Monday, September 9, 2013

Toddler Milestones They Don't Tell You About

Eating solid food, walking, talking—everyone knows about these milestones. But there are critical stages in toddler development that the books don’t talk about. Fortunately, for any parents-to-be about there, I have outlined these missing stages below that my youngest son Drew is going through. You can thank me later.

Begging at the Grocery Store

This is one of those milestones that can be confusing for parents. I’ve heard parents of newborns say that their children exhibit this ability because their children cry vigorously while shopping, earning some impressive stares from other shoppers. Labeling this behavior as “begging at the grocery store,” however, is like calling “chewing on toys” the same thing as “eating solids.”

True begging at the grocery store is specific, and I’m happy to say that Drew has been exhibiting this ability for a few months now. A brightly packaged item is spotted, an immediate desire is formed, and a full-fledged physical effort to obtain the desired item ensues. This behavior can include, but is not limited to, reaching from the cart, unbuckling the seatbelt and standing up, whining, begging, and knocking other items off the shelves. If your child is doing these things, you can sigh with gratitude that your child is developing normally.

Elmo Infatuation

There’s something about those big, round eyes, that silly orange nose, and that friendly red face that submits subliminal messages to your child once he reaches a certain age. Those messages activate the Elmo receptors in the brain, causing a child who had no interest in this strange creature the day before to develop an instant, irrevocable infatuation.

My son Drew has reached the Elmo-infatuation stage of development—a full two months ahead of his average peers. It goes without saying that we are pleased beyond belief and have posted his exceptionality on Facebook. Most days, he maintains a death grip on Elmo for 15-20 minutes. His advancement in the death grip area balances out our concern about the fact that he makes monkey noises when he sees Elmo. We can understand his species confusion here, because really, what is Elmo anyway?

Collapsing on the Floor in a Fit of Despair

This is a milestone that is shockingly overlooked in printed books and on the web. I’ve seen toddlers as old as two years old still resorting to simple crying when they don’t get their way. I’m often tempted to point it out to the parents—have they talked to their pediatrician? Have they considered seeing a collapsing-on-the-floor-in-a-fit-of-despair (COTFIAFOD) therapist? But, I don’t want to make them feel bad because of my own child’s giftedness.

Drew has recently mastered COTFIAFOD. For those of you wondering if your child is doing it yet or not—those first few times can often be ambiguous—keep in mind that rolling on the floor alone is not sufficient. It’s important that he begins in a standing position and then allows all muscles to give way at once in proper wet-noodle form, thus achieving a true collapse.


Nose-picking is an underrated skill in modern, civilized society. Especially since some scientists think it’s an instinct that evolved to boost your immune system. Fortunately, our little ones seemed to be hard-wired to achieve this developmental milestone. It usually comes shortly after the COTFIAFOD milestone, or sometimes in tandem. Experienced parents will tell you that it is the combination of these two milestones that signals the end of babyhood. We’re up to 3-4 boogers per day consumed, almost making it Drew’s favorite food (second only to milk, of course). Not that we’re bragging.

Pointless Fighting with Your Sibling

Early “fighting with your sibling” may begin as young as eight to nine months old. These fights, however, often arise out of some real—or at least perceived as real—conflict. What differentiates this toddler milestone from earlier examples is the pointlessness.

Your brother happens to be standing next to you, so you pop him on the head. He’s asleep on the couch, so you climb on top of him. You find yourself with a foam sword in your hand, so you give him a good whack. Not for any reason. Not out of anger. Just because you can. Whenever I see Drew give Jake a good pop on the head, I admit I get a little teary-eyed. He’s growing up so fast.

Did I miss any critical milestones neglected in the parenting handbooks? Feel free to add them below.


  1. Well stated! I'm sharing this with my daughter...I'm sure she will find it informative as Fynn grows!


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