Welcoming Your Toddler Into Your World ~ Chris

It seems that most parents aren’t willing to welcome wholeheartedly their babies into their lives.  They indicate this by locking off rooms, cupboards, moving fragile objects out of reach and so forth.

While I agree that, for safety’s sake, we should put up baby gates, fix plugs to electrical outlets and remove sharp and other dangerous items from baby’s reach, this is a given, we shouldn’t have to upset our lifestyle just because we have a toddler bopping around.  We do need to set limits though and teach baby about how to carry on responsibly in their environment.  Part of this involves giving up some of our space so that baby can do some of the activities they prefer.

For example, when my son began to show an interest in trucks, books and other toys, we cleared out our coffee table to make room for him where we could enjoy him most.  While we previously enjoyed watching television in the family room, we instead moved it to the bedroom and only watched it when he was napping or in bed for the night.  The living room also lost a shelf to make room for a large box turned into a fort.  Our books were removed to make room for his.  After some trial and error I discovered that Holden appreciated the use of one of my desk drawers so I removed everything from the top drawer and put it into the bottom drawer.  After some practice, I was able to teach him the difference between the drawers such that I wouldn’t have to worry about him getting into my important papers.

Next we tackled the cupboards.  Thankfully he didn’t have a big interest in tearing the pantry apart and we gave him a lot of leeway with the other cabinets.  They just held dishes after all, and I vividly remember playing with the pots and pan when I was young.  What’s the harm?  After a while, he began to tire of these anyway, only to revisit on occasion.  This is probably one of the key elements that your baby is going to tire of things anyway if you can be patient enough to allow them to freely explore.

Many baby experts will tell you that it’s possible to teach babies what they can touch and what they can’t.  I believe this to be true.  With a stern look and proper reinforcement, you can keep your delicates in plain sight without worry.  Teaching boundaries isn’t going to happen instantly, it’s going to take a while before your baby figures out how things work.  Regardless it’s important to be consistent and firm with whatever you choose.  If you are flexible, your baby will take this to mean that things are negotiable – this is fine if they are, but if they’re not, don’t go in that direction.  Over time I have noticed that I’m less stringent on my decisions and allow for certain negotiation.  This is the case in snacking where I might bend a little bit if my son is on a spurt where he’s eating well at mealtimes.  Naturally, every baby is different so it’s going to take some practice on your part to mesh your personality and your baby’s into something that works for your household.

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