Now that your little one is a toddler, when is he too old for diapers, a pacifier, a crib, and a favorite stuffed toy? Here's what experts have to say:
Diapers Most children will be out of their diapers by age 4, according to Cleveland Clinic, with some tots ready to use the toilet as early as 18 months old. However, potty training is a natural process. If your child isn’t ready, don’t force it!
A child should have enough brain and bladder development to potty train successfully, says pediatric urologist Dr. Jeffrey Donohoe. “Potty training too soon can make your child a chronic holder,” he explains. “Holding urine too long can cause urinary tract infections, especially in girls.” It can also cause the child to develop anxiety especially around the parents, he added.
When to worry: If your child is having difficulty potty training by age 5, consult a pediatrician or a pediatric urologist to evaluate other issues.
Pacifier By age 4, it's best if a child is weaned from his pacifier, pediatric dentist Dr. Carina De Los Reyes tells SmartParenting.com.ph. Prolonged pacifier use can result in dental problems including open bites, cross bites and protruded teeth. But, there’s no need to worry as most children will also naturally lose interest in their pacifiers by age 3 or 4.
All babies are born with the need to suck. They need it to feed, but it also provides comfort. “Do you need to take the bottles and pacifiers away from your [2-year-old son] so he can grow up? No. You will probably create more anxiety and separation problems by doing that,” said Meghan Leahy, a certified parenting coach, in a column for The Washington Post.
When to worry: By age 4, discuss your child’s extended pacifier use to her dentist.
Crib Transitioning from a crib to a bed can happen between around 2 to 3 years old, says Dr. Deborah Lin-Dyken, a pediatric sleep disorders expert, in a column for BabyCenter. “It's often best to wait until your child is closer to 3, since many little ones just aren't ready to make the transition.”
Another best time is when your child is already too big for her crib or when she climbs out of it on her own, pediatrician Dr. Paula A. Alonzo told Smart Parenting. Dr. Lin-Dyken said you can “buy yourself some time by lowering the crib mattress as far as possible.”
“If you find that you've made the switch too soon and your toddler is upset, don't give up right away. Encourage your child to try out the bed,” said Dr. Lin-Dyken. If he's still distraught after a few days, it's okay to bring the crib back until your little one is ready, she added.
A favorite stuffed toy or blanket “Children may grow out of their lovey at age 3 or 4, others continue to benefit from them for years,” Dr. Harvey Karp, a renowned pediatrician and child development expert, tells BabyCenter.
A lovey, like a favorite stuffed toy, blanket, or pillow, is a coping mechanism that helps your child feel better when she’s feeling stressed, scared, or worried. When your child finds other ways to cope with stress, you'll notice him gradually giving up his lovey, according to American Academy of Pediatrics.
When to worry: “You might be concerned if a 10-year-old is walking around with a blankie, but from a developmental perspective, a 5-year-old taking one to school isn’t a big deal,” Lynne Reside, a former early childhood educator, tells Today's Parent.
Parents worry a child’s attachment to a stuffed toy points to broader issues, but this is rarely the case. In a column for Parenting, pediatrician Dr. William Sears points out, “Don't worry that [your child's] attachment to her [lovey] may reveal some underlying insecurities or may slow her independence. This is simply not true.”