Baby's Curiosity and Excitement
Between 13 and 15 months, your baby lives in the Right Here and Right Now. He is so determined to quench his own curiosity that he can't see past his own passions. As a result, he may appear endlessly defiant. You tell him "no" every time he climbs onto the couch to get to the windowsill full of plants, intent on excavating dirt, but he does it anyway. You tell him "no" when he wants a cookie and you want him to eat his banana instead, but he throws the banana on the floor and shakes his head, then grins at the mess.
You're not the only one saying "no." It's probably your toddler's favorite word. After all, he's heard it a lot in his short lifetime, it's easier to say than "yes," and it makes your child feel like he's in control, points out DeAnn Davies, a child development specialist and coordinator at Healthy Steps, in Phoenix.
What appears to be defiance at this age is really just a matter of your baby's becoming more mobile and self-aware. He is discovering his own likes and dislikes, learning to make choices, and testing the limits of what you will and won't let him do. He isn't being deliberately good or bad. He isn't old enough to have the memory, the attention span, or the impulse control to stay away from the stereo or remember that cookies are eaten only after lunch.
At this age, babies are in love with the world. "They want to know how everything works and what everything does," says Davies. "Now that your baby is walking, he is living life with gusto."
Let's Be Friends
Your 1-year-old will start taking a keen interest in other children now, observes Karen Carter, MD, a developmental pediatrician at the Medical College of Georgia Children's Medical Center in Augusta. "When you're out and about, you'll notice that he'll make eye contact with other babies or point out other children so that you see them, too," says Dr. Carter. Yet, if the two of you get together with another mom and toddler, your perfect little angel is apt to either ignore his friend or bop him over the head if they're fighting over a toy. What's that about? Are these so-called play dates worth the effort if you have to supervise your kids so closely?
Absolutely. Learning social niceties like sharing toys and not biting your best friend are huge developmental milestones that many children don't conquer until preschool. Yet, even if he's playing side by side with another toddler and doesn't seem to be actively engaged with him -- a type of interaction that experts dub parallel play -- your toddler is learning something from the interaction. Watch two toddlers playing in the same room, and you'll notice that they often glance in one another's direction and imitate each other's antics, whether it's making animal noises for a stuffed toy, stacking blocks, or tossing a handful of stones onto the playground slide. If such a play date breaks down and one child scratches, bites, or hits, it doesn't mean that child is mean or a lousy friend. It's just a sign that he's overwhelmed and has lost control -- something that happens to even the most placid players. That's why it's vital to supervise and intervene if necessary, and to be sure there are enough toys to go around. (It's wise to have doubles of popular toys.) And note: Studies have shown that toddlers are able to play together longer and interact better if they meet regularly, especially if they play one-on-one.