The transition into life with a new baby stretches everything - your patience, your partnership, your identity, and so much more.
The transition into toddlerhood is something else, though. The baby who previously needed to be transported everywhere can suddenly get places under her own power. The baby who only needed milk and snuggles suddenly voices a whole host of other needs and desires, adamantly and at increasing volume levels.
Just like having a baby stretches us as parents and asks us to grow in new and surprising ways, the transition into parenting a toddler asks perhaps even more.
As Dr. Shefali Tsabary writes in The Conscious Parent: "The transition to parenthood is complex, requiring us to surrender to an irrevocable loss of our identity as we have thus far known it. To create the internal space required to embrace the tending of a new spirit, the pillars of our old lifestyle have to crumble. Who we were before becoming a parent doesn't and cannot exist with the same ferocity. Once children enter our life, their impact is indelible and we are required to reinvent ourselves in response" (96).
If you are anticipating the next stage of baby's development into a toddler or find yourself already in the sticky middle-of-toddler-years days, check out these fabulous resources for setting loving limits and holding them with love and respect.
Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham
To get a sense of Markham's approach, check out the AhaParenting website, which has an awesomely helpful index by age and stage. This is one of my first stops when a new kiddo stages throws me for a loop.
It's Okay Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Compassionate Kids by Heather Shumaker
One of the most anxious points of toddler parenting for me was learning how to navigate my kids social interactions - when to stand back, when to hop in, and how to be helpful. Shumaker gives so many helpful examples for how to handle situations in a positive and productive manner.
Playful Parenting: An Exciting New Approach to Raising Children That Will Help You Nurture Close Connections, Solve Behavior Problems, and Encourage Confidence by Lawrence J. Cohen
In rough stages, sometimes you just need a fresh tool or outlook to come at problems from a positive and collaborative place. If you find yourself in that place, this is a great read.
Siblings without Rivalry: How to Help your Children Live Together so You Can Live Too by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Toddler parenting takes on a whole new dynamic when you've got sibling squabbles in the mix. Faber and Mazlish made this a super quick read that's easy to distill and implement. And, it helps me remember that sibling conflicts are normal and the perfect opportunity to build skills of conflict negotiation and compassion.
The Gentle Sleep Book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith
While we'd like to pretend that only tiny babies wake at night, the reality is that waking for reassurance during the night is developmentally normal for toddlers, too. Ockwell-Smith offers gentle suggestions that can help the whole family get more rest while still meeting your toddler's needs in a developmentally appropriate manner. (If you find you need more support making gentle sleep transitions, head on over to Nested Mama's Sleep services.)
Mothering your Nursing Toddler by Norma J. Bumgarner
Wondering what's normal as you nurse your baby into toddlerhood? This book from La Leche League International provides awesome perspective. (And if you find yourself nursing into a pregnancy, Adventures in Tandem Nursing by Hilary Flower is the essential read on the topic.)
Johanna received a Ph.D. in English in 2014. Now a postpartum doula and educator of childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant sleep, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.