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How to Babysit a Girl Toddler
About the Author
I have worked in childcare since I was 14, when I started babysitting. After high school, I worked as an au pair abroad in Italy for two girls who were aged 3 and 7 at the time. I am now the mother of a toddler girl. Along the way, I have learned tons of tips and tricks to taking care of young kids and toddlers.
As a mother of a toddler girl, I have personally learned a lot about what it takes to babysit one. Toddlerhood is a fun age, full of energy and expressiveness. It is also an age of discovery and learning. Toddlers girls especially love dressing up, sparkles and babies. Part of being a toddler is learning about emotions, what they mean, and how to handle them. This is why when a toddler is happy, you know it. When she is frustrated, you know it. Yes, the screaming, crying and tantrums can be exhausting. But, if you keep your cool, be patient, watch her and engage with her while she is playing, learning and loving, spending time with a toddler will prove to be some of the fondest moments of your life.
Arts and Crafts Supplies
Activities that Toddler Girls Enjoy
There are some things that all toddlers simply love. These activities are sure to be a hit at your babysitting night.
Dress up: Jewelry, dresses, scarves, capes, tutus. feathers and anything pink and sparkly can be endless fun. Mom's shoes can be fun too (make sure you get permission for this one).
Bubbles: Always popular.
Stickers: Let her stick them on a window or sliding glass door. It's easy enough to take them off with a razor blade, just keep it out of reach!
Coloring or Painting: Crayola has crayons that are made for coloring on windows, which can be fun and different. Depending on how brave you are and how much mess you are willing to clean up, finger paints are sure to entertain.
Play dough: You can buy it, though you might want to consider making it together. There are a lot of simple play dough recipes you can find online, including no-cook recipes. Add food coloring and sparkles for extra fun.
Dancing: Get dressed up and then put on a concert! Most toddlers love to dance. Try labeling the moves they're doing, this helps them put names to movements (e.g. spin, swing, sway, bounce, twirl, jump, roll). Also, try pausing the music and yell "FREEZE!"
Blanket Pulling: Get a blanket or towel, lay it flat on the floor and have the toddler lay down on it. Then drag her around the house. You can say "fast, fast, fast!" when you're going fast and "sllloooowww" when you're going slow. Toddlers love to hear the verbal excitement.
Be Prepared for Tantrums
Toddlers are very expressive. This means that when something doesn't go their way, you are going to hear about it, and very loudly. Expect tantrums and be prepared to deal with them when they flare up. When you expect it to happen every now and again, you won't feel so flustered in the moment.
The best way you can help a toddler to calm down is to stay calm yourself. It is easy to react when there is a little one kicking and screaming at your feet, but you will find that she will calm down much sooner when you are able to maintain a calm but still authoritative demeanor.
Try to not continually point out what she does wrong. Toddlers need direction, so pointing out what they should do and praising them when they do a good job will keep them happy and motivated.
Animal Crackers Are a Toddler Pleaser
Snack, Snack, Snack
Toddlers can be irritable when they are hungry. If you let her get too hungry, you may find yourself with a lot of drama for "no reason." Instead of letting her get to the point of hunger, where both of you will end up tired and frustrated, allow her to snack every couple of hours. It doesn't have to be anything big, but it's a toddler tendency to graze throughout the day. Snacks that are usually toddler pleasers are: apples, applesauce, grapes, carrots, toast, string cheese and crackers.
Mirror Their Language
If you've ever spent a significant amount of time around any toddler, you'll notice that whenever they say something to you, they will continue to repeat it until you say it back. What they are doing is waiting for you to mirror what they say. That's how they learn. Even though they are still little and half of what they say is unintelligible, try to converse with them and repeat back to them what they say to you, even if it's jibberish. Some of the funniest conversations can emerge from toddler babble.
One trick that all parents who have been through the toddler phase learn is the beauty of distraction. Sometimes you can see a tantrum building, maybe they want something they shouldn't have (e.g. something dangerous), and as soon as you say no you see them hold their breath and you can feel their temperature rising as they being to wrinkle their noses and turn red in the face. Before they burst out into an all-out howl, distract them with something else. "No, we don't play with this, but *gasp with excitement* look what I found!" "Let's play with the monkey instead. Ah! The monkey is jumping all over! Get him, get him!"
Make Everything a Game
There are some necessary activities that some toddlers might resist. These might include: brushing her teeth, bedtime or nap time, taking a bath, washing her hair, brushing her hair or getting dressed. The trick is to make everything you do with her a game.
My daughter hates having her hair washed. One day, I had spent a few days prior patiently asking her if she wanted to take a bath. Every time she would say, "No!" Not wanting to make taking a bath a negative experience, I just let her be and hoped that eventually she would say, "Yes!" Surprisingly, that day never came and before long she was unbearably dirty. So, I asked her the usual question, "Sweetie, do you want to take a bath?" As expected, a little "No!" piped from her mouth. That was when I grabbed her little plastic ponies and said, "Hey, do you want to take a bath with your ponies??" (Don't forget to make everything sound super fun and exciting when you're trying to convince her to do something.) It was only a few seconds after I mentioned that idea to her that she was in the bathroom, ready to go.
Another game I play with my toddler girl is to get her to climb into her bed without a fight. It's a simple game, but she loves it! We stand in the living room and we count, "1, 2..... 3!" and then we run to her bedroom. Don't forget to yell, "rrrruuuuuunnnn!" as you're running. Once we get to her room, she climbs into bed and we sing a couple songs. It's fun for both of us and she's in bed without kicking and screaming. Don't forget to ask the the toddler's parents what her routines are like, as toddlers feel more comfortable when they stick to their usual routines.
If you can make everything like a game, you are your toddler will both have a pleasant time. Look around and see what animals/props you can use to assist you.
Wear 'Em Out
If you have the chance, take her outside to a playground or some other activity where she can run around and release some of that energy. If you need to stay in the neighborhood where there's not a playground, there are lots of activities you can do with her outside. Collect leaves together. Race each other. Take her on a bike ride. Collect rocks. Play run away from the lion or shark. Blow dandelions. Take her lead and join in whatever she finds interesting.
If it's rainy or you can't go outside for whatever reason, think about indoor options such as indoor play areas or activity centers. If none of that is an option, you can always wear her out by running around the house, chasing her, or tickling her.
At this age, toddlers are going to test you. When you say no, mean it and follow through. Don't give in if a temper tantrum flares up after you tell her no. This will just teach her that the way to get what she wants is to have temper tantrums.
Also, because you are new to her, she is going to test your limits. This means it is vitally important for you to follow through with what you say. When you tell her you're going to do something, do it. When you tell her no, mean it and stick to it. It may seem like it is upsetting her more in the now, but in the long run she will come to trust you and know where those boundaries are. Boundaries, consistency and routines help children to feel secure and thus you will have an overall happier child.
Of course we have to mention the safety issues to be aware of when babysitting a toddler:
- Keep a close eye on her. Toddlers love to run and they can get out of your sight in a few quick seconds.
- Falling is a normal learning process for toddlers, but you want to make sure where she is running/climbing is safe.
- Don't allow her to play with sharp objects or with or near electrical sockets. Toddlers love to put things in holes, and those electrical sockets can look like, say, keyholes, to a toddler.
- Watch out for small objects such as coins or small pieces of toys. Though toddlers are growing out of the "put everything I find in my mouth" phase, there is still a risk for choking if they do happen to put one of those small objects in their mouths.
- Cut food up into bite-size pieces. Especially things like, large grapes and hot dogs.
Most Importantly, Enjoy Yourselves!
Follow her lead and let her show you what she likes to do and the things she is interested in. Toddlers are such a pleasure to be around. They are such sweet spirits. When you see them as the adorable, precious beings that they are, you will enjoy and appreciate your time together.