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New to toddler parenting? How to embrace the changes

Are you going from infant parent to toddler parent? Isn’t that the same thing?

Picture this: you’ve just welcomed your precious bundle of joy into the world. Those first few months of infancy are a whirlwind of sleepless nights, endless diaper changes, and more baby snuggles than you ever thought possible. You’re in survival mode, powered by coffee and sheer determination. You’re learning the ropes as you go, relying on instinct, advice from friends and family, and maybe a few Google searches thrown in for good measure, but oh-so in love with that tiny human you created.

Fast forward to toddlerhood and things start to get… interesting. Because just when you think you’ve got this parenting thing figured out, along comes toddlerhood to shake things up in the most delightful (and exhausting) way possible. Suddenly, your once-gentle baby is a tiny tornado of curiosity and energy, leaving a trail of chaos in their wake.

Parenting a toddler requires a shift in mindset, and a whole new set of skills and strategies but I promise you have these, we just need to fine tune them for toddlerhood. Instead of simply meeting their basic needs, you’re now tasked with fostering their curiosity, encouraging their independence, and helping them navigate the ups and downs of emotions. It’s a delicate balance of setting boundaries and giving them space to explore. As well as teaching them right from wrong while also letting them learn from their own mistakes. So, buckle in as I teach you how you can cope with these hard and fast transitions!

The 3 C’s

During this transition, you’re no longer just a caretaker – you’re a guide, a mentor, teacher, referee, and a playmate, all rolled into one. As toddlers begin to assert their independence, parenting becomes more collaborative, involving shared decision-making, joint problem solving and exploration.

To cope with these big changes, I’m going to introduce a concept to keep in mind called The 3 C’s:  Collaboration, Collaboration, & Cuddles (because toddlers still need cuddles).

Yes, collaboration is there twice because it’s super important both for parents and toddlers. As toddlers’ brains start gearing up for more complex thinking, it’s the perfect time for them to get involved in decision-making and problem-solving. And for parents, it’s the opportunity to step into the role of collaboration teacher, helping their little ones navigate discovery, learning rules and boundaries. 

As parents, you play a crucial role in teaching your toddler how to collaborate. This means modeling teamwork, compromise, and effective communication in your daily interactions, both with them and with others. For example, when deciding on what to eat for dinner, involve your toddler by explaining what ingredients are available in the fridge, presenting the options, and discussing how everyone can contribute. This approach not only helps them feel included but also instills in them the importance of cooperation and communication, and models how to actually do it. Don’t ever underestimate the power of modeling.

Collaboration can also mean giving them choices. I’m sure if you’re reading this, by now you’ve heard that giving limited choices can usually avoid a tantrum or help them gain confidence. Well, spoiler, they do!  Rather than dictating every aspect of their day, involve your toddler in simple choices. For example, let your toddler choose between two options for snack time, such as apples or bananas. Say, “Would you like apples or bananas for a snack today?”. This simple choice empowers them to express their preferences and feel involved in the decision-making process.

Collaboration in problem-solving: two brains are better than one

Toddlers are natural problem-solvers, and involving them in the process continues to plant the seeds needed for collaboration and critical thinking skills later on. When faced with challenges or conflicts, encourage your toddler to brainstorm solutions with you. For example, if your toddler is struggling to figure out a new toy, brainstorm solutions together. Say, “What do you think you could try differently? Maybe try using different buttons?”. By involving them in finding a solution, whether it’s figuring out how to use a new toy or resolving a disagreement with a playmate, working together strengthens your relationship and nurtures the problem-solving, and critical thinking centers of their brain.

Collaboration in exploration: join on their fun

Are you going to enjoy what they enjoy? Probably not. Will you learn to love it? Also no. But can you enjoy watching your toddler enjoy it? Sometimes. Joining in their exploration and mini adventures not only helps foster collaboration but also helps them stay focused on tasks longer. Plan a nature walk with your toddler and involve them in the planning process. Say, “What should we bring on our nature walk? Would you like to bring a magnifying glass or a pair of binoculars?”. This collaborative planning builds excitement and anticipation for the adventure ahead. Whether it’s exploring nature or visiting a new playground, involve your toddler in the planning and execution of activities.

Cuddles: moments of warmth

In the toddler years, even as they start doing things on their own, cuddles are still super important. Toddlers love getting hugs and being close to you. It’s not just about feeling cozy; cuddles show them how loved and safe they are. These moments remind us how strong our bond with our kids is, even when we’re teaching and guiding them. It shows them that even as they are gaining independence and growing up, you’ll still be there to comfort them. Cuddles are like a quiet time where love is all that matters, keeping us connected as we all learn and grow together.

Embracing your new role

Ultimately, transitioning from tending to basic needs to embracing collaborative parenting marks the key shift for parents as their little ones journey from infancy to toddlerhood. As toddlers set out on their new paths of exploration and learning, parents step into the role of not just caregivers, but trusted guides, nurturing their child’s development with tons of collaboration, collaboration, and always, cuddles.  By embracing these collaborative strategies in your everyday interactions, you’re not just raising a toddler – you’re sowing the seeds for lasting bonds and essential teamwork abilities that will serve them well in the years ahead.

Need further support?

Book a free 15 minute consultation with Diana, our psychotherapist and parent coach for babies aged zero to six years! Diana can help coach you through the changes and difficulties you may encounter on your journey into toddlerhood.

What About You?

How are you coping with this transition to toddlerhood? Do you have any tips and tricks that seem to work for you? If so, leave a comment below!

Are you following us on socials yet? We’ll be discussing this topic over there too. Make sure to follow @talkin.sleep

Looking to learn more about your toddler’s sleep patterns and how much sleep they need? Download our FREE normal Toddler Sleep guide HERE

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