New parents know all too well the comments similar to "it just gets harder" and how discouraging they can be in those early baby days. But we're here to dispel the idea that parenting only gets harder when babies become toddlers.
In fact, there are tons of things you get to look forward to once your child reaches the toddler stage. As you're easing out of the baby days, know that there's an abundance of exciting milestones and sweet moments waiting for you in the toddler days.
When Is Your Child Considered a Toddler?
When exactly does a child become a toddler? You might be surprised to know that babies are officially considered toddlers by the age of one. According to the CDC, children from ages one to three are considered toddlers, though development stages are broken up as toddlers ages one to two and toddlers ages two to three.
Some people also consider 4-year olds toddlers, though they are usually past the developmental stage of the generally accepted toddler qualifications. In fact, the CDC considers children ages three to five to officially be preschoolers in name.
Milestones to Look Forward to in Toddlerhood
Other parents may have warned you that the toddler stage brings with it a handful of milestones that will drastically change your parenting dynamic - and they aren't entirely wrong. But, it's much more encouraging to look at these milestones from a positive perspective and see all the ways they will change your parenting dynamic for the better.
These are some of the toddlerhood milestones that might take some getting used to, but will definitely bring joy into your life.
Your Child Will Be Walking
Your child may start walking slightly before they're officially considered a toddler, but they will definitely have it mastered by the time they're well into this developmental stage of childhood. Though walking - and all the subsequent running - may present new challenges, it brings your child some independence. And that's a wonderful thing for a parent.
Your child will be able to go get their own toys, hold your hand rather than add weight to your arms, and roam around to satisfy their growing curiosity. Walking is also a fun milestone to experience as a parent since it's the first major milestone in seeing your baby start to grow up.
It may be an emotional experience for some parents, but it's definitely a joyful one for the whole family.
You'll See Your Toddler's Personality Developing
You've spent an entire year caring for and falling in love with your baby. Once they reach toddlerhood, however, you get to fall in love all over again. Because this time around, you'll start to see their budding personality and pick up on all the little details that make your toddler unique.
You'll see their sense of humor peek out, their favorite toys and songs start to dominate their world, and even watch them discover little details about themselves.
You Can Say Goodbye to Diapers (at Least During the Day)
Even though potty training can be a challenging part of parenting, it's a stepping stone to one of the best moments in parenting: saying goodbye to diapers. When the countless diaper changes become a few assisted trips to the bathroom each day, you'll see just how much time you were spending by the changing table. You may not even know what to do with all the extra time you'll be gaining once potty training is finished.
While most children become daytime potty trained during the toddler stage, nighttime potty training can take a bit longer, so don't worry about training at night just yet.
There's Less Likeliness of Nighttime Waking
There's certainly a lot of variation in experiences when it comes to how long it takes a baby to consistently sleep through the night. But, by the time your little one is officially a toddler, they'll definitely be much better at it than in those first few months of infancy.
All children still wake sometimes, whether it's because of a nightmare or just an off night, but you can definitely look forward to longer windows of sleep at night as your child gets older and transitions to their own bed.
Even if your toddler still experiences consistent night waking, you might find it easier to handle when they can simply walk to your room for comfort or verbalize their needs through the baby monitor.
They Will Be Talking More in the Toddler Stage
Your child's vocabulary and communication skills will continue to develop for a few more years, but by the time you're well into toddlerhood, there will likely be some sort of conversation happening.
Seeing your little one learn new words and learn how to communicate their needs takes a lot of the guesswork out of parenting. When they can verbalize their longing for more milk or their need for a snuggle, you'll spend way less time trying to figure out their cries and more time having those sweet little conversations.
They'll Trade Short Naps for One Long Nap
The idea of fewer naps might sound scary at first, but rest assured that the one long nap in the middle of the day is basically a parenting miracle. No more running around trying to get things accomplished in twenty-minute increments. You'll likely get one long nap, anywhere from 45 minutes to more than two hours, to have a break and get things done. When you're used to very short amounts of time for parenting breaks, 45 minutes might feel like a lifetime.
You'll Trade Warming Bottles for Making Snacks
This one might be a little bittersweet and the jokes from other parents might have you dreading the snack game, but there's something very important about this transition: you get to have a hands-off approach once that snack is ready. Rather than sitting for a long feed multiple times a day, you can dish out snacks and stay close by as your little one feeds themself.
Sweet & Helpful Things Toddlers Can Do
You know there are major milestones that come with toddlerhood, but there are also some unexpected little things that happen over time and become part of your routine that are honestly awesome and make for some easier parenting moments. Your toddler may be more active than during infancy, but they can also be more independent, helpful, and downright sweet.
They Can Climb Into Their Car Seat
This is one of the most freeing parts of parenting a toddler. Yes, it may take them longer to climb into the car seat themselves and they will probably insist on doing this every time.
But, you get to breathe while they're scooting their way into the seat. You don't have to risk bumping your head - or baby's - while trying to squeeze them in. Your focus can be completely on enjoying a momentary break and then strapping them in once they've finally completed their climb.
Toddlers Can Actually Help With Chores
That's right, a toddler can handle some small and simple chore-like tasks. The best part is that they will probably love doing so. Unloading the bottom rack of the dishwasher, picking up toys, and even helping set the table are all doable for toddlers of various ages. They might take longer to do these things than you would, but the helping hands are definitely a perk.
They Can Make Friends
Seeing your little one make friends and light up at the sight of them is a parenting joy few people talk about. It's truly remarkable to see little humans playing, hugging, and just enjoying one another's company - even of the types of play they engage in as a toddler aren't always what you expect. If you haven't had any official playdates by this time, the toddler stage is definitely one for making plans with other kids and parents.
They Will Keep You Laughing
Out of the mouths of babes, right? If you're about to hit the toddler stage, just know that you will be laughing a lot in the next couple of years. Toddlers do and say the funniest things and do so with the sweetest and most innocent perspective of the world. Get ready to experience some of your most memorable belly laughs.
Toddlers Actually Get Even Cuter
Look, babies are adorable. But nothing beats the messy hair of a post-nap toddler or the way those sweet little hands reach for yours. If you're worried about the cuteness fading as you leave the baby stage, just know that toddlers are bursting with cuteness that isn't often accompanied by a stink diaper.
They Can Entertain Themselves
This little perk gets even better as your child ages. With the independence of toddlerhood comes your child's ability to entertain themselves with toys, imaginative play, and other children.
They'll definitely still want to engage in play with you often, but the frequency will diminish over time. That means you'll get some time back for yourself and other responsibilities while your child is spending important time developing their imagination and social skills. Encourage their independance with Montessori activities or just giving them freedom to explore.
Encourage your child's ability to entertain themselves by avoiding interrupting their times of play when you really don't have to. Reminding them of your presence will only cause them to drop what they're doing and run to your side.
Outings and Trips Are Even More Enjoyable
As your child grows, outings and even family vacations become much more enjoyable for many parents. You'll get to see them having fun at the park, enjoying weekend getaways, and engaging with the world outside of your home. This is one part of toddlerhood that gives you, the parent, a lot of opportunities to create memories for your child and yourself.
They'll Say Sweet Things
Just wait until the first time your toddler says "I love you." It's like the whole wrapping their hand around your finger thing times ten. There's an endless amount of sweet little things you'll get to hear your toddler say in the next few years and they'll be music to your ears after surviving that tough first year of parenting.
They Will Understand Your Routine
Here's one you might need to hear if you're a new parent and your routine is completely dependent on your baby. That will start to change as your child grows.
Right now you're probably adapting to your baby's needs and routine and that can feel difficult. But as time goes on you'll ease back into your own routine and your toddler will simply be along for the ride.
You Get to See Their Imagination & Creativity Come to Life
You'll soon be trading mobiles and tummy time mats for coloring books and playdough. Watching your toddler's imagination develop through play is an absolute joy. Before you know it you'll be covering your fridge in scribbled bits of paper and listening to them act out little scenarios with their teddy bears.
They'll Develop Some Signature Dance Moves
Have you ever had a dance party with a toddler? You are in for a serious parenting treat. There's nothing quite so joyful or wholesome as seeing your child bust out their best moves and dance like no one is watching. You might just find yourself dancing along.
You Can Show Them All the Things You Love
This might be the very best part of toddlerhood. You finally get to show your child all the things you love. Baking, hiking, your favorite music, your favorite cheesecake flavor, and the reason why Saturday mornings were made for pancakes. Sharing the things you've loved for so long with the little person you just recently fell in love with is a surreal experience that toddlerhood provides.
Look Forward to All the Good Ahead
Parenting is hard no matter what season you're in. But there's a serious amount of joy packed into each season too. You just have to look a little harder for it sometimes.
Toddlerhood will come with its own unique challenges, just as the stage you're in now has. But it will also come with new experiences that make parenting so worth the effort and sacrifice. There's so much goodness ahead for you in this parenting journey, don't let anyone convince you otherwise.