What’s going on for baby?
During this time toddlers can make some decisions for themselves. Their appetite may change and they may eat less as their growth rate starts to slow. They can also learn some self-care skills now, like how to blow their nose.
They generally need about 14 hours sleep in a 24-hour period. Some children may reduce their daytime nap or even give it up altogether.
There may be issues around going to, and staying in, bed at this stage, especially if they’ve moved from a cot to a bed. That’s because they are more able to carry out a plan and to climb, and will be generally more assertive by now.
How can parents and whānau help?
Think about and agree on what their child can decide for themselves. This works best for options limited to two choices rather than an open ‘What do you want?’ question.
Remember that decisions about safety aren’t negotiable, such as sitting in their car seat. The choice here might be climbing in by themself or being lifted in by dad or mum.
Provide a range of healthy food and let the child decide what to eat and how much. Avoid offering them something else. Have other kinds of food as an occasional treat only.
Think of ways to offer a reasonable choice between 2 alternatives so their child feels they have some power — for example, ‘Toast and marmite, or toast and jam?’ or ‘Raw or cooked carrot?’
Be patient when teaching them how to blow their nose. It’s a bit tricky but it’s worth the effort as blowing their nose can help prevent ear problems.
Make bedtime routines predictable, pleasant and calming. This might include a bath, a story and then bed to help a child wind down and relax.
When a toddler knows there’s a routine that happens before bed, it helps them to expect and accept it. A calming routine helps them prepare for sleep.
Remember that parents can make sure children go to bed but they can’t actually make them go to sleep.
Avoid watching TV before bed because it can be stimulating for a toddler. Instead, sharing a story or listening to quiet music is more likely to help a toddler relax.