Tag Archives forLifeTales

When do babies become toddlers?

It’s a common question: when should you start thinking of your baby as a toddler? 

When you’re deep into the day-to-day experience of raising a young child, time is lightning fast. You see your baby everyday. Being so in the moment makes it harder to take a step back.

When you do, it’s easier to realize just how many milestones have passed since that transformational first week at home. As American author Gretchen Rubin once wrote about parenthood, “The days are long, but the years are short.”

So when should you start the mental head shift?

Your Child’s First Birthday: The Day Toddler Life Officially BeginsY

As the name implies, the toddler development stage is defined by “toddling” or unsteady walking. While all children take their first steps at their own speed, it’s common for children entering the toddler stage to make more effort to move under their own power. 

You can expect them to become steadier on their feet and more interested in exploring their own ideas as they move through this stage. 

The U.S. Center for Disease Control defines two phases of the toddler period, each of roughly 12 months. 

  • The first stage begins when your child turns one. What should you expect? According to the CDC: “Their desire to explore new objects and people also is increasing. During this stage, toddlers will show greater independence; begin to show defiant behavior; recognize themselves in pictures or a mirror; and imitate the behavior of others, especially adults and older children.” 
  • The second spans ages two to three. Again, from the CDC: “Toddlers will experience huge thinking, learning, social, and emotional changes that will help them to explore their new world, and make sense of it. During this stage, toddlers should be able to follow two- or three-step directions, sort objects by shape and color, imitate the actions of adults and playmates, and express a wide range of emotions.” 

See the CDC’s toddler pages for more information about safety tips and positive ways to help your child develop a healthy mind and body. 

A child walks on a wooden boardwalk. During the toddler years, children show greater interest in exploring their world. Photo courtesy of Japheth Mast via Unsplash.
During the toddler years, children show greater interest in exploring their world.
Photo courtesy of Japheth Mast via Unsplash.

Popular culture is full of nightmare stories about the “terrible twos,” reflecting the growing adventurousness and, yes, willfulness your child will demonstrate through this period.  

Strong, consistent boundaries will help you and your child to navigate this exciting growth stage together. You will also likely find you now enjoy more variety in your daily activities than you did during the infant stage, and more opportunity to experience the world together. 

Looking back down the first year mountain: Here’s what you’ve accomplished

By the time your baby becomes a toddler, you will have helped them to explore their: 

  • Bodies—This journey began with learning to focus their eyes to look at your face, and progressed to the beginning of motor control over their fingers and toes. It’s the beginning of a lifelong journey in using their body to explore the world. As Australian director Baz Luhrmann once observed about the human body, “It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.” 
  • Language—Babbling sounds and forming simple words in context (“mama” or “dada”) are common at this stage. Reading, talking and responding to your child will continue their development and growth in this key area. 
  • Food—With solid foods introduced sometime between four and six months, your child is developing the beginnings of their interest in food. What have been the hits? The misses? The sudden rejections? Jot them down in a LifeTales story to remember the ups and downs of vegetables.  
  • Family—Your child has begun lifelong relationships with you, your partner, and other key family members, such as siblings, grandparents, and other special caregivers. The feelings of safety, security and trust will help to define their sense of being and personhood.  

Capturing the moments that matter most to you

Living in the smartphone age means that it’s never been easier to capture the parts of childhood that speak to you. Starting a Child Journal is a great way to capture the stories inside your photos and video, and tell your child what they were like at each stage of their life. 

A toddler cruises on a couch, ready to take those important first steps. Photo courtesy of Meghan Thompson via Unsplash
A toddler cruises on a couch, ready to take those important first steps. The LifeTales mobile app helps you capture and remember the moments the matter most to you.

What are the sweetest or most challenging moments of your child’s toddler stage? Get in touch at hello@lifetales.com. We’d love to feature your toddler memories or hear from you about other topics we should explore. 

Picking the Perfect Lullaby

No matter which lullaby you pick, the important thing is singing to your children

Ask any large group of adults what they most fear and their list will likely include:

  • Public speaking 
  • Heights, skydiving or bungee jumping
  • Singing in front of others 

While it’s entirely possible to live your life avoiding items one and two, having kids may push you to sing in public in ways you never thought you would.

The connections between music and other life skills are rich and varied. Scientists have long theorized that’s there’s a connection between music and math, for example, although Scientific American notes the exact nature of this relationship remains fuzzy.

Other associated benefits may include higher emotional intelligence, better social skills and a greater appreciation for tone and rhythm. 

Beyond the possible skill benefits and a general appreciation for music, hearing a lullaby can form iconic childhood memories. 

Whether your parents chose to sing pop songs by Joni Mitchell, The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel, traditional nursery rhymes like “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or camp songs like “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Old MacDonald,” you may yet have strong feelings to that music and hearing your parent sing it.

Singing is an activity that parents and children can enjoy at any age, and it can also be a key part of your bedtime routine. A lullaby can help set the mood for the end of the day and help your baby’s brain to understand that it’s time to relax and wind things down.

Where to begin? We’ve compiled some quick suggestions as you get started. 

Don’t be shy about singing a lullaby.

Particularly in North America, it’s very easy to internalize cultural rules about who is allowed to sing (people with “good” voices, whatever that means) and who is not (everyone else). However you feel about singing in other parts of your life, try not to let that judgement into this process. Singing develops your child’s bond with you. What matters is that you do it, not how you sound. As Ian Mendes has written for Today’s Parent, “If the sound of mom’s gurgling digestive juices helped baby doze off, then the bar is set pretty low for you as a singer.”

Work with your voice’s natural range.

If you can barely hum “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” then songs like “Memory” from Cats or Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” may not be the best choice for you. Longevity should be your guiding principle. When your child develops a fondness for your lullaby, it’s possible you will still be singing the same song 10 years from now. Have mercy on your vocal cords and pick a tune that you can sing easily and without strain at various volumes. (Seriously, have you considered “Ba-Ba-Black Sheep?” It works pretty well.) 

It’s okay if you don’t know the whole lullaby.

Can’t remember the weird second verse to “You Are My Sunshine”, which ends with the heartwarming line, “You have shattered all of my dreams”? No sweat. Your baby won’t care if you know a single verse or just the chorus. In some ways, it’s easier to choose a short song that you can easily loop when it’s 3 am and you’re gamely singing while pacing their bedroom in a vain attempt to get both of you some sleep. 

Ear plugs can be your best friend.

Keep a pair of earplugs handy if you’re got a fussy baby who’s fond of screaming along to your midnight (or afternoon, or morning) performances. You’ll still be able to hear yourself singing and it may help take the edge off.

Have a few back-ups for days when you “absolutely cannot sing that wretched song” one more time.

You’re going to get tired of singing the same song (trust us on that one). For mental variety, pick a secondary lullaby or two that are also easy to sing and toss them in now and then for you and baby. One of our team members used the classic song, “ABC,” as her back-up lullaby because it’s easy to sing at different pitches and speeds.

Pick an existing lullaby you like and make-up new words.

Want more of a challenge? Pick an easy song you like (“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” maybe) and swap the words out. You can describe what you see in your baby’s nursery, talk about what you did during the day, or tell your baby about people in your family. Young babies won’t care, but it can be a fun game for you to play as they get older.

The Internet is your friend: Source the lullaby that’s perfect for you

Still not sure what to do? Pity the parents who successfully raised children in the dark era before YouTube and run a search. You’ll quickly find over six million examples of lullabies you can learn from a range of cultural backgrounds. 

Failing that, if you find your kid passes out to your improvised version of Feist’s “1234” or Beyonce’s “Halo,” embrace what works and do your thing. Sing to that child and fear no judgement! 

Thanks to technology, it’s never been easier to record an audio file or video of you singing to your child. Adding your lullaby traditions to a LifeTales story collection gives you both have a soothing memory to reflect upon as your children grow and your voice inevitably changes.

What were the go-to lullabies in your house growing up? What are they now? Have a suggestion for a different blog topic? Get in touch at hello@teamlifetales.com. We’d love to hear from you!

The photo, “White and Wooden Wall Decor,” appears courtesy of Charles DeLuvio.

Managing the Overshare: A Duchess’s Playbook for Digital Privacy

As social media platforms evolve, it’s getting easier to share your life with the people you care most about. 

But for every genuine, two-way connection, there are the (sometimes) well-meaning folks who don’t respect boundaries. Some even take their social updates a little too far.

We’ve all got a few of them in our friend networks. They’re the people who:

  • Always post the most unflattering photos from last call (but they look great). 
  • Ignore your successes, but get angry or pout if you don’t like and comment on their wins.
  • Insist they can’t sit next to their exes at events and threaten to hijack the proceedings if you don’t cave to their demands. 
  • Publicly post about being ready for grandchildren or drop proposal hints into photo comments.  

Managing other people’s drama is challenging enough when you’re single or recently married. Add a pregnancy or a new baby to the mix, and the stress around oversharing can snowball. 

Even being rich and famous doesn’t necessarily protect people from their oversharing friends and relations. 

What can we learn from Megan Markle?

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, visit with crowds outside Belfast’s Crown Liquor Saloon.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, visits with crowds outside Belfast’s Crown Liquor Saloon. Photo courtesy of the Northern Ireland Office via Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/niogovuk/40972135291/in/photostream/.

This week, Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, returned to New York City for her baby shower. It’s the first time the former star of Suits has been back to the U.S. since marrying Prince Harry of Wales last spring. Their wedding ceremony was watched by 18 million people worldwide.

But their storybook day was nearly upstaged by the willingness of some relatives within Markle’s father’s family to overshare about her life.

Thankfully, few of us will face the same kind of media and social pressure as the new duchess. But we can take some helpful ideas from how Markle’s managed her oversharing relatives.

1. Figure out who’s got your back

The Duchess turned to many long-time friends to organize her shower. They include tennis champion Serena Williams, international and human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, and stylist insider Jessica Mulroney. And Mulroney, who met Markle when she was filming Suits in Toronto, also acted as her defacto maid of honour when she got married.

Like the Duchess of Sussex, we all need to determine which friends are capable of reciprocal trust. If there’s someone in your circle spreading rumours or not standing by you, it might be time to introduce better filters on what you share.

2. Keep the circle small when it matters most

Harper’s Bazaar reports that a small group of only 15 people attended the Duchess’ baby shower in the New York. This choice minimizes the risk of leaks to the press. Your life may not generate photos worth thousands of dollars to tabloid editors, but everyone goes through times where privacy and discretion make life more manageable.

3. Control the space

You don’t have to rent the pricy penthouse floor at The Mark, as Serena Williams reportedly did (though kudos if you do, it’s beautiful). There are other ways to manage who sees what if you don’t want to show personal photos to everyone.

Facebook allows you to create friend groups that tier access to your content, Instagram offers private accounts and LifeTales always lets you decide whether your connections see a single story or a whole collection.

4. Put boundary breakers at a distance

It’s not easy to be estranged from a parent. If your older relatives show a continued lack of respect for your space, as Markle’s father has done, you may need to put some personal distance between yourself and your boundary breaker. So, consider limiting the amount of photos, news and personal details you share with them until trust can be re-established.

Like the late Princess Diana before her, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is certain to live part of her life as a mother and wife in the spotlight.

But as Elaine Lui has observed in her ongoing coverage of the union, the Duchess is the first member of the royal family to bring prior experience with celebrity to her new role in public life. We’re most curious to watch how she’ll use digital tools to manage her new family’s privacy as she becomes a parent.

Got a suggestion for a blog topic? Get in touch at hello@teamlifetales.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Photo courtesy of the Northern Ireland Office via Flickr.