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20-Month-Old Child Milestones: 7 Real-Life Examples

Every few months, I write a love letter to my little girl, Adeline, so that we can one day look back and reminisce. For so many reasons, I am incredibly sentimental. I love to journal to savour and remember all the little things and the cool developmental milestones of my baby. This is my latest letter to you!

Mom Hack:

Stop buying the expensive toys and get to the dollar store!

I've had it with buying toys for Adeline only for her to play with it for 5 minutes and then toss it into the toy graveyard (the basket of toys in the corner of our living room). The dollar store (or the dollar section at Target) has provided hours of entertainment (or at least a few minutes considering the limited toddler attention span). I don't feel guilty when I buy a dollar store book, car, or toy, and she ruins it, because it was only a dollar!

At 20 months, interactive activities that promote creativity, learning, and imagination are ideal. An excellent mom tip is to set up a little activity station or table for your toddler to make a mess, this works wonders for keeping the chaos localized to one spot.

I have included some links to my favourite activity items at the end of this post.

Dear Adeline,

I am in awe of you!

Every day, you master something new, and you surprise me with some new word, phrase, or milestone. You just hit 20 months, and your second birthday feels like it is way too close. I love that you are growing and learning new things, but at the same time, you are growing up so fast.

What can I say about you? Well, you've got personality, kid!

A cool part of parenting a toddler is witnessing first-hand what makes you, you. And now that we can interact more with other people and kids, who you are, and what you are like is becoming 100% more apparent. As an aside, when I started writing this letter, we were in Atlanta, where you were surrounded by your Aunty Araba, Tanya, Cousin Shane, friends, family, and a puppy. Compared with our home in California, your days got a lot livelier with a lot less social distancing. How would I describe your emerging personality? You are such a sweetheart. You wake up every morning smiling, asking to play some music, and ready to cuddle, for this, I am so grateful. You are a thoughtful observer (a trait you get from your dad), and you like to check out the scene before you jump in, especially when it comes to other people. You are a mommy's-girl, but you love and will hang out with anyone who shows you attention, warmth, and love. It may take you a second to warm up to someone new, but once you do, they are your BFF. Here are seven developmental personality traits that are par for the course at your age, that I find adorable.

Just a quick disclaimer for those mom's reading this as we all need reminding, all babies and kids are different at grow and learn in different ways and this post is meant to share some examples and give a little snap-shot of Adeline at 20-months. There are still so many things she hasn't mastered yet (like jumping up and down), which I find funny, but I am not worried about one bit, she will get it eventually.

1) You climb on everything!

Your sense of adventure has taken over, which is why you are not only into everything but on top of everything as well. You have reached a new level of independence, and at this age I don't have to keep my eyes on you every second. I can now walk to the other side of the kitchen island and be farther than ten steps away from you, but at the same time, as soon as I let my guard down, you are up to something that you shouldn't be. And let me tell you, you are fast! The other day, I turned my head, and the next thing I knew, you were standing on top of the table doing a little dance. I have learned that I cannot underestimate you. Today, I thought you were following me into the other room, turned my back for a split second, and you managed to get to the top of the stairs (since we are staying at your Aunt's house, we don't have any baby gates set up, which means we have to be extra careful). Fun fact about your mom; I rode my hobby-horse tricycle down the stairs when I was around your age and knocked out my six front teeth, thank goodness they were baby teeth, but I had a lisp for years because of it. I’m trying to be extra cautious that this does not happen to you. It’s tricky for your momma because I'm trying to balance letting you explore with not letting you get yourself too hurt. I don't want you to be the girl in the bubble, but I feel the need to Baby Proof. As an aside, baby proofing should be called "maintaining mommy's sanity and keeping my kids' alive proofing," but I guess that is too much of a mouthful.

2) You have found your obsessions, your likes, your dislikes, and you are vocal about them.

You love, love, love Elmo and would listen to Elmo songs on repeat for every waking minute of the day if you had your way. I thought I would be one of those moms that wouldn't give into cartoons before the age of 2 and I also thought I wouldn't let you listen to high-pitched kiddie music all day, but I ate my words on both of those things. You are Elmo-obsessed, and I am happy to let you indulge in what you love (within healthy moderation, of course). You have a talking Elmo doll (we have now removed the batteries because I would go mental if I didn't) and little Sesame Street figurines that have become a daily part of your world. You also have specific food obsessions (you love peas and avocados and pasta (although, who doesn't love pasta). You also love to sing and dance (fave songs include; It's Raining Tacos, The Elmo Slide, Oh Happy Day, and Shake Your Booty (talk about eclectic tastes). A few months back, I could use a distraction technique to get you to forget about a toy or switch your focus, and now that does NOT fool you. You don't forget, which is why I have accepted that Elmo will be a permanent addition to the family. Lucky for us, you threw your beloved Elmo doll in the pool and now we don't have to worry about him talking ever again.

3) Your creativity is showing and you love to colour!

We may have an artist on our hands because colouring, painting, stickers and play dough are your jam. Thankfully, these are great developmental activities for toddlers and babies because they foster creativity, develop hand-eye coordination, imagination, and focus, so one trip to the dollar store has done wonders. I bought washable markers, paint, and sidewalk chalk, which entertain you for long enough that I can get a much-needed mommy break (i.e., make you dinner or check Instagram). There is a reason why kid-friendly restaurants usually give out crayons or markers, and I never leave the house without a few pieces of sidewalk chalk in a zip lock bag because you never know when I need to distract you. One of your unique qualities is that you seem to hyper focus your attention, which is something I love about you (not just because I can take a break, but because the intensity in your face is adorable). Mess-free markers that only draw on a specific colouring book are a godsend, because if I let you use the real deal, it's a guarantee that more of the markers, paint/chalk would end up on your body, the furniture, and/or the walls than the paper I give you. Is there an innate trait in all kids that makes them repel paper and colour literally anywhere else? For the most part, we try to do a lot of the really messy stuff outside when you are wearing nothing but a diaper. Again, grateful that it is summertime.

4) Speaking of messes, you get into a mess faster than I can say, "Adeline, no!"

Everything ends up either on the ground or on your body. At your age, this is the time when curiosity prevails, and logic fails. Of course, it makes sense for you to pour your milk on the floor, and then splash around in it. Of course, it makes sense for you to lick the dog bowl (eww, totally gagged); of course, it makes sense for you to colour all over your body. What's yucky to mommy sure isn't yucky to you (which is why one of our favourite books is Yucky, Yummy by Leslie Patricelli because it's helping to teach you the difference). It's true what they say; if you hear only silence, then your kid is up to something. This could not be more true, and nothing gives parents more of a heart attack than that moment when everything is quiet, no pitter-patter of little feet, no fighting, no singing, which usually means mess. The toddler mayhem is real, and sometimes it's hilarious (you painted the dog), and sometimes it's terrifying (I left my coffee mug too close to the edge of the table, thankfully it was cold when it fell, which is typical because as a mom, a hot coffee is a luxury). I have thrown my hands up on inevitable messes and have started to chill out. As the saying goes, there is no point in crying over spilled milk, and my solution has been to get you outside as much as possible.

5) The tantrums have become EPIC.

Catch you when you are tired, hangry, or at any off moment of the day; you throw a mini-fit. Your crankiness doesn't always manifest in tantrums, hitting has become a go-to move as you like to swat at people when you are tired, or even swat at yourself. Apparently, hitting and biting are typical ways for a toddler to act out, but that doesn't make it any more fun. Wrestling an alligator is easier than wrangling a toddler having a tantrum and when you don't want to do something, good fecking luck to us. We went to the playground the other day, and you had a full-blown meltdown because you didn't want to put your shoes on. It was one of those tantrums that lasted long enough to feel a million other eyes on me. Luckily, the playground is a safe space filled with other moms who have all been there, so the judgment was minimal. I scooped you up and just held you tight while you got it out of your system, all the while trying to convince you of the fun things you could do after you put your shoes on. These are NOT one-off incidents, but I can say that you are a little peach the rest of the time and recover pretty quickly.

6) You are shy and coy around strangers.

As verbal as you are around immediate family, you are starting to play coy with other people. This past week, something just changed, and it now takes you a minute to warm up to newbies (before it took you about 3-seconds). Maybe if you are in the right mood, you will respond to a stranger immediately with a smile and wave (like the teller at the grocery store or a neighbour that we pass by on the street, who all gush over your cuteness). You are more than friendly with other kids and babies at the playground, maybe even too friendly. You gave a little boy you just met at the park a hug and kiss (sigh, I am working on that lesson about boundaries), but you are shy with adults and older kids. It could just be covid anxiety, but you are also more clingy than before (especially with me). The other day we saw our neighbour’s kids playing, and you wanted to run over to see them, but when we got there, you barely lifted your head and burrowed into my legs for ten minutes.

7) You are a Chatty Cathy, and your vocabulary is super impressive!

Conversations are becoming a two-way street, and I know you understand and absorb something new every day. You truly are a sponge (I realize that parenthood manifests a lot of cliché statements, and this one is the truth). It's not only one-word identifiers anymore, whereas you used to point and shout out a word, like doggy, or wave hi to mama, or a baby at the park; now you are on an entirely new level of dialogue. You repeat everything, and I know that is your way of consolidating a word into memory. You can now sing along with songs, or at least sing the last phrase of each verse. Mommy is still your favourite word, of course, but your newest game is to see how many times you can say "Mommy" in one day (a trait that lasts well into the teen years, so I've been told). I am stunned because you can now count to ten and are on your way to signing along with the Alphabet song, and you can identify a bunch of the letters as well. Sometimes, I am the only one who understands what you are saying (it's still baby talk), but you for sure know how to express yourself, and once I do a quick translation, everyone else understands too. I was blown away when in the span of a few weeks; you went from saying two-word sentences like night-night to a heart melting "I love you too, Mommy.” You also talk in the third person, and you know how to use possessive statements, which is so crazy. Some of my faves; "Adeline's climbing," "Adeline's colouring," and "Mommy's hungry." The fact that you are starting to express how you are feeling and even in relation to other people as well, is mind-blowing. The other day you said that you were sleepy and that daddy was sleep-ing and you knew the difference between the phrases. So impressed! I know everyone's kiddos start talking and expressing themselves at different rates and in different ways. Still, I cannot help but be impressed with you, such a little being, growing and learning and literally changing overnight.

Adeline, you make me so happy!

You are funny, focused, cuddly, assertive, and as sweet as pie. I love being your mum, and watching you grow makes my heart full.

Big hugs, my sweet little girl!



Thank you for reading!

I would love to hear what your baby is up to right now. Please feel free to share!

Here are some links to some of our favourite activities:

  • Sidewalk Chalk at Target $2.49

  • Crayola Mess-Free Markers: $4.99

  • Washable Paint $2.99

  • Magnetic Drawing Board at Amazon $19.99


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