Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families Early Experiences Matter

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From Baby to Big Kid

An e-newsletter that showcases how children learn and grow each month from birth to 3 years. From Baby to Big Kid translates the science of early childhood and offers strategies parents can tailor to their unique family situation and to the needs of their child.
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Development Through Your Child’s Eyes: 
18 to 36 Months

I Learn About What My Body Can Do

  • I can do so much with my fingers and hands: turn the pages of a book, scribble with crayons, and even draw shapes like a circle. I can thread beads with large holes and use kid scissors. I can stir the cake mix, work the VCR and TV remote, and help sort laundry.

  • I kick and throw balls. I can stand on one foot. I learn to go up and down the stairs with only one foot on each step!

  • I can do so many things for myself—pour milk on my cereal, wash myself in the bathtub, dress myself in simple clothing.

I Learn About My Feelings and Who I Am  

  • My curiosity can lead me into “off-limits” territory. I need you to keep me safe and to help me learn right from wrong.

  • I love my independence, but I also still need you to help me and to do things for me.

  • Sometimes I push you away. Other times I want you to hold me close.

  • I tune in carefully to your tone and words. I can tell when you are very sad or scared or upset, and sometimes, I feel sad, scared, and upset, too. I know whether you think I am good or bad, pretty or ugly, dumb or smart.

  • I am learning self-control. I understand more often what you expect of me. Sometimes I can stop myself from doing things I shouldn’t, but not always. I learn to control my behavior when you give me only a few simple, clear rules to follow and help me when I forget.

  • I may have new fears—the dark, monsters, people in costumes—because I don’t really know the difference between fantasy and reality. My fears can make it hard for me to go to sleep at night and can make me wake up and call out for you sometimes.

I Learn About People, Objects and How Things Work 

  • I learn how to care for others by the way you care for me. I may rub your back or comfort a friend who is sad.

  • I am very tuned in to other kids. I am aware of differences, like gender, age, and skin color.

  • I like to play with other kids. We are getting better at sharing but still need help often.

  • I can “play pretend” and use my imagination. I will care for my dolls and animals. I will start to make up stories. I can turn my block tower into a house and even use a block as a phone. When you watch me and join in, you can learn a lot about what I am thinking and feeling. When we play that I’m the mommy going off to work, you see that I am learning to deal with our separations.

  • I learn to explore toys and objects in more and more complex ways. I can organize them too—like putting all the toys with wheels together.

 I Learn to Communicate and Relate

  • I may know up to 200 words in my home language and sometimes in a second language, too.

  • I can put words together into sentences.

  • I can tell you about things that happened yesterday and about what will happen tomorrow.

  • I may get frustrated trying to express myself. I need you to listen patiently. It can help if you put into words what you think I am trying to say because it makes me feel understood and helps me learn new words.

  • I also communicate by using my body. I make up dances, songs, and stories, and I draw pictures that tell you what is on my mind.

  • I love hearing and reading stories, especially about things I know—like animals, families, and places I have visited.

  • Sometimes I like to “read” or tell you a story.

  • I like songs, fingerplays (like “Itsy-Bitsy Spider”) and games with nonsense words.


[insert bookstore link]

Adapted from: 
Bringing Up Baby: Three Steps to Making Good Decisions in Your Child's First Years

In this book, parents will learn an easy, 3-step approach for making parenting decisions in the first three years and beyond. 

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