Category Archives: Your Toddler

Articles related to helping you raise your toddler.

Is It Time To Toilet Train?

toilet Training

Some children show readiness for toilet training between 18 and 24 months.  This should not be confused with the achievement of toilet training, which may not occur until the child is between two-and-a-half to four years of age.  You may already have a potty in the bathroom and you both may have names for urine and stools.  Your toddler may let you know he is dirty or wet, indicating a desire to have his diaper changed.  Toilet training requires a combination of physical and mental developmental skills, which must be mastered before training can be successful.  Here are some tips to get you and your toddler started:

How Do I Know if My Child Is Ready?

Your child should be able to walk well and be able to climb up and down from the potty unassisted.  Your child must also be able to recognize when he has the urge to urinate or defecate (“signaling abilities.”)  Your child then must be able to verbalize that urge.

Other signs of readiness include dry nap periods, grunting or straining after meals, asking to have diapers changed after a bowel movement, or telling you she has had a bowel movement.  This is a sign that she can recognize the signals. You may start noticing these signs when your child is 18 to 24 months of age. However, it is not uncommon for a child to still be in diapers at 2 and a half to 3 years of age.

When Is a Bad Time to Start?

Try not to start toilet training during any type of upheaval in the child’s world – for example, the move to a new home, the birth of a new baby, divorce or illness.

When is a Good Time to Start?

Remember, toilet training requires a combination of physical and mental developmental skills, which must be acquired before training can be successful.  Your child must have the physical ability to hold urine and stool and must be able to recognize the urge to go.  He should be able to pull his pants down and sit on the potty by himself.  He should be able to verbalize when he needs to use the potty.

What Do I Do Next?

You should buy a small potty or a potty seat that fits over your regular toilet and begin to discuss the topic with your child.  You should begin using simple words (such as “pee-pee,” “wee-wee” and “poop”) to describe what is happening.  Have your child sit on the potty in his diapers or clothes to feel comfortable.  Remember — this is the early stage of training.  Avoid putting pressure on your child before he is ready.

What about books and videos?

Books and videos about this topic are helpful, but always remember to read the book or watch the tape first so you are familiar with the contents.  Make sure the method demonstrated is compatible with your own ideas and appropriate for your child’s developmental level.  And never just put a video on and not explain things to your child – they can get some pretty wild ideas about this subject!

The Magic of Loveys

“Loveys” “Blankies” “Teddies” Those worn and tattered pieces of comfort to babies and toddlers. These are truly magical items. They immediately help a toddler calm down when upset, frightened, or feeling the pangs of separation from a parent. These are officially called transitional objects and it is quite common for infants and toddlers to develop an attachment to a special blanket, a piece of material, or a special doll or stuffed animal. The object has usually been near the child while nursing or snuggling with the primary caretaker, usually the mother, and then the object “becomes mother” to the child. This is the “transition” and the object can take the place of the mother in her absence. This can help a child sleep alone or stay with a baby-sitter.

There is nothing wrong with children having “loveys” They are not harmful and as far as I know no child has ever become ill from one. Not every child will develop an attachment to something and it is very difficult for a parent to make this happen. It has to happen on it’s own. You can try by keeping a special soft piece of soft material between you and the baby when they are about 6-9 months of age while cuddling or nursing, however, just like with finger sucking, these are things that develop in their own way despite parents’ best efforts. In other words, the magic occurs without our help.

If the object is forgotten, lost or washed, the child might experience significant distress since they are very dependent on their object. I still remember a former patient of mine, a little girl who had lost her special “bunny” in the supermarket. Her parents contacted the local media and an article in the local paper helped a search get underway. Not surprisingly, there was a great deal of sympathy generated as many people remembered their own “special items” from their childhood.

The loss of an object should be treated with respect and a parent must acknowledge to the child that this was something very special. If a blanket has become so tattered and dirty, some parents have cut off small pieces of it over time until it becomes much smaller and more manageable. The need for transitional objects is more common in younger children and most children will give up carrying them everywhere by age 4-5. They will still be emotionally significant (maybe for life) and your child may want to keep them in a safe place in his or her room.

Bedtime and Toddlers: The final frontier

sleeping_toddlerA big concern of parents of toddlers is how to get them to sleep independently once they can scale the crib walls, or have graduated to a junior bed. The solution requires patience, stamina, and a true desire to make this happen. All toddlers are capable of independent sleeping. If you have made a decision, however, about co-sleeping with your toddler and have set up a family bed, then you should know that there is no “harm” in this choice. Living with a toddler requires lots of energy and all that matters is that everyone get a good night’s sleep.

Here are some tips to help alleviate the struggles associated with bedtime:

  • Keep the bedtime routine short (no longer than half an hour) and simple. For example, after the bath – read up to three stories, sing one song, say goodnight to the favorite stuffed animals, say goodnight to your child, then it’s lights out.
  • You should make it clear to your child (who is no longer in a restrictive crib and can open doors) that you mean business. If he keeps coming out of the bedroom, he should be returned as many times as necessary.
  • Use a reward system for staying in bed. You cannot force your child to go to sleep, but you can force her into a bedtime. What she does in bed after that time is up to her. This may take a lot of work in the beginning, but it will pay off later.
  • The alternative to this method is staying with your child until he falls asleep. If your child becomes used to this, or if the child has been sleeping with you, the transition to sleeping alone may be more difficult. Most children should be able to go to sleep on their own by age three, even if they have been raised in the family bed.

Temper Tantrums

temper_tantrumTemper tantrums represent the stormy release of toddler frustrations. These are actually necessary expressions of your child’s emotions before he can verbalize anger and frustration.

They may occur frequently and more often when your child is tired, hungry or restrained for a long period of time (for example, in a car seat during a long trip.) You must teach your child that this is not an acceptable way of expressing his emotions. The earlier you address this behavior, the sooner it will begin to disappear. In this article we will take a closer look at the following common questions related to temper tantrums:

What should I do during the tantrum?
The most important thing you can do when your child is having a tantrum is to remain unemotional and un-phased by this behavior — this is not easy! One suggestion is to pretend that you are an anthropologist on the Discovery Channel, watching a species of wild animal doing a ritual dance. Remove yourself emotionally from the scene. Remember — you are the parent in control, she is the child, not in control.

Next, remove the audience. If you are alone at home, simply turn away and walk a short distance from your child. If others are around, remove your child to another room and remain close by. It is very important not to abandon your child when she is having a tantrum. It is very frightening for your child to have a tantrum and she needs to know you will not let her totally lose control. If the tantrum goes on for longer than five minutes, place your arms around your child, to help slow her down.

Give your toddler words for his feelings. Say gently, “I know you are angry.” “I know you are upset.” Over time he will begin to understand what these words mean. He will not have to act out his feelings as intensely if he knows you get the message.

When the tantrum begins to slow down, you can offer some soothing moments alone together. This lets your child know that you still love him and understand that he is upset.

What shouldn’t I do?
Remember — if a tantrum is in progress – do not show your child that you are upset. Never hit your child during a tantrum. You do not want to reward your child, either positively or negatively, during a tantrum.

What if you are in a very public place such as a supermarket?
Experts are divided about how to handle this situation. One method is to leave the cart full of food behind and remove the child from the store to the car. He can have the tantrum alone. If it ends, you can finish your shopping. If not, remind yourself that this limit setting is more important at this moment than the groceries.

Another method is to allow the child to have the tantrum in the store. This can be very draining for you, the parent, however, for you may have to explain to the other customers and shop owners why you are blocking the aisle.

Feeding Your Toddler

toddler_feedYour responsibility as a parent is to offer healthy foods in a nurturing environment. Your child’s job is to decide what and how much of what is offered he will eat.

This is a very important concept and worth repeating to yourself from time to time. In simplest terms – provide a balanced diet for your toddler, limiting sweets and salt. Limit milk to 16 – 24 oz. per day and undiluted juice to a maximum of eight oz. per day.

The nutritional needs of babies and toddlers are different from those of adults. A typical toddler portion is one quarter of an adult portion. Do not restrict fat and cholesterol, which are necessary for adequate growth. Do not give babies and toddlers high fiber, low calorie foods, which may not have enough calories. Offer a variety of foods over time to your toddler.

Let’s take a closer look at the following two issues related to feeding your toddler:

Is my toddler eating enough?
If toddlers are not given more than 16 oz. of milk and 8 oz. of juice per day, and are not given excessive sugary snacks between meals, they will eat an adequate amount of calories if offered a variety of nutritional foods. This is known as relying on “natural hunger” to achieve a balanced diet. Moreover, it may occur over several days of eating, not in one 24-hour period. Regular check ups with your pediatrician who will check your baby’s weight and height are essential for monitoring your toddler’s nutrition.

Food Fights
Feeding is an area where parents and toddlers can get into major power struggles. You are frequently worried that your child is not eating enough, or not eating the right kinds of foods. This anxiety may cause you to pressure your child, who immediately picks up the cue that this is an area for struggle. In battles over food, you, the parent almost certainly will lose. The more you force your child to eat, the more she will resist. If this leaves you feeling out of control – remember, you are in control. You control the food you offer your child. Eventually, she will get hungry and eat.

Toddlers In Motion

baby_waterparkYour baby turned one a few months ago. You survived a very challenging year…

You marveled at the incredible changes in your baby from month to month. One day your baby decides it is time to walk. You grab the video camera. You clap and smile and your baby knows this is something special. Everyone asks them to repeat this great feat. They oblige and enjoy the attention.

A few months later they continue along in natural development and begin to climb on top of the kitchen table. You scream “No!” as they prepare to leap. You look horrified and your confused toddler does not understand why this next step in his development is not resulting in the same reaction as mere walking. “Where are the cameras?” “Where is the applause?”

You now have a toddler. From here on, your delight at your toddler’s advancement in physical and mental development will be balanced against your fear that they will be hurt. And your toddler will feel frustration and some confusion as they do “what comes naturally” and sometimes get a negative reaction.

Toddlers have no knowledge of danger. By the same token, they have no idea that they can be hurt. The normal bruises and bumps will begin to give them an idea of what to avoid, but a real sense of fear (like we have as parents) does not yet exist for them. All they know is that they must move forward along this developmental road. They must begin to become an independent individual –and it is your job as their parent to help them achieve this important goal in a safe, protected environment.

What a wonderful challenge this is! Here are a few points to keep in mind as you move ahead…

1. It is important to be aware that toddlers have very little — if any — self-control. They are driven to explore, to climb, to taste, to feel, everything in their world. So create an environment as free of danger and frustration as possible. The first step is to safe proof your entire house. Place gates between rooms and on stairs. Remove breakables, protect electronics and plug outlets and remove electric cords from reach. It is helpful to get down on your hands and knees and check the room from a toddler’s perspective. Remove anything that you find that could become a danger.

2. Now you are ready to make a space that fosters creative exploration for your toddler. Put cushions or small plastic climbing toys in the room. Provide a variety of toys, and change them every few days. If you are in the kitchen, put chairs on top of tables, and remember to lock all cabinets except for one filled with plastic containers, wooden spoons, and small metal pots that can become safe and entertaining toys.

3. Lastly, never forget the number one rule: Always keep an eye on your toddler.
The reality is they are fast and can get into trouble quickly.