You are probably starting to notice your baby protesting changes or activities that are not much fun. Help your baby by giving her warnings (prepping her) about upcoming transitions or activities. This teaches her that something different or new is coming but that she's is able to continue what she is doing a little longer.


Keep your warnings short and simple and repeat your message a couple times.

For example:

  • "two more times with ball, then all finished"
  • "First snack then rest time".

Preparing your baby for these changes will help her adapt to the transition and may result in fewer, or at least shorter, protesting behaviors! This teaches her that you think what she is doing is important and that she is important.

Brain Science for Your Baby

Your toddler is learning some important things about having to wait (delayed gratification) and having to change activities (set shifting). The part of the brain "in charge" of this is called the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex isn't fully developed until adulthood! But there is science (Bernier, 2010) to show that how you parent plays an important role in how your toddler develops self-regulatory capacities like waiting and transitioning (executive functioning). The researchers showed that it was important for parents to be sensitive to their toddler's feelings about having to wait or to change activities. So was "talking through the steps" and encouraging success with difficult tasks. So talk through what you're doing, and praise success when your toddler succeeds.  As your toddler becomes a preschooler you will see that she has more self-control. This will make life easier for both of you!  

Don't expect too much too soon! Your toddler will get better at executive function over time.  Learn more on Executive Function.

A Baby Buffer Prescription for Baby


Prepare your baby for upcoming changes:


Give short, simple warning statements before play time is over and a new activity begins like: "1 more song, then bath", "2 more times, then clean up".


Prepare you baby for routines. Like: "first dinner, then bath", "all done playtime. Bath, book, and night-night". Repeat throughout the routine as you finish each activity (all done book then night-night").


Talk about changes in people that are taking care of her. Like: "Play with mommy then grandma comes", "first breakfast then you can go play with school friends". Continuing to remind her as you transition or travel. 

A Baby Buffer Prescription for You   


Celebrate your baby's personality and share yours!


By now, your baby is starting to develop some personality and may even show interest in a special toy, song, or activity. This is a great time to share YOUR interests with your baby as well. 


Make time to do the things you enjoy and try to include your baby in some of those activities (exercise, reading out loud, dancing, music, hiking, library, playing an instrument, etc.). Share your enjoyment with your baby through your facial expressions, voice, commenting on your emotions, or other ways to show her that it's something you love and that you are excited it share this time with her! 


What Your Baby Can Do - Developmental Milestones 


Emotionally, one-year-olds are just learning to recognize and manage their feelings. They experience a wide range of emotions and have tantrums when they are tired or frustrated. They may also respond to conflict by hitting, biting, screaming, or crying. One-year-olds want their independence, and may say, "No!" to adult suggestions or insist that they, "Do it!" Then, moments later, they might cling to an adult's leg or ask for help.

Gene's Research Tip

 Is "Spring Cleaning" in the air, or at least a thought?  Well consider safety issues for your little ones, before you start!  The American Academy of Pediatrics has some great information at  and I will paraphrase.  Each year about 2.4 million people, more than half under age 6, swallow or have contact with a poisonous substance.  Most poisonings occur when caregivers are home but not paying attention.  The most dangerous potential poisons are medicines, cleaning products, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, furniture polish, gasoline, kerosene and lamp oil.  Read More

Baby Buffer Blog
Written by Cathy Mancina Smith, PhD

April is Autism Awareness month. It's a time to recognize and reflect on this disorder that has unfortunately become more common in our society. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disability that is characterized by delays or deficits in social interaction, social communication and the presence of restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests.


I have been working with individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which is referred to as autism, for over 20 years. When I entered graduate school in the early 1990's, the prevalence of autism was somewhat rare, affecting 1 in every 10,000 individuals. Since that time, the prevalence has been increasing. Last week, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released new data estimating that 1 in every 68 children in the US has a diagnosis of autism. This estimate is even higher than the one from 2012 that estimated of 1 in every 88 children having autism.  Read More

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