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Stef the Nanny’s Top 5 Tips for Toddler Parents
Stuck between being the baby and becoming a Big Kid, toddlers are unique to say the least. Cute and cuddly one minute, screaming and thrashing around the next – no, they won’t be like this forever, but a year or two is a while! Here are some tips to help you through this tumultuous stage! (You’ll miss it when it’s gone – no, really!)
1) Buy a climber for inside. This will keep you from saying “No!” all the time, and give you something to redirect their energy. Also, a climber will give them something to play on when you just can’t get outside due to weather, or you’re just too tired to fight about which shoe to put on first! I would also suggest an indoor ride-on toy – the more toddlers use their whole body, the better!
2) Don’t skip the toddler-sized things. To inspire true confidence and self esteem, the toddler bed, toddler chair and little potty are necessary steps on the way to becoming a Big Kid and should not be overlooked. A toddler’s main daily goal is to have power and loosen the parental control left over from their infancy. Accomplishing things on their own, without your help, is the best way to instill this self esteem and is a vital part of their healthy emotional development.
3) Start changing their diaper in the bathroom. Yes, get rid of that changing table! Hooray! Toddlers, as young as 18 months, must begin to associate bodily functions with the bathroom. (And you need to take care of your back, so stop lifting them up there – they are too big!) Even better than changing them in the bathroom is changing them while they are standing up (for #1). These are steps that will help to make the transition to the potty easier, because if they expect you to pull down their pants every time, they will miss out on the confidence-boosting joy needed for this intense transition.
4) Brush your teeth with them. Yep, whether you have eaten or not! Also, if your bathroom mirror isn’t low enough for them to see themselves, buy a small one and mount it at their eye level. Then bend down, stand next to them looking in that mirror, and brush. Toddlers want desperately to be big, so they are little parrots, and I strongly suggest you let them brush their own teeth. (And they LOVE to look at themselves!) Then heap on the praise, lots and lots of descriptive praise. At first they may only touch their teeth with the brush and say they are done, which is ok! (Hooray! What a great job brushing! Ok, let’s put on jammies now.) By allowing them this independence and bolstering it with positive reinforcement you will create a super brusher in 2 or 3 months. Additionally, because of your willingness to brush with them, they will never think brushing is a chore, because let’s face it, they think you’re pretty awesome!
5) Shred any food that can be shredded. Carrots, cheese, zucchini, apple, you name it – if you can shred it, they will eat it! Toddlers love the texture of shredded food, and you will love the peace of mind that comes with tearing up what could be choke-able foods! If the food is too mushy, like a peach, try freezing it! Then serve in a bowl with a fork or let them eat it with their fingers or piled on a cracker!
Thanks, Stef, for sharing these great tips! I feel like we’re on the right track as we’re doing some of the things you recommend! Hooray, me! From food throwing, SCREAMING, and bedtime challenges – get more toddler tips from Stef the Nanny at AskaNanny.com!