7 Toddler Skills I Could Live Without (or at least wait for later)

When we first have our babies each new developmental milestone and stage is exciting.  We look forward anxiously to signs that our little one is ok, normal, maybe even advanced.  Parents brag about how early their drooling bundle started holding their head up, smiled, rolled over and crawled.  Strangers ask “has she started walking yet?” upon encountering a mother or father with a baby anywhere over the age of 9 months in a stroller or carrier.

Then they actually start walking.  After the initial excitement wears off parents are hit with the reality that their once adorable slow mover is now an adorable potential disaster on two legs.  One that, before you know it, can outrun mom and dad and suddenly develops a stealth mode.

Walking isn’t where the patience testing, keep-you-on-your-toes talents for our little ones start and stop though.  No, within days most toddlers begin developing an entire arsenal of skills that they physically can accomplish but lack the developmental capabilities to use reason in applying and enjoy just for the fun of it.  Meaning: watch out.

Seven skills I wish my toddler couldn’t master before being able to explain why she needs to do it.

It’s great on a playground but toddlers figure out climbing by practicing on anything they can find handy: bookshelves, chairs, tabletops, counters, back of the couch… just about anything that is less than safe.  Any furniture that can should be bolted to a wall to prevent tipping and possible injury.  I’m glad my kids love climbing, I understand that it’s important for development even but the whole pushing chairs over to the counter to climb up and then into the cabinets to reach some snack instead of asking me for it does not help my blood pressure.  And I’ve had kids that climbed before they walked, getting their “I-can-freak-mommy-out” on even earlier.

Flushing the toilet.
She doesn’t even use it but she’s figured out that the sound it makes is cool plus she can say and wave “bye-bye.”  We try to keep the door closed but it’s forgotten from time to time and with 4 big sisters this isn’t surprising.  My favorite is when she accompanies me to the toilet and insists on flushing while I’m still sitting there.  Hello!

Turning on the facet.
The step stool in the bathroom seemed like a good idea for getting your child to brush their teeth but then they figure out how to turn the water on in the sink.  I get it, it’s way too much fun that every time you turn the handle water come out.  A trickle or a gush it’s like a mini-water park to a toddler.  Add in cups, spoons, and other water receptacles and it’s a complete adventure of splash time goodness.  As an added bonus it means the bathroom will get mopped.  Again.

Opening doors.
The best doors for a toddler to open are those that led to the rooms of big sisters.  Where big sisters have treasures and art supplies stashed or even better… candy.  I know there are door knob covers to keep curious hands from going into forbidden entryways but since my older kids also struggle with being able to open doors with safety knobs I can’t spend all day opening doors for everyone.  Instead we are all just trying to get smarter about our hiding places.

Opening marker lids.
Even more than glitter, markers are my least favorite craft supply.  The siren of all potential mess-makers, my toddlers simply can’t resist the call of colored ink with a felt tip.  Get the lid off and watch out walls, carpet, tables, clothing, faces, books… you name it.  I’ve banished markers from our house multiple times but somehow they always sneak back in to lure my toddlers into some sort of damage.  With bigger kids around now too there seems to be a particular affinity for the permanent kind.  Those lids should be child-proof.

Taking the diaper off.
No matter what kind of diaper my toddlers always eventually master taking it off.  Disposable, applix cloth, snaps, prefold and snappi, even diaper pins, my toddlers are diaper Houdinis.  Dirty or clean, if given the chance they will get it off and are guaranteed to run from me once the situation is discovered, more often than I care to admit running right through some #2 and leaving their mark everywhere.

Getting undressed.
For a while as long as there is clothing covering their diaper my toddlers forget about their magic trick of escaping the poop trap.  Then comes the fateful day when they realize they can take their clothes off BY THEMSELVES!  With my first born I clapped and cheered for this new milestone thinking of her blooming independence but those days are long gone now.  I just had no idea.  In a flash the child that I had ready to walk out the door is naked, clothes scattered, and shoes hidden all in the time it took me to grab my purse and keys.  Running around as though they’ve been craving fresh air on their private parts for decades, they squeal with delight while I sigh in exasperation.  It’s not like they go naked almost all day every day inside as it is.  I’ve given up on keeping clothes on them if we’re staying in, there’s no point, they’re just going to take it off anyway.

Getting ME undressed.
Because I’m *cough* “still” *cough* breastfeeding my children when they are toddlers they enjoy learning how to get to my breasts, on their own if need be.  It always puzzles me, have I not been responding to their requests to breastfeed easily and readily for the past many months?  Why suddenly do they need to alert me to their desire to breastfeed by taking it upon themselves to physically undress me?  Dear sweet child of mine, I am perfectly capable and willing to get my breast out for you to feed but we’re going to have some boundaries here and work on developing some breastfeeding manners, ok?  Trying to pull my shirt over my head as the first sign that you want to nurse is a bit rude.  Funny, yes.  The first time.  Maybe even the second.  But by the 115th time I’m not amused.  So here’s the deal, sign milk or ask for “bobbies” and it’s all yours but getting the boob out is left to me, mmmkay?


Thankfully we usually survive the toddler stage just fine with only a few less hairs on my head and my blood pressure only slightly more elevated than normal.  Reminding myself that it’s normal and actually a positive for them to explore and make messes helps me keep it all in focus.  Sometimes.  Besides, before I know it we’re into the stage where they can forcefully articulate why they want to do something and quite succinctly: “Because I want to!”


What are some of your favorite toddler skills?

How have your toddlers kept you on your toes and how have you survived the challenge?



  1. Oh gosh, you must have my toddler too?? I relate I think the climbing, on EVERYTHING, and the toilet flushing whilst I’m still on the toilet (hey, I’ve got my own personal bidet service now, lucky me) and the demanding, undressing of me (he’s worked out the bra clip thing, he can’t quite undo them, yet, but give him time, I’m sure he will) when he wants “boo-boos” which can be in public, or private, he doesn’t mind, and I’m setting some boundaries too!
    Fun isn’t it?? 🙂

    • Fun isn’t it? The bidet thing goes through my mind every single time. Today we had an incident where she kept trying to flush it over and over and couldn’t understand why I didn’t think it was funny. Ah, toddlers. ~Jessica

  2. I concur with the markers!!!! I only allow them when my 3 yr old wants to color, and her younger sister is asleep. She’s the “use it the right way” type of child, so I don’t have much of an issue with her in that area, and didn’t with the climbing or taking her diaper off (again, because that’s not the right way/use). Her sister is the total opposite and does all of those things. They both learned quickly about asking politely for “milkie.” 😉 I was not so thrilled when my 3yr old (then 1.5-2 yrs) learned to undress/dress herself, because she would make a mess (still does!). It was a struggle for me for awhile, but I gave up. I don’t care anymore, as long as we’re not going out in public. And even then, as long as it’s not *incredibly* mismatching, I don’t care. My only annoyance with it, is that she often chooses her sister’s too-small clothes to wear (they’re only 1 size apart, so they *look* the same size!).

    • My 8yo still does the clothing thing and picks things that are too big/small for her all the TIME! I have to remind her to only look in her drawers because she really doesn’t pay attention to size or fit, just if she wants to wear it or not. She also almost never matches. This has been going on for years now, she’s no toddler but this behavior remains! ~Jessica

  3. Hmmmm. I was sad to see the cough, cough around the sentence
    about you Breastfeeding your toddler. Those of us who continue to nurse our babes until they wean shouldn’t feel the need to “cough, cough” about a darn thing.

    • It’s a humor piece. When I originally wrote it I didn’t include the “still” it all but I recognize that for many it is still unusual. The coughs were my humorous attempt at mocking my own “still.” Sorry you misunderstood. Personally, I don’t give a crap what people think of how I feed and care for my children so it’s natural for me to kind of mock those that would be shocked I’m “still” breastfeeding my toddler. 😉 ~Jessica

  4. Yes! LOL. To all of these! And now, I’m rediscovering it all since I have a 10 month old. My other two are 9 and 8 years old so it had been a while. He’s already playing in the toilet, climbing, running (I was soooo impressed that he started early but now, not so much)! And he has already learned to take off most of his clothes. And I admit, it’s cute…..at first. Until we’re in Walmart and he’s naked. LOL

  5. My little one is starting on the climbing, right now is the diaper box and the car seat. Which reminds me you can add wrestling to that list! My guy is showing some great talent on that area! He is also practicing his undressing me skills. He is nine months, and I’m scared! LOL!!

  6. Oh my goodness! Yes! My son is 9-months, but he seems determined to give me gray hair already, and I know before I know it he will be running full force into mischief with his older siblings. This post made me laugh and cringe all at the same time!

    By the way, making me do math to post is just cruel 😉

  7. Goodness! I think you have summed up my 20 month old, 3 1/2 year old and even my almost 5 year old lol. Something to add to the list being able to take CDs or DVDs out of the cases and put them into the wii machine. this is what my 20 month old has realized today! He also just shoves his hand down my shirt trying to pull my breast out to eat .. It’s cute a first but then it gets old.. Especially in public! Lol

  8. My 1.5 year old has taken to standing on toys (usually the ones with wheels on them). Also now she has figured out feet and kicking which is her favorite thing. Crayons are also a huge thing now, thank goodness a little remindingabout only on paper normally saves the walls. Not looking forward to undresSing, but I know it’s coming :/

  9. Oh how thankful I was at the time that my daughter didn’t roll until she was 9.5 months, crawl until 10.5 months and walk until 14.5 months! Even climbing she didn’t really start trying until about 18 months. But MAN has she made up for it since! She’s 29 months now and all day long she’s up, down, at the counter, in the dog fish, up, down, all around. Ugh! And her favourite thing right now is “need help?”! Why no, I don… well, sure, since you’re here already, I guess I do!”. But what a lot of fun and amazement watching them grow and learn!

  10. The day after my 1st learned to crawl at 6 months I caught him climbing (successfully) up my kitchen drawers. Now my 2nd, she’s a handful with anything that writes, crayon, pencils, pens, and markers. She can always find one and will color on *anything*.

  11. Hahahaha! That reminds me I should consider myself VERY lucky that my 2-year-old daughter has just started climbing in her highchair on her own, has never tried to flush the toilet- me on it or not, and has NEVER opened doors! But boy! Oh Boy, does she like her freakin’ markers and water 😉 And where does all this stubborness of hers come from, really?

  12. I LOVE markers!!! I strip my 19 month old down to her diapers and giver her the markers and let her go for it! I can get toilets cleaned or the floors mopped and then take some great pictures of my daughter all Kat VonD’d out 🙂 Plus it makes bath time fun for her because she gets to help scrub and actually see the results, hahaha. She is my 4th kiddo and Ill admit I never would have let the first couple of my kids do this, but these days it is all about being inventive 😉 She is a climber, and a stripper, and infatuated with tiolets as well, and since I know that she is our last, it has made me love all of these little pesky moments even more. One of my favorite recent pictures I have of her is when she is completely nude, sitting in the middle of the kitchen table, coloring on herself with the biggest “Momma look at my pretties” smile on her face! Oh……I wish I could freeze time, these dang kids keep growing and making me proud and breaking my heart all at the same time.

  13. OMG! I was just laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes! We’ve nicknamed each one of our kids Dr. Distruct-o during their toddler years. Our youngest (of three) is 15 months and I swear they get crazier quicker when they have older siblings to follow around. At only 15 months, he remembers all those “hiding” spots for DAYS sometimes just waiting for the moment when he can stack and climb something to reach what was “hidden” from him. 🙂

  14. My older two were active and into everything. So when our third was born, I thought we were prepared. Ha! She has taken climbing and escaping into new levels!!
    She, at 11 months, managed to climb the steps by herself. On the outside of the railing. Climbing on the part that is one inch deep. Up to the tenth step and down. Oh, yes, my heart stopped. And we had a piece of plywood rigged up to the rail by bedtime. (Covered with fabric, it’s become a real design statement).
    This summer, she managed to get through the fence twice. A wooden, good neigbour fence. At 2 1/2 she was small enough to squeeze through. Who’d have thought it?!
    She can also breeze through most locks. We have a padlock on the gate as she can climb to the 6 foot latch and open it. The childproof door things, on cabinets or doors are a joke. Once, she came out to the backyard where I was doing yardwork, through the front yard. She got into the garage, opened the big door, and came into the back, which I had open. Thank goodness it wasn’t locked, as she can’t get back into the house from the garage. Her dad, who thought he was watching her, wasn’t.
    We either have extra locks on all our doors near roof level, or have keyed deadbolts, instead of ones you can just open and close.
    All my kids walked early (8, 9 & 10 months), so I have had to be on it from an early age. They are all fiercely independent, and that is one thing I sometimes wish we had less of. The fierceness of my youngest’s to do it all on her own, coupled with her complete lack of fear and her absolute ability to do anything she wants, is terrifying on the worst days.

  15. Hahaha! I can relate to ALL of this!!!!!!!

    It’s amazing how the stool in the bathroom seems like such a great idea until they realise that they can move the stool themselves and want to play with the water!

    I do wonder why I get dressed somedays!

  16. I could deal with the flushing of the toilet until he did it while I was in the shower… not fun. Thankfully he doesn’t take off his diaper too often (and never once it is dirty) but I realize I may be on borrowed time.

    • Maybe not, my son only takes off pee diapers never poops. We just taught him how to put them in the pail.

    • I had one that thought flushing it when I was in the shower was so fun she’d actually want me to take a shower. My reactions were just too entertaining I guess! ~Jessica

  17. OMG, my 2.5 year old feels the need to undress me to nurse as well! It annoys me to no end. he also can’t just pick a side, he wants to switch boobs every 5 seconds. The most annoying undressing mommy is during the night. Here I am all asleep and a certain toddler decides he wants to nurse and he will just help himself. Nothing like being woken up that way.

    We just started my son saying “I do it”. I was excited the first time he said it, now I know that what ever it is will take 10 times as long and be 3 times as messy (at least).

  18. that just made me lol – i get mine (22mths still feeding & proud) yanking down my top or just sticking his hand inside. and yes, thats how he wakes me up in the morning too. i have tried wearing bras in bed and he still manages to get in there.

    i’m on a water meter too, so i have palpitations every time he goes near a tap. and if he gets two cups with liquid in off the work surface when i’m washing up he loves pouring one to the other and back again until it goes all down him and over the floor.

    whenever he sees a book that he had ‘improved’ on with his own artistic endeavours he screams – ie my reaction when i see it. he gets up to all sorts when im doing the washing up, little terror. he’s redecorated all the furniture i painstakingly restored this summer and added pattern to our plain walls. i despair/scrub/repaint. the funniest was when i walked into the room and he was busy drawing on the walls then wiping it off again with a baby wipe. i was quite at a loss which way to react.

    as for undressing, he’s got as far as his socks and shoes but thats it so far – i see i have all this excitement to come.

  19. Oh BOY can I relate! My favorite was the (cough cough) last one. We can be at a store, like PAYING at Target, and Isla will reach into my shirt, attempt to grab at ‘er and go to town.
    Why, Mama, do we need to wait?

  20. Ah, yes! The last one. Now it’s winter, and there are jackets to slow him down, but my 20 month old won’t let a little thing like being in the middle of grocery shopping and wearing clothes stop him from his pursuit of the milky goodness.

  21. DS1 figured out how to flush the toilet right around the time I got pregnant with DS2. Unfortunately for me, just the SOUND of the flushing toilet makes me nauseous! He was really into climbing a year ago, but seems to have figured out that Mama doesn’t appreciate flying monkeys on the dining table. LOL.

  22. Argh, the climbing, the climbing! Sometimes it seems like all I say is: “Feet on the floor!” She already fell over once with the high-chair on top of her. Haven’t gotten to the undressing, flushing phase yet, but she will draw on the table with her dinner 🙂

  23. All of this is soooo funny and true. I have 2 kids, my son learned to walk at 9.5 months old and scared the daylights out of me too many times to count. Boy, could he ever climb, I was truly frightened that one of these days I was going to find him on top of the fridge. He also loved to play in the toilet water with the cat, lol

    I wasn’t so anxious for my daughter to start walking because of her brother, but I should have known that it didn’t matter if she could walk or not. This kid figured out that to get to the kitchen cupboards, all she had to do was roll the computer out to the kitchen and then climb on it to get on the counter. Voila! Full access to the cupboards. She was also a Houdini when it came to getting naked. I finally had to resort to duct tape, and putting her sleepers on backwards, otherwise I’d find poo-caso masterpieces on her bedroom walls, blech. She was also good at getting my shirts unbuttoned real quick, and it didn’t matter if we were in public or not, which makes for some really embarassing situations. She’s five now, and still plays with my buttons on my shirts, lol Thank you for putting a smile on my face today, and reminding me of when my kids were little.. 🙂