As your little one reaches 22 months old, he may get a little bossy and show some attitude. You might find yourself wondering how and when to set limits on his behavior, all while trying to encourage things like good eating habits. It’s OK to feel that you’re figuring it out as you go along, just like your little one is. This month is going to be an unpredictable adventure for you both, so strap yourself in!

Toddler Development Milestones

Your toddler is learning and growing as the months go by, and it’s fun to cheer him on as he makes progress on a number of fronts. Each child develops on his own timeline, but you may see your child do some of the following at 22 months old, or a little earlier or later:

  •  Stand on tiptoes. Around this age, your little one may be able to stand on his tiptoes. Be extra careful to keep things packed away as he may be using those extra few inches to reach for objects on a table or shelf.

  •  Follow simple instructions. Now or in the coming months, your toddler may be able to understand and follow simple instructions you give him, such as to pick up a toy or sit down.

  •  Sit in the director’s chair. Don’t be surprised if your toddler gets a little bossy, telling you what role you have in your joint activities, and even instructing you on what you need to do and when.

  •  Repeat words back. Your toddler may be paying more attention than you realize. You may notice your toddler repeats words back he’s heard you say in conversations, so watch what you say around him.

How to Support Your 22-Month-Old’s Development

There's a lot you can do to support your 22-month-old’s development. Here are just a few strategies you may want to try:

  •  Be a cheerleader. Encourage your toddler by responding enthusiastically to new skills he is mastering. Responding positively to good behavior and noticing his achievements will encourage your child to keep learning.

  •  Supervise curious explorations. Your 22-month-old is becoming more mobile and independent, and wants to explore his world. Although he’s starting to learn about cause and effect, he still hasn't developed common sense and the ability to think things through. Make sure you’re on hand to supervise so he stays safe as he explores.

  •  Teach home safety. Use simple terms to explain to your curious toddler about safety. Tell him not to touch the stove or pan because it’s hot, and not to go near plugs or sharp objects. If he asks why, try to answer briefly—say it’s hot or it will hurt. Keep in mind that explaining these things a few times doesn’t mean you can relax your vigilance, as he doesn’t fully grasp the concept of consequences and doesn't know how to keep himself out of harm’s way.

  •  Encourage learning through play. Play is the best way to help your toddler learn, so help him be creative during playtime. You can provide toys that encourage make-believe games, like blocks and kitchen sets, or help him set up a fort using sheets and a few chairs that can become a rocket ship or a tent on a camping expedition. Working on puzzles or doing arts and crafts together can also help stimulate your little one.

  •  Organize playdates. Playing with other children helps your toddler build social skills and also offers him a chance to make friends. Take your toddler to the local park and let him play with others, join a play group, or meet up with friends who have children of the same age so your children can play together while you catch up over a coffee.

  •  Read to your on-the-go toddler. While many toddlers love to climb onto a lap and cuddle when it's story time, others have a harder time sitting still for an entire book, or even for a few pages. If your 22-month-old is a bundle of energy, it's OK to let him stand while you read. Over time his attention span will increase, but in the meantime, picking a shorter book might be best. Children thrive on repetition, which helps them learn, so if your little one has a favorite he wants to hear over and over, go with it.

Mealtimes and Menus for Your 22-Month-Old

Your toddler needs a variety of nutritious foods for healthy growth and development. He may run out of gas quickly, so more frequent meals and snacks are a good idea. Most 22-month-olds will do well with 3 healthy meals and 2 snacks per day.

It’s OK if your toddler skips a meal or snack here and there, or wants to eat more sometimes. The key is to offer a choice of healthy foods, and let your little one pick what to eat. You might be surprised to learn that over the course of a few days your toddler’s diet will naturally balance out to ensure he gets the nutrients he needs.

Start Healthy Habits Early

Obesity is a concern for people of all ages, including children. The good news is that forming good habits and making small changes in childhood may help keep your little one at a healthy weight and prevent obesity later on. Keep in mind that it’s important not to create unhealthy relationships with food while you also encourage healthy eating.

Here are a few things you can do now to encourage healthy habits:

  • Encourage activity and movement. Help your little one move and be active as much as possible. Toddlers learn by example, so work on living an active life yourself. You and your child might enjoy dancing to some fun music, playing with a ball, or even just running around and chasing each other, for example. The National Association for Sports and Physical Education (NASPE) recommends you get 30 minutes a day of supervised active play with your little one, and 1 hour a day of free play.

  • Establish good eating habits. Offer a variety of healthy foods at appropriate times and let your child decide when he is full and has had enough. Don't try to control what he eats by insisting that he clean his plate, for example, as this can affect your little one’s ability to self-regulate.

  • Choose nutritious snacks. Offer healthy snacks such as fruit, low-fat dairy foods, and whole grain foods instead of cookies and chips.

  • Don’t let him fill up on sweets. If your little one doesn’t want to eat his main meal, that’s OK, but avoid giving him cookies or any sweet treats after refusing his meal, as it may cause him to develop a taste for empty-calorie foods over nutrient-dense ones.

  •  Eat at the table. Put away the phones, turn off the TV, and enjoy a family meal together at the table. Relaxed family mealtimes with conversation fosters bonding and helps build your child's communication skills and self-esteem.

If you have any questions about how to encourage physical activity and healthy eating, reach out to your toddler's healthcare provider for advice.

Dealing With Constipation

  • It is uncomfortable or painful for your little one to pass a stool

  • After a few days of your child not having a bowel movement, the stools are large, hard, and dry

  • There is blood on or in your child’s stools

  • Your child strains for more than 10 minutes yet doesn’t pass any stool at all.

If you suspect your little one may be constipated, there are a few things that may help:

  • Add high fiber foods to his diet.Food like prunes, apricots, plums, broccoli, and whole grain cereals and breads can help get things going.

  • Give your little one more water or unsweetened juice. Water or unsweetened fruit juice can help with constipation.Fruit juice like apple, pear, or prune contain a natural laxative, sorbitol, which can help loosen your toddler’s stool.

If your child is still struggling with constipation after modifications to his diet, check in with his healthcare provider, who may recommend or prescribe a mild stool softener.

22-Month-Old Toddler Sleep Schedule

Your little one needs around 11 to 14 hours of sleep per day, and at 22 months old, he may be down to 1 nap per day.

Toddlers do best with a routine, but that doesn't mean he will always get to bed or go to sleep on schedule every single night. You may find you’re struggling to get him to bed as planned.

Bedtime Won’t Always Go to Plan

Your toddler’s sleep is important, but as a parent, you shouldn’t worry if things don’t always go smoothly. Make an effort to put your little one to bed at the same time each night, but don’t worry if this happens later than planned on occasion.

Life is exciting for your toddler, and things like having a guest over or a new toy may make him want to stay up past his usual bedtime. Keeping excitement to a minimum in the hours before bed and a soothing bath or bedtime story may help him wind down.

If he is up late one night, just try to get back on track the next night and help him return to his usual bedtime schedule and routine. The odd late night here and there won’t make a difference in the long run.

A Day in the Life of Your Toddler

Although you could argue there’s no such thing as a “typical” day with a 22-month-old toddler, here’s a look at what a standard day in your home might look like:

Your Toddler’s Well-being: Developing Emotional Intelligence

When your toddler is around 22 months old, she is feeling a lot of new emotions but may not know how to express them. Your toddler learns by watching everyone around her, especially her parents! Here are some strategies to help your little one develop emotional intelligence:

  • Highlighting when someone shares. When sharing takes place between the adults or any older children in your home, make sure your little one is aware of it. Maybe even say that mommy is sharing her chocolate with daddy, so your 22-month-old begins to understand the concept of sharing and how good it is to do.

  • Expressing your own emotions. Your 22-month-old looks to you to learn, and may copy your behavior. You can help your little one learn how to communicate emotions by explaining your feelings in a constructive way. So if you’re feeling frustrated, rather than yell, feel free to share your feelings in an appropriate way. For example, say “Daddy is frustrated today” when you’re stuck in traffic rather than hitting the steering wheel. This helps teach her to vocalize her own emotions.

  • Rewarding good behavior with attention. When your child is doing something you like, notice this and give her your full attention. Reinforcing her positive behavior with your attention and approval builds her self-esteem and is the most productive way to encourage good behavior in the future. When she's misbehaving, try ignoring the bad behavior (as long as you’ve stopped her from doing anything unsafe) and give her minimal attention, which helps her learn that acting up just isn't worth it.

FAQs at a Glance

  • You may notice she’s more curious and independent, and walks more confidently now. She may even be able to speak more words, perhaps even say a couple of two-word sentences. Just keep in mind that each child is unique and that not all 22-month-olds will reach the same milestones at the same time.

  • A healthy balanced diet that includes protein foods, dairy, whole grains, and a variety of fruit and vegetables is best for your growing toddler. Aim to offer three meals and two healthy snacks per day.

  • There is no one ideal time to put your toddler to bed. Keep an eye out for when your little one tends to get sleepy and set this as her bedtime, keeping to this schedule consistently.

  • Talk to your toddler throughout the day and encourage conversations by listening to what she has to say and responding. Reading stories together and encouraging your toddler’s involvement by asking her to say some of the words with you also help with language development. If you have any concerns, consult your toddler’s healthcare provider.

Your Life as a Parent: Handling Bad Behavior

Toddlers have a reputation for being little terrors, especially when temper tantrums and other types of aggressive behavior begin to appear. Here are a few ideas for you to help keep the upcoming “terrible twos” at bay and curb any aggressive tendencies:

  •  Understand that toddlers cannot control themselves. At this age, toddlers don't have much self-control, and you need to help them learn not to push, hit, bite, or kick when they're angry. Instead, try to encourage them to "use their words" to express their feelings.

  •  Set the house rules. Create some simple house rules and teach them to your little one. If she breaks the rules, be firm and clear about what she did wrong. Keep in mind that teaching the rules and having them obeyed is something that takes time.

  • Avoid using threats. It’s more effective to “catch” your little one being good and reinforce good behavior with praise. If you notice bad behavior, try to teach an alternative way to behave instead of issuing threats.

  •  Use distractions. Preventing poor choices or bad behavior at this age often comes down to you presenting better alternatives instead. For example, if you see your toddler reaching for something breakable like a ceramic salt and pepper shaker, give her an alternative like a spoon to bang instead.

  •  Control your own temper. It’s easy to lose your cool and run out of patience, but it’s important to watch your own behavior around your child. You’re a role model for your little one. If you can express your anger or frustration in a cool, calm way, your toddler will learn to do the same.