Oooh, mama. You are officially entering toddler territory! Hold on tight, because the craziest times are yet to come. Hopefully this post will help you feel more prepared for the toddler years and assure you that you really can make it with a little bit of knowledge and preparation.
Maybe you already feel overwhelmed with your little one all over the place. Most likely you have already had to baby proof at least a few items in your house. There is so much that they can get into as soon as they start moving! Whether they are only army crawling, or if they can run faster than you can, it’s a lot to handle.
Be prepare for some overwhelming days during this phase trying to keep up with your wiggly and curious little one. But above all else, remember to enjoy this phase. Watching your baby turn into a child is one of the most amazing thing you’ll ever watch happen. Remember to take the time to soak it all in and enjoy watching who your little one is becoming.
Introducing the culinary world
Now that you have passed the first birthday, the world of foods has opened up even more to your little one! You can officially transfer to cow’s milk if you wish, or you can keep breast/formula feeding through the 2nd year.
Honey is now safe, as well as citrus foods and nuts. Remember to continue introducing food slowly if it’s new to your little one so that you can check for allergies.
One of the most frustrating things about this age is that a lot of kids are pretty picky. It can often blindside parents because they’ve been eating pureed veggies for 6 months, then all of the sudden they start refusing everything except for strawberries (or whatever it is they’ve chosen).
Rest assured that this is VERY common. So common, in fact, that people regularly make jokes about “toddler food”. It’s normal for toddlers to only have a few favorite foods and refuse anything except for that. If you’re worried, you can always get some gummy multi vitamins (these are my favorite). If your toddler is still on formula or breastmilk, there is no need for vitamins. They will get all the nutrition they need from formula or breastmilk!
Check out this post for more information about feeding your 12-18 month old. If you’re worried about keeping your picky little one healthy, check out this post.
Training your toddler
Your little one is quickly learning social cues and what it means to be part of a family. It is not too early to start disciplining your child. This doesn’t mean spanking, time-out’s or expecting obedience. However, you have to begin setting boundaries right away or your child won’t learn that they need to be respectful and obedient. If you don’t expect obedience now, you may not get it later. Some ways to begin early, gentle discipline:
- Give very simple commands. Make sure they are developmentally appropriate and start small! Maybe you can start with “Touch the ball” and see if they follow along. Commands don’t have to be demanding or disciplinary. It’s simply about letting your child learn what it means to listen and react.
- Choose one word to be disciplinary. I know some parents who don’t like to say “No”. A friend of mine always said, “No, thank you.” You can use whatever word you want. Just choose something that means “That is out of boundaries and you are not allowed to do/touch/say that.” Speak gently, but let your baby know you are in charge and that words mean they are out of bounds.
- Stay consistent. If there was one word that I could share to help mom’s be successful in discipline it would be this: CONSISTENCY. It doesn’t matter what words you say, how you give punishments or what your boundaries are as a family. What really matters is if you are consistent. Your children will watch you and if you are wishy-washy with your words and actions they will notice, even if they are very young. Start NOW with doing what you say. Follow through. If something is off limits, always make it off limits. If you tell them you will or will not do something, follow through! If you say no, don’t give in five minutes later after they cry/whine. Stick to what you say and you will reap the rewards of obedient children!
Keeping your little one safe
You have probably already had to do some baby proofing in your house, but the time has come to step it up a notch. You may find yourself baby proofing everything in the months to come (it’s okay to wait until you notice a problem before taking screws to your house)!
But a new thing you may have to deal with is safety outside of the home. For most of the first year our little ones are pretty easy to contain when out and about. They don’t mind staying in the car seat or sitting in a bouncer. Usually they don’t move as much when out because they are observing the world around them.
Well, parents, that is about to change. Before you know it your child will be darting around everywhere no matter where you are and that presents some real safety concerns. I know not all parents are for it, but you may want to invest in a baby leash. Strollers are great ways to keep your child contained and entertained. Keep one in your trunk so that you have it wherever you go.
One of the best things you can do is to have a safety plan for every situation. Have a routine for when you do normal errands or for special events. Plan how you will keep your child contained when necessary or how to let them play safely in the new environment or situation. Preparation is half the battle when it comes to keeping your mobile little one safe.
Teach good habits
Everyone dreams of having an amazing and disciplined child. But where a lot of people fail is in realizing that training your child starts at the beginning. Children are picking up habits from you, from the people they are around, from the shows that they watch, the music they listen to, and the discipline that you give them.
If you are ignoring bad habits at the foundation of their life you are going to have a terribly hard time getting rid of them in junior high. If you don’t want them watching too much tv later, don’t use it as a babysitter now. If you want them to eat meals with you in the future, start having them join in on family meals as soon as they eat 3 meals a day. If you want them to be kind to their friends, don’t allow them to be rude now.
As someone once said, parenting a toddler is like training a wild animal to become a distinguished human being. I wish I could remember who said that because it’s a great parenting philosophy. You can’t allow them to be crazy and naughty waiting for the toddler phase to pass before teaching them how to behave.
You have to start now, training that little wild animal, if you ever want them to be a decent human being. I know that it’s a tough job, but it will be so worth it when have a grown human that you’re proud of!
Encourage their individuality
Your 12-18 month old is growing in huge ways, and that includes their individuality! You will begin to see more and more of their unique personality and it is such a fun stage to watch. The best thing you can do for them is to encourage their individuality. Of course, they must obey you. “Naughty” is not part of a child’s personality, it’s part of their human-ness.
However, it’s important to be sensitive to their needs, personalities and love languages. All too often children act out and do “naughty” things because their individual emotional needs are not being met. Be sensitive to your baby’s individual social needs. If they really enjoy people, let them eat up the attention! If they get overwhelmed easily, never force them to be held by or play with others when they aren’t comfortable.
Notice the things your child prefers, whether it is toys, food, tv shows, people, or books. Help them to branch out and try new things, but also allow them to stay in their comfort zones and spend time doing their favorite things. Develop their personality and allow them to be who God made them to be.
DAILY LIFE: 12-18 MONTHS
- Milk/Formula/Nursing 1-3
- 5-8 oz. per feeding (depending on how much solid food they are consuming)
- You can switch from formula to cow’s milk whenever you are ready
- Solids 4-6 times daily
- At 12 months, it’s a good idea to aim for 3 large meals a day (at the same time as the rest of your family), as well as a morning snack and an afternoon snack
- For ideas of what to feed your 12-18 month, check out this post.
- Milk/Formula/Nursing 1-3
- As your child begins eating more solids and drinking less formula/breastmilk, their bowel movements will become more like an adults. You should expect that if your child is almost exclusively formula/breastmilk fed, their pooping should not change. However, if they are eating 3 square meals of solids every day, you will notice more solid poops less often which is normal.
- 13-16 hours total
- 1-2 naps (at some point during this stage, your baby might switch to 1 nap – if they don’t that is fine as well. 2 naps is perfect normal well into the 2nd year of life)
- 8-12 hour night stretches
- Growth Spurts: 70 1/2 – 76 1/2 weeks
- Loss of appetite is very normal
- Can get himself into a sitting position from lying down
- Pulls up to stand
- Walks holding onto furniture
- May walk a few steps without support
- Put things into and out of containers
- Pokes and points with index finger
- Responds to simple requests
- Uses exclamations such as “oh no!”
- Responds to “no”
- Impressive increase in comprehension of language
- Begins to use objects correctly
- Looks at the right thing when you name it
- Cries when mom or dad leaves
- Shows preferences for certain objects, people, shows, books
- Tests parental response
- Stacks rings or blocks
- If you haven’t already, baby proof the house!
- Read books
- Bath time/water play
- Roll a ball
- Play with dirt or sand
- Water table
- Sensory bins/bags
- Go outside!
- Activity table/mat/walker
- Point to and name body parts
- Build towers with soft blocks
- Take baby to busy places where he can observe things
- Imitate animal sounds
- Play with warm and cold objects/water
- Sing and dance to nursery rhymes
- Name people, objects, food, colors, shapes, animals, etc.
- Narrate daily life
- Play peekaboo
- Listen to music
SAMPLE DAILY SCHEDULE: 12-18 MONTHS
8:00 – Cereal + Fruit + 3 oz cow’s milk
10:00 – SNACK (finger foods) + 3 oz water
12:30 – Protein + Veggie/Fruit + 3 oz water
2:30 – Nap
4:00 – SNACK (finger foods) + 3 oz water
6:00 – Meat + Veggie + 3 oz water
6:30 – Bathe
7:00 – 5 oz milk cup / Nurse
7:30 – Bedtime
*For solid ideas for 12-18 month olds, check out this post.