Your toddler: 1 year old

Happy first birthday to your little love! You officially have a toddler now and their brain is working at warp speed. This is life with a 1-year-old.

Photography by Nicole Duplantis/Clothing provided by babyGap and Joe Fresh

OMG, you survived the first year! Happy first birthday to your little love! How on earth do you have a toddler already? That first year with baby is officially behind you, but there’s a ton to look forward to this year. *Fist pumps*

That wee bundle you brought into the world a year ago has done so much growing up (we know, it’s a touchy subject—wipe away that tear). It’s hard to come to terms with your babe becoming a toddler, but don’t worry: Toddlerhood comes with a new set of fun milestones and adorable moments.

12-month-old development & milestones

Milestones update

Wondering what milestones your tot should be hitting? Here are a handful, according to the go-to Nipissing District Developmental Screen.

  • Understand simple requests (“Find your shoes,” “Don’t touch”)
  • Chatter to toys and people using different sounds
  • Imitate non-speech sounds (lip smacking, tongue clicking)
  • Hold, bite and chew crackers
  • Get into a sitting position without help
  • Crawl or bum-shuffle with ease
  • Walk, holding hands or furniture
  • Show emotions like fear, anger and joy
  • Seek comfort (reach to be held when upset)

The mental leap

Sure, you’ll notice lots of physical developments in your little one, but you’ll also discover that their brain is working at warp speed and soon you’ll start understanding how they’re thinking. At this point, they’ve already learned about sequences—that is, they get that events and movements follow one after the other—and now they’re starting to get the hang of “if-then” decisions (for example, “If I pull the cat’s tail, then the cat will run away”). This means your tot will start testing their limits with you (and possibly the cat) to see what they can get away with and how you’ll react. Your best bet is to keep your cool and watch how they start to declare their independence. That said, you should make sure that they stay away from Kitty’s tail.

Moving around

If your tot hasn’t taken those first steps yet, take heart and consider yourself lucky: They’ll be on the move in no time, which means you’ll always be following behind, making sure that they don’t get into too much mischief. Expect a lot of hands-on exploration now that they’re seeing the world around them in a new light. You’ll also notice that their mobility has really picked up—they might push or drag toys, squat to pick up objects, attempt to climb (stairs and anything else they can scale), learn to jump or kick. Prepare yourself and your home accordingly.

Honing fine motor skills

Watch as your toddler picks up tiny bits of food or other small objects using the pincer grip they’ve been practising (that’s index finger to thumb). They’ll also be able to drink from a cup with little assistance and feed themselves using toddler-size cutlery. Yes, it will get very messy. Make sure to keep an eye on things like your purse buckle and medicine bottles (even if they’re childproof)—these kids are determined, and now they’ve figured out how to use those tiny fingers.

Getting creative

5 sensory activities and crafts for kidsWe know, you may not be overly excited to introduce fingerpaint (disaster!), but sensory exploration is super important for toddlers. If you’re not into paint, bust out the crayons and watch them scribble away. These kiddos are into everything now. They love constructing and making messes—they’ll stack and toss blocks, pull clothes out of laundry baskets and act like little scientists (“Can I climb this?” “Can I break this?”). Give your toddler lots of time to play outside, have ride-on toys, balls and cardboard boxes on hand, and don’t freak out when your tot turns everything upside down.

Here come the tantrums

baby crying in mom arms Why do kids cry so much? The science behind sobbingIt’s a bit early for the official terrible twos, but make no mistake: Toddler meltdowns are a fact of life. Try not to get too upset, though. Most of the time, these kids aren’t purposely misbehaving; instead, they’re ticked off that they can’t, say, reach that cookie on the kitchen counter. Tantrums are often caused by frustration, anxiety, overstimulation (naptime!) and boredom. But let’s be honest: There’s another reason for their freak-outs. This is the time when kids start to hear “No!” And, quite frankly, they’re not impressed with that two-letter word so they act out. It’s normal (and annoying).

Make way for chatterboxes

It’s so fun when your kid finally starts communicating with you using words. Using words shows both social and cognitive development. If your tot isn’t having full-on conversations with you yet, don’t worry: Some toddlers open their mouths and never shut up, while others rely on sounds and gestures until those words start flowing. You’ll find that their vocabulary really takes off by year three, so there’s no need to rush them at this stage.

What to expect at the first-year doctor visit

Here’s what to expect at your toddler’s one-year check-up. Tip: Keep notes on your smartphone so you won’t forget questions you want to ask the doc.

  • Measurements and weight The nurse or doctor will weigh your toddler, measure their length and plot numbers on a growth chart so that you and the doc can track their growth.
  • A full physical The doctor will listen to your child’s heart and lungs; check their ears, eyes and mouth; check their reflexes and muscle tone; look for pale skin (which can be a sign of an iron deficiency); examine their belly (for enlarged organs or a hernia); look at their genitals (for signs of infection); and ensure that their hip joints and legs move properly.
  • Vaccinations They’ll get the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), pneumococcal conjugate and meningococcal conjugate and varicella (aka chickenpox) vaccines. Read on for why it’s important to stay calm during shots.

Catching zzzs

Good news: You’ll probably get two naps from your one-year-old until the 18-month mark. If you’re starting daycare and they only have kids nap once a day, don’t worry: You’ll all get used to the new schedule eventually. If you’re wondering whether it’s time for a big-kid bed, most tots aren’t ready to move out of their cribs until their second birthdays and you might decide to hold off until later to keep these busybodies contained. But if you have a climber on your hands, try moving your toddler onto a mattress on the floor.

Introducing cow’s milk

Giving your tot pasteurized, homogenized 3.25 percent milk until age two is the way to go. This is a period of rapid growth and brain development, so the higher calorie and fat content in whole milk is needed.

Get ready for daycare

Heading back to work? The transition to daycare doesn’t just affect your bank account; it also brings about feelings of separation anxiety in both you and your tot. Your best bet is to transition slowly. Start a couple of weeks before you head back to the daily grind by leaving your kid for an hour a day and gradually lengthen the time they spend with their childcare provider. Whatever you do, don’t show stress or tears. Your babe might cry, but take it from parents who’ve been there: It doesn’t take long before they get interested in cool new toys and other children and calm down.

Your life after baby

Back to work—why it doesn’t suck

If you’re heading back to the office after your mat leave, take heart: It can feel pretty crummy for many of us, but the truth is that there are lots of reasons why heading back to your gig is a good thing. You’ll get time with other adults (it’s awesome spending time with your babe, but you’re probably desperate for a little grown-up talk!), your kid will become super-social (it’s good for them to hang out with other littles) and you might even be able to eat lunch with both hands and make solo trips to the loo.

Staying home also doesn’t suck

Becoming a stay-at-home parent might be up your alley. If it’s for you and you can swing it financially, you’ll have a front row seat watching your kid learn, grow and change. If it’s not for you and you’d rather be at work, we totally get it—this is a guilt-free zone!

Post-baby bod

Not feeling so hot about that flap of skin that hangs over your undies? Don’t feel sexy in your naked peplum look? You’re not alone. But don’t be so hard on yourself—they say it takes nine months to put on your baby weight and nine months to take it off. To put it politely, that’s big-time BS for most moms. Here’s what one mom had to say about *kinda* wanting a tummy tuck.

Stuff no one tells you

Sleeping with stuffies and blankets

The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends keeping soft bits and loose blankets out of your babe’s crib for the first year (to protect wee ones from sudden infant death syndrome). After that, it’s OK to put a light receiving blanket in with them (the keyword being “light”—no duvets or comforters here). Stuffies are alright now, too—their favourite comfort object might be that blankie, a small stuffed animal or even one of your T-shirts.

Tidy-up time

Mom holding baby Sleep and feeding schedule for your 12- to 18-month-old babyThis won’t come as a surprise, but most kids aren’t into cleaning up their messes. (We know, big shock.) But once they can understand what you’re asking and have the motor skills to pick up bits and pieces, it’s time to start the habit of tidying up after play. You can do it under the guise of fun (yup, sing the old “Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere…” song) and make sure you reward your helper for a job well done.

Just for fun

It’s party time!

Plans are likely underway for your kiddo’s first birthday par-tay, but if you’re still looking for ideas, we’ve got you covered. If you want to make things really easy for yourself, here are tips from parents who’ve been there.

  • Limit the guest list (believe us, at some point, they’ll ask for a big party, so you might as well keep it small for as long as you can)
  • Plan around naptime
  • Don’t do it right after their 12-month vaccinations (for obvious reasons)
  • Keep it simple (if you don’t feel like baking a cake or can’t be bothered overdoing it with decorations, your babe isn’t going to care)

Set realistic expectations. Social media posts would have you believe that first birthdays are magical. They can be, but be realistic. Your kid might scream and cry through “Happy birthday” and want nothing to do with the cake smash. It’s all good.

Beauty hacks to make you look, um, well rested

We know you’re tired. We are, too. We tried a whack of beauty hacks (think everything from under-eye concealer to magnetic eyelashes—we didn’t even know that was a thing!), so you won’t have to. Check out our favourites here.

Read more:
Your toddler: 13 months old

How I decided to become a stay-at-home dad

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