You may have looked at the title to this and raised an eyebrow because obviously you don’t expect babies to clean up after themselves, after all – you may be excited that they just learned how to hold their own sippy cup without assistance. Still, there’s a lot we as parents can do to encourage your baby and toddler to participate in cleaning up, straightening or in general helping to keep their environment the way they like it.
Mother’s Little Helper
When my daughter was little, she loved to watch me do the daily tasks around the house and when she could toddle along after me, she wanted to help too. I remember standing at the washer for a while, pulling out small wet clothes that belonged to her and handing them to her so she could put them into the dryer one at a time.
When it came to picking up her play area, I would hand her stuffed animals and point her at the toy box. She’d toddle over and deposit it in and come back for another. We’d go from like item to like item until they were all back where they belonged.
Yes, these methods can take a lot longer, but they will be well worth the time spent. The first time I saw my daughter cleaning up her own toys and putting them up without prompting she was 20 months old. I grant you – she filled up the tub with all her blocks – then dumped them all back out – but her heart was in the right place.
Kid Friendly Access
You can do more around the house to make it easier for your toddler to help you help them. Pick a low drawer or cupboard to store their plastic plates and cups. A place where they can get them from if they need them and bring them to you. It’s also a great place for them to be able to put up their dishes when they want to ‘help’ you empty the dishwasher.
Rearrange your cupboard space so that your toddler can reach their snacks or drinks. Now, I grant you – you don’t necessarily want your 2 year old in the refrigerator, but teaching them the beauty of doing it for themselves is a great confidence builder. We always stored all of her diaper changing materials in a small cupboard in the bathroom – we knew she was ready to potty train when she could bring me all her changing supplies and lay them out in the order I’d need them.
How do you help your baby to clean up?