I share my top tips and tricks for navigating toddlerhood. These are some of the tips that have helped me navigate Sage as a now 2-year-old and understand her needs as she is developing and growing.
First, let’s talk about what happens when your baby turns one year old; they are no longer considered a baby and enter the world of toddlerhood. It happens overnight; one day, they’re a baby the next day, they’re a toddler. The toddler years are from one to three years old; when you’re deep in it, it feels like it’s never going to end, but toddlers are a lot of fun, but they come with a lot of work. All moms of toddlers need to remind themselves that the toddler years are a phase, it will end, and we will survive it.
If you haven’t figured it out already, toddlers waste a lot of food! They throw the food on the floor; they only eat some things on their plate. That is hard work that you spent preparing their meal. Instead of throwing it into the compost, I like to save it for the next snack or meal. It does depend on what the food is. I usually give Sage strawberries or toast that can be used in her snack cup for our morning walk.
One thing that I’ve noticed is how quickly toddlers pick up on habits. Be consistent and create a routine. Create a routine, whether it’s playtime, mealtime, or even how I react to different situations. I don’t want Sage to eat her meals while watching tv. If I were only to do that a couple of times, she’s now become accustomed to eating all her meals while watching tv. I understand! It’s a good vibe… who doesn’t enjoy Netflix and chill?! But it’s tough to tell a toddler that watching tv while eating is only a sometimes thing. It’s important to be mindful of certain situations and routines. You, as the parent, need to set the presentence of how you want the day to go.
Toddlers love to mimic mom and dad; you can turn everyday household activities into fun toddler playtime. This could mean getting them to help you bake, water the plants and fold clothing. You can get so much done around the house while your toddler thinks you’ve spent all day playing with them. Win-win for everyone!
Ok, this is a controversial topic but be strategic with screen time. We watch our fair share of Disney movies on the couch; I love that time with Sage. But at the same time, I am mindful of how often I bring it up. I try hard to be strategic when I use screen time. I use it during travel, dirty diaper changes (The terrible ones!), and at a restaurant after she’s done eating. I avoid having that be the first thing we introduce; we break out the screen time as a last resort when needed. Because we use it as a last resort, it works because she only sometimes gets it.
My mom told me, and I’m telling you all, you can never have enough snacks! That is our favourite word in our house. Always have snacks when you’re in the house, when you leave the house, everywhere! Toddlers are constantly snacking; they’re always hungry, and even when they don’t eat their main meals, they always seem to want a snack. You want to be mindful and not overdo it with the snacks because you want them to get those full-nourishment meals. However, if you only take one tip from this, please take my advice and only leave the house with snacks! If you need some snack ideas, you should look at my The Baby HealthNut Cookbook.
Getting outside is good for you; it’s good for your little ones! They will run off so much energy outside. There are so many things to explore outside, rocks, sticks, and leaves; it’s just a wonderland. The best part of being outdoors is that it’s free! Go out to your backyard; if you don’t have a backyard, go for a walk on the sidewalk. Let them walk around, leave the stroller at home and let them walk. We’ve made a habit of getting fresh air every day! We go for morning walks, go out into the forest and bring our dog Cashew. If you’ve followed me on Instagram, you know that we are always in the woods and outside; it’s one of our favoruite things to do as a family.
Toy rotation, and honestly, it works! Toy rotation is something that I do only some of the time. But when I do, it makes a big difference. Parents often feel that their children are bored with their toys. They then buy them new stuff, and then they quickly become bored with the new stuff.
Instead of buying them new toys, less is more, hide some toys. When the playroom is messy and full of toys, it’s hard for toddlers to pick out what they want to play with. Bring out the hidden toys when your toddler gets bored with their current toys.
Toddlers have little control over what happens in their life. They can’t fully communicate, you’re not letting them do what they want, and they have zero control. Allowing them to make small choices can empower them and let them express their opinions, giving them a slight sense of control.
This might sound a little weird, but singing around daily tasks that are challenging for your little ones to cope with. That could be brushing their teeth, getting ready for bed, or washing their hands; these are all things we struggle with in our everyday lives. When you bring music into the scenario, it can help lighten the mood and help them focus and help practice self-expression. Singing can also be a cue for something that is about to happen and help them cope with it a little bit better. Try it with your toddlers and see if it works; it has really helped us with Sage.
Creating toddler-friendly stations around the house can help them with learning and help them feel more comfortable in the home that they live in. Toddler-friendly stations can be as easy as setting up a hand washing station with a stool; we have an automatic soap dispenser and a faucet extender so the water can come up to Sage. We have a table and chair that are Sage’s height, a learning tower so that we can bring her up to the kitchen counter, and she can help bake and see everything. I’m setting up different toddler-friendly stations throughout our house, and I’m already seeing how much Sage appreciates these spaces in her home.
I’m throwing this in as a bonus! It can be very overwhelming to us as parents to absorb all our toddler’s emotions that they are experiencing at a very young age without them being able to communicate that to you at a very young age. We want to be role models, and how we want them to express their emotions. When we overreact to small things, such as spilling a drink or drawing on the walls, there are bigger things that we need to react big to, especially when it’s a safety issue. This takes a lot of effort; don’t get me wrong, I’m always having this internal dialogue, but it’s important to practice patience and kindness when it comes to your toddlers. They are learning and not trying to do bad things, they are discovering the world, and we’re here to guide them and keep them safe. Be the example that we want them to be, and let them learn from your behavior.
This was so much fun for me to put together! Honestly, Sage and I are learning together; I’m learning how to communicate with a two-year-old that can’t communicate back, and it also helps to reduce those big feelings.