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Man, it sounds super cliche, but time sure does fly and you'll realize this even more when you decide to become a Mama and have your own little one.
Over a year ago now, I was going to my scheduled induction. Little did I know that would turn into an unplanned C-section the next day, but through all the emotional, mental and physical pain, I was finally able to look my little guy in the eyes for the first time - a moment I will never forget (and, yes, I did automatically cry).
On November 28th, my little guy turned one. This means he is no longer an infant and is officially toddler.
But what does that actually mean?
I've narrowed down what I consider to be either the most important or most "I was today year's old when I learned this" things about having a toddler.
Here they are:
1. Toddler Age Range
This may seem so obvious, but, how many of you actually know this? I didn't and never thought to Google it until, well, today, as I was writing this.
Your little one is considered a toddler from 12 months to 36 months. In other words, from 1 to 3 years old.
2. Toddler Physical Milestones
For my little guy, it was almost as though he was waiting to be exactly at toddler age to officially start walking.
We quickly went from a newbie toddler walker to a toddler runner, very, very quickly.
So get ready to chase your new toddler around, literally EVERYWHERE.
This guy is starting to dislike the shopping cart and stroller while we're out and would much rather hold your hand to walk around so a whole other layer of interesting will be added to your shopping trips!
Here are some other notable toddler physical milestones to look out for:
- Throwing and kicking a ball (around 12 months)
- Pushing and pulling (12-18 months)
- Squatting (12-18 months)
- Climbing (12-24 months)
- Running (18-24 months)
- Potty training (24-36 months)
- Jumping (24-36 months)
Whew, I'm already tired just looking at the days ahead. Good luck new toddler Mama's!
3. Toddler Potty Training
I wanted to zoom in on this toddler physical milestone mentioned above. I already know this is going to be one of those parenting adventures so I wanted to provide a few things I did some research on.
Some signs your toddler is ready for potty training may include:
- Pulling at a soiled diaper
- Looking at a soiled diaper as to communicate to you it is dirty
- Squatting or crossing legs when he or she needs to go
- Talking about going pee-pee or poo-poo
- Wanting to watch you use the potty
If you do your own research, you will find so many different methods and tips on how to effectively potty train your toddler. When we get there, I'll do some trial and error of my own and probably write a whole blog on it, but for now, here's a great how to potty train your toddler video I found that seems extremely helpful:
4. Toddler Mental Development - Time to Read to Your Toddler - Pre-Reading Stages
If you've already been reading to your toddler since infancy, you've probably noticed there has been a lot more interest during story time and the books themselves lately. From 12 to 36 months, you will see your toddler increasingly start to love story time. He or she will start flipping pages on their own, look at words and pictures with more focus and understanding what is being read.
To inspire a love for reading for your toddler, do the following:
- Read aloud as often as you can or at least at bedtime
- Let your baby hold books on their own (I suggest board books - the ones with the really thick pages)
- If your toddler loses interest quickly, which most will, try reading for short periods at a time (5-10 minutes)
- Start asking your toddler questions about the book and its story so he or she can point at things and start identifying simple things like eyes, colors or a plant
5. Toddler Tantrums
Toddler tantrums are completely normal and are toddler way of expressing big emotions like anger, tired, hungry or frustrated since they cannot verbalize these things yet.
Toddler tantrums can feel completely random and occur right in an instance after your toddler was happily playing their toys, but don't worry as your toddler approaches pre-school age, these will become less and less frequent.
Here are some tips for dealing with toddler tantrums:
- Use a calm, soothing voice when talking to your child during a toddler tantrum.
- Verbalize and repeat and explain to your child what you think they are feeling so they learn to identify and communicate this to you using their words.
- Provide love and comfort by reassuring your toddler that everything will be okay. Affection seeking is a sign that your toddler is ready to calm down.
- Do not give your toddler what they want during the tantrum. Instead, wait until they calm down to address their needs
- Distract and redirect your toddler's energy towards something else. For example, sing a song, find a toy and hand it to them or play a game.
- Show your child how to cope with emotions by calmly dealing with your own emotions. Verbally identify and state how you are feeling and say something like "Mommy is upset right now, but I am going to figure out to feel better."
- MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL - Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed if your toddler has a tantrum in public. Toddler tantrums are a part of your child's emotional and psychological development. If needed, remove your toddler from a public place, but do not ignore the tantrum. Toddlers need guidance on how to deal with big emotions so ignoring them does not help.
If you're a reader and love child psychology research, check out this Temper Tantrums: Guidelines for Parents and Teachers by the National Association of School Psychologists.
6. Toddlers Need Discipline
Although toddlers lack verbal communications skills and self-control that older children have, they are also starting to grow more independent and definitely understand when they aren't allowed to do something they want to do.
For example, my toddler loves to try and climb on the baby gates and throws a tantrum when he is told to get down or is taken down.
You still need to explain his emotions to him and verbalize why they can't do what they shouldn't be doing in a calm manner, but they need to be told no. Do not allow your toddler to just do whatever he pleases to simply avoid a tantrum.
7. Toddlers Love to Help
You will notice that your toddler starts to increase his interest in certain activities they see you doing. I use to put my toddler in his pack-and-play while I cleaned the floors in his play area, but lately I let him follow me around and pretend to help me vacuum and he love it.
There has been research showing that children who help with chores are actually happier as adults because household chores foster and develop a sense of responsibility that will extend to other aspects of their life.
There are appropriate chores your toddler can help with that they will enjoy. Below is a great graphic from One Tough Job:
So many new adventures ahead with your new toddler! Raising an infant was tough work and a toddler with definitely bring its own set of challenges, but I personally love watching my toddler's mental development as he continues to learn every day. Good luck toddler Mamas (and Dads)!