Childhood Transitions

What every parent needs to know about childhood transition.

When you ask parents which age was the most difficult when raising their kids, it is often whatever age their children are right now.

While that may seem like a simple way to look at the demands of parenting, when you look at parenting more objectively, you usually do find that each age does have its own challenges.

Many of these difficult times revolve around transitions, such as when your baby weans from the breast, moves from a crib to a bed, gives up his naps, and starts nursery, etc.

Learning about and anticipating childhood transitions can make parenting a little easier.


The transition of moving from two naps to one and then finally giving up a nap altogether can be very difficult. For a few weeks or months, until they get used to their new sleep schedule, children can be very tired, extra sensitive, and irritable, especially in the late afternoon and early evening.

Make sure your children get enough sleep, including daytime sleep from their naps, and don't give up their naps before they are supposed to. Keep in mind that most 2 and 3-year-olds won't take a nap if you give them a choice.

If your older toddler has given up taking naps, but then quickly falls asleep in his car seat or is fussy late in the day, then you likely let him give up his nap too soon. You might have to change the time of when you were putting him down for the nap, be more consistent in your daytime routine, or simply have some afternoon quiet time if you still aren't able to get your toddler or preschool age child to take a nap and you think he needs one.

Eating Habits

Many parents also encounter problems when their child's diet transitions from that of a baby to a toddler and then to a diet that resembles the rest of the family, which is hopefully a healthy diet.

Reviewing the 'normal' times that infants start baby food, finger food, and table food can make feeding your baby much easier, especially for new parents. It can be just as important to understand that many toddlers have a big slowdown in their eating, like to feed themselves, and can become very picky.

At Wriggles and Giggles sessions we share with you transition techniques as well as many other parenting techniques to help you take the stress out of parenting. The sessions are not just for the children.

Wriggles and Giggles are now taking bookings for sessions in Yarm, Stockton, Darlington & Ingleby Barwick, Newton Aycliffe. Limited places to allow social distancing guidelines to be followed.

Common Childhood Transitions

Other common childhood transitions that parents should, or will eventually, be familiar with include:

Moving your baby to a crib from a bassinet (around 3 months of age)

Teething and getting a first baby tooth (between 3 to 15 months)

Sleeping through the night (around 4 to 5 months)

Starting baby food (around 4 to 6 months)

Starting finger foods and table foods (around 8 to 9 months)

Weaning from infant formula to whole milk (12 months)

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Changing from a bottle to a sippy cup (around 12 to 15 months)

Moving from two naps (a morning and afternoon nap) to 1 afternoon nap (age 12 to 18 months)

Weaning your infant or toddler from breast milk to infant formula or whole milk, depending on his age

Temper tantrums and the terrible twos

Starting potty training (age 18 months to 3 years)

Moving your child to a toddler bed (age 2 to 3 years, once your toddler is climbing out of his crib, or he is 36 inches tall)

Finishing potty training (age 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years)

Giving up the afternoon nap (around age 3 to 5 years, but typically closer to when they start nursery)

Wriggles and Giggles have over 50 Early Years Interactive Videos available to enjoy with your child in Dance, Sign, Puppets, Action, Match and Sound Games from our sessions using this link.

First day of school

Staying dry at night (age 4 to 5 years or even later for some kids and very often much later when they are fully potty trained)

Losing a first baby tooth (age 6 to 7 years)

Starting puberty - girls (age 8 to 13 years)

Starting puberty - boys (age 9 to 14 years)

Learning to drive

Graduating from high school

Moving out of the house

Going to college

Getting a job

Of course, those last few can happen in a different order.

Transition Rules

There are no hard and fast rules when dealing with childhood transitions, except that you should likely be suspicious that something could be wrong if your child is way outside the typical range for when something should occur. For example, if your 18-month-old has already given up naps altogether or your 8-year-old still needs a daytime nap, then that could be pointing to a medical problem.

On the other hand, knowing that most kids don't start staying dry until they are 5 to 8 years old will help you to know that a 3 or 4-year-old is normal if he is still wetting the bed, even after he is potty trained.

The only other 'rule' about childhood transitions is that kids with different temperaments handle them very differently. While an easy going child might be able to both switch to whole milk and a sippy cup at the same time, another child who is much more resistant to change might have to be slowly transitioned to whole milk and then again slowly transitioned to a sippy cup a few months later.

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