Answer User Questions about Toddler Tips

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We have a two and a half year old. Most of the time she is good. When I,(dad) am alone with her she is good and wants me to be with her, and doesn`t really throw any fits. When my wife comes home or we are together, it's like my daughter hates me. She doesn't listen when I need to discipline her

Consistent Parenting

Toddlers may not have the words to express it, but they can understand differences in parenting styles and can even begin manipulate their parents' behavior to get what they want. It is very important for parents to talk (away from their toddler) to decide on rules, consequences, and their response to tantrums. The more that parents can agree on similar reactions, even using similar words, the more the child will understand and respond appropriately to discipline.

   
My 2 year old toddler does not speak yet. Should I be concerned?

Late Talkers

In most cases, late talkers catch up to their peers very quickly without additional treatment. However, having a screening can give you peace of mind and reassure you. An audiology (hearing) screening is given first. If your child's hearing is normal, a screening with a speech pathologist can help to determine how your child's language development is progressing and if any further steps should be taken at this time.

   
I am embarrassed to admit this, but my son will be 2 next week and still takes a bottle several times a day, including naps and bedtime. What is the best way to wean him from it?

Weaning from a bottle

Many children continue with the bottle or breast for longer than expected, even past their second birthdays. To start weaning from the bottle, first, you will want to change from milk or juice to water in the bottle, especially at naptime and at night. Juice and milk in a bottle can damage teeth. You may have to do this gradually by watering down the milk or juice over the course of a few days until it is only water. Offer plenty of juice and milk in a cup during the day. This change may be enough to convince your child to give up the bottle. If not, take the bottle away during the daytime first. Once your child takes a cup during the day, then try giving it up at naptime and finally, at night. You can continue to offer a sippy cup of water at naptime and nighttime without damage to the teeth.

   
What is the correct way for time out for a six year old?

Effective Time-Out

Consistency is key in using time-out as an effective strategy for discipline. Pick a time-out space, whether it be a mat, a chair or a room. Let your children know that certain actions, such as hitting, will result in time out. Time out should only last as long as one minute per year of life (for example, 6 minutes for a 6 year old). Time out is best for immediate responses to actions like hitting or excessive screaming. It does not work well for more complicated infractions such as lying.

   
What should I cook for my two year old?

Feeding Toddlers

By age two, toddlers can and should eat what the rest of the family is eating. Keep in mind, though, that most toddlers do not like very spicy or sour foods or extremes of temperature. They will often eat more if the food is cut into small pieces, and they often enjoy dipping foods into salad dressing or ketchup. A good rule of thumb is that toddlers usually eat about one tablespoon of each food offered at the meal per year of life. For example, at dinner, a two-year-old might eat two tablespoons of meat and two tablespoons of a vegetable.

   
One of my three year old twin girls has recently developed a strong dislike for wearing her diaper at bedtime. She is potty trained during the day, but needs to wear one at night. What could cause this sudden onset and what do I do to get her to wear one without throwing a fit?

Nighttime Potty Training

When potty training, it is often best to let the child lead the way. If a child refuses a diaper at night, it could be time for nighttime training. A few nights of wet pajamas often trigger nighttime bladder control. Keep extra pajamas, underpants and sheets on hand for quick changes if necessary. If after a week, the child still wets each night, encourage diapers again. Sometimes, children who refuse diapers will accept a pull-up training pant.

   
My six year old started school recently and my three year old doesn't want to play alone or even go outside. What can I do to help him become more independent? He is fine when his sister is around.

Independent Play

Learning to play alone is hard for many toddlers. You can help your child learn this important skill. First, designate a short time, perhaps 10 minutes, each day for independent play. It helps if it is the same time each day. You may even want to set a timer. Explain to your child that it is playtime, and tell her what you will be doing during that time. At first, you will need to give her a few choices of activities. She may whine, cry, or even have a tantrum, but you should not give her attention during this time. When the time is over, attend to her needs. If she has played well, praise her. After a few successful days, increase the time slightly. Usually, toddlers can learn to amuse themselves for 20 minutes or more.

   
I have a two year old that will be three on September 11th. Is that too young for her to go to preschool. Our preschool in Michigan says they must be three by December 1st. But I just don`t know if that`s too young. I`m having a very hard time deciding whether to put her in or not.

When to Start Preschool

When is your child ready for preschool? If your child looks forward to interacting with other children, can follow simple directions, and can play independently for short periods of time, she may be ready for a part-time preschool program. Preschools often have their own readiness guidelines, such as being potty trained or being able to complete certain tasks, so once you have found a preschool you like, be sure to ask for their readiness criteria.

   
My 13 month old will not anything but smooth baby food. Every time I try to offer textured foods he spits them out. Any suggestions?

Transition from Smooth to Textured Baby Food

Starting when a baby is about six months of age, it is important to start offering finger foods such as cereals, cooked pasta or vegetables or small pieces of soft fruits. By 15 months, most babies have mastered finger foods and are ready to start using a fork or spoon. Try taking turns with your toddler, or let him use his own spoon while you do most of the work with yours. Many children are eating well with a fork or spoon by 24 months.

   
We transitioned my daughter into a big girl bed about three weeks ago. The first two weeks she had no trouble napping or going to bed at night. Her sleep routines are usually pretty solid. Now, she is fighting naptime. How can we get her to nap?

Nap Strategies

Changing from a crib to a bed can disrupt sleep and nap schedules. To solve naptime problems, first determine whether or not your child still needs a nap. Her age and temperament will help you to figure out if she needs to sleep in the afternoon. If not, you might try enforcing an hour-long quiet time instead. If she still needs the sleep, try sitting by her bed without making eye contact. If she gets up, return her quickly and matter-of-factly to her bed without saying a word. In cases where a child really does need the sleep, it should only take a few days of this treatment for a nap schedule to return to normal.

   
What do children aged 2-5 look in for a toy?

Toys for toddlers

The best toys are those that promote creative play and can be used in more than one way. Simple toys, such as blocks, animal figures, and vehicles are popular and appropriate at this age. Dramatic play increases from ages two to five, so medical kits, toy kitchens, baby dolls, dress-up clothes and pretend workbenches are worth the investment. Sensory activities such playing with sand, clay, water, bubbles, and even dry beans or rice can provide enriching fun for toddlers. With all toys, be vigilant in avoiding sharp edges and choking hazards.

   
Please tell me the most important things that a toddler should be learning to help her math/science skills at this stage.

Math and Science Skills for Toddlers

Toddlers need to explore their world! The most important things you can do to help promote your toddler's math and science development are activities that encourage her curiosity. Looking around outdoors and noticing insects and plants, baking or cooking, and playing with sand and water will help your young child to observe and experiment. It is also helpful to include counting activities in your everyday interactions with your toddler, such as setting the table, measuring cups of water, planting seeds, or sharing a small box of raisins.

   
My grandson is 19 months old. He wakes up screaming during the night. He will scream for one or two hours. What should we do?

Nighttime Parenting

When a toddler is not sleeping well, it is important to have a doctor first rule out medical causes such as reflux, food or environmental allergies, teething, ear infections, pinworms or urinary tract infections. Children can also be very sensitive to rooms that are too cool or too warm or pajamas that are irritating. Another reason for night waking is separation anxiety. If a toddler is screaming for a long time at night, it is not conducive to anyone's well-being. Sometimes, having mom or dad nearby when the child is falling asleep can provide enough security to help the child sleep better at night. Other toddlers sleep more soundly when they are in the same room as their parents for the whole night. Trying different sleeping arrangements while a child works through this stage can be beneficial to the whole family.

   
My 2 1/2 year old daughter bites her nails all the time, and sucks her thumb. What can I do?

Thumb Sucking in Toddlers

Before age three, thumb sucking is of little concern. After age three, thumb sucking can affect the teeth. Encourage play activities that require both hands. At night, you may need to remove the thumb from a soundly sleeping child's mouth.

   
Is it normal to feel hurt when your four year old daughter is left out in activities at parks where kids play? She isn`t left out all the time, but when she is, it hurts me. Does it hurt her, too? She`s an only child at the moment.

Helping the Left Out Child

Some children do not appear to be upset when they are left out of a group at play, but they may lack the skills they need to join in. You can teach your child ways to introduce herself and ask to play. It is usually best to role play many scenarios, teaching her the appropriate words and body language to use as needed. It can be fun to role play with stuffed animals and dolls as well! Having one or two friends over to your house to play with your child will also help to build her confidence enough to join in later with a larger group.

   
We have a 3 and a half year old little girl and are just wondering what she should be able to count to at this age. Looking forward to your reply. Sonia Vella

Math Development in Toddlers

Counting with your child is an important way to help develop mathematical skills. Much more important than counting by rote, however, is counting actual objects and pointing to each one. Through this exercise, children learn that counting has a purpose and that the names of the numbers stand for an actual amount. Try having your child count throughout the day, for example, while setting out utensils.

   
My four year old just started Pre-K in the public school system of texas. The class size is 19. My son is having touble adapting from daycare to Pre-K. He ran round the classroom today. The teacher was chasing him and he poked her with a pencil. What do I do?

Adjusting to Preschool

Some children find it stressful to start school, and they can act their stress out through negative behavior. If your child is misbehaving in preschool, talk with his teacher about creating a behavior modification plan. In this plan, the teacher would keep track of positive and negative behavior, and you would give consequences or rewards at home as needed. Some schools will also allow children to attend for a shortened portion of the day, which can help them to adjust more gradually.

   
My three year old daughter is cries very easily. She went to daycare for whole 10 months twice a week but she never did like it. She said she wanted to be with mum. Now she is in full-time daycare and cries all the time. What should we do?

Adjusting to Daycare

Daycare can be very stressful for some young children. If your child seems upset, encourage her to talk about what is bothering her. The number of other children, a particular caregiver, the amount of noise, and even the types of activities can make daycare an unpleasant experience. Ask the daycare director if you can observe. Seeing with your own eyes what is happening at daycare can often give clues as to what may be bothering your child. Also, talk every day with your child's caregivers. They often have particular insight and advice as to how to help make daycare less upsetting for your child.

   
How can I make mt 2 1/2 year old stay in the car seat? She usually gets back in when I tell her to.

Car Seat Safety

A toddler's car seat should have safety straps that fit snugly and are impossible for the child to remove by herself. Most local police stations have an officer that is specially trained in car seat safety that can inspect your seat and make sure that it is in working order. Have your car seat checked once a year to make sure that it conforms to all safety standards and that it is installed properly in the car.

   
My grandson is three years old. We have been working with him for over nine months to toilet train him. He goes through the night dry and for many weeks all day without an accicent. He is now completely back in diapers during the day. What happened?

Regression in Toilet Training

Sometimes, when a child regresses in toilet training, it is a cue to the caregivers to take a break. When a child feels pressure to perform, he will often regress in his behavior. Take a break for at least a week. Have a potty chair available, but do not talk about it or try to have him use it. Put diapers or pull-up pants on your child if he wants them. Many times, once the pressure is off, the child will decide to use the potty on his own.

   
Is it developmentaly appropriate for a young two year old to be taught to open a door with supervision of a adult, and will they be able to understand and respect that they can only do this with adult supervision?

Todders Opening Doors

It is useful to teach toddlers to open a door, a skill that many young toddlers are eager to learn. A child's ability to open doors depends on the size and strength of her hands as well as the style of doorknobs in the house. Some toddlers will understand that they are not to open doors without an adult. Many will not grasp this concept, so it is best to use covers over the doorknobs sold by child safety companies. These covers will prevent children from opening doors to potential dangers, such as the bathroom, while maintaining access for adults.

   
How can I gain control of my 3-year old twins?

Unruly Twins

Disciplining toddlers can be a big challenge, and with twins, it's twice the work! Try to take it one step at a time. First, make a list of behaviors you'd like to change. You may be surprised that many of the causes of your frustration may fall into one category such as tantrums, aggressive behavior, whining or talking back. Try tackling just one of these behaviors at a time. Make a plan to provide consequences for the unwanted behavior such as time out or taking away a toy. Be as consistent as you can in making sure that there is a consequence for every instance of the target behavior. Try to make each twin responsible for his own behavior; it can be easy to fall into the trap of punishing both twins for the misbehavior of one. Give your plan at least two weeks before you change it or move on to another behavior. You may want to read up on discipline strategies. There are many different theories of discipline, and you need to find one that suits you and your overall parenting style. Best of luck!

   
My three year old son is having a few problems. He won't listen when I am talking to him and doesn't answer my questions. How can I get him to listen.

Talking to A Toddler

Toddlers respond best to questions that are short and simple. Before about age five, children can answer "where", "what" and "who" questions, but not "why" or "how" questions. Kneeling or squatting down to a child's eye level will give you the opportunity to get the child's attention and allow for a more interactive conversation.

   
I have a whole load of soft toys (teddy bears, bunny rabbits, etc) that have been stored in a lockup for a year. There is a strange musky smell about them. Do you have nay ideas as to how I can get rid of this smell - I am loathe to throw them all out as they belong to my young daughter.

Cleaning Stuffed Toys

Most stuffed toys can be laundered in the washing machine. Using a gentle setting, put the toys in a net bag (sold for washing stockings and lingerie). Wash with cool or warm water, and air dry. You will need to comb out the animals afterwards to fluff them up. A fabric or upholstery cleaner can also be used on most stuffed toys.

   
My son is still going through really bad teething pain and we are doing all we can to help him.We have had tips and advice from so many people including family and his pediatrician. When does teething stop for a child?

Teething Pain

Teethers such as cold spoons, frozen bagels, popsicles, teething rings and teething biscuits can help ease the pain of cutting new teeth. Luckily, most teeth emerge by 30 months of age. Once your child has 20 primary teeth, the teething stage is over. Another positive change is that after age two, most children can understand and verbalize their pain or at least signal to you that they hurt, so they are better able to deal with the soreness and you are better able to provide relief.

   
I'm a military Dad, and I just came home from a 3 month deployment. I have a son who just turned 1 year old and I have a problem of bonding with him. He seems to be afraid of me. He grew too fast and I understand that he does not know me, but I need your suggestions on how to bond.

Bonding With A Toddler

When you are absent from your toddler for a length of time due to illness, military service, or any other reason, he may be uncertain about your return. Let your toddler take the lead. Remain playful and available without forcing your presence on him. Try to engage together in a game or with a toy. You may also want to assist his primary caregiver with some daily tasks such as feeding, changing and bathing until he becomes more used to you. In time, your toddler will be come re-acquainted and will enjoy having you back in his life.

   
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Jerry Mayo