Parenting a one year old is hard stuff, people. And many of your infant-parenting skills don’t transfer. While both are endurance sports, you can leave the room on a newborn and be pretty sure he’ll stay where you left him.
Before having a baby, I used to say I would spend my days on maternity leave “chasing my baby around” – I was ridiculous. You don’t chase a baby, you may bow down to his every whim and never sleep at night but you don’t start chasing until that baby begins to run from you.
Toddlers, with their immense curiosity and penchant for power plays, require constant supervision. This is what I would like to tell rookie parents about one-year olds:
1) There is chasing involved.
Did it just get too quiet? He’s about to fall on his head. Or gnaw off part of the doorstop boinger. Or worse. My kid loves to run for the road; he’s completely enamored by all motorized vehicles and wants to be up close. He has also figured out how to move stools or chairs near where he wants to climb (like toward the kitchen knives). Evil genius. I’m both proud and tired.
2) Mealtimes are ridiculous with throwing and other outlandish behaviors.
Feeding time is crazypants. Though one-year olds often have the chops to eat nearly every kind of food, they would rather throw it on the floor without even tasting (Toddler power play: look what I made the grown-up do!). If left to their own devices, they’d eat, wander, and play intermittently grabbing fallen crackers and drinking old bottles strewn on every surface like a nasty frat house. Forget having another adult conversation at mealtimes for at least another year.
3) Wrestling is required. You never have to strong-arm a baby. Am I right? Well, daily wrestling matches include:
- Changing diapers. My boy is STRONG. He twists and arches. And kicks. Into stuff (Ick!). I have learned to distract with soft toys that don’t hurt as much when it is flung in my face.
- Shoving him into a car seat. I have to be firm and buckle before he can wiggle down to the ground. I also sing songs, tickle, and anthropomorphize little vehicles as a distraction.
- Putting on a jacket. I spend a good ten minutes chasing him and coaxing him into shoes and a coat. Putting a hood up is torture so I avoid it.
4) Things just got interesting. These tiny people are hilarious and want you to laugh and play with them. They start to have their own hobbies and strong opinions. I mentioned that Sawyer loves vehicles; we’re always on the lookout for buses and trucks. When I’m driving alone, I find myself seeking out buses and sometimes saying ‘bus’ out loud to nobody.
Slowing down and enjoying their constant curiosity is one way to get through this phase of incredibly strong feelings and limited verbal skills.
What did I forget? What do parents of one-year olds need to know?