The A-Z of toddlers
Following on from my A-Z of babies post, I thought it was time to send out a toddler version. Toddlerhood is a time of such growth for your little one: new words, new behaviours and more often than not walking! This little A-Z guide will give new mums an insight into what life with a toddler will be like, and hopefully for mums who have or have had a toddler, it will give you a bit of a laugh!
A – Activities – Toddlerhood is a great time to get out and start enjoying activities with your little one. There are so many great free activities you can do with toddlers, and a lot of activities for kids are free for little ones 3 and under, so you can have a pretty cheap outing with the family when the kids are little. One of my favourite things to do was to head along to our local library for a wriggle and rhyme session.
B – Behaviour – That sweet little cherub of a baby you had can suddenly disappear when you hit the toddler stage. That’s not to say that toddlers can’t be sweet and cherub like from time to time, but they do have a tendency to flick like a switch between different mood states, leaving mum and dad completely perplexed as to what they have done wrong. Simple things like cutting the toast too small; leaving it too big, or cutting it into triangles instead of squares (or vice versa) can all be huge deals when you’re a toddler, and often result in meltdowns. If you’re just heading into the toddler phase, remember to tread carefully with the toast!
C – Climbing – Beware! Toddlerhood is often when your little one will discover his or her love of climbing. Climbing chairs, tables, beds (well, any furniture really) and sometimes even ladders. These little guys and gals are quick so keep your eyes peeled for climbing hazards, which can be pretty much anything!
D – Dinner – Ah toddler dinners. The phase when things we ate this week are totally off limits the next, and the walls often get more of the food than the toddler does!
E – Energy – These little people can go from 0-100 and then back to zero in no time!
F – Fingerprints – once you have a toddler you can guarantee that anything shiny will be covered in little fingerprints. Car windows and sliding doors are prime targets for slimy little fingers to leave their marks. Be prepared with the glass cleaner…or don’t be…the finger prints will be back before you know it!
G – Growing – Boy oh boy do they grow a lot during this phase. Sometimes it feels like you’re constantly restocking on clothes and shoes. Thankfully in our wider family we had a few little ones who were similar ages, so we were able to pass the clothes around a few times and make the most of them.
H – Hats – Have you ever tried to keep a hat on a toddler? Winter hats, summer hats, my youngest son just wouldn’t keep them on!
I – Individual – Kids start to really show their personalities in the toddler phase. This is when you start to really notice how different they are from other kids, even from their own brothers and sisters. Different kids are so different and have their own different qualities and challenges. It can be really fun getting to know your little person during this time.
J – Jumping in Puddles – there is nothing more fun for a toddler than jumping in puddles, so on a rainy day pop on a raincoat and some gumboots and go puddle jumping! Such a great way to wear off some energy and kill the cabin fever!
K – Kitchen time! – Toddlers love to help, and what better way to get them helping than to get them mixing up a batch of cookies. Just don’t do what I did here and leave the flour unattended in the presence of your toddler!
L – Laughter – I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much as I did when my boys were in this stage. So much of what they say and do is just classic, and even when they are doing something that they shouldn’t be doing it will take you all your time not to laugh along with them.
M – Mum – Toddlerhood is often a time when your little one will start clinging to Mum. They are becoming so much more aware of what is going on around them and who they want to hang out with! Unfortunately, this time can often coincide with mum going back to work. I’m not sure there is any simple solution to overcoming this, but I think allowing some time for the kids to slowly transition into childcare before you go back to work can help make a difference. We started with a couple of hours, then a couple of half days and later onto part time, before I went back to work full time.
N – Noon – The time of day when your toddler will (hopefully) take a nap and give mama a moment or two to recover (or catch up on some washing). Also the time for your toddler to recharge his batteries ready for another afternoon of play!
O – Opinionated – Toddlerhood is the time when your little one will start to develop opinions all of their own. Some days you might just have to leave the house with your toddler wearing a pretty dress and gumboots and some days you might be taking them to daycare in their pajamas because they don’t want to wear clothes today. While this can be frustrating at times, it is all part of your little one developing their own little personality and sometimes it’s best just to go with the flow!
P – Patience – Something you will need to have a lot of in this phase. Toddlers can really test your patience at this time, and often their troubles are over things that us parents find to be completely irrational. Do your best to stay calm (easier said than done sometimes, I know), and if you can’t, then strap them in the pushchair and go for a walk. That usually helps everyone’s mood!
Q – Quiet – If you have a toddler in the house never trust quiet. Quiet times usually mean trouble. Like cutting your brother’s hair with the kitchen scissors or colouring in the couch with a pink highlighter kind of trouble, both of which have happened in our house.
R – Reward Charts – if you’re struggling with toddler tantrums and ears that don’t listen toddler hood can be a great time to start using a reward chart. We started one of these with Oliver about the time his little brother arrived and it really did help (for a while at least). The stickers alone are a great reward for a little one, and we decided that the rewards should be something simple but fun, like a bike ride or a trip to the park rather than something that we would buy for him. As the kids have gotten older we have allowed them to choose their own rewards, and surprisingly enough most of the rewards they chose were things like visits to their grandparents and rides on their bikes.
S – Speech – Your little toddler will no doubt be picking up loads of new words at this time. Some days you’ll struggle to get a word in edgeways! I loved this stage where they are still learning to enunciate their words correctly - so much cuteness right there. P.S. Don’t worry if your little one still only saying a few words – all kids are different and some learn faster than others.
T – Toilet Training – This can be another of the big challenges of parenthood. My eldest son showed little interest in toilet training, and it probably took us a good 12 months from the time we started trying until he was consistently getting it right. In hindsight, we probably started too early so we set ourselves up a little bit, so with the second son we waited until he showed signs that he wanted to use the toilet and made a big push over a couple of weeks. We were pleasantly surprised at how fast he got it sorted! Tips for getting started – get a good comfy toilet seat insert (for boys preferably something that isn’t hard plastic at the front as that can be rather uncomfortable I’ve been told by Mr 5), get some books about potty/toilet training and read them regularly so that your little one gets familiar with the idea before you want to get started with the training, and don’t start too soon – I get it that you want your little ones out of nappies sooner rather than later, but I feel like if you start before they are ready you’re setting yourself up for tears all around! (P.S. if you’re in New Zealand, check out the site www.looloo.co.nz. A friend referred me there recently and they have some great products for toilet training).
U – Underwear – Following on from the previous letter, underwear is a surprisingly important part of the toilet training process. Having the right undies really can help your little one be more enthusiastic about the whole toilet training process. Firstly, they can be a big boy/girl like their Mum, Dad, sibling, cousin etc, but also they can get them with their favourite character, and who wants to wee on Spiderman right? I found it helpful taking the kids to choose their own underwear. This seemed to go down better than me choosing for them.
V – Vegetables – Why is it that when little ones hit toddler hood veges that they would eat with no trouble at all suddenly become public enemy number one (especially anything green)? Getting veges into toddlers can be a right pain in the butt, but you usually can still get them into their tummies using a little undercover cooking. Grated veges can usually be well hidden in a lasagna or Bolognese sauce, and nachos can be an excellent way of hiding loads of veges without a fuss (you can check out my own nacho recipe over on my personal blog here). I also found that cutting veges into little stars or hearts made a world of difference!
W – Walking – Walking is a big development in the toddler phase, and while you might have spent half of their babyhood wondering when they will walk, you’ll probably find yourself wishing they would sit still for just a moment once they have found their feet! Suddenly you realise how many hazards there are in your house and need to start baby proofing everything, especially things like the corners of bench tops and coffee tables. Who would have thought those things could be so hazardous? Though I must admit, I do love watching little ones toddling around when they find their feet. That nappy waddle is just the cutest!
X – Xylophones – These seem like such a great idea when your baby is little, but once they reach the toddler stage they’ll be whacking that thing like there is no tomorrow and suddenly you’ll be wondering what on earth possessed you to get one…well I did anyway.
Y – Yelling – I mentioned voices in my last A-Z post about babies, but at the toddler phase they really do kick it up a notch! Yelling in the supermarket is one of my favourites…the number of times I’ve bought three extra boxes of cereal just to keep the peace!
Z – Well, once again I’m struggling with “Z”, so once again I’m going to rely on good old “Zoo”. As I said in my last A-Z, the Zoo is a fabulous place to take your little ones, and at the toddler stage they really get into finding and naming off all the different animals. A great family outing and a way to help your toddler learn all in one!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this A-Z! I’d love to hear what you’d include in your toddler A-Z, so feel free to leave a comment below.
Thanks for reading.