Tell your toddler about the new baby in your belly sometime during the second trimester. At this point, you start to show, and your chance of miscarriage has passed, says Corinna Jenkins Tucker, PhD, assistant professor in the department of family studies at the University of New Hampshire. "Young children are very concrete, so whatever their age, be sure to tell them what their role will be and what they can do to help once the baby arrives," she says. Tucker, expecting her second child, took her 3-year-old son with her to her ultrasound to help make her pregnancy more understandable for him.
Take a baby to the dentist within six months of his getting his first tooth, or no later than his first birthday, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children see a dentist at age 3, earlier if there are problems such as staining or abnormal tooth development. Which is right for you? Consult your pediatrician, or err on the side of caution and go when your child is younger to ensure the best preventive care.
Slides, Swings, and Sippy Cups
Give baby his first trip down the slide unattended at 15 to 18 months, says Jody L. Jensen, PhD, associate professor of kinesiology and health education at the University of Texas at Austin. Once a baby starts to walk well, he has the ability to control his trunk and make adjustments in his body posture, which allows him to slide and land at the bottom safely on his own.
Put baby on a "big kid" swing three to six months after he learns to walk. According to Jensen, once children have mastered the task of walking, they are better at "reactive balance," which means they can adjust tension in their arms to maintain balance and control. Just make sure the swing is fairly low to the ground, and keep your pushes gentle to avoid frightening accidents.
Buy your baby a ride-on toy once she can sit steadily. Some kids may be advanced enough to coordinate their feet to propel it forward or backward; others may simply enjoy the ride if you push them.
Buy your baby a tricycle at 18 months. While he may not be able to properly coordinate the motion of pedaling until he's older, he may still enjoy sitting on the trike and holding onto the handlebars.
Stop using sippy cups when your child is 18 months old. By that age, a child should be able to drink from a half-full cup without spilling too much. While you may still want to use the ubiquitous sippy in the car or in the playroom, try to give your child a chance to drink lidless, at least at the table. Just keep a sponge handy.
Santa, Nose Blowing, and Separation
Visit Santa when your child is 3 or 4. While some younger children can handle a turn on the bearded fat guy's lap without a meltdown, many find the experience overwhelming and scary. Follow your child's lead -- if he seems worried or upset, put it off for another year.
Go on a trip without your child before baby is 5 months old. "At this age, babies don't miss you when you are away," says Scarlett. "In many ways, babies are more resilient to separation than toddlers, whose greater ability to picture you means they have a greater ability to miss you." The earlier you start leaving baby -- and get him accustomed to a caregiver and to the idea that you will return -- the easier future separations will be for both of you. Plus, you and your partner deserve some time away!
Teach kids to blow their nose at age 3. "Many kids around that age are interested in acting like big people, imitating big people, and pleasing big people. So if you demonstrate by example and do it in unison, they may get the hang of it," says Dr. Widome.
Let an older sibling hold baby when you feel it's safe and appropriate. Obviously, a child needs to have a certain amount of strength, coordination, and guidance to hold an infant. But as long as she is monitored -- perhaps sitting on a couch next to a parent or another adult -- there's no hard-and-fast rule as to when to allow it.
Back    Next