Ah, The Big 2. The kiddo has finally made it out of the era of Infant/Baby and into the all-powerful world of Toddlerhood. Parents should feel proud of all that's been accomplished over those first two years, burping, swaddling, rocking and rolling. Moms and dads should be looking forward to the many amazing things that are headed their way.
But beware. Though the future is bright, it's also riddled with toddler-aimed road-bumps that threaten to derail parents and tikes alike. Road-bumps like The Finger Family Song, full-blown tantrums, potty-training, big boys beds, and the ever-threatening vegetable.
Parents should proceed with caution, keeping their eyes peeled for errant Wiggles and poorly-placed sugary treats. Avoiding the obstacles is like some kind of mom-version of ANW, requiring both strength and training.
Having a plan is key. For example, planning ahead not to give in to a fit-pitching kiddo's demands; that's a plan. Planning ahead to not let the toddler wander around the house after everyone else is asleep is also a plan.
But even the best-laid plans don't always work out, right? Here are some do's and don'ts to help with the precarious navigation.
Let's start with the 10 things parents can do for their toddlers...
20 Celebrate The End Of Counting Months, Your Child Is Two Years Old - Period
How old is your baby? Two - bam. No more twenty-one months nonsense and stumbling to remember what month it is; that's for babies, and you no longer have one of those. You've got a full-on toddler human with a real, live, prime number as their age.
It might be fun to mess with people a little, though, and keep it going. Thirty-one months would technically be a correct answer, and you can watch people's faces as they attempt to do some quick division in their heads.
One of my kids is fifteen. Perhaps the next time someone asks me his age, I'll say "185 months."
19 Ditch The Crib
Yes, it is time. It's intimidating, I know, the thought of your child not being contained by those four mini-walls, but remember that climbing thing I mentioned? It's inevitable. Your baby is about to become a master climber. We've all seen the nanny-cam videos of kids climbing out of their cribs like mountain explorers. You don't want yours scaling the crib in the middle of the night, too, do you?
And no, they don't sell safety nets. Just ditch the crib already.
Besides, there is nothing quite like sitting on the bed with your snuggled-up munchkin, reading them a bedtime story with nary a bar between you.
18 Prepare For Jumping And Climbing
Your Tiny Two is developing some new and improved motor skills. Where once she wobbled precariously on two feet, rocking back and forth with the threat of toppling imminent, she now walks with ease. Runs like an athlete (kind of). Jumps like some sort of clumsy hopping animal.
And oh, how she can climb. And if she isn't yet, she will be soon.
So the time to prepare is now. Remove pushable climbing aids like step stools, relocate breakable things to even higher ground, and hunker down in anticipation.
Things are about to get crazy.
17 Celebrate Sleeping All Night
Most children, by the age of two, are finally sleeping through the night. Parents, allow yourself a moment to really celebrate that. It was a long, arduous journey that you thought would never end, but holy schmoley, it did!
Yes, they get up too early. And yes, sometimes getting them to bed at night is a task more difficult than bench-pressing a minivan. But at least your eyes are closing in the interim, right? There were a lot of long nights where you thought that would never happen.
But, thank heaven, it did. Enjoy the moment.
16 Get Ready For Newfound Picky Eating
Up until now, you might've enjoyed the fact that your little pumpkin would eat anything. You said it with great pride in your voice. Vegetables, fruits, meats - he's been your eating champ.
And he might still be.
But two is the time when the kiddos start to factor sights and smells into their food choices. Some kids keep shoveling it in, but others put down their little spoons.
All of a sudden things they liked before they're rejecting, making the yuck face even though they used to be open to everything.
Just when you thought you knew your own kid, right?
15 Attempt Potty-Training
Winter is coming.
The winter that is potty training. It's tough, it feels never ending, and you need a lot of extra clothing. Brrrr....chilly.
But you should definitely try it. You never know; your child might be that magical, elfin being who chucks his diapers and never looks back, reveling in the glory of using the bathroom like a grown-ish man. He will run to the toilet and relish the opportunity to make his mark. When you ask him if he has to go, he will happily scream, "Yes! And thank you so much for asking, mother!"
Um. Eyeroll. Yeah, that's probably what's going to happen.
14 Take A Step Back, Mama Helicopter
At two, they walk more than they stumble. They are finally getting this whole balance thing down and growing into that oversized head that's been holding them down for (2) years.
You no longer gasp when they get close to, well, everything they could potentially fall on, so it's okay to give them a little space.
Take one step backward. Maybe another tiny one, too. It's okay for your toddler to navigate in safe situations without a spotter; it's even good for them.
Besides, you don't want to be known as a helicopter parent, do you? (Spoiler: you don't.)
13 Forgive Yourself For The Inevitable Screen Time
The odds are good that you'll cave. It's easy to say you won't, but we all know there are moments of desperation. There are moments where you need a contained child, whether it be to finish work, keep her quiet and entertained in a doctor's waiting room, or even just to maintain a grip on your own mental well-being. #selfcare
And those electronic devices almost always do the trick.
So don't be too hard on yourself. Keep it to a minimum, of course, but if you let your munchkins watch for a little while as you attempt to get the house semi-clean for impending guests, try not to give into the mom guilt.
12 Write Your 2 Year Old A Letter
I'll admit that I rolled my eyes when I first happened upon the many blogged letters out there on ye ol' interweb from mothers to their babies upon their second birthday.
They're only two - what could you possibly have to say to them?
And then I started reading. And sniffling. And thinking that all of those mothers are both smarter and sweeter than I. How amazing is it to pen a love letter to your baby, capturing all of the sweet mama/baby minutiae for them to cherish forever?
I need a time machine so I can go back and do this. You should, too.
11 Cry. It's Okay. Your Baby Becoming A Toddler Is A Big Deal
Yes, you're excited that you no longer have to haul your baby around in that three hundred pound baby carrier. And yes, you're thrilled that your little peanut can walk by themselves instead of being transported everywhere in your arms.
So why do you feel a little sad?
Because your baby is no longer a baby, that's why. It's okay to mourn that. They needed you 24/7, and though it was too much to handle at times, it created a bond like no other.
So cry. Be sad that they're growing up. It's absolutely okay, but find solace in the fact that there is an even more exciting world of fun out there, just waiting for you and your toddler. Giddyup.
And now for the 10 things parents should try to avoid...
10 Restaurants, Performance Events, And Toy Stores - Tantrums Are Coming
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm wrong. You're thinking that you can handle it and your sweet little mini would never throw a full-blown tantrum in public.
They will, though, Karen - they so will.
It will come out of nowhere. They won't want to sit. Or they will want to sit. Or they won't like their food, they'll be tired of waiting, their dress will be scratchy or my personal favorite, The Mystery Tantrum. That, my friends, is the fit they throw, bedazzled with yelling and floor-writhing, that is inexplicable to you and the public viewing gallery.
Whichever variety of meltdown your toddler might choose, take heart in the fact that this phase doesn't last forever. Even if it feels like it does.
9 Rushing Into Turning That Car Seat Around
It's so exciting, the thought of turning that rear-facing car seat around and letting your child look out the window like a big kid.
Only...not so fast. Historically, two years old was the age where you flipped the seat. Now, however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends keeping your child facing the rear until they max-out the mass and height capacities for their seat. Technically, they could potentially remain backward until they're 3 years of age, or even 4.
The bottom line is that rear-facing is the safest position for a child to be in if something were to happen. So parents, keep them that way as long as you can. The kid - and you - will survive the disappointment.
8 A Potty Mouth
Your toddler is a phenom, soaking in everything around him like some kind of tiny superhero sponge. It may seem too early for you to have to curb your propensity for four-letter words when he's within earshot, but it is not.
Now is the time when he begins repeating things he hears, and trust us when we tell you that your murmured curse as you stub your toe is no exception. Not only will he repeat it, but your boy will deliver it with greater volume and way more verve than you ever thought possible.
So keep it G-rated for your own good. And his.
7 Expecting That They Will Naturally Stay In Their Big Kid Bed
As much as we love the idea of putting the kiddo down for bed, turning out the lights and having everyone instantly asleep, there will be a bit of a transition.
Your child will be tempted to play, roam and explore with their newfound freedom, so the key is to curtail it from Day 1.
Make a bedtime ritual. For example, read them a story, chat about how grown-up they are for going to bed like a big kid, kiss them and turn off the light.
Then...just hover down the hall from their room. Hover and peek. If they start to escape, get them right back in their bed before they ever see freedom as their option.
6 Foolishly Believing Your Kid Was Done With Tantrums At 18M
They were early. Your little babies were ahead of the expectations, tantrumly-speaking. Overachievers, really. The not-so-great news is that it doesn't negate all the thunder they will bring forth with the two-year-old tantrum. Next-level, new and improved meltdowns are on their way.
But take heart. Even though the two's can have their moments, their comprehension skills are also growing, along with their verbal communication. They still might sprawl flat on the floor at Target if you deny them their beloved Hershey bar, but with each passing day, you're better able to proactively diffuse the situation before it escalates to the point of no return.
5 Negotiating With Tantrumists
It's tough to avoid. When you're in line at the grocery store and your 2-year-old is screaming and crying and flailing about on the polished concrete floor, and everyone else in line is watching you with judgment in their eyes, you just want it to stop.
At that moment, you're tempted to not only buy them the candy they're being unreasonable about, but anything else they've ever wanted.
Puppy? Sure. Ferrari? Okay. A case of Mountain Dew? Drink up, toddler of mine. Whatever it takes to make them stop crying is what you want to give them.
But dig deep and don't cave. You don't want what follows next.
You've got this.
4 Expecting Them To Immediately Be Ready To Potty
Sometimes dreams have to be put on hold for a bit. Many, many two-year-olds aren't ready to be potty-trained while the birthday candles are still warm and melting on their cake. There are a plethora of factors that come into play regarding their readiness. Their communication levels, verbal skills, how independent they are, how stubborn they are; the possibilities are great and varied.
So don't be too disappointed. We promise your munchkin won't wear diapers forever. There's a reason why they don't make Huggies and Pampers in a size bigger than a 6.
3 Excessive Screen Time
The pediatricians say it, the parenting experts say it, teachers say it; heck, even your mother says it. It's not good for the little ones to stare at those screens. Period.
And at two years old, they don't yet know what they're missing.
If you don't get them started, you will never have to deal with trying to pry your phone out of their sticky little hands. You won't have to fight the ongoing battle and resultant whines, because your toddler won't even be asking.
You can be the mom that everyone envies because your kid won't even know what the Finger Family videos are.
Ahh...to be that mom.
2 Losing Control
You've made it through two years of babyhood, so you've got this. You've dealt with all-nighters (not the fun kind), diapers and spit-up; there is nothing you can't handle, right?
Um. Well. Two does bring with it new challenges, I'm afraid. Stubbornness, independence, and a seemingly unbending will - those things can be pretty tough to take, especially from such a tiny human. A tiny human that you created and are supposed to be the boss of; what are they even doing?
Just take a deep breath and know that this, too, will pass. It's actually a good thing, this search for independence from your tiny human. Just like diapers and midnight feedings, someday you'll look back fondly at these moments.
Toddlerhood is a lot. It is a cacophony of silly loudness, messy eating, games of she's-sort-of-potty-trained-but-not-really-yet and tantruming trips to the supermarket.
But don't sweat it. Intermingled into the madness is snuggle time, learning, sweetness, and joy. Just relax, roll with it all and don't sweat the small stuff.
That might sound a bit oversimplified, but take it at face value. The daily struggles are just that - the struggle of a singular day. One tiny day in the midst of a great, big, amazing toddler life. Buckle up and enjoy the ride, because it's a really good time.
Sources: People, Parents, US Weekly, Entertainment Tonight, Kids Health.