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Why is my toddler doing this?! The beginning of boundary setting.

The transition from babyhood to toddlerhood happens seemingly overnight. Your child becomes more capable, curious, and communicative. They are ready and (almost) able to tackle things they previously could not do (choose their clothing, pick their own breakfast, select their shoes, decide on the route to the car, etc.) and are willing to go to great lengths to coerce (force) you into letting them show you.

Toddlers crave autonomy – they want to be an active participant in their life. Gone are the days where you can grab the first thing your hand reaches in the closet, pop them into that, put shoes and a coat on, grab the diaper bag and head out the door. Now you are entering negotiating territory – you finally get her dressed with cajoling, bribery, and maybe even a threat or two about taking away a coveted toy but then there are the shoes. She flat out refuses the shoes and the coat for that matter. You start to see red and wonder how your sweet cooperative little tyke has become so defiant?!

Take a deep breath.

Everything described above is completely NORMAL toddler behaviour.

Toddlers want to feel like they have a sense of control over their lives. They want to know that they have a say in things. The terrible twos are simply toddlers who are becoming more independent and parents who aren’t ready (or haven’t realized the need) to provide a little more freedom. So where do we go from here?

Boundaries. Boundaries with a (BIG) dollop of consistency are what will help you maintain your sanity while parenting your toddler. And the amazing part is, the more time and work you put into it now, the more benefits you reap when they are older.

Boundaries are an integral component of raising a happy, healthy, and emotionally well-adjusted child. These secure boundaries help create predictability to everyday routines and reduce child anxiety and uncertainty. These limits support children in discovering what is acceptable and what is not so that they can develop self-regulation, self-discipline and self-control skills.

A child’s brain is not fully developed; therefore they should not be given the responsibility of making big decisions. It is important to consider each child’s unique stage of development when determining where to set that limit. What is an appropriate level of choice for them?

So what is the first step that you can take to try and find harmony in your home again? Think about the limits that you set, and then challenge them! Why is this a rule? What happens if we didn’t have this limit? What is my child learning from me preventing this activity? How will my child benefit if I were to let her do it?

Some boundaries that you have in place will be there for a reason; these are primarily safety boundaries. These are not the limits we want you to re-evaluate. But consider picking your battles – does it REALLY matter if he wears two different socks to daycare? Is it the end of the world if she wears princess sandals to school on a rainy day? Pack her rain boots and socks – she will figure out pretty quickly that it’s not comfortable or pleasant and will know for next time.

Give your toddler the opportunity to learn from THEIR choices.

Natural and logical consequences allow children to further investigate the concept of cause and effect. It helps them learn about the world around them, how their family works, and how far they can push you. Toddlers constantly test those boundaries to find out which are rock solid, and which are written in the sand.

Stay tuned for next weeks blog where we go a little deeper on the “establishing” of said boundaries!

Comment below on your favourite toddler COMPROMISE. I once let a toddler wear one rain boot and one running shoe to school because.. COMPROMISE. When I picked up? “This boot stinky. My feet be wet.” He definitely didn’t choose that combo again! What have you done to keep a little bit of peace?

If we can support you with your child’s more challenging toddler behaviours, please send us a note to amy@heavyeyeshappyhearts.com.

XO

Amy

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I’m a Big Kid! Time for a Big Bed?

I’m a Big Kid Now!

A popular question I have been asked a lot recently has been about transitioning your little one from their crib to a toddler bed (a.k.a. the big kid bed). It may seem like something small and simple but truthfully, IT’S A BIG DEAL!

There are any number of reasons a parent may consider making the jump to a toddler bed – another baby on the way or potty training being two of the more common ones I hear. But, there’s also an equal number of reasons to hold off on making the switch – increased chance of night wandering, increased anxiety, etc. Everyone you ask will give you a different reason one way or the other and that’s totally alright.

For most developmental milestones (when to start solids, crawling, walking, etc), there are some agreed upon guidelines, cues, and/or age indicators that help you gauge your child’s level of readiness. When it comes to graduating from crib to bed though, this may be the most individualized milestone for your little one.

Ok, so you may be thinking, “that doesn’t answer my question” or “there has to be some advice you can give me.” Don’t worry, there is!

Always consider safety!

If your child has learned and is engaging in the sport of crib jumping, it’s time to make the switch. The last thing you want is your child falling or getting hurt if they are PERSISTENTLY trying to climb out of their crib (I say persistently because there are always one-offs; just because they successfully climb out once doesn’t mean they will again). That said, for most kids, this new trick comes when they are about 35 inches tall or somewhere between 18 and 24 months of age.

For me personally, my first transitioned to a toddler bed around 2-1/2 years old as it made it easier for night time toileting which he was asking to do. My youngest on the other hand, is just 2 and is happy as can be in the crib and will likely remain camped out there for a good while yet – quick, touch wood for me so I don’t jinx it 😉

When the time is right, there are definitely things you can do do to help ease the transition:

Preparation: Make sure your child is on board or gauge their interest. Talk to them about the change that is coming. Find a book to read together; give them a glimpse of what it means to be in a big kid bed. Talk about when you will make the switch, and countdown together towards it in a toddler friendly way (eg., sticky note countdown on the wall of 3-2-1). 

The Bed: If your crib converts to a toddler bed, go with that! Even though it is different, there will still be a sense of familiarity for your child. If you need to purchase something new, allow your toddler to participate in the selection. Try to place the new bed in the same place, but do not keep crib and toddler bed in the same room together. If you are moving to a new bed, make the move a sure thing. 

Bedtime Buddy: Continue to use their favorite blanket or stuffed animal for comfort.

Safety First: Invest in side rails for safety (they will also mimic the comfort of their crib). Consider a baby gate at the door to prevent night wandering. Make sure the bed is low to the ground so if they were to fall or climb out it’s not too far a drop.  

Timing is Everything: Try to avoid taking on too many milestones at once. If you have another little one on the way (congratulations!), try to transition your older child well in advance of their arrival so you have time to iron out any kinks (ideally 4 – 6 months!). If you’re moving, potty training, or have other big changes happening, try to space things out so it’s not so overwhelming.

Perhaps the two most important piece of advice I can give though:

Try to keep all other elements of your bedtime routine the same. There is such a thing as too much change, especially for little ones.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! If your child is still content in their crib and there is no need to transition them to a toddler bed, consider holding off a while longer.

And as always, if there is more I can do to help – please reach out. 

XO

Lara

Cute pic of one of my former clients here! Made the transition this week like a CHAMP! Thank you, K + D for the pic! <3

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My kid is a “crib jumper”… HELP!

You have spent the last several months encouraging your child to move; helping them fine tune their gross motor skills, build muscle and strength. A time may come, when your little one will utilize these skills for mischief, such as climbing out of their crib. A natural “test” for some, and a sign that they are becoming all the wiser for sure.

For most kids, between the ages of 2 and 3 is when they may attempt to “break out” of their crib. While this may seem challenging or fun to them, it can be incredibly dangerous as well. Neither of my kids ever tried this maneuver… although I wouldn’t put it past my little guy just yet (he is 23 months after all, and could very easily be scheming this up now for all I know).

If your child is a “crib jumper” make sure you’ve ticked off all of the boxes below.

Mattress Positioning: As soon as your child starts pulling themselves up or standing in their crib, move the mattress to its lowest setting. Some cribs can have their platform removed so that the mattress can safely be put right down on the floor. But, do ensure that there is no possibility your child will try to wedge themselves out any other way.

Crib Placement: Can you strategically put the crib in a corner against two walls? Would flipping your crib to put the front in the back, and the back in the front help some? The front of the crib tends to be lower, and the back higher. A change in crib placement might buy you a bit more time.

Sleep Sacks: Keep those sleep sacks on! If their legs are contained, they cannot get their legs far enough apart to climb out. If your child is resisting the sleep sack, ones with leg holes are available, and you can sew the leg holes a little closer together to make it more challenging to get legs up and over.  

Props: Remove any pillows, stuffed animals, or extra items from the bed. These can be used as steps or props to aid in their escape.

In spite of all your efforts, there may come a day when your little one does escape so it may be a good precaution to have a soft rug or carpet next to the crib to cushion any landings. Also, make sure that the rest of the room and surrounding area outside of their room is toddler proofed and safe. If you needed another reminder to latch that furniture to the walls – HERE IT IS!

If your child is repeatedly jumping out of the crib despite all of your best efforts, it is time to move them to a permanent mattress on the floor, or a toddler bed.

If you’ve trained your child to sleep in the crib and have relied heavily on the bars to keep them there, this can present its own very unique set of challenges you have yet to navigate. Many families fear this stage, and are unsure how to best keep their toddler with newfound freedom in their bed. I can definitely help you with that! I’ve navigated this journey with families whose toddlers advanced skills in crib jumping landed them in a toddler bed as early as 16 months. I would definitely not recommend moving this early to a bed if you can help it, but should you find yourself in this position I would be happy to use my knowledge and expertise to help you.

And to all of my toddler parents – I see you too. 😉 

XO

Lara