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Talkin' Sleep

Where did my sweet baby go? Toddlerhood: exploring the changes

More choices, more changes, more tears, and a whole lot more fun. Welcome to toddlerhood. If you’re reading this, I see you. You might be finding yourself exchanging babbles and contact naps for tantrums and power struggles. They were cuddly and played quietly and now, they are diving head first off the couch, won’t leave the dog alone, and start screaming if you even think about putting their boots on.

Will I ever get my sweet baby back? Well yes, and no. Stay with me now. 

Toddlerhood has a bad rap: “The Terrible Twos,” or “Threenager,” usually come to mind when someone thinks of toddlers, and I would like to start by rebranding that to “The Thriving Twos”. This is because as much as toddlerhood is full of new challenges faced by parents and kids alike, it’s also filled with incredible fun and incredible growth, and a deeply important stage developmentally. 

The transition from babyhood to toddlerhood is a period marked by huge developmental milestones and changes. While over the course of this series we will be taking a deep dive into toddlerhood development, let’s just dip our toe in for now.

Toddlerhood Development- What to expect:

The transition from babyhood to toddlerhood is a period marked by huge developmental milestones and changes. Over the course of this series we will be taking a deep dive into toddlerhood development but for now, let’s just dip our toe in by going through the developmental stages your baby will go through once reaching toddlerhood.

1. Advent mobility

As infants grow into toddlers, one of the most noticeable transformations is the advent of mobility. Toddlers typically begin to explore the world on two wobbly legs, transitioning from crawling to walking. This newfound independence opens up a realm of possibilities for both the child and the parents. It also comes with an added layer of vigilance as the toddler ventures into spaces previously inaccessible!

2. Independence and autonomy

Independence takes center stage as toddlers assert their budding autonomy. Simple tasks like feeding themselves, choosing clothes, or attempting to put on shoes become opportunities for self-expression and skill-building. This is because they are experiencing themselves as an individual for the first time. They are beginning to understand that they are separate from other beings so doing things for themselves for the first time is exhilarating! 

3. Evolution of relationships

The nature of relationships evolves during this period. In infancy, caregivers are central to a child’s world, providing nourishment, comfort, and security. In toddlerhood, there is a gradual expansion of social circles, with peers entering the chat and the role of caregivers shifting to co-pilot in certain times.  Toddlers begin to understand and respond to social cues, beginning to participate in sharing, taking turns, and engaging in simple social exchanges. These early social experiences contribute to the formation of a child’s social identity and social skills.

4. Changing sleep patterns

Sleep patterns also undergo changes between infancy and toddlerhood. Newborns typically sleep for shorter periods and wake frequently for feeding. As infants grow, sleep consolidates into longer nighttime stretches. In toddlerhood, the transition to a more regular sleep pattern continues, often with the establishment of a single nap during the day. Sleep becomes less fragmented, reflecting the maturation of the circadian rhythm. If you’re interested in learning more about what’s normal for your toddler’s sleep pattern, have a look at our Normal Toddler Sleep Guide.

5. Communication growth

Communication undergoes a remarkable growth spurt during this phase. Babbling turns into words, and gestures become more deliberate forms of expression. Parents can witness the emergence of their child’s personality as preferences and dislikes become apparent. This is an exciting time for fostering language development and establishing a deeper connection through verbal interactions, even if you are the only person who understands them! “Wiurhe asiuh theuiu trkshd,” is what your toddler says. “He’s asking for a snack,” is what you, as a parent, interprets from that.

Accepting the transition

In essence, the baby to toddler transition is a wild journey that unfolds uniquely for each child. Physically, cognitively, and emotionally, children undergo huge changes that shape the trajectory of their future development (no pressure). Recognizing and understanding these changes is essential for caregivers, educators, and professionals involved. This is because these changes demand flexibility, patience, and a keen appreciation for the marvels of growth and development. Embracing the changes and celebrating the milestones can turn this period into a rich and rewarding experience for both parents and toddlers.

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? 

Have you noticed any interesting changes in your baby since their transition to toddlerhood? Let me know in the comments below! Want to learn more about toddler sleep? Check out more blog posts on our Toddler Sleep Secrets page that contain vital knowledge and tips and tricks for your little one.

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