Being a first-time parent can be tough, especially when you get to the toddler stage! The minute you take your little one home from the hospital, the panic begins to set in. Every cough, sniffle and cry sets off a wave of worry. It’s terrifying!
Then of course, there’s also the worry over whether you’re doing things right. The toddler stage brings many tough, never-ending battles over everything from getting dressed to mealtimes. If you’re struggling to cope, the following tips from leading pediatricians can help.
1. Don’t Be Over-Strict
One of the most common mistakes you can make is trying to keep a very strict set of rules with your toddler. During this time, your little one is a lot more difficult to control. This is because in the toddler years, the child is trying to develop a sense of independence. So, if you’re too strict all that is going to happen is you will end up having a LOT of power struggles.
Now, that isn’t to say you shouldn’t set boundaries and you should let your toddler get away with whatever they want. What it does mean is you need to be a little more flexible. Giving your toddler choices for example, rather than forcing them to do what you want, is an excellent tip to avoid power struggles. Just like you yourself have choices each day, giving your toddler their own choices throughout the day will minimize the chances of them fighting you on everything.
2. Make Meals Simple
Mealtimes are by far one of the biggest battles parents have with their toddlers. It’s important to note that some days you just aren’t going to win. Toddlers go through a phase where they are scared to try new things so during these times it’s best to just ride it out and let them eat what they are familiar with.
Serving up healthy foods and allowing your toddler to eat as little or as much as they want is also a good tip. You can also incorporate the previous tip into mealtimes, giving your toddler a choice of two different foods for dinner. The simpler you make it and the less rules you have, the fewer problems you’ll run into.
3. Protect Your Toddler’s Teeth
New Orleans based pediatrician, Dr. Christy Valentine, advises parents to take good care of their toddler’s teeth. Even if your little one fights you when it comes to brushing their teeth, persevere as keeping the teeth healthy now will ensure no problems arise when the adult teeth start to come through.
Your toddler’s teeth can also hold clues to the state of their health. If they have little brown spots present, it could be an early warning sign of cavities. It’s also important to pay attention to how the teeth start to fall out. The front teeth usually fall out first. So, if your toddler’s back teeth start to fall out before the front ones, you should consult a dentist.
4. Don’t Stress Over Potty Training
Did you know that children don’t necessarily have to be potty trained until they are 4 years old? A lot of parents worry if their little one isn’t potty trained by the age of 2, without realizing it’s perfectly normal. You can’t force your child to be ready for potty training, regardless of how desperate you are to get them out of diapers.
Austin based pediatrician, Dr. Ari Brown, states that successful potty training is based on two factors. The first is your toddler needs to be able to identify the urge to go to the toilet, rather than simply knowing when they have been. The second is your toddler also needs to want to be clean. Until they pick up on these two cues, you will have very little success with potty training.
If your toddler reaches the age of 3 and they are still refusing to start potty training, you can alter how you approach diaper changes. Some pediatricians recommend making diaper changes a little more business like. Previously, diaper changes have been a chance for you to cuddle and really connect with your little one. However, if you’re trying to potty train your toddler you’ll want to make diaper changes as straightforward and boring for your little one as possible.
5. Don’t Forget To Recognize Your Toddler’s Good Behavior
It’s easy to focus primarily on the bad things your toddler does. Let’s face it, there does seem to be a lot more bad behavior than good during the toddler years! However, if you forget to praise your little one when they’ve been good, they will be less likely to repeat the good behavior.
So, when you notice your child has done something good, such as put all of their toys away, don’t forget to praise them. Even though it seems like all your toddler wants to do is fight you on everything, the truth is they want to please you more.
6. Keep A Set Sleep Schedule
Although we talked earlier about letting go of strict rules during the toddler years, one thing you shouldn’t slack on is your little one’s sleep schedule. Be sure to have a strict bedtime routine, as well as a set nap time. You can have a 30 minute flexible time period between your set schedule, just in case anything crops up, but try not to let it get longer than that.
Having a good nap and sleep schedule will help to minimize bad behavior, reducing tantrums caused by over-tiredness.
These are just some of the best pediatrician tips you can follow. There are so many struggles and issues which can crop up during the toddler years and every parent is going to make mistakes. Following the tips above will help minimize some of the struggles and worries you’ll face throughout the toddler years. The key thing to remember is these tough times will pass!
Raising a toddler is hard work but with perseverance, patience and a little know-how, it will make your life much easier.