Kids grow up fast. You hear it from the moment your baby is born, until forever. You set rules for yourself to slow down, pay attention, and embrace every moment. However, life has a way of "happening." You miss a few things, gloss over moments, and soon you realize your baby really is growing up fast. As a toddler mom, I know there are lots of things I wish I’d done before my kid got this big. That’s why I’m here to remind you about the things you should do before your baby becomes a toddler.
The thing is, toddlers are awesome, but they're also loads more work than young babies. Sure, you lose sleep in that first year or two of motherhood, but you’re also better able to get around without having to chase anyone down. Babies are easier to feed (mainly because they mostly drink breast or bottle milk). They are easier to dress (because they don’t have any input on your stylistic choices). While they might cry, they certainly don’t throw toddler-sized tantrums, which can be painful, embarrassing, and exhausting.
Of course, every age of your little one's life has positives and negatives, and you'll figure out a way to deal with the "bad" while enjoying the "good." However, as cliché as it might be, part of "enjoying the good" really is slowing down and knocking a few things off the list, before your kid moves on to the next phase. All that said, what sort of things should you be doing with your cute, squishy babe before they develop high-paced running skills? Here are just a few suggestions:
Take Family Photos
I don’t necessarily mean the professional kind, although those are nice, too. I really mean just family photos in general. Babies will happily stay in your arms while you set up a timer or pose for the photographer. Toddlers, on the other hand, love to run around or blink or stick their fingers up their nose the minute they sense a camera is on.
Dress Them In Ridiculous Outfits
I will forever regret not dressing my baby up as a pumpkin (and a lobster, and a mini-version of Jon Snow, and every other adorable thing) for Halloween. Not all, but many toddler totally hate costumes. Mine is one of those and, now that he can protest my decisions, I basically have to dress him in what he wants. (Same goes for daily outfits.)
Travel Travel Travel
I was terrified of traveling with my baby, because I was scared he would pick up some awful virus on the road. I was also lazy, and didn't necessarily want to deal with the hassle of packing up all his (many) belongings.
However, babyhood is actually the perfect time to travel. They sleep through so much of it and ask for so little. Toddlers, on the other hand are, well, quite the handful (you should still travel with them, too, but maybe more so before they know how to press all the buttons on an elevator).
Go On Playdates
I rarely went on playdates when my son was younger. Again, I was terrified of germs. However, this bit of socialization when they’re teensy can be super beneficial as they get older. They learn how to share and take turns and be friends much sooner when they hang with other kiddos of similar age.
Go On Actual Dates (Without Them)
Babies are oblivious. They don’t know that mom left for an hour, or three, or a whole night. Toddlers, however, will cry at the thought of mommy leaving and often make you feel like utter crap for doing so. Treat yourself, treat your significant other, and have your significant other treat you. Your baby will be cool with it, I promise.
Hit The Movies
Depending on the movie, you can totally take your baby along for the ride. Nothing too loud or scary, of course, but some places even offer special screening for youngsters to attend.
Taking toddlers to the movies is possible, but you will no doubt get some shade thrown your way when your kid starts shouting for Dory to get back on the screen. Conversely, you can always just spend a lot of time introducing them to your favorite old movies as youngsters, so you can watch them over and over again in later years.
My brother bought me this little kit to make a cast of my baby’s footprint, but I never used it. Now, I totally regret it. His toddler feet are still quite adorable, but they no longer fit in the mold. Make cute little keepsakes of your baby’s foot and hand prints. Keep a lock of hair from their first haircut. These are special memories you’ll never get back. (Or you can go an alternative route like spelling things with umbilical cords, but, um, that's totally up to you.)
Introduce Them To Incredible Music
I didn’t play nearly enough music for my son in his earlier years and, as a result, he’s definitely got opinions on what he wants to hear and what he doesn’t. But had I introduced him to my favorite bands and artists sooner? He would’ve totally been jamming out along with me now.
Teach Them Some Manners
OK, so your baby isn’t going to remember to cover their mouth when they sneeze, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start teaching them to do so. Or to say “please” and “thank you." Really, it’s never too soon to get your kiddo on the politeness train.
Take A Baby And Me Class
I will forever regret not taking a Mommy and Me yoga class. There are so many cool classes you can take with your little one, and if you’ve got the time and the funds to do so, they can be a great way to bond with your kid. Plus, socialization for them and for you. It’s a win-win.
Co-Sleep With Your Kiddo
No matter what your feelings are on regularly co-sleeping, you can’t deny that there’s nothing that feels better than snuggling your little one to sleep. There are plenty of ways to safely co-sleep with your baby and you can definitely wait until they’re a little older and can roll themselves over. Co-sleeping with a toddler, however yummy as their initial snuggles can be, totally and completely sucks. They are all over the place, kicking, punching, slapping. Sigh.