I don’t think I realized it at the time, but looking back now I was really sad about the fact that Miles was turning one. I just loved everything about having a baby and caring for him from the very beginning. I felt like the fact that he was turning one meant that I didn’t have a baby anymore. And frankly, I had no idea what the heck I was going to do with a toddler.
When you have a baby, there’s so much noise out there about how to care for them and what to do with them that it can make your head spin. While I became pretty adept at tuning out a lot of the nonsense, it was still inescapable. But once your kid passes the one-year mark things get kind of quiet. Or, you start hearing about how difficult and challenging toddlers are and it’s enough to make you want to hide from your child for the next few years.
But if there’s one thing I wish someone had told me about having a one-year-old it would be this: It gets even better. I can’t speak for all one year olds, but I can say this about ours: He is awesome. I know other one year olds and I think they’re all pretty darn great, too.
I may only be a few months into toddlerhood and in some ways I’m not even certain I’m truly in it since Miles isn’t quite walking yet (he’s getting close, though!) but I’ve been amazed at just how much fun this one-year-old stage is. And in some ways, it really is better than baby-hood. Here’s why:
No more bottles! This is for my bottle-feeding mamas, but once we ditched the bottles and formula (I went cold turkey at 11.5 months and it went smoothly) I felt such a lightness in our life. (For more on my feelings about bottle-feeding click here.) I felt like so much time in our day suddenly opened up since I wasn’t constantly making bottles, feeding Miles, washing bottles, and anticipating his next feeding.
Fewer, longer naps. Helping Miles become a good sleeper has always been a big priority for us, especially since I depend on his naps in order to do my work. As a result, this meant we had to make some sacrifices like saying no to activities that interfered with naptimes. Now he takes two solid naps per day. Now that he’s one, he’s more resilient if we’re off schedule so I know he’ll still fall asleep pretty easily. And if he occasionally skips a nap because we’re out doing fun things the world doesn’t fall apart—he’s totally fine. Now that he’s not taking as many naps, this gives us longer chunks of time during the day to do stuff without always feeling like the clock is ticking and we need to rush home to put him down for a nap again. Plus, his longer naps means that this mama gets a break (which I often spend working) right when I’m ready for one. It’s exhausting keeping up with a one-year-old!
Personality. I think all babies’ personalities shine through more and more throughout the first year, but there was something about turning one that was like flipping a switch. All of a sudden I felt like Miles became a little human instead of a baby and he just oozes personality. I’m still amazed at the things he does every day. He’s funny, silly, entertaining, curious, gentle, and so incredibly sweet. He’s also becoming quite the ham. When he notices that others are watching (even if it’s just me), he turns on the charm and becomes even more animated.
Cuddles, snuggles, and hugs! I thought for sure turning one meant the end of snuggling (which, to be honest, had ended months before because he was so busy exploring the world around him.) Instead, the opposite happened: He became SUPER snuggly. I’m not sure why, exactly. My best guess is that as he’s become more independent he also needs us a little more (if that makes any sense…) Before, if he was having trouble sleeping at night, holding him didn’t do anything to help. After he turned a year old and went through a really long and tough sleep regression (it lasted weeks), I’d go into his room when he was crying, lie down with him on the couch and he’d fall asleep on me immediately. He loves to snuggle while reading books and will come by during the day and just rest his head on my shoulder or on my leg. When Robert or I pick him up out of his crib in the morning or after naps, he wraps his arms around us and nestles his head into our neck and will stay there for some time. Miles LOVES giving hugs (even to people he doesn’t know very well!) and they’re usually unsolicited. Every time he hugs me my heart explodes into a million little pieces.
Meals. After Miles turned one, we went from feeding him meals to sharing meals with him and it’s the greatest. He babbles and laughs while we eat, does funny things with his food (like spinning spaghetti around his finger), tries to use utensils, or attempts to feed us. It’s an experience we get to share together several times per day instead of always being focused on feeding him.
He communicates. Miles doesn’t have many words yet, but he babbles all day long and I feel like we have entire conversations that way. I can tell he’s trying to communicate and it’s so awesome watching him try to express himself. He’s also becoming more opinionated and discerning about what he likes and doesn’t like.
None of this is intentionally meant to brag about our kid. I like to believe that all parents think their kid is amazing. And sure, we have our tough days, but they’re usually tough for a reason—he’s teething, he doesn’t feel well, or he just needs some extra TLC. So I just do what I need to do to help him out and remind myself that it will pass and it always does. But overall, this phase—right now at 14.5 months old—is so special and one that I truly want to remember forever and ever.
So the next time I know someone with a baby who’s about to turn one I won’t be thinking about how sad it is that her baby is becoming a toddler or how hard things are going to become. I’ll just think about how lucky she is because as far as I’m concerned, she’s in for so much fun and joy ahead.