10 Things They Never Teach You About Toddlers

Every parent-to-be buys all the books, attends the classes, and gets many lengthy life lessons from all manner or relatives, coworkers and passers-by.


However, there’s nothing in What to Expect When You’re Expecting about how to style an angry toddler’s hair in the way that your partner has clearly explained to you many times and you’d assumed you’d remember.


That brings me nicely to the start of Ten Things Nobody Tells You About Toddlers.


1. How to brush hair while your toddler runs away


Your darling toddler is all clean, diapered and in his or her pajamas, but can’t go to bed with her hair un-brushed (still unsure why not). You’ve been told specifically how to brush it and this time you’re really going to get it. So why won’t the child hold still? I’m sure he/she will appreciate it in the morning when they have to have breakfast and their hair is just so.


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I know that this is a special time when we can dress and arrange our children before they start rebelling and wanting independence, but still. Does it really matter if I get her hair a little wrong?


2. What to do when the child wants someone else


“No! I want Mummy!” she yells as I’m trying to give her a hug after a long day.

I wish there was some advice on how to deal with the ultimate rejection. The person you helped to create wants nothing to do with you, at least for a brief moment. You know it’ll pass, but it’s still a kick in the ego.


3. How to stop other people spoiling your child


You work hard to teach the value of a kind act or a few thoughtful words, but other people just love to shower gifts on your toddler. It’s incredible kind of them, and you’ll always be grateful, but please stop offering baby a cookie when you need him/her to do something.


spoiling kids



4. What to say to someone when they ask “is it your turn to babysit?” To the dad


Feel free to share this with anyone who asks a Dad this. We don’t babysit. Would you ask this of the mother? Of course not, so come on.


I still don’t know how to reply to this, nicely.


5. Stopping old people from touching your fragile newborn


I know that everyone thinks that their child is the cutest thing, but I’m pretty sure mine is. That doesn’t mean that I want random members of the public, the ‘great unclean’ touching my child. You have germs, many of them. Please keep them to yourself.


The only thing that I found that worked for this is to say “Oh she’s got a cold right now”. This seems to deter them.



6. How you get them to accept that teeth-brushing is going to happen


We’re just trying to stop your beautiful little teeth from turning orange and falling out. For the sake of four minutes a day, it’s worth it. Please stop biting down or wriggling.


We’ve made it a nightly event as part of her bedtime routine, right after books. It also seems to help if she’s holding another toothbrush and she can brush her own teeth while we do a better job at the same time.



7. The repetition will make you go crazy


Choose your bedtime books wisely, you’re going to read them thousands of times. Also, take the time to learn some nursery rhymes and keep switching them up. I think my record for ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ is 14 in a row, along with the back-breaking actions.





8. How to stop them licking the cat


The spray bottle isn’t just for Peaches. Or you could let your child do it once and learn that a mouth full of fur isn’t as much fun as it sounds.




9. How to pick them up when they go limp


I don’t know how all children have an inherent ability to go limp and slide through your hands when they’d rather be on the ground. They know how to increase their bodyweight and become anchored to their spot.


The only way I’ve found (aside from wrapping my arms around her like an octopus) is to distract her with a song, a dance, or by hiding around the corner to play some impromptu hide and seek.


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Photo by Lorand Photography –



10. How to get your toddler into the car seat or stroller


As above, they know how to avoid any sort of coordinated movement. Instead of going limp, she turns into a dried-out starfish. Arms and legs thrown wide and no ability to bend. I hate to admit it, but I’ve fallen on bribery on a few occasions just to get her in the car seat when we’re in a rush.


If you’ve got any other solutions, please share.


  1. Cynna gordon

    October 12, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    I hate when my daughter goes limp! She’s like 20 pounds heavier that way. Great post!

  2. Michael Kwan

    October 12, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    For brushing teeth, we actually have two different toothpastes with two different flavors, so we let her “pick” which one she wants to use each night. It really doesn’t matter to us, but it gives her a sense of control and ownership over the situation. She also seems to enjoy it when I brush “with” her too, so I brush her teeth first, then I let her hold her toothbrush while I brush my own teeth. She mimics along and then it’s fun again. YMMV.

    1. jamesrcsmith

      October 12, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      That’s such a great idea! We don’t use toothpaste yet, but will be sure to keep that in mind.

  3. Roads Best Traveled

    October 13, 2017 at 6:29 am

    Hilarious! I know when I was helping raise my two young cousins the “stopping other people from spoiling them” bit was the hardest. You never understand just how much you need the “village” until you’re there!

  4. Elise Cleary

    October 13, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Yes – these are so true! My 16-month-old is a pro at the whole going limp trick. I’m still trying to figure out how to prevent the tornado disaster while making dinner. You know, the one that happens because they stopped climbing on you so you can finally cut veggies without chopping off your fingers?

  5. Kimmy H

    October 13, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    I thought I wrote this for a second!! The hair and the teeth…. I just don’t get it!! They also don’t tell you the toddler will cry after you removed the socks… which they just asked you to remove!!!

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