Tod­dler tam­ing truths you could learn

Get down on the floor, and look up. Now you know how a tod­dler sees the world. Next, put ev­ery­thing out of their reach. And breathe

The Irish Times - Tuesday - Health - - Front Page - Louise Ní Chríodáin

You will long for nap-time and bed­time. How­ever, when he fi­nally falls asleep he will look so adorable you will have a brief (very brief) urge to wake him up for a hug

Ba­bies be­gin to tod­dle at dif­fer­ent ages. They may even start to walk – but then stop again, de­cid­ing it’s more fun to crawl, bum-shuf­fle, or be pushed. How­ever, once a baby walks and talks you en­ter a new era of par­ent­ing, and even as mem­o­ries of tod­dler years are over­taken by the chal­lenges of tweenagers and teenagers, some hard-learned facts still res­onate. Here are 30.

Si­lence spells dan­ger

In­ves­ti­gate im­me­di­ately. Havoc re­quires less than a minute.

Tod­dler-proofing is es­sen­tial

Re­move or make safe any haz­ards she can pull down, or fall on to – for ex­am­ple, wires or fur­ni­ture. In­stall a stair guard on the bed­room door be­fore she es­capes from her cot.

If they de­cide 5am is wake-up time, it’s yours too

And he may still not “sleep through”, awo­ken by night­mares, the urge to pee, or the need for a cud­dle. If you’ve never con­sid­ered bed shar­ing, you may now.

Tidy­ing up more than once a day is a waste of en­ergy

Once she’s in bed, use a box or corner to cor­ral all her de­bris.

Pa­tience is a much un­der­es­ti­mated virtue

You don’t know what re­straint is un­til you watch a tod­dler dress with­out as­sis­tance. Breathe deeply and re­mem­ber it’s all part of teach­ing in­de­pen­dence.

They set the pace

If you want him to walk, he’ll want to be pushed. If you’re in a hurry, he’ll want to walk – slowly. Cu­rios­ity means that even the short­est stroll can take hours as he stops to re­con­noitre ev­ery­thing and watch the birds, cars, dogs, dig­ger . . .

They can find you – any­where

You will not be us­ing the bath­room alone for a while.

How­ever, you can lose them – any­where

Many tod­dlers never wan­der out of view. Oth­ers want to ex­plore. This is why par­ents de­velop eyes in the back of their heads, and the sides, be­cause as you blink they will make a bolt for it. It’s time to get fit.

Se­ri­ous at­tach­ments will be formed

She will be­come pas­sion­ately at­tached to at least one ob­ject – for ex­am­ple, a soother or soft fur­nish­ing. Buy at least one du­pli­cate, or you will re­quire the kind­ness of strangers on so­cial me­dia to track down a re­place­ment for “blankie” or “binky”.

Be­ing a tod­dler or three­nager is a whirligig of emo­tions

Joy, anger, sad­ness, ter­ror are all of­ten un­bri­dled, and im­pos­si­ble to con­trol. A melt­down or tantrum usu­ally means he is in the grip of tired­ness, hunger, over­stim­u­la­tion or frus­tra­tion. Get­ting an­gry with him just pro­longs it. Dis­trac­tion can help.

Let­ting them make small de­ci­sions and choices can re­duce con­flict

Ap­ple or car­rot? Water or milk? Red or blue T-shirt?

Pick bat­tles or pre­pare for con­stant war

Her in­sis­tence on wear­ing the same out­fit every day, or eat­ing any­thing but crack­ers for lunch, isn’t as im­por­tant as en­sur­ing she doesn’t open the gar­den gate, or is strapped into the car seat. Wrestling a wrig­gler into a car seat may in­duce tears.

Re­peat af­ter me. . .

Be pre­pared to sing/re­cite/read/play the same song/rhyme/story/game over and over and over – and over again. Don’t dare skip even one word or ac­tion.

Toys are a per­sonal choice

Ed­u­ca­tional hand­crafted toys are likely to be ig­nored in favour of card­board boxes, kitchen uten­sils, and of course any­thing that emits bells, whis­tles and ir­ri­tat­ing noises un­til the bat­ter­ies are yanked out.

They will have favourite games

Th­ese may in­clude: head-butting adults in the legs or groin, run­ning around in cir­cles un­til he falls down, mak­ing fart sounds and laugh­ing up­roar­i­ously, push­ing or pulling things be­tween A and B, mov­ing Tup­per­ware in and out of an un­locked press, or “post­ing” ev­ery­thing valu­able you own down the gap in the floor­boards.

Throw­ing things may not be bad be­hav­iour

Ap­par­ently re­peat­edly throw­ing or drop­ping food, liq­uids, blocks or what­ever else comes to hand, teaches her about move­ment and tra­jec­tory. Sigh.

They like chores

Don’t trust him to wash dishes just yet, but he will love the “big boy” re­spon­si­bil­ity of fetch­ing and car­ry­ing, and clean­ing those cup­board doors, though he may get dis­tracted and de­cide to paint them with nail pol­ish in­stead. (They do grow out of this.)

Every day brings a new set of food rules

What do you mean, that’s the way I liked my ap­ple cut yes­ter­day?

Try not to get hung up on what she eats or doesn’t eat

Leav­ing fin­ger-friendly food within reach (or on your plate) so she can graze may be all she needs some days or even weeks.

They love bot­toms and bod­ily func­tions

How­ever, he’ll dic­tate when it’s time to be toi­let trained.

They need to let off steam

You will need en­ergy to keep up with theirs. Walks, run­ning, wrestling, jump­ing and swing­ing are es­sen­tial un­less you want them bounc­ing off the ceil­ings, and you. You need to let off steam – with­out them Or you will be bounc­ing off the ceil­ings.

Su­per­mar­ket shop­ping with­out a tod­dler feels like a hol­i­day

You will feel giddy with ex­cite­ment as you choose your fruit and veg.

Hol­i­days with a tod­dler can feel as fre­netic as a su­per­mar­ket on Christ­mas Eve

How­ever, you will be in the heat or rain and away from your fa­mil­iar home com­forts.

Days can seem end­less

You will long for nap-time and bed­time. How­ever, when he fi­nally falls asleep he will look so adorable you will have a brief (very brief) urge to wake him up for a hug.

Few hugs match up to the un­con­di­tional em­brace be­stowed by a tod­dler

She prob­a­bly won’t want to hug or kiss ex­tended fam­ily or friends – don’t make her.

Once they can speak they will shame you

As soon as he can string a sen­tence to­gether he may re­peat any­thing he hears. This in­cludes the ex­ple­tives ex­pelled while driv­ing and the re­marks about your neigh­bour.

There will be ques­tions

Lots and lots and lots and lots of ques­tions.

You will soon loathe play­grounds

You will spend many of your wak­ing hours in play­grounds. Find the rare ones with a toi­let, chang­ing fa­cil­i­ties and cof­fee.

Some day you will miss play­grounds

Though it’s hard to imag­ine, she will even­tu­ally stop want­ing a “go on the swings”. You think now that you will be glad, but you will be sad. Very sad.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: SK O’DON­NELL/GETTY

Best to take it all ly­ing down.

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