I say this every time I do a Riese update (the last one was at 2 years old), but wow is she growing up fast – I can’t believe she’ll be 3 in November!
I polled you guys here on the blog and on Instagram to see what you were most interested to hear about our toddler Riese lately, so read on to learn what our status is on potty training, whether she’s in a crib or a bed, Riese’s usual sleep routine/schedule, our favorite toddler-related parenting books, what she’s eating, and more!
Be sure to check out these recent toddler-specific posts, too: At Home Activities for Toddlers and Our Fave Natural + Organic Personal Care Products for Babies and Toddlers.
And if you have a younger child or are pregnant, you might be interested in these posts: What is Baby Led Weaning? and Products I Recommend for New Babies + Expectant Mamas.
Please note that there are affiliate links in this post.
Riese: 2.5-ish Year Toddler Update!
There are two areas that have had the biggest changes since I last checked in:
- Potty training!
Riese’s language has really exploded in the past few months – she speaks in full sentences now and has started to use different tenses, ask a lot of questions, etc. She also LOVES singing. Her favorite songs are the ABC Song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Puff the Magic Dragon, and the “Goodnight” song from Daniel Tiger. 🙂
It’s fun to be able to communicate with her so much now – we can ask her a question and she’ll give a bit of a detailed answer (like “what did you do with Daddy this morning?”).
She loves turning questions around on us, too, like when we tell her it’s time for a nap she’ll ask: “Are you going to take a nap?” One of her other favorite questions right now is to ask: “Are you older than me?”
Another really cool relatively recent thing is that she’s starting to recognize letters. So far she recognizes “R” for Riese and “H” for Hudson, one of her best toddler buddies. 🙂 She doesn’t recognize any other letters visually yet, but she has memorized how to spell her first name out loud, which is fun!
She’s big into memorization lately – she has memorized a couple of her absolute favorite books and will “read” them to herself at night in her crib. Her all-time favorite that she has memorized is Jamberry, which is a super cute whimsical board book.
It’s really cool to see the changes happen in this area in particular!
The other very big development as of the past month or so is that Riese is potty trained!
She’s still wearing diapers for naps and overnight sleep (we stuck with our regular faves she’s been in since she was born – Honest diapers), and we aren’t planning to change that anytime soon, but she’s wearing undies now during the day which is awesome.
Re: the nighttime/nap situation, we’ll wait until her diapers are consistently totally dry when she wakes up before tackling that – plus I think it’s best if she’s in a big girl bed by then too so she can get out if she needs to go.
How We Tackled Potty Training
I looked into the “Oh Crap Method” and a number of other books that came highly recommended and I know work really well for many people, but at the end of the day it didn’t feel like the right fit for us. Every family and every kid is different and it’s important to remember what works for one kid might not work for yours – you know your kid best!
Riese is extremely headstrong and likes being in charge and doing everything “by self”, so we had a feeling a more low key, child-led potty training approach would work best for Riese vs. trying to rush it too quickly, which I felt would just turn into a major power struggle. I also personally found the idea of trying to go all in at once super stressful, and I figured if I was really stressed, Riese would pick up on that and be really stressed too.
What we ended up doing was sort of like an “intuitive eating” approach to potty training, where we let Riese decide when she was ready and be in charge of the whole thing… similar to the Montessori toilet training method.
Here’s what we did.
Back in March, Riese was starting to show more interest in the potty so we bought a toiler cover thingy (like this one) and just kept it super low key – we talked it up and if she wanted to try using it, we’d help her if she wanted help, but we didn’t push it. We got a little stool for her to use to get up to it, but it’s a little hard for her to do on her own without our help. I think maybe getting one of these toilet covers with built in stairs and handles might be a better bet for transitioning to the big potty soon, but we’ll see.
We also got a Potty book this spring that she really liked and it mentioned undies, so we got her some cute undies. She was REALLY excited about the undies, and we talked them up and shared that when we wear undies, they aren’t like a diaper, so they don’t hold poop or pee very well.
Once we had the undies, every morning after she woke up and every afternoon after nap we asked her if she wanted to wear undies or a diaper and most days she chose a diaper, but every once in awhile she’d say undies so we’d go with it.
She had a couple minor pee accidents but once she started going she’d immediately stop, notice she was wet, get upset, but then hold her pee until we got her to the potty, so I think that helped connect the dots for her.
A few months ago we bought this mini potty that looks just like our big toilet, and it has been a game changer. Since Riese likes always doing everything by herself, we had a feeling a potty that she was able to use without help would be a big hit, and we were right. We also worked on teaching Riese how to pull down her underwear and pants/shorts or lift up her dress by herself. We still gave her the choice of whether to wear a diaper or undies so it was up to her/in her control.
All of a sudden about a month ago, things really started to click and Riese started wanting to wear undies almost all the time. We had an outdoor playdate with a friend who she saw using his little potty outdoors and I think that really inspired her because once we got home she was much more interested in it!
Rather than asking her “Do you need to use the potty?” all the time once she was in undies we’d instead say: “Remember that you have undies on, so if you need to use the potty please let us know.” We’d probably remind her every 30 to 45 minutes. She was super proud to be able to use the potty by herself and loved the flushing sound the little potty makes.
We didn’t do any rewards for using the potty but gave her a lot of excitement and praise whenever it happened. Sometimes she wanted us to come into the bathroom with her, and other times she would close the door and want us to wait outside until she needed help dumping out the potty – we leave that up to her.
It took longer for her to want to use the potty for poop vs. pee, and for awhile she’d hold it until we had her in her diaper for nap or bedtime, but after a week or so of her being really into it all that started to connect for her too. (Related: I just bought some of these biodegradable flushable wipes after hearing good things about them!)
So, yeah! I think this child-led potty training approach would be tough if you had a hard deadline (like starting preschool), and I think this approach might be harder to do if you’re actually leaving the house super often, although Riese has done well holding it when we go on walks and the few times we have been in the car, but if felt like the right fit for us. It ended up taking awhile but it was a natural feeling progression and it never felt stressful to any of us, which was nice.
When we drove down to the beach earlier this month, we did put her in a diaper and just explained that we’d be in the car for a long time so this way she could go if she had to. She would ask: “Am I wearing a diaper?” before going which was cool to see the awareness level of it all connecting for her. She had a few accidents once we got to our beach house I’m sure from the excitement and change of scenery, but overall has been doing really well with everything and (knock on wood) she hasn’t had any accidents since we got home 2 weeks ago.
Anyway – that was very long winded but I figured the details might be helpful for some of you, so I wanted to share!
Obviously I’m not an expert and while this worked for us it might not work for you, but if you do have any questions I’m happy to help/share more of our experience. There’s no right or wrong way to go about this, you just have to do what feels right for your family and your child!
Crib or Bed?
Riese is still in her crib for now! Since we were working on the potty training situation we didn’t want to try to change too many things at once, and she still seems perfectly happy in her crib so we’re going to continue to ride it out for a bit longer. 🙂
Riese is in a crib that has a rail you can use to convert it into a toddler bed, so we’ll do that when she seems ready or if she starts asking for a big bed… just going to play it by ear.
Riese’s Typical Schedule
We have a rough schedule/routine that we follow every day; the only part of it that changes significantly is when she wakes up. It’s anywhere from 6 to 7:30 depending on the day/week/month – she seems to go through phases where she’ll sleep later for a couple weeks and then all of a sudden be up early again for a couple weeks. I’m sure it is probably related to development/growth!
Her nap also fluctuates a bit – she usually sleep anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours (amazing when that happens) depending on the day.
Here’s the current usual routine:
- 6 to 7:30 – wake up, have breakfast
- 9:30 or 10 (depending how early she was up, and if she seems hungry) – morning snack
- 11:30 or 12 – lunch
- 12:30 or 1 (we try to not get her down much later than 1 because it’s harder to get her down if she’s over-tried) – nap
- 2:30 or 3 – wake up, have a snack
- 6 or 6:30 – dinner
- 7:30 or 8 – bed time! Similar with nap, if it gets too late it’s extra hard to get her down, and confusingly the later she’s up the earlier she wakes up, so it always backfires on us doubly! Our bedtime routine usually takes about 30 minutes, or closer to 45 minutes if a bath is involved, which is usually every other day.
I try to really keep on top of the food situation because Riese starts getting very irritable and kind of aggressive when she’s too hungry. Matt doesn’t get hangry at ALL so he was like, “hmm, wonder who she inherited that from…” Lol
Toddler Food Faves
For all of Riese’s meals, she eats what we eat. We don’t make anything special for her, but we do try to always include something on her plate that we know she’ll want.
For breakfast, we usually do banana oatmeal with chia seeds or ground flaxseed, my protein pancake (she’s OBSESSED with this), cereal, toast with nut butter, yogurt or cottage cheese (sometimes mixed with nut butter), waffles or pancakes (usually with nut butter and maybe a tiny bit of syrup for fun), eggs (she likes them fried or medium boiled best), fruit, etc.
For snacks, Riese is into Larabars which is awesome because they are so easy and portable (and filling), so we do a lot of different flavors of those. She also loves Simple Mills muffins, so we make those fairly often.
I also still do some homemade snack balls when I have the time – check out my Mix + Match Easy No Bake Energy Bites post for ideas.
We also do a lot of fruit (her fave) and veggies for snacks with various dips and nuts or seeds (she’s able to handle whole nuts now except for raw almonds – I’m nervous about those being too hard so we buy those sliced or slivered).
Riese doesn’t like cooked veggies but she does like them raw (we slice them into thin strips) – her favorites are cucumber, bell peppers, zucchini (yep, raw), carrots, and celery. For cooked veggies, she does like string beans, broccoli (she likes my roasted broccoli and roasted cauliflower) and peas but that’s it. She also randomly loves kale chips – both store bought and homemade!
For dips, Riese likes tzatziki and hummus and guacamole, too.
I’m going to do a whole dedicated toddler snack ideas post soon, so stay tuned for more ideas (both store bought and homemade) in that post!
For lunches and dinners, it’s just whatever we’re eating which you often see on the blog. She really likes chicken, baked salmon, and my healthy tuna salad recipe. She’s also into wraps and sandwiches if they aren’t too jam packed with stuff.
Riese is a relatively good eater but definitely goes through phases where she eats more than other times. We try to keep it low key and not push any specific foods – if she wants to eat, great, if not, that’s fine too.
As for drinks, we offer Riese water and milk with meals and snacks, and occasionally a little orange juice or kombucha if we’re drinking it too. She also really likes Spindrift. 🙂
Riese is still getting whole milk and she will continue to for as long as she wants to drink milk – we drink whole milk when we have milk, too! You can read why in this blog post: 7 Common Nutrition Myths (see #2).
Our favorite toddler eating-related products:
- Stainless steel cup with lid and straw (we use this for Riese’s milk because it’s spill-proof, but it’s also great for water)
- Toddler size stainless steel silverware set
- 12 oz Stainless steel open drinking cups
- Kid’s hydroflask (great for outdoor adventures/hikes, or throwing in bags because it’s super leak-proof)
- Booster seat
- Suction bowl – obviously she can lift this up easily but the suction still helps it to stay put for more soupy or soft foods
- Reusable Stasher bags – great for snacks
- Silicone bibs (these work so well)
- Recycled eco-friendly plates with nice deep sides – these are our everyday go to along with the matching bowls – they are basically indestructible which is nice
- Cute colorful toddler table (seen below – we keep this outside usually and have her eat up with us indoors)
Favorite Toddler Parenting Books
Here are our favorite toddler parenting books right now:
- No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury – she has a great parenting podcast as well
- It’s Okay NOT to Share – and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids by Heather Schumaker
- Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey – a very helpful guide for families (and teachers, or anyone who interacts with kids) that want to help facilitate white children becoming active anti-racist allies
This is very up in the air for obvious reasons – as of now, Riese is supposed to start preschool in January (once she’s 3), but we have to see what the world situation is looking like then – and of course who knows if the preschool will even be open then.
So, we’re just playing this one by ear. I’m hoping it will make sense/be safe for her to go by then, though, because I think she’d really love it! She seems like an extrovert like me and always loves being around other kids.
Current Favorite Toys/Games
Pretty much still all the same stuff as in my At Home Activities for Toddlers post, so go check that out!
The only change is that she’s gotten more into make-believe lately which is fun – we have a little doctor’s kit (similar to this one) for her that she loves pretending with – it was a recent hand me down from a friend that’s been a big hit.
I bookmarked this How to Declutter Toys post recently though that my friend Elle wrote because even though I feel like we don’t buy THAT many toys somehow our house is still exploding with them! We have gotten a lot of hand me downs lately so that’s part of it, but man kid stuff manages to just take over, doesn’t it?
A lot of the time, 2.5-ish feels like a really fun age.
Riese seems to be having less tantrums than she was this time last year, and it’s so fun being able to have adventures with her and to do more of the creative/imaginative play, too.
I find myself trying to take mental snapshots of moments to remember later because this time feels so precious and so fleeting.
But of course it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
If you’d like to see the other side, check out this Instagram post I shared a couple months ago during a particularly overwhelming week. Toddlers are amazing but they are also completely exhausting… especially nowadays when we are trying to juggle more things than ever.
Thank you for reading. <3 If I missed anything you wanted me to address, please feel free to ask in the comments!