Here are some tips about caring for toddlers, based on my experiences of having two healthy and happy children who are now grown up. I hope you find it useful.
1. Toddlers like routine. Good sleep patterns are helpful. Staying calm and consistent is great. If your child wakes at night, settling them is best. Some flexibility from a regular routine is better than strict observance of timing and routine.
2. Eat with your toddler at least once a day. They will generally like what you eat, if they are used to seeing you eat something. Serve your toddler a simplified version of your meal. It is not necessary for them to eat everything on the plate, and if they don't like something try to be encouraging but allow your toddler to have a variety of foods to choose from. We all have our individual selections of foods and drinks that we dislike. It is fine for a toddler to be a messy eater. Drink lots of water, eat vegetables and fruit, avoid packaged food, and eliminate junk food. Serve colourful meals. Give your toddler serves of food which contain calcium, such as natural yoghurt, milk and cheese. Plan outings with some food packed for your toddler.
3. Minimise screen time. Under the age of 2, no screen time is recommended, and no more than an hour a day for toddlers aged 2 - 5. It is important not to link screen time with food, to create good eating habits. No screen should be placed in your toddler's bedroom to encourage healthy sleeping. Try to not allow your toddler to watch anything intended for a mature audience, as even content that is seemingly innocuous like reality tv shows or music videos can contain inappropriate images that can skew their developing view of what reality is (in my humble opinion)
4. Brushing twice a day is crucial to creating good habits for your toddler, along with a healthy and balanced diet. Use a child's toothbrush or battery powered toothbrush (such as the Oral B power brushes for children), along with a tiny dab of children's toothpaste from the age of 1. Some toddlers don't like mint toothpaste - in this case Macleans Milk Teeth has a mild flavour that is usually accepted. Don't use adult toothpaste until the age of 6, and treat the toothpaste like a medicine. Don't let your toddler eat the toothpaste straight from the tube. Always brush your toddlers teeth prior to bedtime. Try not to give bottles of milk overnight, and never sweeten milk or give juice, as these can destroy the baby teeth. Minimising or eliminating sugary foods and drinks, and completely avoiding junk foods is the healthiest start possible. Always brush your toddlers teeth, as they are not able to brush them correctly or thoroughly by themselves until around the age of 7 or 8.
5. Encourage activity, running, jumping and skipping, and get outdoors for some sunshine everyday. A secret cubby house even with sheets over chairs provides hours of entertainment.
6. Encourage creative avenues like a diary with pictures, and a written explanation of what the drawing is, or ask them to tell you a story and describe it in detail with the date. They are wonderful for children and teenagers to look back on when your child is older. A cardboard box is usually a fun thing to decorate and provides endless hours of fun. Little missions, like finding 5 different leaves in the garden and obstacle courses were popular in our house, and encouraged outdoor and creative play. Read everyday to your baby and toddler. Unfortunately mine hate reading, which is a complete mystery to me, however they have excellent vocabulary and spelling, so I know exposing children to a wide range of reading materials, allows them to soak up what we show them, and encourages imagination, general knowledge and background for living a balanced and healthy life.
7. Try to floss your toddlers's teeth from the age of 2.5. I know it sounds impossible, and sometimes it is impossible, but showing your child that flossing is a usual daily hygiene habit, and encouraging them to allow to floss between their teeth once a day in the evening comes under the banner of above and beyond care for your little person.
8. Spending quality one on one time with your toddler is more important than lots of time. Good quality daycare is not damaging to toddlers as far as I have seen.
9. Introduce as much as you can to your toddler, and allowing flexibility in to their lives is a good measure.