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Toddler - Week #95

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Your 22-month-old toddler (week 95)

By Shelley Feldman, edHelperBaby

Getting Out With Your Toddler
           Staying at home with your toddler can be hard enough this month, but going out with her in tow brings the level of difficulty to an entirely different level.  Although it may be difficult to do, over the next few months it is wise to cater your trips, however short or long, in order to accommodate your toddler...that is, unless you have no intentions of getting anything accomplished while you're out.

       There are a few simple tips to get shopping done with a toddler in tow.  First and foremost, be sure your little one is in as good a mood as possible, and that she is not hungry or tired in the least.  Never plan on having outings right around nap-time, as they are a guaranteed disaster, and when your toddler starts sending you signals that the witching hour is approaching...take heed.  Before you venture anywhere, be organized, know what you have to get, then get it, and run towards the register!  Always use your best navigation skills to avoid "hot spots" like toy aisles or candy aisles on your way out, and never forget where you've parked your get away vehicle.

       Try and use a stroller or cart whenever possible, because containment is a beautiful thing, and don't forget that idle hands are your toddler's most dangerous weapons, so keep them busy.  Whether your little one is holding an item to be purchased, playing with a small toy (MagnaDoodles are absolutely the best invention in the world), or having a snack, anything is better than nothing.

       Always keep an "on-the-go" bag packed with diapers, wipes, tissues, change of clothes, plastic bags, and the most important items, "portable distractions," snacks and drinks.  It doesn't matter if your trip will be 5 minutes, or 5 hours, having all of these essential items is bound to make for a more pleasant trip and you will be prepared for whatever may be thrown at you (possibly literally) along the way.

       Do your best to prepare your toddler ahead of time for where you are going, and what you will be doing there, but don't "plant seeds" regarding what you won't be doing (for example, "We won't be yelling," or "We won't be running around the store) because once those ideas are in your toddler's head she's bound to do exactly that.

       Now, getting out with your 22-month-old is also bound to be loads and loads of fun, and there is also a great possibility that she may behave like a saint and you may actually accomplish what you set out to do.  However, for those "rare" occasions when things just don't seem to be going according to plan, and your little angel is no longer "angelic," it's always wise to have a back up plan, as well as a few little tricks up your sleeve.


The Witching Hour
           Early evening hours, between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., can be an extremely "challenging" time for parents of a toddler.  Whether it's your toddler's awareness that the day is coming to an end, too much stimulation during the day, or just plain old exhaustion, the final few hours before bedtime can become a nightmare.

       These well-known "witching hours" are when your little one is likely to fall into her most irrational and unpredictable moods.  Of course, this is also most likely to occur when you are most exhausted as well, whether it be from dealing with children at home, or coping with an unsympathetic boss all day, and the combination of an exhausted parent and an exhausted toddler can be disastrous.  Fortunately for every parent of a toddler, there are a few ways to turn the witching hour into happy hour, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

       Whether you arrive home from the office or have never left the house at all, it is important that you and your toddler take a break together before rockin' and rollin' through your evening and night-time routine.  Before you start dinner, going through the mail or throwing in a load of laundry, cuddle up and wind down with your toddler, and set the mood for a relaxing evening by reading a book, listening to some relaxing music, coloring, or taking a walk.  Then, keep the mood in your house calm by turning off the television, turning down the lights, and removing any loud and overly stimulating toys from the scene.

       After taking a little time-out to put your evening on a positive track, go ahead and get dinner ready.  There's nothing more likely to throw your toddler into a full-blown tantrum than a growling tummy, so get the animals fed!  Also, the earlier your toddler eats the better, as she is much more likely to eat what's been placed before her when she's not too wired, and not too tired.

       Hopefully your few moments to unwind prior to dinner will make the environment much more conducive to a pleasant meal, and there's also a good chance that you may actually get in a little quality time while you're at it.


Sleep Problems
           If you are often waking at night to a visitor in your room, whether it be from escaping the crib, or plain ol' "big boy bed" rebellion, it may be because your toddler is getting too much sleep during the day.  I hate being the bearer of bad news, or to even allow these words to cross my lips, but if your toddler has suddenly begun to have difficulty sleeping through the night this month, it may be time to shorten his afternoon naps.

       Begin experimenting with how long he sleeps after lunch, and find the perfect balance between giving him a second wind to make it through the evening, while not disrupting his nighttime sleep (or yours).  Although it is expected that many toddlers will continue to wake in the middle of the night for one reason or the other on occasion, it is a good idea to eliminate a few of the potential reasons for this change in sleep behavior while you have the chance.

       This month your toddler may also be waking at night, or having difficulty falling asleep because he is scared, or frightened of something.  It is very natural for toddlers this age to have rational and irrational fears, and for some, it may be of the dark and what they cannot see.  If this appears to be the case in your household, be sure to take your child's concerns seriously, and understand that in his little mind the fears are real.  Try to get your toddler to express himself, and help him to find the words to express his feelings if he is unable to do so himself.  It also may be time to stock up on "monster mist" to help banish the creatures hiding under his bed, or simply invest in a night-light to keep the boogey-man away.


           Painted Tummies       

       A great place for your toddler to wind down at the end of the day is in the bath tub.  This activity is not only fun, but a great way to teach about colors and body parts while getting cleaned up and ready for bed.

       All that you need for this activity is your child's "tear-free" liquid body wash, and a few drops of food coloring.  Portion the body wash into several little containers, then add 1 drop of food coloring to each, making different colors and shades.  After the food coloring and body wash is mixed, and you are left with a variety of different colored "paints," provide your toddler with a paint brush and show him how to decorate the tub, his rubber ducky and himself.  This is a great way to be sure that every last finger and toe gets washed, and is a lot of fun along the way.


  Andrew and Devin's Opinion
           My 22-month-old toddler absolutely loved this activity.  The best part was that the mess was completely contained, and the end result was two very clean, and very happy little boys.

       Bath time is always the last part of our busy day, and something that everyone looks forward to.  It is a great way to unwind while allowing my boys to get their last bouts of energy out before bed, and it gives me a chance to finally sit down (albeit on the bathroom floor) and catch my breath.

       On the evening of this activity, my twin boys entered the bathroom expecting to find their normal assortment of toys waiting to be played with.  I must say that they were quite surprised to find a few new additions, and messy ones at that.  Upon seeing the paintbrushes in this location and without paper at their disposal, they did appear quite confused, but nonetheless were not too shy to dive right in with a little encouragement.

       Andrew and Devin had an absolute blast painting one another, let alone painting their own toes in the process.  By the end of bath time my bathroom had been transformed into an abstract masterpiece, and definitely would have been quite a conversation piece if left alone.  However, despite my motherly instinct to leave the paint up for all future visitors to see, we did clean the paint off of the tub, the walls, the glass shower door, and of course...Andrew and Devin too.


  Have you begun to wonder...
           How do I get my 22-month-old to sleep-in in the morning?       

       Many toddlers this age appear to have an internal clock, causing them to rise-and-shine much earlier than the rest of the household would like.  If this is the case in your house too, there are a few tricks which may provide you with a few more hours (or minutes) of much needed shut-eye.

       Blackout drapes may help to maintain an extended sleeping environment, preventing the first rays of sunlight from entering your toddler's room.  If she is determined to rise, no matter how conducive you may make the environment for sleep, you may try leaving a few "surprise toys" at the foot of your toddler's bed while she is sleeping.  Awakening to instant entertainment without having to leave the comfort of her bed may keep her attention for a little while before she calls out for your companionship.  And if you have a toddler who awakens out of hunger or thirst, beat her at her own game by leaving a sippy cup of water, or a few nibbly snacks beside her bed.

       If all else fails, remember that a few years down the road your toddler will realize how nice it is to sleep in, and it will be you rising long before she does.  Until then, get the coffee pot ready to go the night before, and enjoy the few extra minutes in the morning that you get to be with your little one, because she's growing up way too fast.


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