Provide alternatives for dangerous behavior

Provide alternatives for dangerous behavior. If your child wants to jump on the bed, try placing a mattress on the floor instead. If there’s no room for running inside, organize races in the backyard. When you can’t keep a little climber off the kitchen table, it may be time for a visit to a jungle gym or a toddler gymnastics class.

Enroll in an exercise class. At this age, your child doesn’t need a formal activity. But it can be a fun alternative for thirty or sixty minutes a week. Physically exerting options include tumbling, music, and creative-movement dance classes. Look for classes targeted to the high energy, coordination, and attention span of toddlers. Make sure the schedule suits your toddler’s, at a time when she is rested and fed. A good program emphasizes parental participation—1-and 2-year-olds are too young to be dropped off and left. Be prepared for the possibility that a young toddler may not do well in such a class.

Provide quiet time, too. It’s easy to get the misconception that all your busy child wants is constant activity. Periods of calm, however, help balance a physical day. Incorporate into your day such soothing activities as listening to stories, scribbling, working puzzles, sandbox play, and using play dough.

WHAT IF…I have trouble keeping up with my child in public? Are “kids leashes” a good idea?

Toddler tethers—usually a rein held by the parent attached to the child’s harness vest or wrist—are a modern invention, born of urban streets, shopping malls, and fears of abduction. Many parents abhor them because of their canine connotations.

Others find them a legitimate means of keeping a child safe in a crowd. But to prevent strangulation, you must always use them properly. Never leave your child unattended or secure him to a fixed object. If used only sporadically during early toddlerhood, it’s unlikely a child will have any recollections of being tethered. But to keep your toddler safest, nothing beats holding hands or using a stroller in a crowd.

Be vigilant about safety. With advanced motor skills come increased odds of running into danger. Toddlers who can climb and reach can pull pots or glasses down from tables. Speedy runners can crash into glass doors or cut themselves on sharp-cornered tables. Agile-fingered experimenters figure out how to twist open medicine containers. Be sure your childproofing efforts progress along with your child.

WHAT IF… My child is very pudgy? How fat is too fat?

Usually toddlerhood is too early to be worried about fat. As toddlers grow and become more active, they’ll gradually shed their chubby baby bodies. This natural, short-lived stage doesn’t destine your child to be a fat adult. The doctor monitors height and weight to see if they are in reasonable proportion to each other. It’s possible for a toddler to be overweight, sometimes because of constant access to a bottle of milk. But the circumstances under which a toddler’s diet should be restricted in order to reduce weight are rare and should be done only under a doctor’s instruction and supervision.

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