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Between the ages of one and five your little one will experience lots of exciting new phases and big developmental milestones. All children learn and develop at their own pace, so here are just a few highlights you can expect, along with some ways you can help encourage your little one’s progress

Developing speech and language

Most toddlers say their first words at around 12-15 months, often starting with ‘Mama’ or ‘Dada’. By around 16-18 months they will probably have a handful of ‘key words’ they use a lot and they’ll begin to combine language and gestures to tell you what they need. By 21 months they will use around 50 words, and by 24 months they will be able to use simple pronouns e.g me, you and my. They may even be able to understand and carry out a two-step instruction such as “pick up your shoes and bring them to me”– if they’re in the mood to cooperate that is. By around 3 years old they will understand most simple sentences, and you may well find yourself answering lots of questions starting with where, what and why.

How can I help?

Chatting to your little one, action songs and rhymes, games and stories will all help your child’s speech and language to improve and develop.

Potty training

Ditching the nappies and learning to use the toilet is a huge step for your little one. While some toddlers are ready to start at 18 months, others are 2 years old and sometimes even close to 3. The best age to start potty training is when your little one is showing signs of being ready.

How can I help?

Allow your little one to customise their own potty e.g with drawings or stickers and dress them in clothes that are easy to get on and off. You could also try using a ‘star chart’ to help them see how they’re progressing, but plenty of love, patience and understanding will probably provide the greatest encouragement at this stage.

Physical development

Most toddlers take their first steps at around 13-15 months old, but as with everything else, it can be earlier or later. Running usually follows soon after. Many toddlers also love climbing from 14-15 months onwards, and this often starts with scaling the furniture. Between 18 months-2 years they’ll start jumping, and by 3-4 they’ll be riding a trike using pedals.

How can I help?

Providing plenty of opportunities for exercise and outdoor play is key at this stage. Encourage your little one to use climbing and balancing equipment at the local park and take them to soft play sessions. Plenty of calcium in their diet will also help them build strong bones.

Enjoying a varied and healthy diet

From around a year old, most babies and toddlers are eating much the same food as the rest of the family. Toddlers and pre-schoolers need a healthy diet of fruit and vegetables, starchy foods such as bread, rice and pasta, plus protein such as fish, eggs, meat, beans and pulses (or foods made from beans and pulses e.g. tofu and soya).

The NHS also recommends that young children older than a year have a daily intake of 350ml of milk, or two servings of foods made from milk such as cheese or yogurt.

How can I help?

Encourage your little one to try new foods while limiting sugar, salt and saturated fats. Try to provide a wide variety of fresh food to ensure they get the vitamins and minerals they need. Arla Big Milk provides all the calcium and goodness of fresh whole milk and it’s enriched with vitamins. Each cup of Arla Big Milk contains: Iron which contributes to normal cognitive development, Vitamin D which is needed for normal growth and development of bones in children and Vitamin A. Plus Arla is a farmer-owned cooperative, which means when you buy any Arla product, you know you are helping support their farmers and families.

Social skills

At 12 months babies don’t tend to interact much with other babies, but from 18 months-2 years they will be able to participate in small groups with other children. By 3-4 they will start learning to share and cooperate with other children as well as negotiating solutions to conflicts. They’ll also start to apply memory to help them remember the daily routine of nursery or pre-school.

How can I help?

Try to encourage independence and help your little one learn to do things for themselves e.g. getting dressed and tidying up their toys. Playdates, nursery and pre-school to help them get used to being around other children and before you know it they’ll be all set for that next big milestone – going to big school.

For more parenting tips tailored to your little one’s age and stage, sign up to Tesco Baby Club