Toddler development – mums’ top tips

There are many milestones in your toddler’s development. Mums share their best tips and advice about how your toddler develops

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Your toddler could be constipated during potty training

For developing hand- eye coordination

“To encourage Andrew’s hand-eye coordination we throw a ball to him that he then throws back. Although we still have to throw it exactly into his hands, he’s getting better. With Mairi we put things just out of her reach so she has to pick them up. Sometimes I point to things I want her to pass to me so she’ll try to get it.”

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Stephen Lavin, 38, from Hertfordshire, dad to Rebecca, 7, Andrew, 4, and Mairi, 11 months

For raising confident tots

“I always encourage Diya whenever she does something well or something I appreciate. I also try not to rush her or worry when she’s not as advanced as other children, as I know she’ll be able to tell I’m not happy. All children grow at their own rate so be as relaxed and chilled out about your little one’s milestones as possible.”

Bhuvana Naveen, 26, from Hayes, mum to Diya, 15 months.

Getting used to brushing teeth

“When I brush Joshua’s teeth each morning and night, I give him his own mini toothbrush to hold while I’m doing it. This way he can mimic how it should be done and practise for when he’s big enough to do it himself. He seems to enjoy doing it with me too.”

Sarah Bull, 33, from Hampshire, mum to Joshua, 23 months

“I let my daughter choose her own toothbrush and toothpaste. She also looks at herself in the mirror while brushing them, which helps, too, as she enjoys watching herself.”

Lisa Archibald, 32, from Midlothian, mum to Carys, 3 1/2, and 39 weeks pregnant

Prepare your little one for nursery

“A week before Thomas began nursery, we talked to him about it. We walked and drove past it a couple of times and showed him where the main door is. I pointed out to him that nursery is where he would make his new friends, making out how much fun it would be and what a big boy he was going to be. By the time the first day came, he was really excited and relaxed.”

Regina Mansfield, 28, from Ipswich, mum to Thomas, 3

“To stop myself worrying about Ashley’s first day at nursery, I made sure I was busy all day and not looking at the clock. I did all the housework, which used up all my energy and was a really good distraction. I also cooked Ash’s favourite cake, so when she came home I knew it would put a smile on her face.”

Jessica Smith, 31, from Cardiff, mum to Ashley, 3

Moving from the baby bath to the big bath

“Ayesha was nervous about being taken out of her baby bath so to help I put her in the big bath on a non-slip mat, without water, and let her climb into her baby bath. Once she had got used to that I started putting a few centimetres of water in the big bath with some toys, and after a few weeks she was happy to stay there. Eventually I removed the baby bath altogether.”

Shirley Hughes, 33, from Coventry, mum to Ayesha, 3

Potty training advice

“When my son was potty training, I realised he’d been holding it in for some time and was a bit constipated. I gave him syrup of figs every night for a couple of weeks, and gave him plenty of fruit and water, which seemed to help. Also, taking him to the toilet seemed to help de-mystify the event and showed him it was nothing to be frightened of. Now he’s a happy potty trained boy.”

Angela Bugden, 33, from Birmingham, mum to James, 3.

For introducing numbers and counting

“Every time we go up and down the stairs, we count them. It’s a brilliant way for children to learn numbers without realising it. Both my children have been introduced to numbers this way and it’s really helped them grasp them from an early age.”

Helen Ostler, 37, from East Sussex, mum to Alice, 3, and Sam, 2

“To help Katie remember numbers, we’ve started saying them aloud whenever we’re doing something that can be counted. Going up or down stairs, or when we’re putting toys away are perfect times to try it, and she loves saying them along with her dad and I.”

Lara Hall, 33, from Cardiff, mum to Katie, 2

Coping with a clingy toddler

“Jo is quite clingy so I was worried about how she’d cope with nursery. Before she started I dropped her off at my friend’s house and then picked her up half an hour later. I gradually extended the time I left her, until it was as long as she’d be at nursery. We had no trouble on the first day, as she felt reassured I was coming back.”

Heather Cross, 35, from Scotland, mum to Jo, 2

Teaching your tot to hold a crayon

“With Mark we did colouring together so he watched me and learnt from my example. I found chunky washable felt tips the easiest for him to hold as wax crayons and pencils need too much pressure and thin felt tip pens need more dexterity than little hands have!”

Claire Law, 31, from Preston, mum to Mark, 2, and 39 weeks pregnant

Keep your toddler in bed

“It was hard getting Adam to stay in bed. Then we got a blue bedside lamp on a timer, telling him he could only get up when it was on. If he got up when it was off we’d tell him, ‘Back to bed – the blue light is off’. He was back on track in a week.

Carolyn Toogood, 37, from Derby, mum to Adam, 2, and 40 weeks pregnant

Beat thumb sucking

“Every time my son sucks his thumb, we stop what we’re doing and wash his hands properly with soap and water. It seems to be working as he hates having to stop what he’s doing and finds washing his hands properly a real chore.”

Mairi Clare Dunlin, 35, from Abu Dhabi, mum to Aaron, 3, Eva, 1, and 28 weeks pregnant

“To wean Emily off sucking her thumb, we started by telling her she could only do it at certain times of the day, building up to eventually only letting her do it during story time before bed. We also tried putting a fun plaster on her thumb to remind her not to suck it. She loves having a Disney Princess plaster to show off!”

Claire Heath, 30, from London, mum to Emily, 4, and Thomas, 2

Introducing a new baby

“I could tell Marcus didn’t know what to make of my growing belly, and was very confused when I explained about the new baby coming. When his younger brother Oliver arrived, I gave Marcus some of his own special jobs to help Mummy out. He helps wash Oliver’s feet at bathtime, and when it’s nappy changing time he’s responsible for getting the new nappy and wipes out ready. He seems to love helping and it’s teaching him to be gentle and careful.”

Helen Francis, 46, from Kent, mum to Marcus, 4, and Oliver, 3 months

Teaching your tot how to write

“To help Lauren learn to write, I draw out each letter of Lauren’s name in coloured pen on a big sheet of paper and get her to copy it down underneath in a different colour. She loves it as she gets to copy mummy, and it gets her used to holding a pen and learning how letters are formed.”

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Marie Jones, 40, from Kent, mum to Lauren, 4, and Lara, 6 months

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