Your child’s most rapid brain development occurs during the infant and toddler years. Parenting a child through infancy and toddlerhood seems to bring new joys every day, as you watch your son or daughter discover and respond to the world around us. Yet along with this learning and wonder, the early years can also cause frustration and anxiety for parents and caregivers. Knowing how to respond to your child’s needs when he can’t always use words to express himself can be challenging. Excessive crying, teething, bedtime and mealtime struggles, and managing tantrums all add to the stress that many parents of infants and toddlers feel. The information and resources provided on this page are meant to help you navigate these often confusing, sometimes difficult, and always adventurous years with your sanity (relatively) intact.
It’s a fact of life as a parent: you worry. You worry about your child’s health, safety, and whether he can do the same things other kids his age can do. Whether you have concerns about your child’s development, or just want to make sure she is meeting her milestones, the Ages and Stages Questionnaires® are helpful screening tools for all parents of young children. The questionnaires can help parents, doctors, caregivers and teachers of young children track children’s development and identify any potential concerns. Many children found to be “at risk” for developmental delays respond extremely well to early interventions and go on to develop on track with their peers. But early screening is important, because the sooner a potential problem is identified, the sooner you can take action to get your child the resources and support she may need.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened using a high-quality tool, such as the ASQ, at least three times before a child’s third birthday – at the 9-month, 18-month, and 24- or 30-month checkup visits. Many local pediatric offices give parents hard copies of the questionnaires when their children reach these ages. If your child’s pediatrician doesn’t distribute the questionnaires, or you want to take one instantly, the Easter Seals offers the questionnaires online for free. Visit the Easter Seals website and take the questionnaire for your child’s age here.
The best thing to do is share the results of the screening with your child’s doctor or healthcare professional. He or she can make recommendations about interventions you can try at home, or refer you to community services that may be available to assist you in supporting your child’s development. If your child is age 3 or under, you can also call Virginia Beach’s Infant & Toddler Connection at (757) 385-4400. Children ages 3 and older may be eligible for free diagnostic assessment and services through the Parent Support and Information Center of Virginia Beach City Public Schools. They can be reached by phone at: (757) 263-2066.
Children begin teething around three to five months. You may notice an increase in drooling and a desire to chew on items. Sometimes, children may experience pain as their teeth begin to come in, and that may result in irritability. To help dull the pain that sometimes accompanies teething, parents can massage the child’s gum area for a few minutes or they can let him/her chew on a teething ring. Topical teething gels or Tylenol may also help dull the pain. Teething should not cause fever, diarrhea, sleeping problems or diaper rashes.
Learn how to protect your infant and toddler’s teeth from cavities here.
Dentists recommend that parents take children for their first dental check-up shortly after their children’s first teeth come in, especially if the children are at high risk for dental problems. For instance, if your child drinks a large amount of juice or is a chronic thumb-sucker, you may want to take them to the dentist earlier. The first visit may occur between six and twelve months of age and is often as simple as a quick look inside. This helps your child become familiar with the environment and faces of the staff.
Parents should consult their child's pediatrician and/or dentist for specific recommendations regarding dental health.
Find local pediatric dentists here:
Every parent, at some point has experienced the resistance of bedtime from their young child. At some point or another, children perfect the art of stalling. For instance, asking for one more drink of water, going to the bathroom one more time, begging for one more story or demanding one more kiss. Not surprisingly, parents often report bedtime as one of the most challenging times of the day. There are several reasons why children resist bedtime: overstimulation, loud noises, TV, late nap time, inconsistent bedtime habits, anxiety, fear of the dark, etc. So how can parents effectively put their children to bed?
Establish routines for bathing, quiet time, prayers, snacks, or story time. Children benefit from a consistent time for waking up and going to bed, both during the week and on the weekend. The consistent routine will help the child settle into a regular sleep/wake cycle. It also helps to make bedtime as relaxing as possible. Television, highly active video games, and rough play should be discouraged right before bedtime. For bedtime tips, click here.
Parents may not be the only ones feeling sleep deprived. Children can also experience sleep deprivation. A lack of sleep can affect your child’s ability to learn, alter growth patterns and impact behavior. Parents should pay attention to the “sleepy cues” in babies and toddlers, such as rubbing eyes or acting cranky and fussy. This is a signal that the sleep “window” is approaching. This is a time where it can be relatively easy to get a child to fall asleep.
For children, receiving the proper amount of sleep actually maximizes their brain development. In the first year, babies need 14-18 hours of sleep per day. Ten of these hours should be spent in evening sleep, with the remaining hours being spent during naptime throughout the day. Toddlers need 13 hours of sleep a day, and up to about 18-19 months they should still be getting about two naps a day and ten hours at night. Many preschoolers begin to drop naps; however, rest during the day can help children focus on learning activities and managing their emotions. It is quintessential to your child’s development and your well-being that he or she gets the correct amount of sleep.
Safe Sleep Habits
Creating a safe sleep environment for your child will minimize the risk of injury or death at a young age. The most common cause of death in infants 0-12 months is SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Here are some things you can do to ensure a safe sleep environment for your baby: remove all loose-fitting crib sheets, blankets and stuffed animals, make sure to lay your baby on her back on a firm mattress, ensure the crib is safety-approved. For additional information on safe sleeping for babies, visit the Virginia Beach Department of Health’s website.
The National Sleep Foundation
Sleepless in America by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
Your young child is going to experience a lot of emotions that he or she cannot always express in constructive ways. Tantrums are common during the toddler years and usually peak around 15-18 months. The reality is that all children go through this phase, and it is unlikely that any amount of intervening on your part will eliminate tantrums completely in your toddler.
There is good news, however! While you may still have to deal with the occasional tantrum, there are effective ways for parents to redirect young children and move them toward more desirable behaviors, without constantly yelling or engaging in a test of wills. Please visit our Positive Discipline page to learn more about lovingly managing your young child’s behavior.
text4baby is a free service of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. If you’re pregnant or have a baby under the age of one, you can sign up to receive FREE text messages with valuable information on prenatal care, infant care, child development and more! Expectant mothers may sign up online here. You’ll receive text messages once a week throughout your pregnancy and throughout your baby’s first year. Visit the text4baby website for additional information.
: Bringing together City, Schools, and the Community for
a common mission.
GrowSmart’s mission is to promote and improve the
healthy development, school readiness, and reading
proficiency of young children, ages 0-8, in Virginia
This site was designed to provide information and resources for Virginia Beach parents, caregivers,and teachers of young children, ages 0-8.
The site is also intended for our community stakeholders who wish to find out more about the City of Virginia Beach’s early learning efforts and how you can get involved.
Address: 4525 Main Street Suite 700 Virginia Beach, VA 23462
Phone: (757) 385-0144
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| The City of Virginia Beach