Increasing Toddler Independence Before a New Baby

As the birth of our second son draws closer, I am becoming more aware of how life is totally going to change for our 2-year-old. I have realized that I need to give him the opportunity to attempt doing some more things for himself.

What keeps me from encouraging him to be more independent? TIME!! As mommas it is all too easy to get into a rush and do almost everything for our toddlers simply because it is faster! On the flip side, I know he is capable of doing more things on his own.

Surely I can’t be the only one guilty of this?!? Well, I have been trying really hard over the past few weeks to slow down and give my toddler a few more responsibilities of his own. I thought I would share in case any other moms find themselves in the same boat.

Toddler-Level Tasks

Here are a few examples of tasks we have given to our toddler to complete mostly independently:

  1. Putting away toys/books/bath toys
  2. Pulling up/down pants when going potty
  3. Brushing teeth (before a parent “helps”)
  4. Throwing away trash
  5. Cleaning up his own spills
  6. Putting on clothes and shoes (although he usually still needs some help)
  7. Getting underwear and PJs out of the drawer
  8. Climbing up into carseat
  9. Putting dirty clothes in hamper
  10. Feeding the dog and fish

An added bonus to him completing these tasks is increasing the development of motor skills. He is using fine and gross motor skills to complete the tasks listed above. Following directions can also be targeted by giving simple commands such as “take your napkin and throw it in the trash.”

Phrases to Encourage Independence

I have realized that getting my toddler to do things is often very dependent on how I phrase my words. I have found a few simple phrases that seem to work well for us.

“Could you help Momma?”

My son loves to be helpful, so this phrase goes a long way for him! Letting him help in the simplest ways such as bringing me something from across the room or throwing something in the trash seems to really boost his confidence.

“You try first.” (“Then, I will help.”)

My husband and I try this one especially with changing clothes, getting on the potty at home, and brushing his teeth. My son often doesn’t want to put his own clothes on; however, if I encourage him to try first then I will help, he often impresses himself whenever he is able to do something on his own.

“Show me how you can do it.”

Kids love to show off their skills for adults. This simple phrase seems to really persuade my son to show me what he can do.

Stay Positive!

Remember, always encourage and praise your toddler’s attempt to help or complete tasks independently. Don’t focus on perfection at this age. That will only lead to frustration for everyone. Instead, kids need constant encouragement.

For example, even though I have to go behind my son and really clean up a spill, having him clean it first is teaching him the importance of cleaning up after himself. I try to encourage him by thanking him for helping and telling him he did a great job…and, of course, giving him “knucks” after.

Thanks for reading! Please, share any other thoughts or ideas. How do you encourage your toddler to be more independent?



Increasing toddler independence before a new baby
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