You know you've got a toddler when...
10 telltale signs the gorgeous, gummy creature cooing up at you from the play mat is metamorphosing into a demanding toddler
Witnessing tantrum-throwing by older children in the playground can strike fear into the hearts of new mums – but then they comfort themselves with the thought that the 'terrible twos' are still a long way off, right?
Well, perhaps not. They may not toddle yet, they may still look like a baby and you may not be ready to accept it, but little ones do officially become toddlers on their first birthday – and the signs start early. Not sure whether you have a toddler? Here's our list of the top ten telltale signs.
1. The Nappy Twist
One day they're happily lying on the changing mat smiling adoringly at you, the next they're attempting to base jump off the change table in your local coffee shop's loo.
2. The Back Arch
For months, your babbling bub has been perfectly passive when transferred from, say, baby gym to pram. Yet now the mere sight of the buggy or car seat is enough to send them into a back-arched spasm (often accompanied by a loud wail or the 'nonono' cry, see below), rendering belt-buckling impossible and resulting in them sliding triumphantly to the floor.
Apparently so much easier for the infant tongue to master than 'yes', no is the universal utterance of the young toddler, the perfect accompaniment to the resolute headshake (mastered during weaning) when asked to do, well, anything, if they're in the mood for asserting their free will.
Note: while they're only too happy to deploy 'no' themselves, they conveniently forget the meaning when it's said by you as your toddler crawls determinedly towards the cat food, the top of the stairs or a hot oven; instead it often invokes the 'I'm going to do it anyway' grin.
4. The Dive
Premiership footballers have nothing on toddlers when it comes to the art of melodramatically rolling around on the floor. Despite this being the signature move of the toddler, you may very well be taken aback when your little one first stretches out on the carpet, sobbing because you simply asked them to please be careful opening a cupboard – especially if they've only just had their first birthday.
5. Food Wars
Clamping that little mouth tight shut, maintaining defiant eye contact while quite deliberately dropping a lovingly home-made corn fritter on the floor, bashing a spoonful of dinner away and bursting into tears at the sight of a handful of raisins... feeding toddlers can be a real battle.
6. The Death Wish
Toddlers' extraordinary lack of fear, combined with their huge enthusiasm for discovering as much of the world as possible by running straight towards it and licking it, can make life pretty exhausting.
The biggest slide at the playground? I want to walk up it! The climbing frame of death, designed by Evel Knievel (probably)? Let me at it! Stairs? Chairs? Roads? Giant dogs? Bubbling pans? Rivers? Plastic bags? Plug sockets? That knife you're using? Gimme gimme gimme! Oh, and I may not have wanted to eat any of the delicious food you prepared for lunch, mummy, but you know what I'm really in the mood for? THIS SLUG!
7. The Leg Hug
Planning on making dinner, answering the door, leaving for work, hanging out the washing or going to the toilet? This is the moment your toddler will lock their little arms around your leg and... huuuuug. On the upside, having a two-stone child dangling from your ankle is probably a totally fantastic glute workout.
Oh, yes, throwing actual toys out of the actual pram... and, of course, the cot. When you can't talk but have rudimentary control over your short little limbs, this is an excellent way to vent frustration. And let's face it, we've all wanted to chuck a sippy cup across the supermarket sometimes.
Herded into a room together, toddlers will start by warily eyeing each other up in a stand-off worthy of Clint Eastwood in a spaghetti western. However, after the initial obligatory territorial toy defence, a bit of light shoving and a few tears, they'll end up thick as thieves, showering each other with hugs and kisses and ensuring that they've caught absolutely all of each other's germs.
10. Aww, but...
For every moment that leaves you pulling your hair out, there'll be ten that will more than make up for the frustration.
They dance the waggly-bottom dance whenever any music plays, and lose the plot with excitement at the sight of a Yorkshire terrier. They love everything from bubbles to bin lorries, surprise you with unexpected cuddles, blow kisses, and shriek with delight when you walk through the door. They're hysterically startled by their own blow-offs, they grin gappy-toothed grins, laugh, bounce in their cots, snuggle at story time, wave at everyone and learn something new every day.
In short, they're pretty awesome – even if they have just filled your handbag with Sudocrem and chucked your new phone down the toilet...