Your little one is born and days are filled with sleeping, eating, growing and communicating. As time passes we watch in awe as they continue to grow and develop at an amazing rate. They watch, imitate, grab, babble and begin to move their limbs with purpose. Time passes and simple sounds take on real meaning, balance improves, sitting, rolling and interactions are more purposeful. Muscles develop and crawling allows for a new found freedom. They glide from one piece of furniture to another in preparation for independent walking and real words begin to appear. Personalities are clearly defined and you have a real little person on your hands!

Raising a toddler is one of life’s most challenging and yet most rewarding experiences. As parents we strive to provide our toddler with everything they need to grow into healthy, happy and well-adjusted little beings capable of great things. Providing all that they need is a daunting task, one that is best accomplished by welcoming the assistance of family, friends and professional educators. The old adage "it takes a village to raise a child" is a wise piece of advice.

Early experiences in childhood; relationships, environments, feeling a sense of support, all have a profound impact on a toddler's development and later in their success. During the early years there is rapid growth in critical neurological and biological systems making it essential that we nurture them all well.

Grandparents are full of potential, they typically have free time, lots of patience and a wealth of knowledge. What a wonderful gift for any toddler. Unconditional love and support that comes from someone other than a parent. Aunts, uncles, trusted family friends or classroom teachers there are many people who care for and about your toddler. Welcome their assistance and know that all of these relationships enrich your toddler in many ways.

The funny songs that Grandma sings, becoming an airplane as Grandpa scoops them up and twirls them around, a quiet book being read on a cozy lap, baking cookies in the kitchen the list is endless and so are the memories and skills that are being created. These wonderful activities are all helping your toddler develop stronger motor skills as they move and learn to control their bodies in new ways. Better cognitive skills emerge as they process directions, remember the sequence of an activity and begin to problem solve. They develop stronger and more confident social skills just from being around different people, different settings and new and changing environments.

Parents often wonder what type of a person their toddler may grow to be. We watch anxiously for signs that they may be artistic or good with math. The problem is, all toddlers love to learn in their own wired way. Provide them with as many different opportunities to learn as possible and allow time for them to find their "comfort area" the area that just comes easily and naturally to them. We all have it, we remember better if we see something or write it down or do it ourselves. Take your toddler on a journey to find the best them possible!

We and the people that we allow closest to our toddlers are both their first teachers and role models. The things we say and do, the very way we react and interact with others are messages that our toddlers are carefully observing and remembering. All of those adorable, or not so adorable, behaviors are simply our toddlers mimicking and displaying behaviors they have seen and been exposed to. Provide positive, loving and nurturing experiences and you will see those traits revealed in your toddler. Choose the people you allow into your toddler’s life with care. Then sit back and enjoy the wonderful gift of "opportunities" you have provided your little one with. They will repay you by embracing all the lessons you and others provide and grow in ways that are hard to imagine!