Caring for a toddler can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be hard work. A busy toddler will need your constant attention, but there are some ways to make the job easier. Here are some tips on how to care for toddlers:
- Make sure you have the proper gear. If you're just caring for a toddler for a few hours, you probably won't need much more than a diaper bag and a bottle or sippy cup. But if you will be caring for the child for a longer period of time, there are some additional items that you will definitely need.
Properly fitting car seats are required by law for all young children. If you must drive with a toddler in your car, make sure that the car seat is strapped securely into your car. Also, make sure the five point straps are tight enough to secure the child in case of an accident. If you have an older toddler, you may be able to use a portable car booster seat (state laws vary), but make sure that the car seat belts can harness the child properly.
Young toddlers often still sleep in either a crib or a toddler bed. If the child is not used to sleeping in a regular size bed, don't try to introduce it at your house. Young children roll and flail a lot in their sleep, and the child could roll off of the bed. If the child must sleep in an adult size bed, use bed rails so that he or she can't roll out.
- Keeping a toddler occupied. One of the most fun things to do with toddlers is to play with them. Toddlers love to explore and learn new things. You can read books to the child, color with crayons, do simple puzzles or play with learning toys.
Try not to park the toddler in front of the television set. Although there are many wonderful television programs on nowadays for toddlers and preschool-aged children, young toddlers should not watch a lot of television. In fact, many doctors recommend that children under the age of two years old watch no television at all. Of course, a toddler's television viewing habits are really up to his or her parents.
- Safety precautions you must take. Toddlers are curious, so it is imperative that you childproof your house whenever little ones are around.
- Remove sharp objects and knickknacks from a toddler's easy reach.
- Make sure that all wall outlets are covered with plastic outlet protectors.
- Cover sharp corners with foam edge bumpers.
- Keep the child away from a hot stove or hot pots and pans.
- Use baby gates at the bottom and top of stairs so the child can't climb upstairs (or down).
- Install safety latches on drawers and cabinets so that the child can't open them.
- Constantly supervise the child if there is a pool or a body of water nearby.
- Food and eating. Most toddlers are picky eaters, but that isn't your biggest concern. Before you feed the child anything, make sure you know if he or she has any food allergies. Milk, egg and peanut allergies can be common--and also life threatening. Read all food labels thoroughly if you are caring for a toddler who has any type of food allergy.
Also, avoid giving toddlers foods that can pose a choking hazard like whole grapes, hotdogs and popcorn.
Don't let the child load up on sugary drinks and juices, which could spoil his or her appetite.
- Diaper duty--or potty training. If the child is still in diapers, make sure you check often to make sure that he or she isn't sitting in a wet or soiled diaper. Use diaper rash cream if the child appears to have a rash.
If the toddler is potty training, you will constantly have to ask the child if he or she has to go to the potty. Be patient if the child has an accident and keep a clean supply of underwear or training pants available. If you are dealing with a potty training toddler, it is best to stay close to home to avoid any accidents in public.