Parenting Toddlers: 29 Toddler Experts Share Their Best Kept Secrets!
Raising toddlers is one of the most rewarding stages of parenting. Sure, this stage gets a really bad rap because of all the labeling. Terrible Twos ring any bells?
However, toddlers are amazing and really pretty great with their endless curiosity, openness to trying anything (except brussels sprouts of course), and they still think mom’s the best.
And those sweet toddler hugs are what make the struggles worth it.
At least it is for my toddler.
But raising a toddler isn’t away puppies and rainbows. It can be more like toddler tantrums and battle of wills. And this can be downright frustrating especially if your toddler is your first child.
There is a secret to raising happy and tantrum-proof toddlers, and it’s something I learned and tweaked over the years with all three of my children.
My secret to thriving in toddler life is to give your little one very clear expectations up front. That’s it! It’s hard being a toddler and not fully understanding this amazing world around you. They need to have firm boundaries and know exactly what’s going to happen when they cross those boundaries.
Honestly, I hate to sound harsh but a lot of our struggles in raising toddlers is our fault and it’s making life harder for them and us! It’s their job to challenge and seek independence. They are NOT being bad.
They just need us to establish those healthy boundaries and lovingly guard them. You’ll find yourself having much fewer battles when your toddler simply knows what to expect.
And, here’s the kicker, those expectations are always the same and never change based on our emotions at the time. Doing this all the time is pretty much the secret sauce to not having the toddler equivalent of Game of Thrones in your house every day!
Now, here are 29 most super helpful expert tips on thriving as a mom in the toddler years!
Related: The Best Learning Toys for Toddlers to Feed Your Child’s Imagination
29 Expert Tips to Thrive in Raising Your Toddler
Toddler Discipline Tips
1 – How to Get Your Toddler to Listen and Obey
Most toddlers and kids for that matter have “selective hearing.” That means they hear us when we tell them to do something, but we don’t see the corresponding action. Enter frustration.
What if there was a way to say our request that gets the attention of our toddler AND gets them to actually do what we ask? Try this…
The two simple words that work for us are, “Yes, Mama.” That’s it. It won’t work like magic the first time you say it. Some training will be required to help your child understand what is expected when they hear those words.
Learn how to use this simple tip in Amy’s full post here!
2 – Positively Dealing with a Defiant Toddler
Did you know there is an actual condition called Oppositional Defiant Disorder – ODD? It affects children and their ability to handle listening to authority. This can be especially difficult for parents.
But there are things we can do whether or not our toddler has received a diagnosis. Many of which have to do with how we cope with these challenges, such as bargaining and negotiating with our little ones.
Bargaining is a tool used by kids to get their way and get out of dealing with their responsibilities. No matter how they cry or complain, they must fix their mistake and then accept the consequences.
To read all of Monique’s great tips click here.
3 – Raising a Strong Willed Toddler
If you find yourself in a battle of wills every single day with your toddler, you may have a strong-willed child. Being strong-willed isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but it can be a real challenge for parents in the early days.
Establishing very clear boundaries and expectations are your best line of defense!
When we give our strong-willed toddler a routine, she knows what to expect. While this can’t prevent things like meltdowns over the toys we can and can’t bring to the park, it can help with bedtime, night wakings, car trips, etc.
To read Nicole’s full tips on raising a strong-willed toddler click here.
4 – Teaching Your Toddler Discipline without Yelling
Getting toddlers to listen without yelling is a challenge for every parent. Consistency is very important in getting kids to listen and do what you want without yelling and screaming.
Kids aim to please. They want to make you proud and see you excited and impressed with them. Give them that satisfaction when they do something positive! It will encourage them to keep doing it.
Get all seven of Ally’s discipline tips here.
Toddler Feeding Tips
5 – How to Develop Positive Eating Habits
Toddler mealtimes can be some of the most challenging parts of the day. From picky eating, distracted eating, and sudden refusal to eat previously familiar foods. Toddler feeding is a delicate balance between our need for healthy boundaries and your toddler’s desire for independence.
Pick options that are already a part of dinner time, making it look like a choice to your toddler but not putting yourself through too much trouble making new meals just for the children.
Read all 5 solutions to the most common toddler eating challenges here.
6 – How to Start Feeding Your Toddler with Baby Led Weaning
I only heard about baby led weaning with my 3rd child and I wish I’d learned about it sooner. It’s so much easier for you as the “chef” and more fun for your baby. I believe that because they are more in control. And let’s face it, toddler’s love control!
I usually start Bady Led Weaning with snacks then, later on, on move onto full meals. I just find this works better for my children.
Get all the BLW ingenious tips from Dela in her full post!
7 – What To Do if Your Toddler Refuses Meat
There are many safe and healthy diets that do not include meat that many parents feed their toddlers. However, sometimes parents who do eat a meat-based diet find their toddler refuses to eat meat
This can be frustrating and there are worries that your toddler won’t get enough nutrients, but there are healthy ways to feed your toddler a meatless diet. No matter the reason.
There are certain nutrients that if you aren’t getting from meat you need to be getting from somewhere. The two main nutrients are protein and iron. My secret weapon: Edamame. It has a good amount of both protein and iron!
Get Shari’s full list of meatless eating here.
8 – How to Raise Non-Picky Eaters
My oldest daughter is an extremely picky eater and though she’s much better now, she’s still pretty selective in what she likes to eat. She was and still is very sensitive to textures, and many other kids struggle with the same issue.
If you have a picky eater, you may want to consider Jenn’s rather unconventional tip…
By allowing young kids to mouth pine cones, rocks, and leaves they will further develop the mouth sensations which may prevent intolerance for food textures at an older age. Yes, making your kids eat dirt will make them less picky eaters.
Get the full post of fun ways to raise a brave eater here.
Toddler Tantrums Tips
9 – Understanding the Function Driving Tantrums
Toddler tantrums are simply a poorly communicated request… a request to keep doing what they are doing, a request to have their way, or not do what they are being asked.
There is a reason for most, if not all, tantrums. It means we need to become skilled at finding out the driving force behind your toddler’s tantrum, so we can most effectively change that behavior.
Understanding the function behind a child’s behavior allows us to plan for it and react to it in ways that will hopefully decrease it.
Get the full post of helpful questions to ask yourself here.
10 – How to Handle Tantrums without Punishment or Timeouts
Toddler tantrums are super tricky and can leave you feeling helpless when a toddler tantrum sets in. Many parents aren’t exactly sure how to handle a tantrum and whether they are actually worthy of punishment or not.
I personally believe that we need to work much harder on the front end to prevent toddler tantrums in the first place. And then they are much more likely to be related to your toddler feeling overwhelmed in some way without the ability to communicate their feelings.
When your child is having a tantrum and distraction and other techniques aren’t working, or even before using those other techniques, try empathy.
Get the full list of little-known tips here.
11 – How to Teach Your Toddler Healthy Emotions
As parents, we can often wonder why our little angels can turn so quickly into… well, the opposite of angels. This happens because their emotions aren’t fully developed, and they often times haven’t practiced using healthy emotional communication.
There are many ways we can teach our children how to share their feelings in an appropriate way and develop social skills.
Attending daycare or preschool is NOT required for your child to learn social skills. Providing them play time with other people is all they need to learn to play with others.
To get all of Kayla’s amazing tips on toddler social skills, click here.
12 – How to Prevent Toddler Meltdowns
Prevent toddler tantrums? Yes, you can prevent meltdowns from your toddler. The key is doing all the work on the front end so you can help your toddler learn how to express their feelings in a more constructive way.
If we take a minute to give them a voice, to listen to their choices, and to make them feel part of the decision-making team, they’ll buy in. They’ll do what we need them to do. They won’t need to have a tantrum to be heard.
To get Nicole’s full list of amazing tantrum prevention tips, click here.
Toddler Potty Training Tips
13 – The 3 Day Potty Training Plan
Part of the success of potty training is making it fun for your toddler. They love growing up and becoming big kids so help them embrace their desire for independence. This next tip totally worked for my 2-year-old son!
You’ll want to buy your child super cute underwear that will get them excited about going to the potty. I bought Drew superhero undies and he loves them!
Get the full 3-day potty training plan here!
14 – How to Potty Train Your 2-year-old
Potty training can be tricky and there are certainly no one-size-fits-all strategies for getting your little one fully potty trained. There are many ways to approach this right of passive, but knowing when your toddler is ready is your key to success!
If your child is starting to become aware of their bodily functions, it could mean that she’s ready. Sometimes, if you wait it out, your child’s willingness to potty train could pass.
15 – Tips to Make Potty Training Easier
It’s easy to pick out the perfect potty chair, the cool underwear or pull-ups, but what about when things don’t go as planned? Making the following mistake can set back your potty training goals way back!
One of the biggest mistakes a parent can make is shaming their kids during this process. It may not seem like a big deal to drop an “I can’t believe you pee peed in your underwear like a baby” but it can actually undo any progress you are making.
Get Stormy’s full list of potty training tips in the full post here.
Toddler Daily Routines & Schedules
16 – How to Painlessly Create a Morning Routine
Getting out of the door every morning on time and without meltdowns from you or your toddler is a huge challenge! No matter what routine works best for you and your little one, consistency is vital.
A toddler cannot readily distinguish why the mornings are so different from one another. This can lead to increased meltdowns and anxious behavior.
Read the full post from Bridget with all her great tips on creating a successful morning routine.
17 – How to Establish a Sleepytime Bed Routine
Getting your toddler to want to go to bed and actually sleep can be quite the feat! And one of the biggest mistakes is letting the craziness of the bed carry over into a chaotic evening.
That’s a huge mistake because toddlers need consistency and routine more than anything! Creating a predictable bedtime routine can help so much.
Each of my kids takes a bath every night, so we make it fun! I invested in some good bath toys that I can’t rave enough about.
Click here to get Shiree’s full nighttime toddler routine here.
18 – Keeping Toddler Routines Even While Traveling
Toddlers need routine and predictability. When their routines disappear in exchange for new activities, schedules, and places you can be sure a meltdown is brewing just under the surface.
When traveling with toddlers, we need to keep their routines in mind to keep everyone happy.
Kids thrive on routine and while travel can definitely throw that for a loop, we like to try to keep things as similar to home as possible. For us, this means trying to travel during nap times so the kids can sleep in the car.
To get all of Mary Leigh’s toddler travel tips click here to read the full post.
Breaking Poor Toddler Behavior Habits
19 – What to do When Your Toddler is too Clingy
Toddlers are just older babies who are growing up really fast. In many ways, they’re light years ahead of their previous baby stage. But in many ways, they’re holding on tight to their baby privileges.
And being held a lot is one of those privileges. Most toddlers drop the need to be held when the independence stage kicks in, but every kid is unique.
Whether your child’s clinginess is new and most likely temporary or a long-term concern, a great first step is to reassure your child and create a sense of security.
Elizabeth gives great insight into why toddlers are clingy in the first place. And her full process for reducing toddler clinginess. Get the full post here!
20 – How to Stop Your Toddler From Hitting
When your toddler decides one day to hit another kid or even to hit you it’s frustrating and also embarrassing. But just like any other toddler behavioral issue, hitting can be corrected too.
Actions speak louder than words. If you hit back and say no, you’re teaching them hitting is an okay response. The same goes for yelling. If a toddler hits and screams, stay calm and offer an alternative by distracting the child.
Samantha goes into great detail in her post showing you how to overcome this bad habit positively.
21 – How to Easily Ween Your Toddler from a Pacifier
Giving your new baby a pacifier can feel like magic when soothing your inconsolable newborn. However, in a few years, it can feel like a curse when it’s time to wean your toddler from the binky. If you have the right strategies, it gets a lot easier!
It is best to try to control how much your child is using the pacifier in the first place by only giving it to them during naps and bedtime.
Get McKinzie’s great tips on weaning the pacifier in this post.
Toddler Sleep Tips
22 – How to Keep Your Toddler in Bed Through the Night
Once you transition your baby from their crib into their own “big bed” an unfortunate side effect can happen… they never seem to want to stay in their bed.
As frustrating as this is, you can do something about it! It’s not easy… and it requires your unwavering commitment to the process but it will pay off. It comes down to setting a loving yet firm tone no matter how many extra requests your toddler askes for.
When you do the “extra stuff,” you are establishing the idea that if they get up you will come in and give them the attention they want.
To read Michele’s full toddler bedtime process read the full post here.
23 – How to Easily Transition to 2 to 1 Naps
The wonderful thing about the baby years is most babies need more than one nap. Suddenly, something starts to change as they enter toddlerhood… they start needing less daytime sleep.
Your toddler will start showing signs that they are ready for only one nap per day. This transition can be tricky but is a lot simpler with the right strategy.
Sometimes the trickiest part of this transition is figuring out when to give lunch! What works best for most toddlers is splitting lunch during the early days. Who says lunch has to be one big meal at noon?!
Get Jilly’s full list of signs and tips for making this transition as simple as possible.
24 – Creating Sleep Routines for the Spirited Child
Not every child is created the same and many are what can be referred to as spirited children. These are children who find it difficult to turn off their energy switch. They can be endlessly curious and tenacious.
None of which are bad things at all. But they can make for parenting challenges. Especially, when it comes to sleeping and naptimes.
Having an intense, persistent child has its challenges, particularly when it comes to sleeping. Routine helps immensely, but when it is time to let up a little bit and give your spirited child the independence she craves.
Read Freya’s heartfelt story about how she joyfully helped her own toddler with her sleep issues.
25 – How to Easily Handle Bad Dreams
In your toddler is having fears or challenges falling asleep because of bad dreams or other fears, this can be challenging. Sometimes adding a little whimsy is all your toddler needs.
Make a homemade dream spray made up of simply water and a few drops of lavender essential oils. Combine the two ingredients and put them in a small spray bottle with a “dream spray” tag on it.
Get Nicole’s full list of sleeping tips here.
26 – Getting Your Toddler to Sleep without a Pacifier
If your baby took a pacifier, getting them to sleep without it as you try to ween them can be a real struggle. There are many methods to use, and some can cause you a lot more headache and lack of sleep. You may want to try this 3-day approach…
3 days before, the day before, and the day of pacifier removal, I told the twins they were getting so big and it was time to stop using pacifiers. I also told them there were babies that needed them more than they did and we would send the pacifiers to them.
Get Jeanne’s full 3-day break down here.
How to Thrive in Daily Toddler Life
27 – Stress-Free Traveling with a Toddler
Traveling is stressful enough but adding a toddler to the mix can feel overwhelming. One of your best assets is planning, planning, planning. And in that planning, you must build in plenty of buffers so you don’t feel rushed throughout your travels.
Be Early and Avoid Super Short Connections, especially if traveling by plane. You do not want to be the 30-week pregnant lady with a toddler running to catch her next plane (like I was).
Get the full list of travel toddler tips from Haley here.
28 – Surviving Toddler Transitions
There are so many transitions that babies face once they grow into toddlerhood such as the inevitable transition from formula or breastmilk to whole milk and transitioning to solid foods.
Many toddlers also must transition from drinking from a bottle to sippy cups and then to a regular cup. And let’s not forget ditching the binky!
To make things easier on myself, I made each change one by one so that neither I, nor my daughter would get too overwhelmed with it all
To read how Josephine survived these common toddler transitions read her full post here.
29 – How to Really Love the Toddler Stage
Toddlerhood is an amazing developmental stage in your child’s growth. They are learning, testing, experimenting, and growing every single moment of the day. We just need to help create the environment for them to safely flourish.
Your job as the parent is to set the boundaries and enforce them gently. You will need to enforce them more or less frequently, more or less strongly depending on how strong-willed your toddler is.
To get more insight on loving the toddler stage, read June’s full post here.
Toddler life is truly an adventure but is one I choose to cherish as my son gets older. I hope these tips help you to feel less overwhelmed with this special age and more equipped to build a wonderful relationship with your curious little toddler.
Let us know in the comments below which expert tip you’re excited to use the most!
For More Toddler Posts We Know You’ll Love:
End Your Toddler’s Temper Tantrum Quickly with These Simple Steps!
51 Adorable Stocking Stuffers for Toddlers and Babies that Aren’t Junk
The 15 Best Learning Toys for Toddlers to Buy in 2019
The Best Car Games for Kids and Toddlers to Survive Long Road Trips