It’s all so exciting

From toddler to pre-schooler is a challenging time


As your toddler’s language increases, so do the number of difficult questions and demands.


Young children are very perceptive and are likely to pick up on any change in their environment, says Prima Baby’s health visitor Dawn Chandler.

‘Toddlers as young as two can start asking questions if a pet dies,’ adds Dawn. ‘And if there is a major change in the family home, such as a separation or divorce, they’ll definitely need answers.’

Dawn’s two golden rules are to be honest, and to keep it simple.

‘If, for instance, your partner has moved out, explain Daddy won’t be sleeping at home any more, but he still loves you very much,’ she says. ‘Don’t say “You’ll see him every weekend”, because two-year-olds don’t have any concept of time.’

When children ask questions about death, don’t try to change the subject or pretend it doesn’t really happen. ‘There’s no point making up stories if, in two years’ time, they’ll find out you’re lying,’ says Dawn. ‘Picture books which tackle these issues can be a real help in communicating these difficult concepts to children.’

Bedtime battles

Sorting out your toddler’s sleeping pattern can be an uphill struggle

Q I have to get my two-year-old daughter to nursery by 8.30am, but the mornings have become a nightmare because she doesn’t want to get up. Is this normal for a child her age?

A The most obvious reason could be your daughter needs an earlier bedtime. A recent survey showed up to two thirds of children aren’t getting enough sleep. The recommended amount for a two-year-old is 13 hours, which may include a daytime nap, but, on average, toddlers sleep for only 12 hours. Try putting her to bed earlier and giving her a longer daytime nap.

Is He a highly sensitive child?

Mention a birthday party or a family outing and most toddlers will leap around the furniture with excitement. But not all children relish new experiences. In fact psychologist Elaine Aron believes up to 20 per cent of children are born ‘highly sensitive’, finding everyday life a series of emotional obstacles.

‘Highly sensitive children are deeply reflective and easily overwhelmed,’ says Dr Aron in her book The Highly Sensitive Child, published by Thorsons, price £9.99. ‘These qualities can make for clever, conscientious and creative children, but may also result in shyness, fussiness or difficult behaviour.’

To prepare your toddler for a social event or change in routine, Dr Aron suggests:

  • Discuss the event beforehand.
  • Don’t assume he knows what will happen at a party or lunch with friends.
  • Mention an easy way out of the situation. Say: ‘If you don’t like it, we can just leave or pop outside.’
  • Make sure he’s rested and well fed.
  • If he’s tired and hungry, the chances of a successful outing are low.
  • Be a good role model.
  • Show enthusiasm yourself by developing a ‘go-for-it’ attitude. But be careful not to let enthusiasm spill over into pressure.

Let’s get messy!

Dig out the aprons and newspaper-messy play is a great way for your toddler to express himself:


What you need

What it teaches


Playdough from a toy shop or make your own.

A tactile experience which helps him discover how a soft, stretchy material can behave. Stimulates imagination and can be soothing.


A sink full of water, plastic cups and bottles, a funnel, bath toys.

He’ll learn about volume and quantity through the experience of filling and emptying containers of different sizes.


Washable paints, paper and a sturdy paintbrush.

Develops hand-eye coordination and fires his artistic abilities. He’ll also learn about colours, and how mixing paints can create new shades.


Child-friendly glue (or simple paste made with flour and water), a paintbrush and shapes for sticking.

Again, hand-eye coordination will benefit as he learns to stick objects onto the paper. Using autumn leaves, cotton wool, fabric and paper will teach him different textures.



By 30 months, toddlers begin to understand the concept of money-so it’s time to start playing shops.

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