5 Ways to Calm a Toddler
Disclaimer: The following is parenting advice from Dads just getting by. Always consult with a medical professional. financial expert, licensed contractor or repair person before taking anyone else’s advice, especially ours.
Why is your toddler fussy and upset? I don’t think another question summarizes what it means to be a parent better than this age old question. The goal is to stop the tantrum, but how exactly do you go about bringing your bouncing baby back to Bruce Banner levels? Here are some quick tips to lower the decibel level in your household.
1. Check diapers on a schedule
Have you ever sat in your own filth? I know I have. Sure there’s a libertarian thrill to it all, ‘no one’s gonna tell ME I don’t have the freedom to sit tin my own shit, I have rights!’ The hard reality is that eventually it gets uncomfortable. Sure it’s a no-brainer to keep your baby fresh but I have two big sub-pointers here.
First, get in the habit of checking for fresh soil regularly, but don’t stop there, note the time of day and with enough data points you can begin to learn your child’s schedule. If your baby struggles to sleep through the night, talk to your pediatrician about scheduling a mid-night change while they are still half-asleep.
Second, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly each time you change the baby’s oil. This barrier really helps avoid painful diaper rash. If your doctor recommends not disturbing your child during the night this is a great alternative.
2. Feed Fun Snacks
Kids are just like us, sometimes we just need to eat to escape the crushing weight of reality. You’d be surprised how quickly you can calm the storm with a sweet or savory treat. The key is to have light snacks at the ready that won’t fill up tiny tummies enough to disrupt the regular feeding schedule.
A big plus are snacks that are fun to eat, something kids need to handle with their palms and focus on. Bonus points for ‘safe foods’ that are impossible to choke on. Try fresh avocado, whole bananas, sugar-free gelatin, spaghetti noodle or macaroni with little or no sauce.
My personal favorite is blending fresh fruit (and low-key veggies) and freezing the puree using ice trays and placing cubes in a fresh food teether. Things get messy sure but if your toddler is teething they might like the cold on their gums.
Toddlers are addicted to wanting and needing. Seconds after waking up to start the day our baby girl’s eyes begin to shoot around the room looking for something to reach out and grab. They want something, anything, everything and right now! To put it simply tho, toddlers need to be entertained, but what specifically can you do to calm crying that stems from boredom? Lot’s of things!
Take a cue from children’s television programing and youtube content, much of what’s out there is music centric. I quickly realized that sing-alongs are baby kryptonite, they simply can’t continue whining when they’re caught up by their favorite catchy tune. To put it another way ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ is like Hamilton for kids.
If you’re like me you’ll have to re-learn the lyrics to all the OG nursery rhymes. Even if you’re not the most outgoing try giving it your all and really performing for your baby. Do the hand gestures and dance moves that accompany the songs and really go for it. My wife and I even started making up our own choreography for songs that didn’t have any. Have fun with it, making our baby laugh as we dance are some of my favorite memories so far.
Your toddler is sobbing. It’s clear what they want and for one reason or another you can’t or don’t want to give it to them. What to do? You must learn what I call ‘the art of the swap.’ Find something that is a ‘lesser of two evils’ and give your baby that thing instead, many times the replacement thing is still not ideal but if you’re in a pinch swapping in an satisfying alternative can provide just enough distraction to stop the water works.
When our daughter wants our unhealthy fried food we whip out some fun finger foods we know she likes (and also remove the temptation and try not to eat in front of her.) Basic right? Let’s kick things up a bit. Our daughter loves our phones and TV remote control (at one year old she can start YouTube and make face-time calls) We’ve purchased toy versions of lots of grown-up items from car keys to lip-stick. Kids are smart so if you’re comfortable use just a pinch of reverse psychology and try to act like you DON’T want your child to play with the toy version of the forbidden object just as you would as if it were the real thing.
Finally, consider redirecting your child’s attention with the tried and true ‘busy-bag’. Kid’s love rifling through things, try filling a canvas bag with a ball of string, loose playing cards or flashcards, a sheet of stickers, play dough, loose puzzle pieces and any number of other small toys. Keep in mind half the fun is shaking out the contents of the bag so things will get a bit messy. Again, just make certain nothing is a choking hazard.
That’s right, I said it…just give-in. Your kid wants your wallet? Here take it, spill out my credit cards and rip up my old The Force Awakens ticket stub, I’m never going to the theatre again anyway. Your baby won’t stop crying until they get your phone? Here take it, if it ends up in the toilet I’ll get to see if it’s really water resistant or if Apple is full of shit. Your toddler won’t rest until you let them touch your new LED gaming keyboard? Slam on those custom mechanical keys until they pop-off.
Remember that every battle isn’t worth fighting. You’ll spend lots of your time as a parent saying ‘no’ to what your child asks for, so consider where the term ‘give the crying baby it’s bottle’ comes from. If it’s not a safety issue sometimes you have to appease tiny toddlers and give them what they want. You didn’t like that old pair of designer glasses anyway *snap*.