It happens to the best of us…your saintly sweet little baby transforms overnight into a toddler terror. Suddenly you’re tip-toeing on eggshells to avoid tantrums and dodging mega meltdowns with your sanity in serious jeopardy.

It was the worst day EVER just because you used the wrong colour spoon which didn’t match his bowl. Or because the mashed potato was mashed or his honey dissolved in his porridge and he couldn’t see it anymore. Or the time you made apple pie out of the leftover apples and he was inconsolable as now the apples were sad.

It’s only a phase, it’ll pass” they all say, But when you’re deep in the terrible twos, the threatening threes or the feral fours, it does sometimes feel that it’ll last forever.

So we reached out to our wise mums to get some top tips on how to survive the toddler years and emerge with your sanity intact.

1) Distract Distract Distract!

Perfecting the art of distraction is a Mum’s best friend when it comes to toddler tempers. We love the idea of creating a special box that contains a variety of goodies. Fill it up with some engaging puzzles, a few favourite books, some lovely big blocks, figurines and instruments (like maracas). Then, when a meltdown is brewing, bring out the distraction box and give them a little control by encouraging them to pick a toy from the box. “Quick, why don’t you look in your very special box and you decide what you’d like to play with. Quick, grab it now … I’ll race you to the box”. Pshew, dodged that outburst….

2) Energy Busters

Most toddlers need at least one or two ‘run-arounds’ during the day to work off that endless energy. Tiring them out at a playground always works but sometimes it’s not always possible to have an outdoor play. Since a giant hamster wheel is probably not a possibility, it’s best to have some alternatives when you can’t get to the park. An indoor mini-trampoline or a hopper ball is a good way to exert some excess energy. You could also get a small ride-on car or trike that you can use inside or play an action-packed board game like Soggy Doggy.

Create an obstacle course for your little tyke. Get them to climb under chairs, tables, jump off lounge cushions and scoot around drink bottles. So much fun!

Get yourself a bluetooth speaker and connect it to your phone so you can blast out your music and instantly transform any room into a super-fun disco. Kids love to dance, especially if you join in. There are heaps of kid-friendly tunes out there – Wiggles of course, is always a popular favourite.

3) Role Play

Young kids love helping out. Enjoy it while you can ‘cause as they get older they don’t want to lift a finger. But at the ripe old age of two, your little one’s idea of the best fun ever is sweeping the floor or cleaning the windows. So get them involved with the housework….let them copy what you are doing, even if their way of ‘helping out’ is actually more hassle. But at least they’re smiling. Up the ante by buying them their own toy broom, vacuum and set of kitchen utensils so they can role-play as you go about your chores.

4) Just Add Water

If it all gets too much, put them in water. We all know water has a calming effect and it works like magic for most toddlers. If the weather is warm, set up a water play area outside, with a water table, water toys and a novelty sprinkler. Then pull up a chair nearby and a tall drink and enjoy the moments of peace while your toddler shrieks with excitement. If it’s cold outside, make them a bubble bath and add lots of different containers for scooping and pouring and a few fun bath toys. You can plonk a thick fluffy cushion beside the bath and take a load off while they play away. Water is like a reset – once they’re out, everyone is fresh and clean and the woes of toddlerdom are far behind.

After the bath, give your toddler a relaxing massage using a child-friendly cream. We love the Little Innoscents Winter Blues Balm which has a calming eucalyptus aroma that will soothe and alleviate your little one’s colds, chills and discomforts.

5) Get Crafty

Toddlers love getting tactile and messy so doing a craft activity with them will keep them happy for ages. We buy a big roll of paper and cut it into big sheets and tape them together. Set the activity up outdoors (ideally) with a bunch of thick paintbrushes and toddler-friendly paints and let your child unleash their creativity onto the paper. I often let them strip down to their nappy if it’s warm enough and then pop them in the bath straight after.

Playdough is another brilliant crafty way to keep your toddler busy or let them play with all sorts of different fabric with a variety of colours and textures for a lovely sensory experience.

6) Teething and Eating

Keep in mind that when your toddler is playing up, he may be experiencing teething pain. Canine and molar teeth usually erupt between 2 and 3 years and that can be big-time ouchy! To minimise teething pain, check out some fun teething toys, allow them an ice-block treat or try our teething yoghurt dummy recipe.

Getting a toddler to actually eat can be a nightmare! And it always seems to be a big source of stress for Mums. A good tip is to give yourself and your toddler a break. Embrace your blender or food processor and whizz up some wholesome and nutritious smoothies. Sometimes your toddler is too busy to sit and eat, so a lovely cold smoothie filled with all sorts of good things will give them what they need and diffuse the mealtime struggle. If they’re not big on smoothies and they don’t like to sit, give them a fun grazing plate. Look for some melamine plates or platters that are colourful and fun and get them to help you load it up with small cubes of cheese, pieces of fruit, mini sandwiches and crunchy crackers. Leave the platter out while they play and they can come back and forth to graze when they are hungry.

Toddler Years Is Practise For The Troublesome Teens

And just to make us feel better about our tiny (but adorable) terrors, our expert mums have reminded us that the toddler years are actually preparation for teenager years…when it really steps up a notch or three. Don’t get sucked into thinking it all ends when they hit a certain age. It doesn’t stop, it’s just different battles at different ages. And if all else fails, pour yourself a massive glass of wine and know that tomorrow is another day.

This article is proudly brought to you in partnership with Big W. The MoM team love discovering the amazing range of products for the whole family at Big W and we’re very excited to share these with you.

  • My youngest very rarely had an Energy Buster that worked. She never napped, unless you count long car trips which weren’t plentiful. She still has heaps of energy. I think she borrowed mine haha.


  • Just add water is my favourite go-to when my children are needing grounding and needing to be calmed I like to think of how they can use water, if its daytime and hot then I send them outside and let them water the plants, clean their toy cars or just splash around and make muddy puddles. If it’s too late or cold for outside play then upstairs in the bath is always a good way to calm them.


  • Love these ideas especially when they come from other Mums because they talk from experience.


  • Some good ideas to implement when needed.


  • Yes! I needed these indoor energy busting tips. Thanks!


  • Great tips ! Distraction and redirection are great tools indeed.


  • And it happens again during their teens. Brace yourself!!


  • It sure is necessary to keep them entertained.


  • Love the just add water! Great ideas thanks


  • I use the calm down time in the bathtub but mostly I let the storm pass but trying to help my son articulate or at least navigate his feelings. I usually know what has upset him so I play it back to him amd explain the why or why not. I tell him I’m here when he’s ready to talk or to have a cuddle. He’ll keep going for a bit before coming back for a cuddle. In public this is a bit shorter and if it fails, its a football style pick up of him and distraction and a chat later.


  • Great idea! Hope I can still remember next time when my toddler having a melt down.


  • Great ideas, some of I wished I’d had know when my kids were little


  • Some great ideas in this article. It’s great to avoid tantrums but I found they need to learn right from wrong and instill that in their memory. It needs to be explained a few times then I couldn’t create avoidance all the time. When your child is old enough and wants markers give more than one layer of paper to stop it going on whatever it is on. Washable marker will wash off vinyl or timber flooring. It also washes off clothing quite easily.


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