The toddler learning process is lengthy and can occur over a period of many months. Your toddler will begin to be able to follow simple directions and understand the names of objects. At this point, your toddler is busy trying to organize all the new things he's learning so they make sense. But toddler growth and development doesn't happen all at once.

Walking occurs in the early toddler months, while learning that one has a self (his own body and name, “I,” “me,” and “mine”) usually occurs between 18 and 24 months. Remember, too, that there is a wide range in typical toddler cognitive development. Think of cognition as a multipurpose word that includes:

  • Paying close attention to a book or game
  • Understanding the meaning of words and phrases such as “big girl”
  • Remembering a family rule
  • Figuring out the layout of his room
  • Understanding how objects relate to each other (like a spoon to a bowl)
  • Simple problem solving (use a toy rake to push or pull a ball that rolled under a couch)
  • Distinguishing real from “make-believe”

Your Toddler's Milestones

Looking at a picture book, he listens as you name an object, points to it and tries to say the word, all while strengthening his memory of the object and the book. Cognitive growth doesn't happen all at once, and some forms occur earlier and some later. Occasionally, he will be able to follow simple instructions (hooray!) like “Go get your shoes.” He will be able to match two like objects. And he's also getting a pretty good grasp on the uses of many household objects, like the coffeemaker.

How Can Nutrition Help?

Your child's brain has been doing a whole lot of heavy lifting since way before he was born. Taking in information and creating pathways to storage areas for all of it takes energy, which can only come from the nutrition he receives. So getting the right nutrients, especially protein, is critically important. The groundwork his brain is laying now will affect him for the rest of his life.