·       2-year-old children are able to tell you exactly what they want, e.g. ‘outside’ or ‘‘biscuit’, even if these words are mispronounced. Language therefore may stimulate more desirable behaviour, since your child is not as frustrated by her inability to communicate her wants or by your inability to understand what she is saying.

·       Language development also begins to progress from the use of one word to progressively longer sentences, e.g. from ‘more’ to ‘want more’ to ‘I want more’.

·       At this age, both your child’s language understanding and memory are improving, so that they are able to remember two things simultaneously, e.g. ‘Please fetch your cup and bring it to mommy’.

·       Their expression of feelings is evident in the use of words such as ‘goo’ for happiness, ‘ow’ if they hurt themselves or ‘sore’ if they want a  band-aid.

·       2-year-olds also have sufficient words in their vocabulary to be able to tell people what to do, in the form of ‘no’ or ‘go away’.

·       It is normal for your child to stutter or hesitate over certain words if she gets excited (Leary, 1990; Parenting & Child Health, 2009).