Each stage of life has its blessings and its challenges. Age 1 is no different. Do you have a newborn right now and want to know what lies ahead? Perhaps your son or daughter is currently 12-24 months old, and you just need a little sympathy. There’s no doubt: one year old development is tricky. Here are my top five reasons why age one is (sometimes) not much fun.
1. The Language Barrier
Now that your child is walking, there are many more things he would like to have. Pointing and nodding only gets you so far. I know my youngest daughter constantly points toward the refrigerator when she’s hungry. Then, the guessing game begins. If I don’t guess correctly within three tries, she often yells and cries. It’s frustrating when you can’t communicate, and until your toddler can say more words, she will probably be frustrated several times per day. (Oh, the crying and fit throwing…sigh.)
2. Safety Issues
Walking opens a whole new world to your toddler, and it’s a world they are eager to explore. Toddlers love opening every drawer, cabinet, and dumping every container just to see what’s inside. In fact, we lovingly call our youngest daughter “C the Destroyer”! As a parent, it is your job to make sure your toddler doesn’t get into anything that could cause them harm. This includes covering all electrical sockets, making sure they don’t yank out electrical cords, ensuring heavy objects don’t fall on top of them, and that chemicals and small objects are safely stored out of reach.
Toddlers also want to do everything their older siblings and cousins do too. What’s fine for an older sibling may not be safe for your toddler, and this can be a huge source of frustration for them. Toddlers attempting to follow in the footsteps of their older siblings may try to climb onto tall chairs, stand up on the bed, jump from the ottoman to the couch, or attempt to climb up and down steps alone. Just keeping a one-year-old safe and picking up the mess they leave in their wake is a full-time job.
Your child probably got some teeth in by their first birthday. Great. Now you just have 20 more to go! Eight of those teeth are big molars, and four of them are incisors (the pointy teeth). Ouch! In addition, several of these teeth may come in at once. Teething toddlers are cranky, impatient, and may not sleep well. Trust me, you’ll be relieved when you are past the teething stage! (See Mary’s post, Teething: Signs of the Apocalypse for more information on the joys of teething.)
4. Sleep Regression
Is your newborn a champion sleeper? Is he already sleeping at least six to eight hours per night, no problem? My youngest daughter was that way too. However, since that time, she has gone through several different cycles of sleep regression. Sleep regression is when your child changes their pattern of sleeping. All of a sudden, your ace sleeper is up several times per night. Changes in your child’s sleep can also occur due to an illness or teething as well. In my experience, Little C will sleep great for a month or two. Then, we will have a month or so where she is up all the time, and sleeping is a struggle. After that, we are back to sleeping well for a while. Just be prepared for your child to change up their sleeping patterns from time to time.
5. Separation Anxiety
Does your toddler panic and cry each time you leave the room—even for a second? This is called separation anxiety. It’s because their tiny brains haven’t learned object permanence yet. (Object permanence is knowing an object or person exists even though you can’t see it/them. That’s why the game of peek-a-boo is so exciting for babies and toddlers. In their minds, you truly disappear and reappear out from behind that towel or blanket!) Eventually, their panic over your leaving to use the bathroom will subside because they learn that you will come back.
There are many great aspects to having a one-year-old, don’t get me wrong. I love my daughter dearly, and she does many things that make me smile or laugh. However, a one-year-old can be very challenging and headache-inducing. They cry and scream out of frustration an every 5-10 minutes or so. As a parent of a one-year-old, your day is spent chasing after them, cleaning up their epic messes, and trying to figure out what they want on the basis of a point, nod, and grunt before a meltdown begins. Don’t worry. This too shall pass. Two is right around the corner, and you will exchange these challenges for a whole set of new ones!
Q: What do you find challenging about one-year-old children?