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July 24, 2024

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6 Toddler Behaviors: Are They Normal?

Holding her breath ... imaginary friends ... eating dog food? Toddlers do some pretty weird stuff ... but is that OK?

Once your toddler begins cruising around he'll start getting into all kinds of mischief. Only, he doesn't see it that way! He's exploring, learning, and doing what all baby mammals do, no matter if it's not what you want him to do. This is why we set up child proofing in our homes. This is why gates get erected at the top of stair cases, medicines and firearms get locked away and pools have alarms. But even with all of the safety precautions you can put in place, your little guy will do some things that will make you scratch your head. Is it normal, you may ask? Should I phone the doctor? Fear not. ALL littles get into stuff — keep him safe, but by all means, allow his exploration!

6 Toddler Behaviors You Want to Know More About

Breath Holding: Toddlers can hold their breath for a long time in response to pain, fear, frustration, anger or surprise. You may look over at your toddler and freak out that he's doing it. It can be very distressing for you, but it usually is not a sign of a serious problem. Talk to your doctor about it the first time it happens to help yourself feel better, though.

Eating Dog Food: If your dog's dish is within reach, at some point your toddler will sample it! The main ingredients are grains, meat products and veggies so not to worry. The biggest concern is if your child chokes on a big chunk of food. For this reason, don't leave dog or cat food around in a dish. Make sure your pets eat, then put it up!

Imaginary Friends:  Your child's within ear shot but she's not talking to YOU. She's babbling away to "someone else." Is that normal? Actually, it's very creative says Patricia Henderson Shimm in her book Parenting Your Toddler, An Expert's Guide to the Tough and Tender Years (Addison Wesley, 1995). Try not to make a big deal about your child's special friend, but don't incorporate the non-existant friend into activities, either. It's a phase she'll grow out of eventually.

Abandoning Naps: Most toddlers need at least one nap a day up to age 4, according to the book The Sleepeasy Solution: The Exhausted Parent's Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep. Between age 1 and 2 most children drop one nap and go to one a day. There are cognitive changes that happen as children grow, too. If your little one is happy, playful and good-natured then maybe he's not ready for his nap. You can be confident that he's ready for one when he's fussing, unhappy and irritable. Children this age need their sleep!

Acting Like a Baby: If you've just had another baby, there's a good chance that your toddler will show a bit of regression in a bid for attention. It's perfectly normal for a child to regress this way. However, if your child's showing any regression in motor skills (such as he used to climb but no longer can or he no longer talks), give your doctor a ring.

Organizing toys: Stacking, grouping, sorting is absolutely normal for toddlers to do — in fact, it's a big step in cognitive development. Not to worry! Obsessive-compulsive disorder is extremely rare in toddlers!

About the Author

Susan Swindell Day, Editor

Susan Swindell Day is the editor in chief of Nashville Parent and the mom of four amazing kids.