Encouraging your toddler’s burgeoning independence sets her on a path towards self-reliance, builds her ability to plan and accomplish sequential tasks, and strengthens her fine motor skills.
Here’s a guide of age-appropriate self-care tasks to help you support your little one during this important phase of her toddlerhood.
- 11 months: Your toddler can remove her socks, and she moves her body and limbs to help you while you dress her.
- 14 months: If you start undressing her, she can finish by pulling out her arms and legs.
- 17-20 months: She fully participates in getting dressed and undressed with your help, and may be able to pull on pants with an elastic waistband.
- 24 months: Get ready to chase your naked toddler! She can take off her clothes by herself now (shirts with sleeves may take more time to master). She may be able to put on slip-on shoes or ones with easy closures, like velcro straps.
- 6 months: If she’s sitting independently, she’s ready for solid foods and interested in feeding herself. At this stage she’s eating purees, so this is fun for her and messy for you!
- 13 months: Her improving fine motor skills allow her to experiment with using a spoon. Get your camera ready so you can capture her with yogurt all over her face! She’ll get better and better at using a spoon, and will get most of the food into her mouth by about 20 months.
- 15 months: You can start teaching her to drink from a cup with no lid. She’ll need your help at first, and will do it solo by 17-20 months.
- 17 months: She can start experimenting with a fork, although it will take until close to her second birthday to get better at using it.
- 22 months: She can use a napkin to wipe her own face, and she can peel a banana or other easy-to-peel fruit.
- 16 months: She can work alongside you to pick up toys, but needs reminding about where things go.
- 17 months: She can put her dirty clothes in the hamper, and her shoes away.
- 20 months: She can help clean up a spill, and bring her dirty dishes to the kitchen after a meal.
- 21 months: She has a better understanding of where things belong, and can more independently pick up toys or help put away clothes.
- 16 months: She can practice brushing her own teeth before you do the actual job. She’ll get the hang of this when she’s 3 or 4 years old, but your pediatric dentist may recommend you help her until she’s even older.
- 18 months: She can participate in hand washing, but still needs help. By her second birthday she’ll be able to wash her hands alone.
- 22 months: At bath time, she can help lather the soap, wash herself, and dry off.
Encouraging your toddler’s self-care independence adds time to your already busy day, but when you step back from doing for her what she can do for herself, you send the message that she is capable and provide her first opportunities to feel like a contributing member of the family.