Toddlers 101

Toddlers 101 - Healthy Kids Healthy CO

See questions and answers from our our Ask the Experts session on June 10, 2014. From tantrums and discipline to food allergies and potty training, find the answers from our pediatric experts.    

Toddlers keep us on our toes. From tantrums and food allergies to potty training and bedtime, we as parents want to make sure they are safe and happy. Here are some toddler tips that can help.

Tantrums and discipline

Consistency and humor can go a long way when it comes to disciplining your toddler and handling tantrums.  Toddlers are eager to do things on their own, and sometimes test their boundaries.  However, they can’t fully communicate their thoughts and feelings and can easily get frustrated.  Some tips for dealing with this behavior are:

  • Give your child choices when possible. For example, you can offer options like: Do you want to take a bath now or in 5 minutes? Should we have an apple or a banana for our snack?
  • Give your child attention and praise when she follows instructions and shows positive behavior and limit attention for defiant behavior like tantrums. Teach your child acceptable ways to show that she’s upset.
  • When you are talking with your child, bend, kneel, or sit so that you can speak to him or her eye-to-eye.

See more about meltdowns, discipline and rewards. 

Best practice recommendations for car seat safety

  • Infants and toddlers should be in a rear-facing car safety seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their car safety seat.
  • All children 2 years or older, or those younger than 2 who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their car safety seat, should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their car safety seat.
  • All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle lap-and-shoulder seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
  • When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap-and-shoulder belts for optimal protection.
  • All children younger than 13 years of age should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.

    (Source: American Academy of Pediatrics: Policy Statement – Child Passenger Safety; originally published March 21, 2011.)

    See Colorado Child Passenger Safety Information in English or Spanish (.pdf), and find more information on choosing the right car seat and booster seat tips.


  • Have a consistent bed time and soothing activities for 30 minutes before bed.
  • Turn of the TV, video games and computers 30 minutes before bed.
  • Remind your child that when it's time for sleep, you'll come back to check on him in a few minutes if he stays quiet.

Watch a video on how to get your kids to sleep better.

Potty training

  • Not all kids are ready to start potty training at the same age, so it’s important to look for signs that your child is ready:
    - Do they express the need to go?
    - Can they understand words about going potty?
    - Have they shown an interest in using the potty?
    - Can they get to the potty, sit on it and get off of it?
  • Ask them to let you know if they are wet or soiled.
  • Praise all attempts to use the potty.
  • Keep the process upbeat with hugs, smiles and cheer!

Nutrition and food allergies

  • A food allergy is an adverse reaction to a food. Be aware of what your child is eating.  Symptoms to look for are swelling of the mouth or tongue, difficulty breathing, and hives.  If it is a true food allergy these symptoms should occur in the hour following eating the food. 
  • Other conditions, such as lactose intolerance or gluten-related disorders, are caused by eating certain foods, but these are not food allergies.
  • For more information, see our Food Allergies page or read about food allergies from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
  • Read more about general nutrition for your child.

See more toddler tips from our experts.