Toddler

Photo courtesy of makelessnoise via Flickr

Toddlers are hard to keep up with because they need constant attention, but after spending a year taking care of a baby, you’ll be equipped to deal with the challenges of raising a toddler.  Toddlers are at the point where they have their own ideas about what they want, but their bodies still haven’t caught up yet, so they get frustrated easily.  Some important milestones that a toddler will reach include potty training and sleeping in a big bed.

Essential Gear

Essential gear that you’ll need for your toddler is a car seat that is suited to his age and weight.  There are three types of car seats you can get for your toddler: infant car seats, convertible car seats, or booster seats.  Make sure that the car seat belts are tight enough and harness your toddler properly.

Another important piece of gear that you’ll want to get for your toddler is a regular bed.  Choose a bed that is low to the ground, so your child won’t get hurt if he rolls off of the bed.  If your toddler has to sleep on an adult-sized bed, use bed rails to prevent him from rolling off and injuring himself.

Safety Precautions

By the time your child becomes a toddler, he’ll be moving around a lot, grabbing objects, and exploring the world around him.  So, when your child reaches toddler age, it is more important than ever to childproof your home in order to protect him from injury and death.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 2.5 million children are killed each year, right in their own homes.  You can childproof your home by yourself or by hiring a professional childproofer to do it for you.

The best way to determine what needs to be childproofed in your home is by getting on your hands and knees and seeing your home from your toddler’s point of view.  Get any dangerous objects out of the way and lock up potentially poisonous substances, such as cleaners, medications, and vitamins.  Put all tiny objects away that are within your toddler’s reach, such as paper clips and beads, to prevent your child from choking on them.  In addition, be sure to put outlet covers on all electrical outlets within your toddler’s reach.  Use an outlet cover with a safety latch rather than a little outlet plug because your toddler can easily remove the latter and put it in his mouth.

Toddlers like to pull themselves up on furniture, so be sure to bolt any heavy furniture or appliances, such as bookcases, dressers, and television sets, to the wall.  In addition, install gates at the top and bottom of the staircase, but be sure to use ones that screw into the wall.  Gates that stay in place with pressure are less secure.

Discipline

When your baby becomes a toddler, it’s inevitable that you’ll start dealing with more disciplinary issues.  Toddlers test their parents for boundaries, so you have to make those boundaries very clear to them through disciplinary actions and make sure that you remain consistent.  One of the most popular methods for disciplining toddlers is the time out method.  The length of a time out session should be no more than one minute per year of age.  The time out session must occur right at the time that your toddler commits a wrong.  And after your toddler is released from time out, you should remind him why he was punished in the first place.

Potty Training

Do not start potty training your toddler until he shows signs that he’s ready.  A toddler that is ready to be potty trained has bowel movements at the same time every day, is able to pull his pants up and down, imitates other family members when they go to the bathroom, and knows when he has to go to the bathroom.

To start potty training your toddler, put a potty chair in the room where he spends most of his time.  Get some training pants for your toddler that are made out of cotton, so your child feels the uncomfortable wetness when he pees in his pants and learns to train faster. Consider increasing your toddler’s fluid intake to encourage him to practice more often.

Moving to the Big Bed

Once your child is three years old, it will be time to transition him from sleeping in a crib to sleeping in a “big bed.”  Your toddler may have trouble making the transition if he feels comfortable and secure in his crib.  But if your child starts trying to climb out of his crib or already knows how to escape, then it’s time to move him to a big bed.  Some parents find that making the switch cold turkey is effective, while others find that it’s better to do so gradually.  When you gradually transition your toddler from sleeping in a crib to sleeping in a big bed, you distance yourself from your child little by little in order to teach him how to fall asleep independently.

Feeding a Toddler

Getting your toddler to eat nutritious food can be difficult.  Toddlers are often picky eaters, but you can encourage your toddler to eat healthy food by offering small portions and making mealtime fun and creative.  Serve your toddler a variety of foods with unique textures, tastes, and temperatures.  Use a plate with compartments to feed your toddler because some children don’t like it when their foods are mixed up.  Toddlers love to feed themselves and touch their food, so offer your toddler many finger foods.  Sure, it will get messy, but it’s healthy for your child to explore and learn to enjoy mealtime!

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