In Transition: A Guide to Big Baby Changes
To be a parent to a baby or toddler is to be a pro at change. Rolling over, first words and laughing are the easy ones. The rest…not so much. Here’s how to handle the bigger transitions headed your way in the coming years.
Drop the bottle
It isn’t that the bottle is bad, but who wants to wash and sanitize all those parts and pieces? Plus, you finally can get that plastic grass bottle dryer thing off your countertop.
Around the 6- to 7-month-old mark, give your babe a sippy cup in the bathtub so she can play with it and, eventually, take a drink. In the bath, the cup will seem more like a toy and not as threatening.
After some time, offer the sippy during a meal, like lunch or breakfast. As time progresses and your baby gets used to the sippy, try using it for all meals and, finally, at nighttime. Don’t make a big deal out of it; reinforce that your child is a big kid and needs a big kid cup. Take the process in phases and, once she’s moved on, get rid of all bottles so you (and your baby) aren’t tempted to go back.
No more parties at the crib
Perhaps Baby Number Two is on the way, or maybe your 2-year-old is starting to climb better than a chimpanzee. Either way, out with the crib and in with the toddler bed.
Shopping for all things new bed can help smooth the transition. Let your child pick out “big kid” bedding and select his favorite stuffed animal to sleep with. Then triple check that the room is baby-proofed. He’ll have a new ability to roam around after lights-out, so long cords should be snipped, outlets blocked and heavy objects anchored securely to the wall. Decide whether putting a baby gate over the door threshold is the right choice to cut back on attempted escapes throughout the night.
Keep his bedtime routine exactly the same as it’s always been, then tuck him in, say good night and brace for impact. The first few nights might present tears and confusion—or a slap on your face at 2:00 in the morning with a request for water. As with anything difficult, hang tough and remain calm. Take your child back to his room without speaking, tuck him in and return to your bed. The more boring you are, the faster he will realize you mean business and it isn’t playtime. You may be in for a few sleepless nights as he settles in, but if you’re consistent, he’ll figure it out that much faster.
Paci goes bye-bye
As with any transition, the age is up to you, but the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends limiting the use of a pacifier after 6 months of age. In the world of reality, many parents rely on it for sleep and occasional soothing until the age of 2 or 3.
The most important word in axing the paci is consistency. Pacifiers have a habit of multiplying rather than disappearing, so discard every pacifier in your home except for one. Then, it’s time to begin the countdown. Here’s how:
- Let your toddler know “Binky Bye-Bye Day” is coming in one week. Keep it short. “You’re a big girl, and big girls don’t need a paci anymore.”
- During that week, limit binky use to naps and/or overnights. If your child can survive during the waking hours, the sleeping part will be easier.
- Ask daycare to put your child to nap without her binky. Children behave differently at daycare, so the desire to please her teacher might make her try harder. Then all you’re left with is nighttime!
- When you pull the plug on binky bye-bye day, leave no trace of the pacifiers anywhere, not even for an “emergency.” Even if your child is having a five-alarm meltdown, do not back down. Giving in teaches your child there is a threshold at which she can get it back, and Mom and Dad are total suckers.
Baby transitions are no walk in the park, and they will require patience and consistency on your part. Be brave, be steadfast and, above all, be a loving support system to your child and you will make it through. As every wise grandparent in the history of the world has said, “This too shall pass.”
Three No-No’s for Any Transition:
- Questioning yourself. You know what is best for your child. If your gut tells you he isn’t ready for something, don’t force it.
- Leaving room for negotiation. Never tell your child about a change and add an “okay?” at the end. You aren’t asking permission; the change is happening. Be gentle and kind, but firm.
- Being inflexible. Every child responds differently to each transition. Do research and adjust what works for your family.
Kim Antisdel is a freelance writers and interior design sales rep for KC and surrounding areas. She lives in Liberty with her husband, stepdaughters and toddler son.
As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.