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More Formulas for Success for Toddlers
15 tips to get you through the toddler years, from potty training to napping to discipline and more
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We brought you 15 tips for staying sane during those crazy and wonderful toddler years. Here are more helpful hints on what to expect with your toddler, and how to handle common problems.
Struggling to get your toddler to bed can leave you feeling pooped. One mom-tested trick to tire out your kiddo (and sneak in some exercise): take a pre-bedtime walk. You can pull your kid in a wagon or they can ride their bike while you walk and chat about your day. By the time you get back, they'll be ready to snooze.
Now that you've got a mobile and curious toddler, bumps and bruises are bound to happen. Be prepared for everything from bandaging simple cuts to let's-hope-you-never-need-it CPR with our first aid health guide.
It's tempting to give in to your toddler when she's throwing her sixth temper tantrum of the day. But if a child acts out, there has to be a consequence: "Repeatedly saying 'If you don't stop throwing sand, I'm going to make you leave the sandbox' won't stop the bad behavior," says Bridget Barnes, coauthor of Common Sense Parenting for Toddlers and Preschoolers. "What your child hears is 'I can keep doing this a few more times before Mom makes me stop.'" Read up on seven other ways parents blow discipline -- and how to avoid them.
In the midst of potty-training? Make sure to ask your kid often -- as in every half hour -- if they need to go potty. It might seem like overkill, but one mom elaborates: "[Your child] is too involved in her play to stop what she is doing just to use the bathroom. She may not even realize she needs to go until it is too late."
- Picked up your child from daycare or a playdate only to find out they bit another kid (or got bitten themselves)? Relax -- biting is normal behavior for this age. Read up on why toddlers bite, and how to handle (and prevent) biting, whether your kid's the biter or the bitee.
Getting your toddler to follow instructions on simple things like getting dressed in the morning can be tough -- they're just too busy exploring the world around them! One tip: Ask young children to repeat your instructions back to you to reinforce their listening skills, says Katrina Hall, Ph.D., an associate professor of early-childhood education at the University of North Florida. If you've told your 3-year-old to get dressed, ask her, "Would you remind me what you need to do next?" When she responds, "Put on my pants, and then my top," you'll know she heard and understood your instructions.
Even though your kids' first set of teeth is temporary, it's important to keep them healthy. Have your kid brush twice a day with a soft brush and a pea-sized amount of non-fluoride toothpaste. And try to ditch the bedtime bottle or sippy cup ASAP -- milk or juice can settle on the teeth in the night and cause decay.
You used to have two blissful hour-and-a-half time slots every day when your kid napped as a baby -- but a toddler is a different story, and eventually she'll start resisting the second nap. Trouble is, she'll still probably need some quiet time and maybe even the full nap on some days. Best advice: if she's tired, let her rest. If not, start to gradually move the morning nap to midday.
Looking for a clever way to get your kid to ditch the pacifier? Set a date and tell your kid that day is Big Kid day, to celebrate him becoming a Big Kid and not needing his pacifier anymore. Giving him something to look forward to can ease the loss of his paci (and make sure to plan a special treat or activity, too).
Your toddler still requires a lot of help getting through day-to-day tasks, but she's probably starting to get into the "I can do it myself!" phase, too. When she gets dressed in the morning, let her do things like finish zipping up a jacket, buttoning large buttons or securing Velcro straps on shoes.
It's 3 am and your toddler has a fever...but is it time to call the doc? Read up on eight health situations when you should always call your pediatrician.
Your toddler will need to know more than major things like potty training before going to preschool -- she'll also need to know how to do things like put a straw in her juice box and sneeze into a tissue. Make sure she's set with these skills to learn before starting school.
Your unpredictable toddler can have a meltdown over anything: "I don't WANNA go in my carseat!" That's nonnegotiable, of course, but try explaining the safety hazards to a child in full-on tantrum mode. Here are five common things toddlers throw tantrums over -- see if they're worth the battle and how you can handle them.