Potty training is a major milestone. Get the facts on timing, technique and handling accidents.
By Mayo Clinic StaffPotty training is a big step for kids and parents alike. The secret to success? Timing and patience.
Is it time?Potty training success hinges on physical, developmental and behavioral milestones, not age. Many children show signs of being ready for potty training between ages 18 and 24 months. However, others might not be ready until they're 3 years old. There's no rush. If you start too early, it might take longer to train your child.
Is your child ready? Ask yourself:
Your readiness is important, too. Let your child's motivation, instead of your eagerness, lead the process. Try not to equate potty training success or difficulty with your child's intelligence or stubbornness. Also, keep in mind that accidents are inevitable and punishment has no role in the process. Plan toilet training for when you or a caregiver can devote the time and energy to be consistent on a daily basis for a few months.
Ready, set, go!When it's time to begin potty training, follow these steps:
Nighttime trainingNap and nighttime training typically take longer to achieve. Most children can stay dry at night between ages 5 and 7. In the meantime, use disposable training pants and mattress covers when your child sleeps.
Accidents will happenTo handle accidents:
Courtesy of Zero to Three
Try these tips the next time you play with your child and watch how even the simplest interactions encourage them to learn and explore the world around them.
Playtime is special. Not only is it fun, but it is critical to children’s development. Play is their “work” and their way of learning about the world around them. Through play, babies and toddlers try out new skills, explore their imagination and creativity, and learn about relationships with other people.
Any activity can be playful to young children, whether it’s rolling trucks back and forth or sorting socks. And any type of play can offer multiple opportunities to learn and practice new skills:
As a parent, you are your child’s very first and favorite playmate. From the very beginning of your child’s life, he is playing with you, whether he is watching your face as you feed him or listening to your voice as you sing to him during his diaper change. He is at work, learning and exploring.
So what can you do to make the most of your child’s playtime?Follow your child’s leadProvide an object, toy, or activity for your baby or toddler and then see what he does with it. It’s okay if it’s not the “right” way…let him show you a “new way.”
Go slowlyIt’s great to show your child how a toy works, but try to hold off on “doing it for him” every time. You can begin something, such as stacking one block on another, and then encourage him to give it a try. Providing just enough help to keep frustration at bay motivates your child to learn new skills.
Read your child’s signalsYour little one may not be able to tell you using words when he’s had enough or when he’s frustrated. But he has other ways—like using his sounds, facial expressions, and gestures. Reading the signals that precede a tantrum help you know when to jump in or change to a new activity. Reading his signals can also tell you what activities your child prefers.
Look at your play spaceIs the area child-friendly and child-safe? Is there too much noise or other distractions? Is the area safe to explore? Is this a good place for the activity you’ve chosen, such as running, throwing balls, or painting? Checking out your space beforehand can prevent a tantrum, an accident, or a broken lamp.
Play it again, SamWhile this desire to do things over and over again is not necessarily thrilling for moms and dads, it is for their young children. They are practicing in order to master a challenge. And when they can do it “All by myself!” they are rewarded with a powerful sense of their own competency—a confidence that they can are smart and successful beings. The more they practice and master new skills, the more likely they are to take on new challenges and the learning continues. So when you’re tempted to hide that toy that you don’t think you can stand playing with yet one more time, remember the essential role repetition plays in your child’s development.
Adapt play activities to meet your child’s needsYou may be a parent, relative, or caregiver of a child that has special needs. A physical, mental, or social disability can pose the occasional challenge to play time. Still, all children learn through play and any play activity can be adapted to meet a child’s unique needs. The guidelines below can help you think about how to make playtime enjoyable and appropriate to your child’s skills, preferences, and abilities:
Play is not only fun – it’s also how children learn. You’re still the best toy for your toddler to play with – and the best toddler games still have you playing a very important part.
Here are some tips for toddler play:
Screen time can be a fun, learning experience for your child. But it’s important to balance screen time with other activities that are good for your child’s development, like lots of face-to-face creative play or physically active time with you and other carers.
The most recent screen time guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) say that:
As a toddler, your child is starting to master language. You can encourage toddler talking skills with everyday play ideas – listening to your child, chatting together, singing and telling stories.About toddler talkingYour toddler’s language will start to ‘explode’ soon, although your child has been learning about words, sounds and back-and-forth conversations since birth.
You can keep encouraging toddler talking by singing, saying nursery rhymes, talking, reading and telling stories.
What to expect: toddler talkingYour toddler will probably start to:
By the age of three, your child will probably move on to simple sentences, like ‘Where doggie gone?’ By now strangers will probably be able to understand most of what your child says, even though he’ll still struggle to express some words clearly.
Talking can be frustrating for toddlers – they can have so much to tell you but can’t quite get the words out. If you give your toddler time, she’ll get there eventually. Trying and making mistakes are important parts of learning.
Toddlers respond best to encouragement and interest, rather than correction or being made fun of, so try to avoid correcting your toddler’s mistakes too often.
Learning to talk is a complex skill. When you’re helping your child express himself, try to focus on having fun together, rather than seeing it as just a teaching opportunity.Play ideas to encourage toddler talkingThe more words you expose your child to, the more words she’ll learn. Here are some play ideas to encourage toddler talking:
Screen time isn’t recommended for children under 18 months, other than video-chatting. After 18 months, your child can have some screen time, but it’s best to watch or play with your child.
Long periods of screen time have been associated with a range of health issues in toddlers and preschoolers, as well as the slower development of language skills, short-term memory and poorer social skills.
Concerns about toddler talkingIf at 18 months your toddler isn’t babbling often, isn’t using meaningful words or doesn’t seem to hear you or listen when others are talking, it’s a good idea to see a GP, paediatrician or child and family health nurse.
You might also want to see a child health professional or talk to your child’s carer or early childhood educator if you can’t understand your child’s speech by the time she’s three, or if she still isn’t speaking much by this age.
It's normal for a toddler to have temper tantrums. To reduce the frequency, duration or intensity of your child's tantrums:
Winter is a tricky time for car seats.As a general rule, bulky clothing, including winter coats and snowsuits, should not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat.
In a car crash, fluffy padding immediately flattens out from the force, leaving extra space under the harness. A child can then slip through the straps and be thrown from the seat.
These tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) will help parents strike that perfect balance between keeping little ones warm as well as safely buckled in their car seats.
How to Keep Your Child Warm and Safe in the Car Seat:Note: The tips below are appropriate for all ages. In fact, wearing a puffy coat yourself with the seat belt is not a best practice because it adds space between your body and the seat belt.
You probably know by now that one easy way to help maximize your little one’s sleep is to create a predictable bedtime routine. Routines help our children know what is coming next, so a bedtime routine signals to your baby or toddler that it is time to wind down, and to get sleepy. This can help greatly in getting your little one to fall asleep quickly.
However, not all routines are created equal! And if there are problems with your bedtime routine, then it may not help your baby or toddler sleep well; in fact, it may disrupt sleep and make it worse!
Are You Making These 5 Bedtime Routine Mistakes?
It's time to get flu shots for your family before your house is full of fevers and dripping noses.
Here are 10 things you need to know about the 2017-2018 influenza vaccine:
1. The flu vaccine is essential for children.The flu virus is common and unpredictable, and it can cause serious complications and death, even in healthy children. The influenza immunization each year is the best way to protect children.
Each year, on average, 5% to 20% of the U.S. population gets the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from complications. At least 101 children died from the flu in the 2016-2017 season, If you choose not to vaccinate your child, you not only miss the opportunnity to protect your own child but also can put others at risk.
Although influenza can be treated with antiviral medications, these drugs are less effective if not started early, can be expensive, and may have bothersome side effects.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual influenza immunization for all people ages 6 months and older, including children and adolescents. In addition, household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children with high risk conditions and all children under the age of 5 especially should be vaccinated.
Young children, people with asthma, heart disease, diabetes, weakened immune systems, and pregnant women are at high risk for complications of influenza, such as pneumonia.
About half of all Americans get vaccinated against the flu each year, including 50% of pregnant women. This number needs to get better. Ask your child's school, child care center, or sports coach, "How are we promoting the flu vaccine for these children?"
2. Now is the time to get vaccinated.Influenza vaccine shipments have already begun, and will continue through the fall and winter. Call your pediatrician to ask when the vaccine will be available.
Infants and children up to 8 years of age receiving the flu shot for the first time may need two doses of the vaccine, administered four weeks apart. It is important that these children get their first dose as soon as possible to be sure they can complete both doses before the flu season begins.
3. This year's flu vaccine is only available as a shot. The inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) is given by intramuscular injection and is approved for children 6 months of age and older. Depending on the number of flu strains it contains, it is available in both trivalent (IIV3 – two A and one B virus) and quadrivalent (IIV4 – two A and two B viruses) forms. The intranasal influenza vaccine is not recommended in any setting in the US.
4. It doesn't matter which form of the vaccine you get.The quadrivalent influenza vaccines for the 2017-2018 season contain the same three strains as the trivalent vaccine, plus an additional B strain. Although this may offer improved protection, the AAP does not give preference for one type of flu vaccine over another.
Please don't delay vaccination in order to wait for a specific vaccine. Influenza virus is unpredictable. What's most important is that people receive the vaccine as soon as possible.
5. You can't get the flu from the flu vaccine.Flu vaccines are made from killed viruses. Mild symptoms, such as nausea, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, and chills, can occur.
The side effects of the flu vaccine are mild (and nothing compared to having the flu). The most common side effects are pain and tenderness at the site of injection. Fever is also seen within 24 hours after immunization in approximately 10% to 35% of children younger than 2 years of age but rarely in older children and adults. These symptoms are usually mild and resolve on their own in a couple of days.
6. If you catch the flu and are vaccinated, you will get a milder form of the disease.We know that flu vaccines are about 60% effective--yes, we all wish that number were higher. The good news is that vaccinated people who get the flu usually get a mild form of the disease, according to a study. People who are not vaccinated will likely be in bed with fever and miserable and even could develop a complication.
7. There should be plenty of vaccine for everyone this year.For the 2017-2018 season, manufacturers have projected that they will produce between up to 166 million doses of flu vaccine.
8. The influenza vaccine doesn't cause autism.A robust body of research continues to show that the influenza vaccine is safe and is not associated with autism.
9. The flu vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccines.The flu vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines, but at a different place on the body. It is also important to note that children 6 months through 8 years of age may need two doses spaced one month apart to be fully protected. These children should receive their first dose as soon as the vaccine is available in their community. Live vaccines (like the MMR and chickenpox vaccines) may be given together or at least 4 weeks apart.
10. Children with egg allergy can get the flu vaccine.Children with an egg allergy can safely get the flu shot from their pediatrician without going to an allergy specialist. Even those with a history of severe egg allergy don't have to treat getting the flu vaccine differently than getting any other vaccine, because these people are not likely to have a reaction to the flu vaccine.
By: Kathleen Berchelmann MD, FAAP
Biting is a typical behavior often seen in infants, toddlers, and 2-year olds. As children mature, gain self-control, and develop problem-solving skills, they usually outgrow this behavior. While not uncommon, biting can be an upsetting and potentially harmful behavior. It’s best to discourage it from the very first episode. This article will help you to understand the reasons young children bite and give you some ideas and strategies for responding appropriately.
Why do young children bite?Some children bite instinctively, because they have not developed self-control. For example, when 3-year-old Marcus grabs a doll from his 2-year-old sister Gina, her first response is to bite him and grab the doll. She doesn’t stop to think about other ways to act or the result of her actions. But there are many other reasons why children may bite.
A child might bite to
Infants learn about the world around them by exploring it with their hands, eyes, and mouths. But infants often need help to learn what they should and shouldn’t bite.
If your infant takes an experimental bite on a mother’s breast or grandpa’s shoulder, stay calm and use clear signals to communicate that it is not okay for one person to bite another. A firm “no” or “no biting!” is an appropriate response.
Toddlers and Preschoolers
Toddlers have many strong emotions that they are just learning to manage. Toddlers may bite to express anger or frustration or because they lack the language skills needed to express their feelings.
Biting is less common in preschoolers than toddlers. When a preschooler bites, it may be due to something at home or at their child care program that is causing the child to be upset, frustrated, confused, or afraid. A preschooler may also bite to get attention or to act in self-defense.
Follow the steps below with both toddlers and preschoolers.
What strategies can I use to help my child overcome a habit of biting?Here are some strategies for addressing a child’s biting habit.
For further reading
Banks, R., & S. Yi. 2007. “Dealing with Biting Behaviors in Young Children.” Clearinghouse on Early Education and Parenting. http://ceep.crc.uiuc.edu/poptopics/biting.html.
The Center on Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL). “Responding to Your Child’s Bite.” www.vanderbilt.edu/csefel/documents/biting-parenting_tool.pdf.
Crisalli, L. 2008. “All about Biting.” Exchange 184: 61–63. http://www.ccie.com/library/5018461.pdf.
University of Maine Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies. “Ouch! That hurts! – Biting.” (Growing ideas tip sheet). http://umaine.edu/ccids/files/2009/12/biting120309.pdf.
Zero to Three. “Why Do Toddlers Bite? Finding the Right Response.” www.zerotothree.org/child-development/challenging-behavior/chew-on-this-resources-on-biting.html.
Source: Adapted from D. Koralek, "Understanding and Responding to Biting,” In Classroom Strategies to Promote Children’s Social and Emotional Development, 135–138. Lewisville, NC: Kaplan Press, 1999. © 1999 The Devereux Foundation, Villanova, Pennsylvania.
Please visit www.devereuxearlychildhood.org to learn more about their work to promote children's resilience and social and emotional health. Devereux grants permission for teachers or families to print copies of this article to share with friends or colleagues. For any other uses of this material, please contact email@example.com.
Bedtime Routines Dos and Don'tsThere is no absolute right way to set up a bedtime routine. Some kids like to hear a bedtime story, others may want to talk about their day, and some may just want to say their prayers and go to sleep. As long as your child falls asleep easily and sleeps all night, then your bedtime routine is likely working well.
Other things that you should likely do as part of a good bedtime routine can include that you: