No longer is your little one just a wee baby. Here are our tips on easing your growing child into the major baby-to-toddler transitions.
WORDS NURULHUDA SUHAIMI
Yesterday, you were swaddling your baby and changing his diapers. And now, you have to keep putting your restless little one back in his crib and look for a suitable potty to start toilet-training him. Where has the time gone? You might not want to admit it, but your baby is growing up fast and he is now ready to do more grown-up things. This transition period can get stressful, so we have some useful strategies to help you with a few major changes in your child’s life.
Taking Away the Bottle
Getting your child to stop feeding from the bottle is important because prolonged bottle-feeding can cause tooth decay, as well as nutritional problems as your child is not consuming enough solid food to satisfy his nutrient requirements.
To make it easier for your child to give up the bottle, substitute it with a sippy cup before going straight to an open one. “Begin introducing a cup between six to nine months of age, usually starting with water to avoid messy spills but quickly begin offering milk or formula in the cup as well,” advises Dr Mélissandre Noël, GP at International Medical Clinic, Jelita Clinic, “The goal is to phase out bottles between 12 and 24 months.”
You can start slow by substituting one bottle feed with a sippy cup. Gradually increase the number of times your child uses the sippy cup until he is completely comfortable with it, and does not need the bottle anymore.
One thing all parents probably cannot wait for is for their child to be potty-trained, but it is crucial you not train your child before he is ready. Dr Noël advises parents to not start potty-training their child before 18 months of age because, during this time, your child’s body is getting physically ready for this transition.
You should also consider if your child is emotionally ready to be potty-trained. “Emotional readiness depends on your individual child and his environment. Try to delay potty-training until major life changes have passed such as moving to a new home, arrival of a sibling, starting daycare, etc,” says Dr Noël.
According to Dr Noël, your child is probably ready to be potty-trained when he:
· Can walk to the potty by himself
· Is stable on the potty
· Remains dry for several hours
· Can follow simple commands
· Can communicate the need to use the potty (either with signs or words)
· Wants to please caregivers
· Wants greater independence
“Every toddler is different, and most children will achieve successful potty-training between 24 and 48 months,” says Dr Noël, “The average length of time between initiation of potty-training and achievement of independent toileting ranges from three to six months.”
To let your child get used to the idea of going to the potty, start talking about it with him or read children’s books about potty-training. At the beginning of your child’s training, let him sit on the potty fully clothed during specific times of the day, such as after he wakes up in the morning, before leaving the house and before bedtime. This will help establish going to the potty as part of his daily routine. When your child has gotten used to it, teach him the proper toilet etiquette like removing his bottoms before sitting on the toilet seat, flushing the toilet after he is done and washing his hands.
Too Big for the Crib?
If your child frequently climbs out of his crib, it is probably time to start looking for a toddler bed. This is a big deal for your child, so avoid doing this before major life changes.
If your child’s room allows it, you may consider placing his toddler bed next to his crib so he can get used to seeing his new bed. Place your child’s favourite soft toys on the bed to make it more welcoming, and ask your child each night whether he wants to sleep in his crib or his bed. This can help him feel more in control and prevents him from making this transition before he is ready.
Letting your child have a say in some aspect of his toddler bed will also make him more excited to make the transition. Ask your child what kind of bed design he prefers or let him choose his bedsheets.
Your child’s safety is still a top priority so be sure to check the condition of the bed you are getting. The bed should be sturdy and low to the ground so your child will less likely hurt himself if he falls out of bed. It will also allow him to get in and out of bed by himself easily.
Seeing your little one do more grown-up things is a happy occasion, but it can also get overwhelming, especially if you rush your child towards these changes before he is ready. As advised by Dr Noël, “The greatest tip is if your child is not ready for a particular transition, do not insist. Take a break of several weeks before trying again in a fun and positive manner. Each child develops at his own speed, and these transitions can be great ways to boost his forming self-esteem if done in the right manner.”