In this toddler mom life Q&A, I’ll be answering your questions about life now that I have a toddler. From nap schedules to extended breastfeeding, here’s everything I’ve learned so far.
Sage is now a toddler, and I’m not going to lie, I’ve been struggling a little lately. I like to keep it real here, so I’m not going to pretend toddler mom life is a walk in the park. The newborn days were hard, but the toddler years are a whole different kind of hard. Everything is much more ‘on the go’, that’s for sure! Still, I’m constantly learning and growing as a mom, and so I’m excited to share what I’ve learned so far.
Everyone has such a different opinion on this topic, and there’s really no ‘right’ parenting style. It’ll vary family to family. Personally, I was spanked as a child. I don’t have fond memories of it and honestly I don’t think I learned anything from it. If anything, I think it negatively affected my behaviour. Because of that, I’m very against spanking. Instead, I’m trying to use understanding and communication with Sage. I feel like if you try to understand what your toddler is going through (remember, they’re learning how to be humans too!) then it’s much easier to navigate.
I’ve found some really great resources for helping to understand your toddler’s ‘big feelings’. This Instagram account has great, practical advice and really makes you think.
When I think about Sage’s plate, I think about all the major macro-nutrients. I like to make sure there is a veggie, a fruit, a healthy fat and a carbohydrate or grain. So, for instance, if I’m making breakfast and serving up something like my pumpkin oatmeal from The Baby HealthNut Cookbook, it’s already got vegetables, grains and a healthy fat in it. I can then just add some extra fruit on the side. Maybe some cut up banana or even avocado! Just because you might not eat things like avocado with your oatmeal, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t serve it up to your toddler. They really don’t care about what you ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ have for a certain meal. The main thing is getting in those different flavours and textures, and of course the different types of nutrients.
Sage in general is a pretty good eater but there are definitely foods she doesn’t like. For a long time she didn’t like yogurt or anything creamy, but now she loves yogurt! I’ll make her her own little yogurt bowl with chia seeds and maybe some peanut butter and berries. If you think about your own eating habits, some days you just don’t feel like eating something. They’re no different, and they also get bored with eating the same foods over and over, just like you would. The best thing to do is switch it up, and if they’re generally a good eater, just respect that if they’re saying no it’s because they’re not really feeling that food today. It could be totally different tomorrow. That being said you also don’t want to act as if there is an open kitchen all day long so pick your battles!
When it comes to snacks, I just try to be mindful of making sure not to ruin her main nutrient dense meals of the day. She’ll have a mid-morning snack and an afternoon snack with water and breastmilk throughout the day. When it comes to meal time, after she’s finished what’s on her plate I’ll ask her if she wants any more (baby sign language really helps with this) which helps stop her from instantly asking for snacks.
I’ve found that a lot of people on the internet these days are actually referring to these as ‘BIG feelings’. It just sounds a lot less negative than ‘tantrums’ and they really are just feelings they are learning to express. I’m still definitely learning how to deal with these big feelings, but the main things I’ve been trying to be mindful about doing lately are…
The trouble is, I’ve found that when I get really frustrated it not only makes me feel bad, but it actually makes the situation worse. If she’s freaking out because she doesn’t want to go in her highchair and I yell at her and force her into the chair, she’s just going to get angrier and in turn not want to eat her meal. A fun bonus is that I then feel guilty for getting mad at her! She’s not purposefully making me upset. She’s still learning, since she can’t communicate properly yet. When I put myself in her shoes I realize that must be incredibly frustrating to not be able to get across what you want or don’t want and why.
I thought I understood what teething was like when her front teeth came through. It wasn’t that bad at all! But oh no… the molars are where the real stuff happens! In all honesty, it was two weeks from hell (and there’s still more teeth to come in). Everything upsets her. Everything was a battle. She was crying, I was crying, everyone was crying. It was really upsetting because it felt like I didn’t know her anymore. I found myself wondering if it was teething or if that was just who she was becoming. I felt like I was failing as a parent.
Turns out, all she needed/wanted was cuddles. We watched a lot of Encanto, snuggled up on the couch, lots of breastfeeding. We also use this homeopathic teething medicine which I swear by, and frozen fruit in these silicone feeders for cooling relief. And when needed we bring out the big guns aka dye-free children’s Tylenol). The main thing I try to do during those days where the tooth is actually cutting, is to remind myself that she’s not trying to be awful. She’s just in pain, and it must suck for them and that this too shall pass.
It’s been interesting continuing to breastfeed past the one year mark. I feel like before that mark no one really cares, but once you head into toddler-hood, everyone wants to know when you plan to stop. It kind of feels taboo and like you should feel self-conscious about it, which I hate. Breastfeeding is amazing for BOTH baby/toddler and mom and if you’re able to successfully do it I think that’s wonderful and it should be encouraged not judged. Originally I really wanted to make it to two years and the thought of stopping used to really upset me. However, between the amount she’s still feeding and the fact she’s twisting and pulling while feeding because she’s a toddler, I’m not so sure anymore. There are still so many things I love about it, but we’re going to take each day as it comes.
I am still breastfeeding Sage around six times a day, which is probably too many times just because I’m home with her. I’m trying to avoid situations where she’s just pulling my top down and “demanding” milk, and I’d like to get it down to more around three times a day. In an ideal world, I’ll feed her once when she gets up, once before her nap and once before bed. I’m trying to replace the feed after her nap with a snack, so we’ll see how that goes!
We definitely bicker and get annoyed with each other more these days (most of the time because we’re just overtired) but we try not to get hot-headed. We try to talk it out and eventually one of us will be mature enough to realize we’re in the wrong and be the bigger person and apologize. Remember, especially when you’re parents, you’re on the same team! What helps is when each of us fills up our own cups, ie: time out of the house, going to the gym, haircut, dates with friends and selfcare, etc.
This kind of took us off-guard, but you’re meant to start brushing your toddlers’ teeth basically as soon as they have them. If I’m honest, it doesn’t always happen every single day, but we try to do it after breakfast and then again at night-time after I’ve breastfed her. We love this natural children’s tooth gel and these eco-friendly bamboo toothbrushes. Surprisingly, she does love brushing her teeth which is great, but taking the toothbrush away from her is a whole other ball game. Sometimes it definitely turns into a ‘big feeling’. Baby steps right 😉
There you have it – everything I’ve learned about toddler mom life! What is your top piece of advice for other toddler moms? Let me know in the comments below!
If you want to see more of my toddler mom life, check out my 5 tips for getting out of the house with a toddler and my 6am morning routine with a toddler.