It Gets Better, Part 2

It feels like yesterday that my husband and I were concerned about our tiny preemie reaching her milestones. We were thrilled when one success turned into another- and before we knew it, our baby blossomed into a toddler!
Not only was she a toddler- but a picky one at that! I felt I should share a few of our tips with other parents that have yet to get to this wild and crazy time. If you are at this stage or have already been here, then you know exactly what I am talking about!

1. Drinking

As much as Alli Mae loved her bottle, and as loud as we heard her scream at first, we started to wean her off the bottle at 11 months. It was pretty tricky to find the right sippy cup she could understand. She seemed to just bite down on the mouth pieces. After exploring different brands and styles of cups, we found the perfect one!
They are found at Wal-Mart and Target and run just about $5 each. They are completely worth every penny. They are super easy to handle and to make them even better- They do not spill!

The Philips/Avent Penguin Sippy Cup

Just as she was getting used to the ‘Penguins’, it was time to change cups again. Just like a pacifier, if you allow a sippy cup to go on for too long, it is a very tough habit to break.
​ We used these cups until around 13 months and then started our search for big girl cups. This proved to be even trickier! We scouted around trying to find the right cup until we were told by a friend about this miracle worker- Literally!

The Munchkin Miracle 360 Trainer

This cup is very easy to handle and to understand for a toddler. The mouth piece is the outer edge of the cup. The rubber top allows them to bite down to allow milk or other liquids to pass through. As soon as they stop biting the edge, it stops the flow of liquid. It is super easy to clean and it helps so much with transitioning them from a sippy cup to a big kid cup. Like the ‘Penguin cups’, they also do not spill when turned upside down. The Miracle 360 cups are also easy to find. All the ‘big box’ stores like Wal-Mart and Target have them and they also run about 5 bucks a piece.
​ I am still a bit hesitant to transition into a regular cup because of the mess that follows. So, needless to say, we still drink with these today.

1. Eating
Now, when it comes to eating, every kid is different. You can never really know how well they will transition into regular fruits and veggies from baby food… especially if they are picky.
When it comes to changing it up from baby foods to solids, one of the best things we did was to be adventurous and persistent when it came to the choices we made.
At first, the only veggies we found that she would eat was English peas. And literally- that was it.
So we started making this really yummy meal that she loves. We call them ‘Baby Cakes’. They have almost every vegetable under the sun along with a little bit of cheese for calcium. We make a ton and then freeze them for an easy solution when our little one disagrees with our choice for dinner. They look like a pancake but are much more nutritious and power packed with all the goodness from the garden!

3. Schedules 
We have found that schedules and routines are awesome. We live by them- and when we don’t, we totally regret it. It starts in the morning and goes all the way to bedtime. I know I have always loved structure but when you add a toddler to the mix- it is crucial. Each household has a different schedule and routine, so I won’t go thru everything we do specifically because what works for us necessarily won’t work for you. I will say that each day is divided into different activities to keep Alli Mae’s young mind focused and excited about the next thing on our list.
Just to give you an idea- this is our usual day without specifics:
Playtime, breakfast, then we watch Elmo.
playtime, lunch and then nap time.
*Naps are so important! *
Night time:
Dinner, bathtime, milk
Teeth brushing, story time
*storytime is also so important!*
I highly recommend this book for storytime!

4. Gentleness around pets and siblings
We really needed to begin teaching gentleness at an early age because of our pet dog, Prince. As our daughter got older, the more aggressive she became with him. He started to get scared just by the sight of her.
We started using baby dolls to show her how to treat others.
By slowly stroking the dolls head while saying “gentle” seemed to help her understand. The longer we continued with this, the more gentle she became.
​This all really came in very useful once we brought home our second daughter. By that time, Alli Mae was almost a year and a half and she really understood how to be gentle… for the most part.

5. Social Exposure
As hard as it was for me in the beginning, we really needed Alli Mae exposed to other children while also being away from both myself and Douglas. The more we read, the more we felt that by teaching her how to play well with other children at an early age without daddy or papa there would really strengthen her developmental capabilities. I think it was harder on me than it was for her.
Again, please remember that each child is different.
If your little one cries after about two weeks of going to daycare, then that may not be the avenue to take. We only go about 4 hours each day, twice a week. Once a week is not often enough for a child’s mind to remember- and more than two days a week was more than papa could handle. We had to find the middle ground.

Having a toddler is the most fun I have ever had in my life.
Each and every day is filled with laughter and excitement-usually.
Always being there to make everything better for her makes my day complete, but each day that passes, she seems to get smarter and more independent- so this ‘picky toddler stage’
I cherish- because soon, she will want to do everything herself, and papa will be there eager and ready to jump in whenever she needs me.