When children grow out of the cuddly, cute and compliant baby phase into the investigative toddler years, it’s easy to become frustrated with the increase in crying, tantrums and fights for independence that also develop. Trying to instill healthy habits into toddlers while minimizing conflict can challenge even the most loving and dedicated parents. However, small steps begun today can have lasting impact on your little one.
Eating colorful foods and limiting snacking is important for your toddler’s general heath. Asking him or her to help you pick out interesting-looking fruits and vegetables to try and even encouraging your toddler to help cut them up (with a plastic or dinner knife, of course), gives him or her some ownership and independence in the process. Along with that, limiting snacks is vitally important so that your toddler is hungry enough to try new things at mealtime.
Limit Screen Time
Being active is something most toddlers relish, but they can easily get themselves into dangerous situations. Sometimes, and understandably so, in the interest of safety, parents allow more screen time than necessary. Set a good example yourself by being active and involving your toddler, whether that’s yoga at home, a walk around the neighborhood or a playdate at the park.
Brushing teeth is one of the earliest and most important habits for your child. Experts recommend beginning tooth-brushing as early as 6 months with an adult’s gauze-wrapped finger. Eventually, modeling tooth-brushing is a great way to encourage your toddler to begin brushing, along with singing songs, making silly foam mustaches and bubbles and even making tooth-brushing a game (“Let’s get the sugar bugs off!”). Remember that your toddler will probably need plenty of help to do a thorough job up until the age of four. It’s also important to take children to a family dentist in Salt Lake City regularly to get them comfortable with proper oral care at a young age.
The habit of reading is one gift that your toddler will need throughout life, and starting in the younger years prepares the way for later success. Even though attention spans may be short in the beginning, make it a point to read to your toddler every day. Reading and snuggling before naptime and bedtime are often great times for a toddler to settle down, relax and enjoy a simple board book. Engage your child with your intonation, questions, and finger-pointing. As your toddler gets used to the routine, add more books, longer books or actual stories. You’re sure to see your toddler’s love of reading grow with each passing day.
Drinking enough water can be a healthy habit even adults struggle with when so many other appealing options abound. The same is true with toddlers. As parents encourage toddlers to develop a taste for water, it often becomes necessary to limit other options. While milk and 100% juice are certainly good choices, human bodies are 50% water, and we need adequate hydration to function optimally. If your toddler is not a water-lover yet, try offering him or her a cool drink of water in a special cup, having your little one help you refill it with water and ice, and taking water with you for errands and playdates.
For toddlers, showing respect for themselves and those around them can start early on. Establishing a routine of your toddler asking “please” and “thank-you” communicates that there are ways of asking for things that don’t involve grabbing, screaming or acting out. Even if your toddler hasn’t developed many words, sign language is a great way for your little one to begin practicing this important life skill.
Habits may take some time to catch on, but you can begin today to teach your toddler healthy practices that will make a lifelong impression.