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.
Wondering what milestones your tot should be hitting? Here are a handful, according to the go-to Nipissing District Developmental Screen.
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.santypan / Getty Images
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.monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images
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.Westend61 / Getty Images
We 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.andreonegin / Getty Images
It’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).AJ_Watt / Getty Images
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.miodrag ignjatovic / Getty Images
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.
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.Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images
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.kupicoo / Getty Images
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.FatCamera / Getty Images
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.gremlin / Getty Images
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!Drazen Zigic / Getty Images
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.10'000 Hours / Getty Images
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.Milos Dimic / Getty Images
This 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.Lisa5201 / Getty Images
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.
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.RichLegg / Getty Images
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.
Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners