There are so many great things about toddlers! You don’t have to haul around quite as much when you leave the house. You can grab food on the go if you need to and they can drink through a straw. (That changes your life. Seriously!) They can (sometimes) tell you what is wrong instead of just wailing until you figure it out. They force you to look at the world with fresh eyes. That’s my favorite part. “Mama! Bird! Mama! Mama! Bird!” (Honestly, how often do most of us get really excited about seeing a bird?)
There is certainly a big difference between a one year old and a three year old, but I still consider 1-3ish the toddler years. A LOT of changes happen in that time, so there are a lot of things that won’t work with the littler ones, but will with the bigger toddlers. There’s no way to cover it all anyway, but here are a few tidbits I’ve learned about toddler times:
- Offer nutritious foods as much as possible, but don’t expect them to eat it all. There will be days when your toddler eats nothing at all. There will be other days when (s)he is a bottomless pit. Don’t worry so much about getting all the required nutrition in one day, but over the course of the week. (Also don’t join the “Clean Plate Club”.)
- Along the same lines, if you make up funny names for nutritious food, it seems to make them much more palatable. For example we call edamame ‘pop beans’. English peas are ‘power dots’. Carrots are ‘rabbit sticks’ and granola bars are ‘candy bars’. It’s all in the marketing.
- Magic Air is a miracle tool. If your child falls and hurts themselves, ask if they would like some magic air to make it better. Over acting is a plus when doing this. Then blow on the boo-boo. I’ve found that this stops the tears approximately 97% of the time.
- Also invest in a can of Monster Spray – aka air freshener with a sheet of paper wrapped around it that says MONSTER SPRAY. No need to be high-tech, just a sheet of paper, a piece of tape and a marker and you can do it up in about 20 seconds. Whenever those pesky monsters start scaring your sweet babe, you pull out that Monster Spray and spray ’em away. (Bonus: Nice smell in the closet!)
- The sillier, the better. Make funny faces. Make up silly nonsense words. Dance around like a fool. You may feel like an idiot, but the laughs are worth it.
- Let them explore without interfering. As parents we tend to want to show our children how to “do it right” when really just doing it is what is most important. Let him pull all of the clothes out of the laundry basket and put it back in 10 times. Let her read the book upside down. Let them toddle around in the yard and feel the grass and dig up the sand. And remember “God made dirt and dirt don’t hurt”! (I assume that’s a southern thing. Does the rest of the world know this little ditty?)
- Temper tantrums. The best possible thing to do about temper tantrums is pay attention to what triggered it. Once you learn what sets your child off, try to avoid those things. For example, Asa naps about every other day. If it is a nap day, I try not to make plans. And when I do, I usually regret it. An example with Anna Alden is that the girl does not like to be hungry. I try to anticipate when she’ll be hungry and plan around that. But if you do find yourself dealing with a full-on tantrum, act don’t react. Depending on which child is melting down, my response is different. Some of my children simply need to get it out. I actively choose to ignore it and once (s)he realizes I’m not phased by it, (s)he stops. For some of the others, they just need to be held. I wrap them up in my arms and squeeze tightly (but not too tightly!) until (s)he snaps out of it. It is embarrassing as hang when a temper tantrum happens in front of other people. (I tend to close my eyes and pretend that if I can’t see them, they can’t see me. ) The main thing is not to let your frustration make the situation worse. Choose how you will calmly respond and act on your decision. And please please please don’t negotiate with your child…that never ends well. (<—That right there is experience speaking.)
- Even though most laws state that you can turn your toddler’s carseat around when the child is one (laws vary per state), it is best to leave it rear facing until your child is 2 (or as long as possible). Looking at the data, it’s hard to imagine why everyone but the driver doesn’t sit in rear-facing car seats. (I mean just watch the difference! Rear facing vs. Foward facing)
- When your sleep-through-the-night child starts waking up at night, (s)he may be ready to potty train. (S)he may be waking up because of an uncomfortable bladder situation.
- Potty training. Different things work for different kids. There are lots of different tactics and methods. For us I’ve found the easiest to be just wait until they are ready. I tried to work on it with Carter and it left us all frustrated and annoyed. With the others, I’ve just waited until it happened. (I’m still waiting with Asa, but I think we’re close!)
One to three year olds are a wild little bunch, but they are so much fun! They absorb so much information during this time period. Isn’t that so much fun to watch?