Frequently Asked Questions: 15 Months
How can I teach my toddler to stop hitting and biting me?
Many toddlers go through a biting and hitting stage because children at this age often cannot yet express their feelings well enough with words. They bite or hit parents, other children or caregivers to get attention or to express frustration (for example, because they want something that they cannot have).
When your child bites or hits you, it is very important that you make a swift, direct response. State firmly and immediately: "No! Do not bite! Biting hurts!" Keep your words simple and short. Long explanations about why biting and hitting are wrong are useless with toddlers — children this age simply don't have the attention span or developmental ability to understand. Remove him from the frustrating or over-stimulating situation for one to two minutes. If your child has kicked or hit another child, also pay attention to the victim. By properly addressing this behavior, most children do learn quickly that this kind of behavior is socially unacceptable and stop.
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How do I get my toddler to drink from a cup instead of a bottle?
All toddlers are different; some switch from the bottle to the cup easily, while others want to hold onto that bottle for dear life! In general, it is a good idea to stop giving the bottle around 12 months of age. The earlier you start the process, the easier it will be. Once children have teeth, using bottles, especially at bedtime, can lead to cavities.
You can introduce a cup as soon as your baby begins feeding himself finger foods, usually around 9 months. Start with a cup that has handles for your toddler to hold onto. Toddlers can learn to drink from a regular cup, but many parents choose one with a spout and a snap-on lid ("sippy" cup) to minimize spills. Initially, put only a small amount (1/2 to 1 ounce) of breast milk or formula in the cup and offer it at one meal a day. Don't worry if your child treats the cup as a toy and tips it over. Eventually, he will get some of the liquid into his mouth. As he gets better at drinking from the cup, you can gradually put in more liquid and offer it more times during the day.
It is OK to start offering a cup with water or juice, but this can delay the weaning process because some children then think the bottle is for milk and the cup is for other things.
Don't be surprised if it takes several months to wean your child completely off the bottle. Let your toddler's interest in the cup guide you. Expect occasional setbacks. For example, when your child has a cold or cough, he may ask for a bottle because it is comforting and familiar to him. Try to be flexible and let your toddler develop according to his own schedule.
It is also common for a toddler to be reluctant to give up the last bottle-feeding before bedtime. Toddlers like routines, and the bedtime bottle is often part of a soothing bedtime ritual that includes cuddling with mom or dad. Most toddlers do not actually need the nutrition of a bedtime bottle and can easily sleep through the night without it. You may want to first offer a bedtime bottle with water instead of milk, and then switch to water from a cup. If your child drinks anything other than water after he has brushed his teeth before bed, he should brush his teeth again. Sugars from milk or juice left in the mouth while sleeping can cause cavities.
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How much television should my toddler watch?
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that parents avoid television viewing for children younger than age 2 years. Studies on early brain development have shown that babies develop best through interactive play with people, such as singing, talking and reading together. Although some programs are promoted as being "stimulating" or "educational," it's doubtful that babies learn more from them than from face-to-face interaction with their parents or other caregivers.
If you choose to allow your toddler to watch television, it's important to select the content of his viewing carefully. Pick educational and nonviolent programming from public television or children's videos; both are free from commercial advertising. Consider music videos for children; infants and toddlers especially enjoy singing and dancing. Watch the program with your child, so you are sure that it is appropriate for her. Try not to use the VCR as a babysitter — pick one or two shows or short videos as a special treat.
For children younger than 2 years of age, it is recommended that total media time be limited to less than an hour per day. Limiting TV time when your child is still a toddler may help to avoid battles over how much he can watch later in life. More importantly, it will help him learn to look beyond the television for sources of entertainment.