When is a baby a toddler?
Parents excitedly await each milestone their child crosses. From newborn to infant to toddler, it seems like they can’t grow fast enough. While it’s easy to determine when a newborn becomes an infant, how do parents know when their child is on the verge of turning into a toddler?
For almost every parent, their babies will always be a “baby” in their eyes. However, the terms newborn, infant, and toddler all refer to various stages of development in a child’s life. Parents should know that while every child grows at their own pace, each of the following definitions refers to a different stage in their child’s life:
- Newborn: Refers to babies from birth until they are about 2 months old.
- Infant: The term infant typically refers to a newborn until it is a one-year-old.
- Baby: Baby refers to a child that is a newborn until they are four-years-old. This term can be used to refer to a newborn, infant, and toddler.
When a Baby Becomes a Toddler
If a baby is no longer a newborn or an infant, when is a baby a toddler? The term toddler generally refers to children that have just learned to walk. This term generally applies to children around one- and two-years-old.
This precious time between leaving infancy and exploring the rest of their childhood is when a baby becomes a toddler. Everything that your child goes through during this stage is incredibly meaningful. As your child learns new skills and continues to grow, remember what they learn now will inform the type of children and adults they will one day become.
As this toddler stage is shaped by change, mood swings, and growth, it can be challenging for parents to determine what milestones should be reached during a specific timeline. Since toddlers are growing so quickly but are often just gaining their bearings in walking, talking, and eating, they easily become frustrated with their lack of skill. This leads to tantrums, which is why so many parents describe the time a baby becomes a toddler as “the terrible twos”.
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Helping Your Baby Become a Toddler
Toddlers have incredibly high levels of energy and love to explore. Parents should accommodate their sense of adventure by creating a safe environment for toddlers to be independent. As one-year-olds get ready to make the shift into toddler-hood, you’ll notice they are improving at feeding themselves and try to do more on their own.
As they progress rapidly, between one and two, your new toddler will be able to stack blocks, drink from cups with help, and scribble. Now is the time that parents should expect temper tantrums and possessiveness. This is where lessons in sharing and apologizing come into play.
Your Growing Two Year Old
Around two years old, parents will see more of their toddlers’ physical development. At this age, your baby will climb, run, walk, jump, and dig. Around this age, they’ll start to unscrew and screw lids. It is at this age that they are the most active, so keep this in mind as you schedule playdates and arrange for trips to the park.
Help your two-year-old develop socially and emotionally by allowing them to assist you with simple tasks and letting them make their own decisions. Give your two-year-old the opportunity to play with other children and prepare them for the social interaction they’ll experience in school.
To boost your two-year-old’s intellectual development, encourage them to follow basic directions. Use simple games to help them learn to listen more attentively and focus during a conversation. Help them make choices and start zeroing in on their communication skills.
Understanding Toddler Behavior
Even as you monitor your baby’s age and milestones, you can identify key habits of toddlers based on their behavior. When your baby becomes a toddler, you’ll see that they are distinctly more verbal and opinionated than they have been as newborns or infants. One of the most tell-tale traits for a toddler is their bossiness.
As a baby becomes a toddler, they are coming into their own. They like to do what they want, wear what they want, and say “No” more than you ever thought possible. Even though toddlers are a force to be reckoned with at this age, they are just understanding how to communicate and may behave in confusing ways.
Wondering how to tell when a baby becomes a toddler? Look out for these behaviors:
Your baby doesn’t look into your eyes.
When babies look away and fail to make eye contact, this can mean they’re tired or embarrassed. When a baby becomes a toddler, they start developing the ability to feel self-conscious emotions. For example, if Mom or Dad is angry at them, a toddler may feel embarrassed or ashamed.
In the situation that your toddler is embarrassed or upset after doing something they know is wrong, acknowledge this. Then, give them an opportunity to make it right and let them know it’s okay to make mistakes.
Your baby wants all of their toys at bedtime.
As a baby becomes a toddler, they will experience the milestone of moving into a big boy or girl bed. While this is an exciting step forward for kids, it can be a scary time as well. The transition to this next phase in their life can make them nervous to sleep alone. If your baby won’t sleep, hang in there.
When a baby becomes a toddler, they may not like sleeping alone at first. Having familiar objects like toys and stuffed animals in bed with your toddler will likely make them feel more secure as they fall asleep.
As your baby prepares for bed, try to comfort them. Let them know that they are safe and let them make the decision of what toys they take to bed. Limit them to three animals, one toy, and two board books for the night.
Your toddler hides when they poop in their diaper.
Babies often don’t think twice about pooping in their diaper, but by the time a baby becomes a toddler, they may start acting differently. When is a baby a toddler? When they take up the habit of hiding behind furniture as they poop in their diaper. While this seems strange to Mom or Dad, to a toddler, this is their way of getting privacy.
As a baby becomes a toddler, they likely already know when a bowel movement is coming on and they’ve observed how adults go to the bathroom for privacy. This sign of hiding at the first sign of a BM is a positive clue that your toddler is ready to be potty trained. Another clue is that your growing toddler asks immediately to heave their dirty diaper changed.
When you notice your little toddler hiding to go number two, encourage them to actually go into the bathroom. Even if you haven’t potty trained them yet, having them in this room will help prepare them to be potty trained.
There isn’t a clear point when a baby becomes a toddler, but children grow at a rapid pace. While each child develops on their own timeline, understanding the basic behavior of toddlers will help you better identify these cues. Keep this information in mind as you watch your little one grow into a wild and adventurous toddler.