How often do we hear people say to a child, “Oh my, you’re getting so big!, the last time I saw you, you were a tiny baby, and I used to carry you, do you remember? “ Well, that’s the funny thing about babies; they tend to grow, and quite rapidly. No one tells you that the most challenging part of motherhood is when your kids grow up. This is true for every chapter of your child’s life, from baby to adult, and every phase in between. So, here’s a little of what to expect when your baby becomes a toddler.
Wikipedia defines a toddler as a child between 12 to 36 months and states that this period is a time for increased cognitive, emotional and social development. We know toddlers as walking, talking, tiny little dictators that have the ability to push us to the brink of insanity while remaining incredibly cherub-like and adorable. The word toddler is derived from ‘toddle’, which means to ‘walk unsteadily’, a tell-tale sign of your baby’s entrance into toddlerhood.
By the time your baby enters his or her toddler years, you will have become accustomed to the many changes being a parent brings; from the extra luggage you need to move around with, to the almost constant exhaustion and, most importantly, to the inexplicable love and overwhelming joy that this tiny being evokes. The toddler years are going to bring with them so much more; your child will begin to develop a sense of self that will amaze you.
Not the super cool movie with Will Smith, but a shift in your toddler’s need to become self-reliant. They want to stand on their own, literally and figuratively. They want to put on their own clothes and shoes, eat on their own, walk on their own; and your help is not welcome.
This stage is a difficult one. Our natural reflex is to help, but it’s essential to step back and let your child achieve this significant milestone, even if it means taking longer to get ready or a little more mess at dinnertime. Keep in mind that this transition can also be frustrating for toddlers that want to do so much more but are still just learning, and this sometimes comes across as a power struggle. Toddlers want to question everything and try to control everything. Be patient. Count to ten, or even twenty, and just do your best for that day.
TOP TIP – Adjust your schedule to accommodate the fact that it will take a little longer to get dressed and leave the house. Also, choose velcro shoes over laces or buckles.
You can also use this stage to your advantage and start training them to pack away toys and put away shoes.
Here it comes, that tiny version of you is starting to take shape. Remember when your mum told you there would be payback for your attitude? Well, here it is. Your toddler is about to let their true colours shine, the good together with the maybe not-so-good.
We will start seeing all sorts of likes and dislikes; whether they are athletic or artistic, whether they are introverted or extroverted, silly or serious. Use this to draw them out of their shells and instil a sense of confidence and security in them and whatever their personality traits are. This is where they begin to find their place in the big big world. Heavy right!?
This stage also brings with it the development of obsessions and fears. We all know the dinosaur-obsessed toddler or the one that is inexplicably afraid of the microwave. Have fun exploring their particular interests, drawing or storytelling, dancing or exploring the outdoors. This is also a time to foster social skills and friendships. Your child will start connecting with similar toddlers at crèche or day-care, and before you know it, there will be playdates! (Please be COVID-mindful of these in the new normal).
And the list goes on…
You will begin to see other amazing changes, including a more settled sleeping pattern, especially if days are full of activity and learning. Use everything as a learning opportunity. Your child’s cognitive ability will flourish, along with their vocabulary. Pointing out and naming new things will be both fun and educational.
Toddler years sneak up on you and while this stage is full of challenges, before you know it, they are in school and becoming young ladies and gentlemen. Hold on to these tiny moments and cherish the little snuggles… they grow up so fast.