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How to Babysit a 2 Year Old Girl

by Christine Pillman

Whoever said little girls are sugar and spice and everything nice probably wasn’t referring to a 2 year old. That “terrible-two” label stuck for a reason; they tend to be stubborn, willful and defiant. With girls, add bossy to the mix, and you have potential trouble. There’s no magic game plan for babysitting a 2 year old girl -- just make sure she’s not hungry, thirsty or wet, and don’t let her get bored. Sounds simple, right? Remember, she’ll think she’s in charge. What you do with that information is entirely up to you.

1 Make sure you’ve received all the important directions from her parents, including naptime/bed time, whether she takes a bottle, what to feed her, her bedtime routines and favorite activities. Ask them if she has a special toy or blanket that will calm her down if she’s upset. At 2 years, she may or may not be in diapers, but she probably isn’t completely toilet independent. You’ll want to find out the details on her toileting habits and competence and if there are signs you should watch out for that indicate she needs to do her business.

2 Keep her busy. Boredom makes for fussy toddlers, which can lead to trouble. Read her a picture book or a book of nursery rhymes. She loves to role play, so act out some of the story together. Look at a photo album of her family and let her tell you stories. Her vocabulary is limited, so nod and smile, and repeat the words you do understand so she thinks she's getting through to you. You don't want her getting frustrated because of a communication breakdown. Blast some children’s music and get moving -- little girls love to sing and dance. Little girls at this age love to imitate, so play follow-the-leader to music, making sure your moves are super silly.

3 Sit down on the floor with her and play with blocks or have a tea party with her dolls and teddy bears. Follow her lead -- she’ll let you know what’s going down. Pretend to talk on her toy phone or use a real phone. Act like you’re talking to Dora or a princess, then hand it to her. Break out the crayons or clay and get creative. Watch that she doesn’t stick things in her mouth, and be sure she keeps the crayons on the paper. She’ll also love stickers, but you’ll have to help her get them off the backing so she can stick them on paper.

4 Give her a bath before it’s time to sleep. Having a bath is an effective wind-down ritual for toddlers, and they love to splash around in the water. Add some bubbles and toys, and watch the fun unfold. If there are no toys, a couple of containers will do -- pouring water from one to the other will keep her busy for ages. She might need your help removing her clothes and getting dressed after the bath, but many girls are independent at dressing from a young age. Don’t leave her side while she’s in the tub.

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