After your child's first birthday, you may witness a transition from needy newborn to take-charge toddler. Here are some signs that she's ready to try taking care of herself.
Milestone 1: Feeding herself. By 15 months, she may show interest in using a spoon, even grabbing it when you feed her. By 18 months she may be able to handle the spoon pretty well (and get most of the food into her mouth). Keep plenty of paper towels handy – it's about to get messy!
How you can help. Invest in rubber-tipped spoons so she doesn't hurt her gums. Use unbreakable dishware that can survive multiple tumbles from the high chair to the floor.
Milestone 2: Taking her first steps. Many toddlers take their first steps around their first birthday. Signs your child is ready include rolling around, scooting, and climbing stairs using hands.
How you can help. Make sure your baby gets plenty of tummy time from early on. Walking requires strong back muscles, which your baby develops when he lies on his tummy and lifts up his head.
Milestone 3: Brushing her teeth. While she won't have the coordination to take over the toothbrush task completely until age six or seven, you can let her practice if she wants to try.
How you can help. Most dentists encourage parents to let their child brush his teeth on her own, and then to follow up with a thorough cleaning.
It's thrilling to watch your child become more and more independent, but it's important to let her reach milestones at her own pace. Your job? Provide support and show her how it's done.