The early years of a child's life are a crucial period of growth and development. Toddlerhood, spanning from ages one to three, is a time of rapid change and exploration. As parents and caregivers, your priorities are focused on ensuring the overall well-being of your toddlers. This comprehensive toddler health information category page aims at providing valuable insights and information backed by credible sources. This key toddler health advice may be helpful for you to equip yourself with handling your toddler’s explorative phase better.
A number of developmental milestones characterize toddlerhood, from weaning off of breast milk to toilet training to learning to walk. Thus, this phase is also the most vulnerable phase, where a toddler becomes susceptible to several illnesses. These may include skin infections, allergies, dental issues, common colds or flu, fever rashes, respiratory ailments, digestive issues, and ear infections. Along with physiological development, this is also the phase of intellectual, social, and emotional development. Thus as parents, you must also learn to prioritize toddler mental health in order to prevent and manage behavioral and developmental disorders better (1 ).
Prevention of physiological, psychological, and developmental ailments requires you, as a parent or caregiver, to be keenly aware of your toddler’s developmental activities and milestones. You must also be able to tell how your toddler behaves when he/she is healthy versus unhealthy. An unhealthy toddler may generally be very fussy or irritable, disinterested in playing or eating, and unusually quiet. The toddler may also, at times, look flushed, show up with visible skin rashes, may feel hot to the touch, look dehydrated, and complain of diarrhea, feeling tired, cold, stuffy, or achy in certain parts of their body (2). On the other hand, you may also notice that your toddler has a fever but no other symptoms or that the toddler is throwing up with no fever. These cases require you to be alert and aware. While some may be quite harmless, others may require immediate medical assistance. Thus it is best to ensure your toddler has regular healthcare visits and timely vaccinations as per their immunization schedule.
Another crucial prevention measure is taking care of the gut and oral health of your toddler from the moment they begin weaning. Maintaining toddler gut health requires you to provide them with balanced nutrition such as whole grains, proteins, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens (3). This, along with adequate water intake and ensuring adequate spacing between meals and snacks, can help in maintaining good gut health in toddlers. Moreover, maintaining a regular routine of brushing twice daily and opting for routine dental checkups may help you ensure good toddler oral health. Additionally, ensuring that your toddler consumes less greasy, fried, and sugary foods or juices may not just prevent dental issues but also reduce their likelihood of childhood obesity. Ensuring that the toddler engages in at least three hours of physical activity can also aid the toddler’s growth and development (4).
Apart from this, you may also ensure your toddler has a healthy immune system through general precautions. These may include taking a bath, regularly changing diapers, and washing hands before every meal. These precautions may also reduce the risk of skin infections and flu in toddlers. In addition, family time during play and meals reduces their defiant behaviors, conduct issues, and picky eating. When a toddler explores new foods, active attention and praise from family may help them associate meals with relaxation and happiness (5). Family time activities can also assist in reducing screen time, ensuring that your toddler has good mental, physical, social, and emotional health.
Parental understanding and redressal of various aspects of toddler health require adequate awareness and attention to the health aspects of toddlerhood. This knowledge is integral to nurturing their growth and development. By focusing on gut health, oral hygiene, general physical and mental well-being, routine medical check-ups, vaccinations, and preventive measures, caregivers can provide a strong foundation for their toddlers' overall health. However, it is vital for you to note that medical advice and information may change over time. It's recommended to consult healthcare professionals for personalized guidance and up-to-date information.
Several viral illnesses may trigger this skin condition; take a doctor's advice if it worsens.
Spotting the triggers and modeling good behavior might help manage this condition.
Acknowledging their frustration without undermining it may help prevent them from acting out.
Controlling self-harming behaviors is possible when you are aware of the triggers.
Topical, oral, and intravenous antifungal medications may help treat fungal infections.
Identify the condition through behavioral signs and manage it with early intervention.
An essential guide for recognizing all the signs of growth your toddler will exhibit.
GI tract infections or food intolerances are common triggers for this condition.
Skin infections and food poisoning are some signs of this bacterial infection.
A drowsy and fussy toddler with a high fever may indicate a Roseola infection.
Early recognition of the stomach flu symptoms in toddlers can aid in better management.
A rare bacterial upper respiratory tract infection that can be easily managed by antibiotics.
Cleaning the toddler’s gums and brushing twice daily, visiting the dentist regularly, and applying fluoride varnish on your toddler’s teeth may help prevent common gum problems (6) (7). In addition, avoiding sugary drinks and foods or toffees that stick to the tooth may also help.
Excessive screen time may make a toddler susceptible to sleep disturbances, anxiety problems, depression, attention problems, and obesity (8).
Eczema in toddlers does not have a known cure. However, you may manage this skin issue by tackling the symptoms. Start by giving your toddler a lukewarm bath regularly and use a fragrance-free hypoallergenic soap. After the bath, pat dry and moisturize the toddler’s body with a creamy lotion and dress them in light and airy cotton clothes. You may also use a doctor-prescribed topical cream to address the itchiness. If your toddler has oozing blisters or a worsening rash, it is best to take him/her to a doctor. Do not self-medicate the child (9). In the case of diaper rashes, the same steps may work in addition to changing diapers regularly and not allowing the baby to stay in a dirty or used diaper for too long (10).
Parents can manage common toddler ailments by ensuring the child gets enough rest and timely medical attention. It is best to keep the toddler under observation for the first day on which symptoms have an onset. Adequate hydration and simple yet wholesome meals at regular intervals may help. You may give your toddler the necessary medications after confirming with your doctor. Also, ensuring the toddler bathes, washes their hands regularly, and uses tissues to wipe their nose, sneeze, and cough can help minimize the spread of infections. In case the toddler goes uncharacteristically pale, has trouble breathing, rashes, body pain, or constantly rising temperatures, you may immediately take them to the nearest physician (11 ).
Routine health checkups may help you track your toddler’s growth and development and ask any questions you may have about meeting their needs. These allow you to obtain regular health evaluations and immunizations done for your toddler, preventing the onset of illnesses (12).
The recommended vaccinations for toddlers aged one to three include yearly doses of influenza shots. Apart from this, children are given Measles, Mumps, & Rubella (MMR), Varicella, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and Pneumococcal vaccines before 15 months. Before 18 months, they are given Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus (DTaP), & Polio shots. Between 15 to 23 months of age, they are given the Hepatitis A vaccine (12).
Secondhand smoke exposure in toddlers is known to increase their susceptibility to wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, ear infections, and acute respiratory infections like asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, middle ear disease, and slowed lung growth (13).
You can keep your toddler from getting sick by practicing hygiene at home, such as brushing properly, bathing daily, and washing hands before meals. In addition, getting adequate sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet can help enhance toddler health. Also, ensuring they get regular health checkups, are immunized on time, and keep away from sick people can also prevent illnesses in toddlers (14).