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Little Kids, Big Questions
is a series of 12 podcasts that translates the research of early childhood development into parenting practices that mothers, fathers and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. Click here to listen to or download the podcasts. This podcast series is generously funded by MetLife Foundation.

My 2-month-old cries hysterically when I dress and undress him. It makes me feel awful, but what can I do? - Don't feel bad—many babies protest at being changed. Going from feeling warm and cozy to being exposed can be very uncomfortable. Imagine what the womb must have felt like to him: warm and protected, soft and comfy. Read More

Now that he's crawling, my 7-month-old has been tormenting our dog. - Join the club. This is almost as common as 10-month-olds trying to stick their fingers into electrical outlets. Both stem from babies’ intense curiosity to learn all about their world. Read More

Since my 8-month-old was a tiny baby, I have had a regular bedtime routine: bath, quiet play, books, bed. But now, after we've read our story, my son starts fussing and crying as I carry him to his room. - The same thing that is probably going on in thousands of other homes where there is an 8-month-old. At this stage of development, babies are figuring out what comes next. You have done such a good job with your bedtime routine that your son now knows that after the story is over, he has to separate from you—the person he loves and wants to be with the most. Why in the world would he want to do that? Read More

My 9-month-old loves to throw food on the floor. - The “Food Fling” game is quite common. Nine-month-olds are driven to learn how the world around them works. When your son is throwing his apple slices off the high chair tray, he is figuring out: Where does the apple go? Does it always fall on the floor? Can I make it come back? What sound does it make? What happens to it after it falls—does it bounce, splat, or squash? Read More

I have a 10-month-old daughter who used to eat anything, but now when I try to feed her vegetables she clamps her lips shut, cries, and pushes the spoon away. - You are not alone. There are so many babies who do this, and so many parents who worry about it! I have consulted with several pediatricians and they all tell me your baby will be just fine. She is getting the nutrients and calories she needs from fruits, cereal, and milk (be it breast or formula). Read More

My 11-month-old absolutely hates being in his car seat. - Car seat protests are totally normal and expected. Kids who are beginning to develop exciting new physical skills, such as standing and walking, don't like being strapped in. While we can be flexible about some parenting issues, using car seats is not one of them. What to do? Read More

My 1-year-old hates taking baths. - The first step is to try and figure out why he hates the bath. He may be very sensitive to certain sensory experiences. He might not like feeling wet, hate having his hair washed, feel too cool while he’s being toweled off, or doesn’t like the texture of the towel or the smell of the shampoo. If this is a sudden change for him, then it is likely that he had an experience that made him fearful. The water during a recent bath may have been too hot and felt uncomfortable. He may have experienced something—like slipping or sliding—that made him feel insecure and afraid. Read More

Whenever I try to discipline my 13-month-old by telling her, No and swatting her hand when she touches something she shouldn't, she just laughs and thinks it's a game. - Toddlerhood, while incredibly delightful, can also be very frustrating for all parties involved. Toddlers are eager to use all their developing skills to make new discoveries. The world is their classroom, which means they get into everything. At the same time, they do not yet have the ability to control their impulses. This means that they can’t stop themselves from doing something they desire, no matter how many times you tell them not to do it. You see this behavior when a 1-year-old stops what she is doing when she hears, NO!, but then is back at it shortly thereafter. So how do you get your child to take you seriously? Read More

Without fail, as soon as I answer the telephone my 1-year-old starts fussing for my attention. - My friend tells the story of calling a local child care center when her daughter was 9 months to see if there were any openings. I dialed the numbers, got the answering machine, and tried to leave a message. Instead, all they heard was: ‘Hello, this is WAAAAAAAH. I have a baby and WAAAAAAAH. Please let us know if WAAAAAAAH. Later, the center director told her that messages like this were common. Read More

How do I respond to my 17-month-old who has started to swing at me with her hands when she doesn’t get her way? - It ain’t easy being 17 months. You have really strong feelings but lack the ability to use words to clearly let others know what’s on your mind. How frustrating is that? Read More

My 18-month-old refuses to brush her teeth. - This is a very common problem among toddlers. The key to solving it is finding out what's causing your daughter's resistance. Is it that she’s trying to assert some control? Most children her age will protest anything they know is important to their parents. What better way to feel powerful at a time when kids have so little control over so many aspects of their lives. Another possibility is that your child's gums, teeth, and mouth are sensitive and tooth-brushing actually feels irritating to her. Or, perhaps she doesn't like the smell or taste of the toothpaste. Children who have this kind of oral sensitivity also tend to have other tactile issues such as finding certain clothes uncomfortable and itchy, and disliking seams on their socks and tags in their shirts. Read More

When he doesn't get his way, my 19-month-old will scream at the top of his lungs. - You're not alone. One of the biggest challenges of parenting is separating ourselves from our kids’ behavior. Unfortunately, these strong emotional reactions tend to encourage the very behavior we are trying to stop. For example, when parents show how badly they want their child to use the potty, it often increases the child’s resistance to using it. Read More

My 22-month-old always wants to be carried, but now she's getting too heavy to be constantly in my arms - Ah… the “I want up” syndrome—demanding to be carried 24/7. This is not uncommon. The key is to figure out why she wants to be carried all the time, which requires some detective work. Read More

My 24-month-old, who had been using utensils pretty consistently to eat, has reverted to using his fingers most of the time - This is an issue that depends on a family’s cultural beliefs and practices. In some families, fingers are used to eat most food, while in other families, forks and knives are the way to go. Either way, it’s important to consider your child’s age and stage and what he is capable of mastering as you decide how best to respond. Read More

My 2-year-old is pretty physical—he will slap his sister if he gets angry or grab toys out of her hands. - That’s the beauty, and challenge, of having multiple children—no two are the same. The behavior you describe is actually very common at this age, especially for children who are feisty and physical like your son. Why? Read More

When my 2-year-old gets really angry and has a tantrum, she will bump her head against the wall. - Who could blame you for giving in? It is very upsetting to see your child hurt herself. Extreme reactions like this make limit-setting even more difficult. From your daughter’s point of view, her behavior works, which makes it less likely she will give it up. Read More

My 2-year-old always has to have her way—from what she wears to the bowl she uses for cereal. - You are not alone. For some children, flexibility and toddlerhood just don't go together. The truth is what looks and feels like total inflexibility is a natural and important part of your child's development. Two-year-olds are at a stage when their sense of self is emerging. They are strong-willed, they know what they want and don't want, and they have the communication skills to tell you just how they feel. Read More

My 2 1/2-year-old goes to child care a few days a week. His teacher has been telling me that my son hits and is very aggressive with the other kids. - Aggressive behavior in toddlers is not uncommon. They have strong feelings that they express in many different ways, often through action. Aggression can be the result of many different things—frustration that they can’t do or have everything they want, difficulty managing strong emotions, recent changes in their lives (new baby, parent on a business trip)—and countless other reasons. Key to effectively addressing the behavior is understanding why your child is feeling angry and “acting out” at this time. Read More

I started giving my 2-year-old a cookie once in a while when he would help me put away his toys. Now he expects a treat every time. - Most of us have grappled with this issue of rewards when struggling to get our children to cooperate. The concern about material rewards is that they motivate children to make good choices in order to receive a prize, rather than for the pleasure of "doing the right thing" and feeling cooperative and helpful. Read More

My 2-year-old can't get enough television…he wants to watch all the time! - While the tantrum here is about TV, what’s really at issue is helping your child learn to cope with life’s rules, frustrations, and disappointments. No one gets everything they want, and it is one of a parent’s most important jobs to help their children deal with this fact of life. Read More

I have a 10-year-old son and an almost 3-year-old daughter who has started repeating some of the phrases she hears her brother saying (like "butt" or "shut up"). - The first line of defense is prevention—helping your older child learn to watch what he says around your little one. Start by helping him see how important he is to your daughter. She wants to be just like him, so she spends a lot of time watching and imitating him, including how he talks. Explain to your son that this means he has an important job to do—modeling appropriate language for his sister. Read More

What should I do when my 2 1/2-year-old won’t share her toys with our 8-month-old? - Sibling rivalry usually heats up once the younger child is crawling and getting into the older one’s stuff. I think about my own son’s shocked (and furious) face the first time his 6-month-old sister reached out and swatted his carefully-constructed block tower. Read More

Sometimes, when I try to explain to my 35-month-old the reason why we have certain rules she seems to understand and accept it, while other times she has a tantrum. Why is that? - Between approximately 2 1/2 and 3, children begin to understand the logical connection between ideas—the "why"of things—which is the reason they start to ask "Why?" about almost everything! It is a major milestone in their overall development and in their understanding of how the world works. Read More

My three-year-old son has started to play with his penis. How should I handle this? - Have no fear—you are not alone. This is a very common phenomenon at this age and totally normal. Your son is exploring and learning about his body, and he is telling you what he thinks about it! This is a good thing. You want to make sure he has a positive body image, so how you deal this interaction is very important. Read More

I've caught my 3-year-old fibbing on more than one occasion. - What you describe is quite common for 3-year-olds. Why? Because children this age don't fully understand the difference between reality and fantasy. And one important way young children make sense of the world is through their imagination. Read More




When my 2-year-old gets really angry and has a tantrum, she will bump her head against the wall.
Read More
My three-year-old son has started to play with his penis. How should I handle this?
Read More
Sometimes, when I try to explain to my 35-month-old the reason why we have certain rules she seems to understand and accept it, while other times she has a tantrum. Why is that?
Read More
What should I do when my 2 1/2-year-old won’t share her toys with our 8-month-old?
Read More

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