The struggle for independence has begun. Nothing is off-limits. Our toddler will insist, “I can do it!” As soon as we finish buckling them in the car seat, they will happily fill a clean diaper with a fresh pile of poop. They will almost assuredly spill the milk; we mustn’t whine about it. Instead, show love and support to nurture their self-confidence.
These Years Are Precious
These are the most precious years, make the very most of them. Every moment counts. The little things ARE the big things, and they add up over the years as we raise princes and princesses into kings and queens.
As they grow, their imagination runs wild. Our toddler may proclaim to be a roaring dinosaur, an enchanting mermaid, or a courageous superhero. At any moment, a monster could be lurking in the closet or under the bed. We and they can make a game out of pretty much anything! As they constantly ask, “Why? Why? Why?,” reward their palpable curiosity with the best answers at our disposal; they desperately want dad to share with them the knowledge they know we have.
Toddlers commonly start walking around 12-15 months. They learn through their five senses and repetition helps lessons stick. By 18 months, they can usually point to objects that we name and say 10-20 words, 40-50 words by the time they are 24 months old. By this age, they may demonstrate a preference for either left or right-handedness. By 30 months, they’ll have learned how to whisper and may be capable of saying approximately 300 words. By 36 months, they may know more than 1,000 words.
Love gives children a sense of worth. As they work to keep up with their newly developing skills, they may struggle with uncertainty and failure. A father’s energies should communicate that they are safe, the world can be trusted, and they are very much worth loving. Even when they make bad choices, toddlers need to know dad still loves them.
Toddlers go from being able to hold their own sippy cup to taking trash to the wastebasket to following one-step instructions like, “Put it away.” By extending their arms and legs (and not running away), young toddlers can help us help them get dressed. As they grow, they learn to feed themselves, clean up after themselves, and fill their pet’s food dish. Three-year-olds should be able to complete small tasks, such as carrying groceries and putting on their own clothes.
Toddlers can understand far more than they can say. Speak and read to them constantly, the more the better; repetition reinforces language learning. Reading to them daily not only expands their vocabulary but sets the stage for a life-long love of books. Use facial expressions, exaggerated, enthusiastic tone of voice (especially when reading stories), and body language to convey the meaning of words. Toddlers love hearing the same stories with the same intonations repeated over and over. They’re thrilled to anticipate their favorite parts and relish the feeling of mastery that accompanies them “reading” the bits and pieces that they’ve memorized. These are usually the parts that you’ve dramatized with varied tones or a character’s “voice.” This means that dad must read and reread these stories, ad infinitum, for our little ones to participate—their delight is worth the 50th rereading of Curious George. By reading daily, we normalize this good habit from a young age.
To help build their vocabulary, repeat what they say and add additional words. When they say “ball,” reply, “Would you like to play with your ball?” Offer options to help them develop their vocabulary, “Would you like an apple or a banana?”
Establish basic nutrition habits and offer a variety of different foods. Ensure toddlers get 11-14 hours of sleep every 24 hours (including naps). Talk about what we’re doing while we’re doing it to help them better understand the world. Bring them to the pediatrician at 12, 15, 18, 24, and 36 months. Say things like, “It’s nap time.” “Let’s go outside.” “Time to brush our teeth!” “Thank you for trying the broccoli—I’m so proud when you try new foods.”
Drowning is the leading cause of death of toddlers—it is crucially important that we do not allow children around water unattended. Speaking of water, serve them plenty of it to keep them hydrated, and try to avoid sugary drinks. As they get older and reach for water instead of juice or soda, they’ll have dad to thank for instilling this healthy habit that promotes hydration and protects teeth.
Fathers Truly Matter
In the morning, set the mood by energizing the family with smiles and the internal strength of a positive attitude. As we drive from place to place, sing along to music, tapping into our innermost creativity and imagination while engaging them in theirs.
As children learn about their bodies for the first time, they will discover and define privacy. Conversations regarding sexual integrity are as simple as they’ll ever be. Teach them the correct names of body parts and help them see their body in a positive light.
Every toddler enjoys the magical screen with lights and buttons. Say things like, “I’m putting my phone away when we are eating so we can talk to each other.” Keep televisions out of their bedroom, and limit screen time to no more than one hour per day. Encourage free play as much as possible, helping them stay active and develop motor skills.
During our children’s all-important formative years, we can share the story of Jesus and the confident expectation we have as Christians in the blessings of eternal life. By incorporating faith into our daily routines, our toddlers will learn to know God’s love. They will have many questions, some of which might be difficult to answer. Help them understand that with God, all things are possible.
Toddlers are loud, messy, and have big emotions. With each developmental milestone, they gain self-confidence. Parents fuel growth and learning by constantly talking to them, reading with them, singing with them, and enjoying their company. Treasure these most precious years!
Excellent Reading for One-year-olds
Full of short, simple words and silly rhymes, this book is perfect for reading alone or reading aloud with Dad! The rollicking rhythm will keep kids entertained on every page.
A delightful read-aloud text, sure to elicit giggles from little ones as they happily chime in on every spread with an OOPS.
Once you finish the rhythmic, rhyming text, all you’ll want to do is go back to the beginning and read it again!
Children will be comforted by this lovingly steadfast mother who finds her child every time.
Simple, powerful words and vibrant illustrations evoke the rolling wheels of that childhood favorite: a train. This board book features sturdy pages and is just the right size for little hands.
When a mother bird’s egg starts to jump, she hurries off to make sure she has something for her little one to eat. But as soon as she’s gone, out pops the baby bird. He immediately sets off to find his mother, but not knowing what she looks like makes it a challenge. The timeless message of the bond between mother and child make Are You My Mother? a treasured classic.
A muddy country road is no match for this little pick up–that is, until he gets stuck while pushing a dump truck out of the muck. Luckily, Blue has made a pack of farm animal friends along his route.
Ideal for encouraging imaginative play, the classic rhymes introduce children to all sorts of sound words!
This tale of a peddler and a band of mischievous monkeys teaches children about problem and resolution.
Brother Bear gets into a box. Papa Bear turns the box upside down, takes it outside, and puts it on a truck. Simple art and rhyming text make this a perfect for teaching spatial concepts.
From HIGH and LOW to FAST and SLOW, opposites are full of fun in this Sandra Boynton board book favorite.
Young readers love lifting the flaps to discover the animals the zoo has sent—a monkey, a lion, and even an elephant! But will they ever find the perfect pet?
Little ones will love giggling along with those naughty monkeys!
Farmer Brown’s cows like to type. All day long he hears Click, clack, MOO. The problems REALLY begin when his cows start leaving him notes…
Whether by foot, boat, car, or unicycle, P. D. Eastman’s lovable dogs demonstrate the many ways one can travel in this condensed, board-book version perfect for babies and toddlers.
Explore different feet, from fast to slow, front to back, big and small, learning about opposites! Dr. Seuss’s rhymes help readers discover the world around them, starting with their own bodies!
Duck waddled over to where the boy parked his bike, climbed on and began to ride. At first he rode slowly and he wobbled a lot, but it was fun! Duck rode past Cow and waved to her. “Hello, Cow!” said Duck. “Moo,” said Cow. But what she thought was, “A duck on a bike? That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever seen!” Now ALL the animals can ride bikes!
This story of a teddy bear waiting on a shelf for a child’s friendship has appealed to young readers for generations.
Excellent Reading for Two-year-olds
If a hungry little mouse shows up on your doorstep, you might want to give him a cookie. And if you give him a cookie…
From gathering honey to building cozy campfires, the friends make the most of every activity, both enjoying the great outdoors and staying snug inside, all while learning the alphabet.
When a young boy sees a frantic fly buzzing past, he asks where the fly is headed—and with that, a chase begins. A Fly Went By will have young readers buzzing with excitement!
When a bus driver takes a break from his route, a very unlikely volunteer springs up to take his place—a pigeon! But you’ve never met one like this before. As he pleads, wheedles, and begs his way through the book, children will love being able to answer back and decide his fate.
As the sun sets behind the big construction site, all the hardworking trucks get ready to say goodnight. One by one, Crane Truck, Cement Mixer, Dump Truck, Bulldozer, and Excavator finish their work and lie down to rest—so they’ll be ready for another day of rough and tough construction play!
Each puzzle focuses on different letters of the alphabet—all you need to do is find the item that matches each letter, then turn the page and see whether you’ve chosen correctly! A perfect book for little learners. They’ll develop observational skills, learn to assign letters to objects, and they’ll be having so much fun they won’t even know they’re learning!
The silly rhymes and colorful cast of characters create an entertaining approach to reading that will have every child giggling from morning to night: “Today is gone. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”
Here they come, a flock of rollicking sheep in their sturdy red jeep. Will their outing be a success? Jeep goes splash! Jeep goes thud! Jeep goes deep in gooey mud! Here is a lively, funny tale, perfect for reading aloud. The youngest lap sitters will quickly learn to chant along with the reader as the brisk story unfolds, and they’ll delight in the colorful portrayal of the hapless sheep.
This story beautifully depicts a child’s wonder at a new world, and the hope of capturing and keeping that wonder forever… perfect for reading together on a cozy winter day.
Join this adorable cast of animal characters as they explore numbers and counting over the course of a day, having fun at all stops along the way.
Sal and her mother a picking blueberries to can for the winter. But when Sal wanders to the other side of Blueberry Hill, she discovers a mama bear preparing for her own long winter…
Just like you and me, the vehicles in this story get tuckered out after a long day of hard work and need to quiet down and settle in for sweet dreams. Young readers will surely identify as these trucks ask for one more story while their parents sing them a goodnight song and send them off to bed.
Jim the chimpanzee is in a terrible mood for no good reason. His friends can’t understand it—how can he be in a bad mood when it’s SUCH a beautiful day? They have lots of suggestions for how to make him feel better. But Jim can’t take all the advice… and has a BIT of a meltdown. Maybe he just needs a day to feel grumpy?
When Max dresses in his wolf suit and causes havoc, his mother sends him to bed. From there, Max sets sail to an island inhabited by the Wild Things, who name him king and share a wild rumpus with him. But then from far away across the world, Max smells good things to eat…
Clang! Clang! Clang! The fire truck is pulling out of the station. But wait! Where is the firefighter going? To the potty! Even firefighters go to the potty! In this hilarious story, each person—from a firefighter on the way to answer a fire alarm to a zoo keeper on the way to feed the polar bears—stops what they are doing to go to the potty. Toddlers learn that everybody uses the potty.
Llama Llama’s tale of nighttime drama makes an ideal story for bedtime reading. The infectious rhyming and expressive artwork are endearing to young children who especially relate to Baby Llama’s need for comfort, as much as parents appreciate Mama Llama’s reassuring message.
A bestselling story about confidence, self-esteem, and a shy little mouse who sets out on a journey to find his roar. Fed up of being ignored by the other animals, Mouse wishes he could roar like Lion. But, as he discovers, even the biggest, bossiest people are scared sometimes… and even the smallest creatures can have the heart of a lion!
Excellent Reading for Three-year-olds
Kids will love the terrific tongue-twisters as the list of places to enjoy green eggs and ham gets longer and longer… and they might even learn a thing or two about trying new things!
Madeline charms readers with its endearing, courageous heroine, cheerful humor, and wonderful, whimsical drawings of Paris, charming readers for more than 75 years!
Mike and his trusty steam shovel, Mary Anne, dig deep canals for boats to travel through, cut mountain passes for trains, and hollow out cellars for city skyscrapers. But with progress come new machines, and soon the inseparable duo are out of work. Mike believes that Mary Anne can dig as much in a day as one hundred men can dig in a week, and the two have one last chance to prove it and save Mary Anne from the scrap heap. What happens next in the small town of Popperville is a testament to their friendship, and to old-fashioned hard work and ingenuity.
One by one, a whole host of different animals and birds find their way out of the cold and into Bear’s cave to warm up. But even after the tea has been brewed and the corn has been popped, Bear just snores on! See what happens when he finally wakes up and finds his cave full of uninvited guests—all of them having a party without him!
Designed especially for toddlers, this large board book features an intriguing locomotive shape, bright, cheery illustrations, and a simple retelling of the original story just right for reading aloud.
Trixie, Daddy, and Knuffle Bunny take a trip to the neighborhood Laundromat. But the exciting adventure takes a dramatic turn when Trixie realizes some bunny was left behind? This brilliant book tells a true-to-life tale about what happens when Daddy’s in charge and things go terribly, hilariously wrong.
If you give a child a box, who can tell what will happen next? It may become a library or a boat. It could set the scene for a fairy tale or a wild expedition. The most wonderful thing is its seemingly endless capacity for magical adventure, a feature imaginatively captured in cardboardesque art and rhythmically celebrated in this poetic tribute.
Swim along with the pout-pout fish as he discovers that being glum and spreading “dreary wearies” isn’t really his destiny. Bright ocean colors and playful rhyme come together in Deborah Diesen’s fun fish story that’s sure to turn even the poutiest of frowns upside down.
The touching tale of Gerald the giraffe, who wants nothing more than to dance. With crooked knees and thin legs, it’s harder for a giraffe than you would think. Gerald is finally able to dance to his own tune when he gets some encouraging words from an unlikely friend. With light-footed rhymes and high-stepping illustrations, this tale is gentle inspiration for every child with dreams of greatness.
Welcome to Dr. Seuss’s book of ridiculous rhymes! Keep an eye out for the Zink in the sink and the Bofa on the sofa, and say goodnight to the Zillow on your pillow! Everyday objects become the homes for colorful creatures!
Sam and Dave are on a mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they find… nothing. The day still turns out to be pretty spectacular as they are rewarded with a rare treasure in this story of looking for the extraordinary—and finding it in a manner never expected.
Mr. Gumpy lives by a river. One sunny day he takes a ride in his small boat. It is such a perfect idea, for such a perfect summer day, that he soon has company: first the children, then the rabbit, the cat, the dog, the pig, the sheep, the chickens, and still others until—Mr. Gumpy’s outing comes to an inevitable but not unhappy, conclusion. “Come for a ride another day!”
Strega Nona’s gentle humor, irrepressible spirit, and matter-of-fact approach to life have won her legions of fans—both young and old. The American Library Association called her “an enduring character who has charmed generations of children.”
One evening Harold decides to go for a walk in the moonlight. Armed only with an oversized purple crayon, Harold and his trusty crayon travel through woods and across seas and past dragons before returning to bed, safe and sound. Full of funny twists and surprises, this charming story shows just how far your imagination can take you.
When Helen Finney feeds alphabet soup to her dog, Martha, it goes straight up to her brain, and Martha begins to speak! Having a talking dog is a lot of fun—unless your dog never stops talking! When chatty Martha gives her family the silent treatment they’re relieved at first, but then they get worried. Will Martha ever speak again?
The longest-running picture book on the New York Times bestseller list! Tullet’s brilliant creation proves that books need not lose out to electronic wizardry; his colorful dots perform every bit as engagingly as any on the screen of an iPad.
Happiness, sadness, bravery, anger, shyness… Exploring a full range of emotions, In My Heart describes how hearts feel inside, with lyrical language empowering readers to identify their own emotions.
Harry is a white dog with black spots who absolutely, positively hates to take a bath. After a day of adventure, Harry gets so dirty that he no longer looks like a white dog with black spots. Now he looks like a black dog with white spots! Harry the Dirty Dog is perfect for fans of dogs… especially ones who also don’t always want a bath!
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist. Some of the information in this post was inspired by Kristen Ivy and Reggie Joiner and Parenting Your One-Year-Old, Parenting Your Two-Year-Old, and Parenting Your Three-Year-Old available on www.parentcuestore.org.