Hooray! Your little bundle of joy has arrived. Expect the next few years to be memorable ones when your munchkin advances from a helpless, gurgling babe to a cheeky tot who will negotiate expertly with you for another scoop of ice cream.
This journey from baby to toddler will be filled with many “aww” moments including his firsts ― smile, roll over, tooth, solid food, step, even his first day at kindergarten.
Make sure you always have your mobile phone or camera nearby as you’ll want to capture every sublime moment.
While you’re doing that, don’t forget to celebrate those other “oh my god” moments. You know, the ones that don’t make it into the baby book, but will still have you doing a victory dance and body slamming the hubs.
We never know when and where junior might hit these milestones, but when he does, it’s a clear indication that your munchkin is growing up.
Have tissues handy…we present the top 12 most overlooked baby and toddler milestones that deserve a shout-out!
1. Sleeping through the night
You only realise how precious sleep is ― for baby and you ― when you become a parent. At birth, your newborn’s circadian rhythm is all over the place, as are his naps and night-time sleep. Days will turn into weeks and then months of erratic sleep, leaving you to wonder if junior will ever allow you to have a proper night’s sleep. And then, he does! “It’s been almost three years, but I still remember the night Lucas didn’t wake up for a feed or cuddle,” Jacintha Chong recalls. “I woke up in a panic at 6.30am and went to check on him to make sure he was still alive. Filled with excitement, I woke my hubby up and we giggled with so much glee!”
2. The first long nap
Speaking of baby and sleep, bet you can remember the first time junior went down for an afternoon snooze that turned out to be a lot longer than his usual 15-minute power nap. Instead, he slept for two hours straight and left you wondering if the clock had stopped. When Tiffany De Souza’s 12 month-old-daughter took her first long nap, the excited mum made every minute count. “I browsed Pinterest and drank a whole cup of coffee without reheating it once, hurrah!”
3. Holding their bottle/sippy cup
Oh, how the arms ache when you have got to hold your kewpie’s bottle or sippy cup for them as they guzzle down their milk. You keep placing their pudgy hands on the bottle, in the hope that they will grasp it, but the only progress you see is in your sinewy biceps and triceps. Then, bam, junior grabs the bottle one day mid-sip and your arms are finally free!
“I clearly remember the elation I felt when my super-fussy toddler accepted noodles…I almost cried tears of joy.”
4. Accepting a new food
In a few years, once the kiddos are all grow up your biggest challenge will be to cook enough to feed everyone. Until then, you’ll be tearing your hair out trying to get your picky eater to try a bite of broccoli or baked chicken. Babies and toddlers are super-fussy about food and experts say you have to offer a dish 15 to 20 times before they accept it. Sounds exhausting but that’s exactly why it’s so rewarding when they finally do eat it. “I clearly remember the elation I felt when my super-fussy toddler accepted noodles,” says Yoges Raj. “It took him six months to warm up to it and when he finally ate it, I almost cried tears of joy.”
5. Being able to fetch things
“Alexander, fetch the wipes,” or “Sophie, bring a diaper it’s time to change you”. Wouldn’t it be lovely to give instructions and actually see junior finally able to understand your orders and carry out your directives. Maybe you won’t have to be their slave for much longer?
6. Putting the pacifier back into their mouths
Is there anything more annoying and exhausting than walking back and forth to put your peewee’s pacifier back into his mouth when it falls out? Mum-of-one Janice Tay can commiserate. “It was so painful when I had to get up throughout the night to give Eli his pacifier,” she says. “Then, I started leaving a few pacifiers in his crib hoping that he would feel around and find it himself. After a few weeks, it actually worked and I never had to help him again!”
7. Putting things away
Singaporean families are lucky to be able to afford domestic helpers for household and childminding chores. However, constantly having someone at your beck and call can sometimes spoil kids into never having to lift a finger to clean up their own mess. This is why it’s even more precious to see little ones pick up their toys and put it back where they belong, or carry their plates into the kitchen after they’re done eating. June and Steven Chan had started teaching their 2-year-old son Tristan to deposit his dirty clothes into the hamper. One day, when June left Tristan’s clothes on the floor after removing them for her son, he scolded her. “He told me to put it in the hamper at once,” Chan laughs. “I was so proud of him and he was so cute, I couldn’t help but laugh as well.”
Click through for six more underrated milestones worth a shout out!
8. Feeding himself without too much mess
If you’re tired of “driving” a choo-choo train or flying the plane into your peewee’s mouth, then you’ll definitely appreciate it when he’s finally able to feed himself. Whether it’s using hands or utensils, having a kid who can eat independently will free up some time for you to eat with him.
9. Saying “please” or “thank you” without being prompted
Who doesn’t love to hear a polite child minding his Ps and Qs. Sounds even sweeter when it happens organically and not after some nudging from mum or dad, right? Remind them often enough and it will happen with time, says mum Siti Aisha. “When I bought my 3-year-old daughter a plate and cup set with her favourite Dora character on it she was so happy and immediately said, ‘thank you for my Dora plate, mummy!’” Siti recalls. “Even now, after many months, she still thanks me every time I give her that plate. It really warms my heart to hear it.”
10. Showing patience and understanding of logic
Remember those days when your thirsty or hungry kiddo screamed at the top of his lungs while you were trying to organise his snack? You’ll know those torturous days have finally come to an end when junior can actually quietly and patiently sit and wait as you prepare his peanut butter and jam sandwich and pour him a glass of milk. Now, how many more years till he can make his own snack?
“Even now, after many months, she still thanks me every time I give her that plate. It really warms my heart to hear it.”
11. Finding their own shows on the TV or iPad
No parent wants to admit to it, but many of them do secretly celebrate when the kiddo is able to skillfully navigate Netflix or YouTube and find a show they like. This means you no longer have to sit right next to junior and keep restarting his favourite programmes or watch him have a meltdown because you fired up the “wrong” video. Have a time limit and keep an eye on what they are watching, but don’t feel guilty because this is the free time you need to catch up on e-mail, cook a meal or paint your toenails.
12. Playing independently
“This is probably my favourite underrated milestone,” enthuses De Souza. As a work-from-home mum, De Souza sometimes has a short turnaround time on assignments or needs to make conference calls. So, she needs her daughter to keep herself busy during this time. However, up till the age of 18 months, her little girl wanted mummy all the time even if she had all of her favourite toys with her. “When she finally started to play by herself, I literally sighed with relief because now I knew I had more pockets of time during the day to get some work done,” De Souza says.
13. Putting someone else ahead of them
Babies and toddlers are narcissistic by nature, so it’s always heartwarming to see them think of others for a change. When they give that kid who’s sobbing some cake to cheer them up or ask his ailing mummy if she’s feeling better, all you want to do is pull them towards you for a big hug and smother them with kisses for being so caring.