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9 Ways to Bond With Your Toddler

1. Create Little Rituals

Routines and traditions, along with your toddler's diet and environment, can have long-term effects. Making little, everyday things routine (like singing a special song before bedtime, a family game night, or Mickey Mouse pancakes on the weekends) turns them into special traditions that will make you feel closer to your toddler. Toddlers are going through big developmental changes, so anything predictable will make them feel secure -- especially if they can share that moment with you.

The Bonding Power of Family Rituals

2. Show Your Silly Side

Invent silly songs, dance when you hear music (and even when you don't), try on a funny hat while you're shopping, and be spontaneous. Kids don't expect grown ups to have a sense of humor, so when we let loose, they connect with us more.

Memory Makers

3. Break Your Own Rules

Occasionally, surprise them with a treat, like pizza for breakfast or letting them pick out a toy at the grocery store. Since it's unexpected, they'll realize how special it is, and they'll feel like you're sharing a special moment.

Fit in Family Downtime

4. Read

Reading time is a great way to get the ball rolling on conversation and to start asking each other questions. Adapt special voices for characters when you're reading, re-read favorites, and include your child's name in the story.

The Best Books to Read With Your Kids

5. Spend Time with Each of Your Children

Make each of your kids feel special by finding different ways to connect with them. Take your son to the park while the others are with friends, or make a craft with your daughter while her little brother naps. Kids will remember having that alone time with you for the rest of their lives.

6 Ways to Help Your Child Feel Loved

6. Touch

Touch your kids often, with hugs and gentle strokes and rubs. Even if you are disciplining your toddler, hold his hand while you tell him not to hit or that he needs to stop whining. If your child isn't a cuddler, find other ways to connect, like rustling his hair, dancing together, or even roughhousing a bit.

Touch-Me-Not Tots

7. Be There When He Fails

Just as you encourage him to triumph, let him learn to fail, too, and then be there for him with hugs and encouragement.

Dealing with Setbacks

8. Create a Family Language

Make up nicknames for each other and give your own words to everyday things. Calling a shower a "power shower" or coming up with a funny name for the remote control will make you bond as a family.

How to Be a Great Mom to a Toddler

9. Be Your Child's Friend

Your toddler is at the age where he wants to hang out with you every second of the day, so take advantage of that by enjoying every minute together, like driving in the car or watching ducks at the park. If he starts acting goofy, get goofy with him, and invite him to do activities that you enjoy by giving him kid-safe tasks in the kitchen or garden.

What You Learn From Your Kids

All of images and associated research made possible by a grant from Mead Johnson Nutrition, the makers of Enfamil.