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10 Things to Know About Toddlers

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Your baby changed so much in his first year, he earned a whole new title: toddler! There's a reason this age gets its own distinction: toddlers are their own breed. Here are 10 things to know about kids at this highly mobile, forever busy, absolutely adorable age.

1. They Drop to One Nap

Cute Baby Asian girl peering out from her crib

Between 12-18 months, most toddlers begin to drop to one nap. For some, this means that remaining nap will gain some length, but that's not always the case. Some moms love losing a nap because they no longer feel so tethered to their baby's sleep schedule, some miss the extra time it allowed them. Whichever your preference, having just one nap on the agenda pretty much guarantees that your toddler will be an exhausted mess by bedtime.

2. They Might Become Picky Eaters

baby girl eating vegetable first time

You bragged to your friends about your baby's diverse palate and willingness to try anything you put in front of her. Unfortunately, you'll have to eat your words (pun intended) if your toddler does as so many do and displays her picky side. Those previously beloved peas soon might be her favorite thing to fling one by one from her high chair. Experts call this displaying independence. We call it frustrating, and messy. No matter what, do continue to serve your tot a variety of foods—if she ate them once, she just might again someday.

3. They're Messy

Baby's first solid food

From feeding themselves to exploring absolutely everything, toddlers have many, many opportunities to get dirty. And guess what? They take advantage of every chance, if only accidentally. Plan on running through a couple of outfits a day. You could also start with a layered look and peel off the soiled layers as the day progresses.

4. They Can Communicate

a toddler on a phone

Although he can't yet talk, your toddler has likely figured out quite a few ways to communicate his needs. Pointing, gesturing, nodding, clapping, smiling, even screaming: these are all ways your toddler will let you know what he's asking for before he has the words to do so. At 12 months most toddler are mastering simple instructions; by 18 months, your little one will be skilled at following simple directions and might have eight to 10 words at his disposal.

5. They Kill It With Cuteness

In a cuteness battle, a toddler in a good mood would clobber even the most picturesque baby. Combine the inimitable, strangely adorable stride of a drunken sailor; a tendency to burst out in spontaneous clapping; sweet gestures like sloppy kisses and leg hugs; and the most sincere gibberish you'll ever hear and you've got yourself one irresistible toddler. Babies are sweet blobs, while a toddler strutting her stuff has personality to spare.

6. Tantrums Are Normal

The tears will soon come rolling down

You've heard about the terrible two's, but are you aware that most little ones start to throw tantrums long before their second birthday? Seeking some control in their tiny lives, toddlers have fits over going down for a nap, being buckled into a stroller or car seat, sharing toys, not getting a cookie... the list goes on. Hunger and exhaustion are often at the root of toddler tantrums, so head some of them off with regular meals and snacks and a regular schedule.

7. They Are Adorable Lovebugs

Pure love with a mom and daughter

It's a rare toddler who doesn't shower his mom and dad with affectionate gestures. Bask in your little one's hugs and kisses while he's at the age to be generously doling them out—there's nothing sweeter. Beware though that kisses can turn into bites and what's meant to be a gentle pat might feel more like a hit—apparently gentle actions are not necessarily intuitive. Consider that "love pinch" a teaching moment!

8. What's Yours Is Theirs

Cute baby with laptop

There's no one your little one admires more than her mama, which explains why she covets your things: with them she can be just like you. Should she get her hands on your cell phone, keys, purse, or other perceived "prize possession," she'll hold them in an amazingly tight grip. Expect to use all your strength to peel them from her grasp!

9. If They Are Too Quiet, They're Probably Up to Something

Hands of a baby artist

Toddlers need a lot of supervision. Even under your careful watch they tend to be into everything. They'll empty the cabinets, unroll the toilet paper, dig in the trash, eat off the floor, and clear the shelves. And moms of toddlers soon learn that if their little one is playing alone, quietly and out of view, they're probaby up to no good. It might be as minor as pulling out every one of baby wipes from its container. Or it could be much, much worse—think permanent marker on the walls.

10. They're Tiny Sponges

A child playing with a fake kitchen

Your toddler will amaze you every single day with a new skill or discovery. Although their physical growth slows in year two, their brains are continuing to develop rapidly. From gross motor skills like mastering the stairs, climbing, and (eventually) running, to fine motor skills like scribbling and using a spoon, toddlers are determined little sponges set on conquering new challenges. And they are so proud of themselves when they do! It makes a mama just about burst with love and pride as well.

 
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