Deciding when to get rid of each baby item is hard. In your mind you have your goals, you hear certain family members opinions rambling on, the experts, your doctor, the list may go on. The best advice I can give is to go baby led on pretty much all things. Trust your gut on when you think it is time and start weening slowly in a way that gives the child the lead. It’s like giving options, but both options are ones that you like. Makes your child feel like they are a part of the decision-making process. Which is important; it’s human nature no matter how small the human.
I quickly realized this is how it had to be right before my daughter turned one. I wanted her off the bottles completely and using her pacifier less by the big day. I tried not to be pushy, but I stayed persistent. No matter how much I put milk into a cup she would refuse it. But at school she was beginning to drink with a cup only. I packed bottles and they stayed there clean for weeks. I was getting frustrated; and then one day she just took the cup from me, no fuss and we never looked back at the bottles again. It was like a flip of switch just when she was 100% ready, not when I was ready. It was only like two weeks after her birthday that this happened.
As for the pacifier I backed off a bit. We now only offer it at sleep times. She knows this. It works for all of us until she fires off a tantrum and goes to all the places she knows we hide them to tries to snag one. These are the times when we hold strong and don’t give in. This reinforces the parameters that we have set for the pacifier. We will move onto getting rid of it completely when we all feel that the time is right. I know this one is often the trickiest of all, but we will move forward and find other ways of comfort. Again, like with the bottles, she does not even have a pacifier at school, and she is okay with this. So, the day will come when she lets it go completely.
We have a highchair but rarely use it. Our daughter prefers to sit with us. She stands in the chair next to one of us and it works perfect for us. This one isn’t so hard. It’s mostly just a moving up step that goes with independence, which we really want to encourage appropriately at each age. Deciding when to ditch the crib is a big one for parents. This one can scare some because of safety factors. This one all depends on your child. Some children will roll off the bed and mess around purposefully. Some kids go right to sleep. You’ve got the crib climbers that just want a bed and the escapees that need to be contained in a crib. Then the decision of toddler bed or just plunging for the regular sized bed. These are all personal decisions and you deciding what works best for your child’s temperament.
Toilet Training! The most feared of all…
This is the most important one to make sure is child led. Give the tools and back off. As our little one has reached 18 months, I have made sure she has all the tools, but I have put zero pressure on any of it. We got her a potty seat, stool, and baby shark panties. We have showed them to her and put them in her reach. They are mixed into her playthings right now to just get comfortable with the items. Watch for signs of interest in seeing others use the toilet, use vocabulary, discuss what is going on “I am peeing in the toilet”. Be specific with words and body parts. The two main signs for potty training time are your child taking an interest and being able to communicate their needs to you. The less pressure you put on the matter they are likely to pick it up easier and faster than those that are pushed into it when they are not ready.
The best of luck to you and your littles as you journey from infants to toddlers and so on. It goes fast! Remember to savor it all, even the moments that you feel will never end…because they do. And one day it’s the last time it happens. Letting your children help make decisions about them is an important life skill, so start early and make your life easier.
Lead Pre-Kindergarten Teacher
Curriculum & Literacy Coordinator