The first time my father told me my son was no longer a baby I wanted to scream “NOOOOO!” at the top of my lungs, scoop my little one up in my arms, and snuggle him for hours like I did when he was itty-bitty. It didn’t matter that he was walking, babbling, eating finger foods, and climbing on everything he could. No number of toddler-like behaviors could keep me from getting choked up at the thought of him no longer being a baby. While I know my son will always be my baby, the fact that he’d transitioned to full-on toddler mode was one slice of reality I wasn’t quite ready to swallow. It may seem like an insignificant change in a child’s life, especially when it tends to happen in the blink of an eye, but going from baby to toddler is a big deal. Everything that had become the new normal with your baby shifts and throws you a colossal curve ball complete with everything from new foods and physical milestones to sudden personality peeks and big boy beds.
On the move!
The definition of a toddler is a young child that toddles or is beginning to walk. Hence why many people pin point the transition from baby to toddler with their child’s first steps. Once a child no longer has to rely on mom or dad to get from one place to another, watch out. It’s one thing to baby proof, it’s another to “toddler proof.” Gone are the days when you can sit and binge watch House of Cards while your sweet and still baby lays giggling and cooing on the floor. Now as soon as you sit down with a fresh glass of sweet tea (or wine, I’m not judging) you realize your little one has made a b-line for the kitchen where he’ll inevitably end up playing in the dog bowl. Time to invest in the best baby gates, latch-systems and outlet covers to start “toddler proofing” the house. And let’s not forget that with many children, where there’s walking there’s climbing. No chair, stair, table, stool, or couch is safe from a toddler’s desire to scale it like an adorably tiny King Kong. Toddlerhood definitely keeps you on your toes so when it comes time to ditch the baby title, be sure you’re on yours!
Take a walk down the baby food isle at your local grocery store and you’ll notice many items have labels like crawler, sitter, toddler, etc. As your child grows he’ll become more comfortable with larger pieces of food, partially thanks to the arrival of those dagger-like teefies, and more interested in the foods on your plate than the usual pureed mush. Transitioning to toddlerhood means expanding your little one’s palate, introducing them to new textures, and trying not to have a heart attack the first time they gag on a piece of corn bread that was a little too big. And think your little sweetheart was picky about what pureed foods he liked? Now that he’s older he’ll be much more animated in his disapproval of green beans, even going so far as throwing them on the floor to ensure you know they are unacceptable dinner party guests. But I can’t completely dog on this aspect of toddlerhood because a growing palate means NO MORE PUREES! Homemade baby food makers rejoice and celebrate being able to feed your child the same thing you are eating.
Bye Bye Baby Stuff
One of the most exciting and yet heartbreaking parts of your baby transitioning to a toddler is the day you decide it’s time to get rid of all the baby things your child no longer uses. On the one hand you’re probably thrilled to re-gain the space that the baby swing, bouncy seat, Bumbo, and a dozen other whatchamacallits have been taking up around the house. On the other hand putting those things away is just one more punch to the gut that says, “you’re baby is growing up… fast!” Soon the spots in your home that were reserved for stillness and sleeping will be filled with joyous playtime, reading, and coloring… hopefully not on the walls. This might also be the time that you decide to switch your little guy from a crib to a toddler bed, a huge and exciting milestone for the whole family! Hooray to no longer having to lift your littles up and over the crib rail, boo to trying to keep them in their new beds.
What’s with all the crying?
Saving the best for last, right? As your child becomes a toddler, gains independence in a number of areas, and begins to realize that they are separate from you, he’ll start to figure out that he has a choice. Terrifying, isn’t it? Not nearly as terrifying as the fact that he’ll also learn that having a choice means he can disagree with the choices mom and dad make. In other words, get ready for toddler tantrums. The frustrating thing about toddler tantrums is that while your child is old enough to dispute you, he is unable to communicate what’s wrong or understand your attempts at reasoning and explanation. When my 1 year old throws his head back and dramatically collapses like a Tony Award winning actor because he wants a cracker right now there’s not a whole lot I can do outside of trying to catch him before he smacks his face on the floor. I will explain to him that he ate the last cracker at breakfast but he won’t understand. I will tell him that throwing a fit is no way to get what he wants but he won’t understand. All I can do is thank God for my cat-like reflexes and remind myself that he’s a toddler and eventually he’ll learn. Then pour a glass of sweat tea (read: wine).
The transition from baby to toddler is definitely bittersweet. You’ll experience equal moments of “No, not yet” and “Well it’s about time!” You’ll see other people’s bitty babies and reminisce on the days when you were happy getting drunk on that new baby smell. You’ll see brand new moms with diaper bags overflowing with TOO MUCH STUFF and thank God you learned how to be a master baby crap organizer months ago. Whether it’s your first or fifth you’re never quite prepared for the day your baby is no longer a baby, but you’ll get through the transition to toddlerhood just fine, I promise. Just take it one day at a time and let your child adjust on his or her own time. And when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the new normal, remember that toddlers still give pretty awesome snuggles.
Ok SmartMoms, it’s your turn to chime in. What was the hardest or most surprising thing about your baby’s transition to toddlerhood? Share in the comments!