You probably have no memory of what your life was like between the ages of 12 and 24 months. You probably don't remember being one year old. You don't remember how it felt when you let go of a table and stood on your own, when you tried a new food, or when you noticed that your mother was not actually attached to you. Without your memory to help you, it's often hard to know what exactly a one-year-old needs. When he babbles, is he complimenting you on your cooking? Does he want to get down and play with his blocks? Sometimes it can be frustrating to figure out exactly what this endlessly interesting little person is trying to tell you.
As the parent of a one-year-old, you want very much to know and understand your baby. You love him. You find him fascinating (and cute and fun), and you want to help him and take care of him in the best way possible. While no one can read the mind of a one-year-old, it is possible to benefit from what other parents and experts have learned from the experience of parenting and caring for one. In fact, when you tell someone about an issue you and your child are having, it's always a relief to hear the other person say, “Oh, that happened with us, too! Here's what someone told us to do.” For one thing, the solutions often work, but more than that, the exchange of information reminds you that you aren't the first person to experience the problem. Most parents struggle with the same set of issues, such as sleep problems, biting, picky eaters, whining, and crying, which means all these “problems” are actually a normal part of the developmental process — along with adorableness, miraculous moments of learning and growth, and more affection and love than you ever imagined.
Of course, that doesn't mean all one-year-olds are alike. From the shy little boy who stands behind your leg to the little girl who runs down the beach chasing seagulls, every little kid is as unique and interesting as the adults they will become. One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is your own curiosity as well as your acceptance of who he is and how he can best be treated so that he grows up confident and happy. If you wanted a child who loves sports but got a child who loves books, then you need to adjust your expectations, not try to change your child.
This book is meant to do two things. Its first purpose is to reassure you and offer help for those moments when you have a question or are completely baffled. Exactly what are you supposed to do when your daughter won't take off her tiara — ever? Is it normal that your son is only happy when the Beatles song “Yellow Submarine” is playing? And why isn't your daughter walking even though she's 15 months old?
The second purpose of this book is to help you appreciate the process of growing up. As you do, you will realize that you, too, are going through stages and adjustments in your growing-up journey as a parent. You will do and say things that you have always promised yourself you would never do or say. At the same time, there will also be times when other parents look to you for guidance or compliment you on your parenting style or on the behavior of your child.
From crawling to walking, from babbling to making short sentences, from playing alone to sharing a toy, even for just a minute, a lot of changes happen between the first and second year. The toddler whose second birthday you celebrate will be very different from the baby whose party you hosted on her first birthday. Some of these changes will be wonderful, while others may drive you a little crazy; in either case, you will get tired of hearing your parents, your friends, and your baby's caregivers tell you that “It's just a phase.” The truth is that at this age, almost everything is just a passing moment and then it's on to the next skill and stage. This is an extraordinary year of development as your baby becomes a toddler. The best part is that you get to come along for the ride.