Toddler Tips: The Foundation

Before I begin with some toddler tips I want to start out with sharing five things I have found that serve as the foundation to having happy, settled toddlers each day-I have noticed that if I keep each of these things in mind, we (my toddlers and I!) can have the best shot at enjoying these years.  (I think these could be applied to all stages of development but never is it more important than in toddlerhood.)

1. Routine
2. Food and Sleep
3. Consistency
4. Attention
5. Expectation

Routine-Toddlers crave routine, they need it, and we need it also.  The world is so big for them and they are really at our beck and call, completely relying on us to form their days, but torn because they also wish to be more independent.  A routine allows them to stretch their independent spirit in little ways throughout the day, but also feel safe and secure.  If a routine to the day is in place, when life calls us off of it, most toddlers, if they have the base of routine to begin with, can cope with this change.  But only to a point-we all know this if we've taken vacations, or have had visitors in the house, or a new baby, etc. Toddlers can only take so much, and they will rebel. They crave that routine back!

Food and Sleep- "Never let them get tired and never let them get hungry." I am going to link to this very short article from a very experienced mother, that says it all.

Consistency-This might seem like a repeat of number one, but they are different and compliment each other in many ways.  Oh, how consistency with toddlers makes OUR lives easier.   I can sum it up: Do the same thing almost all the time-react the same way-don't say no once, and then say yes the next, etc.  Some toddlers are very sensitive to this (they want the same plate at lunch, they notice every little thing), some are more flexible and easy-going, but consistency cultivates a certain calmness and predictability.

Attention-Children want, need and crave attention, REAL, reliable attention, from their parents. I feel like they have an inner measuring device for this-when they need more, they will find a way to get it,and that is when those toddler behaviors can rear their ugly heads! And no substitute for parental attention is sufficient. We must find the time in our day to be quiet with them, to listen to them, or to play with them, or engage them in a new activity. If we moms are busy with other little children or a new baby, please know that often our presence in a room with them is enough sometimes-knowing we are there and available, and interested in what they are doing is enough.

Expectation-We must teach proper behavior every day-but we must not expect too much out of toddlers. We can not drag them through days of errands and high stimulation activities and not expect backlash.  We can not expect them to sit still in a room full of interesting things and hear one thousands no's.  There is nothing wrong with a no, and a firm voice with strong direction, but their learning spirit that requires movement and touch should not be constantly oppressed.


  1. Thank you Sarah. Wise words as always.x

  2. Sarah, you're one of my mom role models. I think you should write a parenting book. Thanks for sharing for your wise words with us.

  3. This is a nice clear post, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series! Thanks, Sarah.

    I also want to add for new moms out there that as much as the "hungry or tired" advice is very helpful, it's import to also remember that even full-tummied, rested kids do misbehave. So don't blame yourself if your children are naughty even if you're doing everything right in terms of management :) Also, you can't always make them sleep or eat even if they need to -- so just do your best!

  4. Thank you. Such good reminders as my own little adorable wonderful toddler & I are going through a major routine change with my recent coming home from full-time working mommy to a (thrilled) full-time mommy. I guess I should also thank you for your (sometimes painful :) ) posts a year or so ago about the value of being an at-home mommy. At the time the posts were "sometimes painful" because we were stuck and I couldn't quit my job...but they spoke deeply to me, and I am so happy to be where I am now (though the transition is sometimes bumpy, it is always worth it!!). :-) <3
    Shauna H

  5. Thank you so much for this series! I'm so excited to read it. I'm first time stay at home mom with a 15 month old boy and one on the way. Sometimes I run out of ideas of things to do/play at home and I would love more suggestions in that area!

  6. These are amazing tips Sarah! Amen and amen!

  7. Great tips. I can't count how many times I see a poor toddler crying at the supermarket in the middle of the afternoon, or out on the town at 9pm. The parent is frustrated with their less than perfect behavior. I just want to put the poor child to bed. I know we have all had times where we can't help but be out when our child needs to be sleeping, but many mothers never make sleep a priority. You hit the nail on the head with the "tired or hungry."