Those Pesky Toddler Transitions
Learning to Self-Feed
Congrats, You're Now a Proud Parent of a Toddler
You've made it a year. Your child is a stumbling, but determined, toddler. They are toddling around, proud of themselves for their new talents. You can be proud as you watch on while your sweet baby transitions to a toddler. It's magical. You can remember those days when you bundled him up and held him close and he slept most of the day. But the look of joy on his face when he takes his first steps and when he runs across the room for the first time, is absolutely priceless. Parents are able to sit back and watch miracle of raising children.
With toddlerhood comes more than just the new-found ability of mobility. Your sweet innocent child is developing a personality all his own. He's fiercely independent, vocal about his likes and dislikes, and knows how to tell exactly what he wants and when he wants it. And boy, does he tell you what he wants and when he wants it...
Your sweet angel is no longer a sweet little angel. He climbs all over the place like a monkey and jumps off furniture like a daredevil. He pinches you, bites you, and headbutts you with such joy in his eyes. He hits you when you say "no", or throws himself on the ground and hits the floor. He feeds himself, and throws food at you to inform you that he's done or protesting the fact you buckled him in a chair to sit still. He bites through the nipples on his bottle and dumps milk everywhere. He throws said bottle of milk when it's empty at your feet and then proceeds to push you to the fridge to get him more. (Or maybe that's just mine.. please tell me it's not just mine...) He is his own person. His own stubborn little person.
We did something right though, even though it seems like our child is the devil himself. These outbursts of tempers is his way of asserting his independence. He's thinking for himself and he's attempting to communicate with us in his own way. Our job is to make this communication much more socially acceptable and much less painful on all of us. The fact that our toddler has the confidence in himself and his abilities enough to assert his independence means that we're doing our jobs. Be careful though, he's learning from our actions so we need to show them what's acceptable as well as telling them.
You'll survive toddlerhood and the terrible 2s, I promise. It might seem like it will take forever, but it's really only a year. But this time period is one of great growth for both you and your child. Don't expect it to be easy, and don't expect all the parenting websites to have all the answers either. Toddlers are their own unpredictable beasts. They alternate between a sweet angel that gives kisses and hugs to a vampire trying to bite your neck. You have to know your child and your limits. Now is the time to consider how you want your child to behave and work towards that goal, because this is when you need to start laying down whatever rules you have. Start simple though, no biting or hitting. Now is also the time to teach sharing and kindness as well as proper behavior. Then you can rest assured that everything will be fine until they're a teenager, when again, all bets will be off.
Look what I can do!
Survival Guide of Toddlers
I've done this once before, and I still feel lost at this stage. My little one has a penchant for hair pulling (luckily mostly his own), biting himself and others, and he's a pincher. Life isn't easy with a toddler, and I've always considered this the stepping stone into the terrible 2s. I also think that how you handle this stage could set you up for how terrible the 2s really are. I also hope that since my little one did everything several months early that this is his early venture into the terrible 2s and it will be gone soon. That's the optimist in me. The realist however sticks to my original theory of the stepping stone.
So I've compiled a list of surviving the toddler times in preparation of the 2s. I hope this is helpful or at least entertaining.
- "No" is your best friend. I voiced my concern to my son's pediatrician will his hair pulling and biting. He would pull clumps of his hair out. She informed me this isn't uncommon for teething children to do, in theory. Some pull their ears and some pull their hair. She said to get used to the word "no" because you'll be using it a lot. "Just say it until you're blue in the face because that's what it's going to take. Eventually they'll get the hint. But praise good behavior as well, so you're not focused on the negative". This seemed like reasonable advice and it does seem to help. However, she's not exaggerating, you will repeat it until you're blue in the face for a long while. They learn though.
- Change is tough... for both of you. This is a time of numerous transitions. First is the transition from breastmilk or formula to whole milk. Then it's the transition from the bottle to a sippy cup. Eventually you toss in the pacifier transition. Then eventually it'll be a transition to a bed. All of these takes place in this time period from the age of 1 to the age of 2. You might luck out and the transitions go smoothly. However that might be more rare than you think. The pacifier transition for my baby happened all on his own around 3 months when he discovered his hand was much tastier than plastic. The milk transition needs to be taken slow. A month before my son's first birthday, I started the transition from breastmilk to toddler formula. Once that was complete without any complications, I started introducing milk slowly by one or two ounces a day and worked my way up. By the time he was 1, he was off formula without much of a struggle. Then I started to introduce a sippy cup with his beloved milk, replacing one bottle at a time. This is the worst transition for mine, and one I'm really trying to get done since he chews through the nipple only to dump the milk all over himself, everyone in the house and all over the furniture. Today I'm trying the "who's more stubborn" play on this, and I hope to report later that I won. The trick with transitions is to also remember that this is equally hard on the parent because there are things you don't want to let go of while your baby grows. Take it slow for both of you.
- Toddlers are famous... for tantrums. Consider this practice for the 2s or even for when you're a parent of a teenager. They are trying to figure things out. They're trying to see what boundaries you have set for them and this is when we need to step up and make sure what boundaries we have before we need to set them. Is hitting okay? No. But the trick is how to show strength and discipline and show that you love your child. Let them have a minute to throw the crying fit they need to and console them after. They need to know that you're not okay with the action but that you love them. This is a fine line you need to stay on the right side of. If one parent enforces a rule and another one doesn't, you need to make sure you and your partner are on the same page otherwise nothing good will come out of this.
- If all else fails, there's wine. Sometimes after a long week of temper tantrums and bite marks, you need to unwind. Recharge because you're going to need all the rest you can get. So unwind with that small glass of wine or that nice warm bubble bath or that extra long exercise routine. Take a deep breath and know that this too shall pass.