Mother and Baby

5 ways to connect with your toddler today

Whether you’ve got two hours or 15 minutes, boost your mum-toddler bond with these simple tips

Bonding may be a big focus with your newborn – but it’s also super-important for your toddler.

Think of it as a way of giving her security and reinforcing that you love her unconditionally. We’re not necessarily talking hours of interaction each day – even 15 minutes of one-on-one time with her (read: no phone or distractions) makes a difference.

And it can be as easy as tweaking your daily routine.

1. Have tot-friendly chats

OK, so she’s not going to discuss Eastenders with you quite yet, but you can boost your bond by changing the way you talk to her.

‘Crouch down to her level and make eye contact,’ says Sarah Ockwell-Smith, author of ToddlerCalm: A guide for calmer toddlers and happier parents (£13.99, Piatkus).

‘Ask her open questions that give her a chance to develop her language – think “What’s the matter?” which has more answer possibilities than simply “Are you OK?”’

2. Let her lead play

You pick when playtime’s going to be, but then let her dictate what you do.

‘Toddlers don’t have much control in their lives, but play is the big area they can,’ says Sarah.

You pick when playtime’s going to be, but then let her dictate what you do

Tell her it’s your special time together and ask her what she wants to do, whether it’s you chasing her like a dragon or hosting a tea party.

‘The key is not trying to steer her – trees might be green, but if she wants to colour them blue, so be it,’ says Sarah. We've got some great ideas for creative play with your toddler.

3. Involve her in chores

That music class may be fun, but your purse doesn’t always have to take a hit.

‘If you’re frantically trying to do the housework, give her a little duster or let her hold the hoover nozzle for a moment,’ says Sarah. ‘Chores are boring for you, sure, but she’ll absolutely love helping you out.’

In the supermarket, give her drawings of a few foods and ask her to look out for them.

4. Maximise toddler care

There are days when you just want to get meals and bathtime sorted quickly, but add a bit more to them if you can.

‘Ask your child to stir something or pass you some vegetables at dinner,’ says Sarah. ‘Bring out the bubbles and bath toys to play with, or even get in yourself – skin-to-skin contact produces the bonding hormone oxytocin.’

5. If you have a new baby…

The arrival of a little brother or sister can be tough for your toddler while she gets used to someone else having your attention.

‘This is about giving her some time with just you, so ask your partner or a relative if they’ll look after your new baby for a few hours while you have a morning play session with your older child,’ says Sarah.

What are your toddler's favourite activities? Let us know in the comments box below.


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