What I Wish I'd Known About Having A Toddler

Funny and frustrating, but treasure your child's toddler phase.

We asked parents to tell us about the funny, cute, challenging and plain odd behaviours of toddlers - and their top tips. What rang out loud and clear is that though this time in our lives may be exhausting, so many of us look back on our children’s toddler years with fond nostalgia. If we could only do it ‘again, again’.

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Cute phrases and constant questions

“Keep a book by your bed to write down the hilarious things they say and the questions they ask. One of my favourites was ‘Why don’t flowers have eyes?’” Karen

“Write down the cute stuff; it will help get you through the tough stuff. When they were little, my twin girls would call other children ‘darlings’ because I called them my darlings. They would ask my friends ‘do you have any darlings?’ It was so sweet.” Tracey

“I wish I’d concentrated more on how much they made me properly belly laugh every single day. Someone should rent out toddlers to the grumpy and sad people. I know they’re hard work and stubborn and tiring and annoying and messy but wow, they’re funny.” Clare

“My top tip is to write all their funny sayings down. You think you’ll never forget those hilarious, precious, bonkers things they do and say, but you will. Mine are 19 and 17 and every now and then I pull a little book out - it includes weird pronunciation and context too - and laugh until I cry at the funny things I’ve completely forgotten they said.” Helen

“That their funny mispronunciations will become family sayings for years afterwards. We still ask my teenage son if he’s ‘a leetle bit rumpy’.” Alexa

Growing independence

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”That the colour of cups would matter SO much!” Kristin

“Toddlers are amazing, they live in the moment and their emotions are so pure. My toddlers taught me never to miss an opportunity to have fun, or eat the best part of the muffin first!” Nicola

“That it does take 20 minutes to walk 2 minutes to the shop with the constant refrain of ‘wat dat, Mummy?’” Sharon

Squeezy hugs

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“The cuddles, proper round the neck, soft-cheeked, cling on for ages cuddles. I will miss those. (Although not when I’m trying to leave her at the nursery gates.) And yes, they are so funny! Becky

‘Terrible twos’

“Knowing the challenging behaviour always ends - and then you can have lovely cuddles.” Scheenagh

“That nice people don’t judge your toddler’s behaviour (and most people are delighted they’re not in your shoes when yours is having a meltdown). Don’t worry about being judged when it comes to tantrums - even those who don’t have children, were once children. I remember walking out of M&S with my boy under my arm after a particularly difficult day. An old lady said, ‘Ahhhh’ and I must have, inadvertently, shot her daggers to which she responded, ‘No, that’s not for him love, it’s for you. I still remember the terrible twos very well!’ I could have kissed her.” Allison

“I found that whenever a tantrum occurred, there was usually a good reason for it - like being tired, hungry or thirsty. Or not being given enough - or any - notice when moving from one activity to the next.” Nicola

Over sharing

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“The oversharing is hysterical. My daughter shouted out in a trumpet voice on the bus this week: ‘I did a poo today! Are you proud of me?’ She followed this up with: ‘Why is no one else talking?’” Jessica

“The innocence of toddlers with no embarrassment filter. I took my son in to the loo with me the other day when we were out. There was a queue and they all cracked into hysterics on hearing him say, ‘Have you finished mummy? Do you need me to wipe your bottom?’ Hopefully that day will never come!” Niki

Everything you worry about really is just a phase

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“That most of the things you worry about, and try different methods to ‘solve’, sort themselves out on their own with a little bit of time.” Gillian

“That eventually they will learn to sleep through the night! And they will eat more than just raw carrots and chicken.” Louise

“That everything is a phase and that you will probably do all those things you never thought you would do - sniff their bottom in public, talk about poo, post endless pics of them on Facebook and become a bit of a parent bore because your toddler is just so gorgeous.” Georgina

But it goes so fast - so treasure those toddler times

“That when they’re big, semi-independent teenagers, you wish you could have just one day of them aged two when you were their whole world!” Sian

“I remember a family friend telling me when I was running round after my toddler, ‘The days are long, but the years are short.’ She was so right.” Jenny