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Toddler Transitions

Helping toddlers through big changes


The "toddler years" are really a brief period of time, but there are many radical changes that your child will undergo during these months. At no other time will your child master so many new abilities and make such large leaps in skill development. Of course, you play a key role in helping your child through these early milestones. Sometimes, knowing how to support him during each stage and transition can be challenging. Use this guide to help you prepare for some of the major changes you and your little one will encounter during this period.

Giving Up the Bottle

toddler bottle
Ron Levine / Getty Images
When children give up the bottle varies widely. Pediatricians's opinions on the switch from bottle to cup also vary, but in general, it's good to wean your child before her second birthday since research shows that prolonged use of bottles can cause tooth decay and other problems.

Weaning from Breastmilk

If you are still nursing your toddler, the questions of when or how to wean her can begin to feel tiresome and confusing. Keep in mind that there are no absolute rules. Weaning or choosing to continue to breastfeed into the second year or beyond requires paying attention to your child and your own needs.

Saying Good-Bye the Pacifier

Toddler with Pacifier
Most experts recommend that children give up the pacifier by or around their first birthday to avoid future dental problems, potential injuries, and extreme attachment that make it harder for your child to give up the binky. If your child is still using a pacifier, it may be time to get firm about getting your child to stop using it.

Moving to a Meal Time Booster

Safety 1st Sit, Snack, And Go Convertible Booster Seat
Highchairs are convenient in some ways, but booster seats can be easier to clean and free up some space. More importantly, when a toddler moves from a high chair to a booster, he moves from being the "baby" to being a part of the family sitting at the regular table. With this transition, you may see changes in how your toddler handles utensils and even how well he eats.

Start Potty Training

A picture of a toddler girl sitting on a pink potty
ToddMorris / Flickr
Every child is different when it comes to potty training. Don't let her age or pressure from day care or grandmothers influence when you think your child should start using the toilet. Instead, focus on the signs of readiness you see for yourself.

Moving into a Bed

child Getting Enough Sleep
There are two common signals that usually point to the fact that your child is ready to move out of the crib. Either she's trying to climb out already, or she's actually asking to sleep in a big bed. There are other things to consider, though, as well.

No More Diapers

training pants or underwear
Even as your child becomes more bathroom independent, you or he may struggle with making the leap to going completely to underwear. If you're wondering about whether to use disposable training pants or not, consider your child's emotional feelings and your family's lifestyle.

Switching to a Forward-Facing Car Seat

car seat yawning
Johannes Kroemer/Getty Images
Don't rush the transition from a rear-facing to forward-facing car seat. You might assume it's something you do around your child's the first birthday. However, as Heather Corely, our Guide to Baby Products, points out, the old advice about turning your baby around at one year or 20 pounds isn't necessary the best way to go.

Using Her Words

girl looking over the fence
N. McCoale
When should your child start talking? Should I worry that he's not talking much at 20 months or 30 months? Some children just start talking later than others, but for every child, there are ways you can encourage her to speak more and to develop a more robust vocabulary that she can use to express herself.

Doing Things for Himself

toddler with cups
P. Burns
From putting toys away to wiping off the table or putting dishes into the sink. There are many small chores that toddlers are able to perform on their own. Sometimes, having your child "help" can lead to a simple task being more complicated, time consuming and mess. Have patience, though. In the long run, your child will gain a sense of independence and cooperation that will ensure he's helpful and considerate as he grows.

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