That first year of your baby’s life goes so quickly, their fast rate of growth not to mention their development is astounding. Babies usually progress from crawling to independent walking somewhere between 11 months to 18 months of age.
To begin with it really is a toddle around the furniture or holding onto your legs well before they can walk independently. Therefore, we call them toddlers and the official age range is 12 months to 3 years of age.
Many Mums feel a sense of loss when their baby is no longer a baby and is now considered a toddler. I remember particularly with my last baby, asking her to stop growing and as she got bigger, she would answer me “I tried mummy but I can’t help it”. In fact, it is very important that your child continues to grow and progress with their development.
You know you have a toddler when:
- Language expands exponentially with just a few words at 12 months of age and putting 2 words together and more by 2 years old. By 3 they will have many small sentences.
- They love singing and dancing and have no inhibitions, it’s amazing to watch
- They understand far more than they can say. Often have their own language/special words for things and only you and your partner know them. Anyone else would be baffled!
- They start to get into everything and at a speed you never imagined, and the climbing starts! I can remember watching everything in our house gradually migrating upwards as our toddler got bigger and more ingenious.
- Physical gestures and dramatic motions get big!
- Food requirements reduce but they still need smaller meals and snack more often than adults – always have something in your bag.
- They get up and run away when you’re trying to change their nappy.
- They love to point at items and name them and they will often look to you for confirmation.
- When they run, it’s hard to keep up!
- Another clue that your baby has become a toddler is when you really need to put shoes on them to go outside…they are now walking everywhere and in order to protect their feet they need shoes, especially in winter!
- They tend to take their clothes off, pull their hair bands & clips out and their shoes off.
- They still need a nap, even if they don’t think so.
- They may sleep all night without needing you. They don’t require feeds overnight, but some Mums enjoy continuing to BF overnight.
- Toddlers learn more complex gross motor skills such as climbing, jumping, squatting with amazing balance and throwing all sorts of things including balls!
- They want to be independent, do up their own car seat buckle, dress themselves, put their own socks on and to feed themselves.
Tantrums are just part of toddlerhood, what many refer to as the terrible 2’s often start earlier – when their inability to explain things to you increases frustration. They don’t know why we as parents can’t understand because they think they have told us. Thankfully, as language improves so do tantrums for many toddlers.
Be careful how you ask them questions as they have a tendency to answer many questions with “No”, even when they mean yes! It’s often best to give only 2 options for anything: this outfit or that outfit, this snack or that snack.
Rather than asking “Do you want to have your bath now, rephrase this with “Bath time now!” They really don’t notice the difference, but I can guarantee you that most times this will work wonders.
They are learning that they don’t have to do what they are asked. Pushing the boundaries often, pushing back on you about everything…I can remember thinking all I said was “No” all day as toddlers do seem to argue about almost everything at some stages.
Try to weave in times when your toddler can make some more of their own decisions. When you’re not in a hurry perhaps and let them decide what to do or if out walking, let them decide which way to turn.
Don’t be surprised if your toddler won’t eat what they used to – they often go through stages where they will only eat certain foods, often those that are easy to eat… even though they used to eat everything! Remember your job is to serve the food, their job is to either eat it or not. Try not to worry as their growth has slowed down and their requirements are lower. You can try hidden vegies such as grating vegetables into Bolognese sauce for example. Try to provide something on their plate that they like as well as some foods to try. Don’t make it a big deal if they don’t eat it. Equally, don’t offer something like yoghurt before bed to fill them up as they will know that they can avoid dinner every night and enjoy yoghurt later.
The transition between baby and toddler can be both challenging and emotionally hard for parents to realise and allow their once tiny baby to become a toddler. It is important for your baby’s development to continue to grow and learn new skills such as crawling and walking. We would be very concerned if they didn’t progress and become toddlers.
There is something very special about babies, they are so cute, but this next stage is equally as special as you get to know your toddlers personality even more. Their communication will explode as they learn to speak and understand your speech more.
Enjoy this stage with your toddler because it won’t be long and they will be a pre-schooler soon!