KIERAN HOWARD: Employing masterful tactics to keep toddlers occupied

Kieran's son has learnt how to sign, thanks to Mr Tumble
Kieran's son has learnt how to sign, thanks to Mr Tumble
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Occasionally the things I overhear in a swimming pool changing room really do hearten and reassure me.

It’s easy to think the daily battles you face as a parent are not encountered by anyone else.

I heard her concede, ‘A white top and no bib, this should be interesting’

You question if you’re the only dad in history who’s continually forced to chase their nude toddler around the lounge and hallway in a desperate and futile attempt to fasten a nappy to them.

You query if you’re the only person who has ever had to contend with a screaming one-year-old who appears to have a never-ending supply of oxygen in their lungs.

You wonder if anybody else on the planet has had to try and clean their child’s teeth while their mouth is firmly closed.

Sometimes Louie barely opens his mouth enough to even pop the brush in.

It’s like a car bonnet when you can’t find the release catch.

He’ll then bite down to make absolutely sure that no brushing can take place.

Thankfully the changing room conversations help me realise that these challenges of bringing up a child are not unique.

The other day, Louie and I were getting ourselves dressed following an enjoyable trip to the pool.

Prior to leaving, I happened to eavesdrop in on a conversation between a family in the neighbouring cubicle.

The mum was clearly trying to keep one of her children semi-agreeable while she got him ready. If you have children, you’ll know that food is often the best way to achieve this.

This too appeared to be her masterful tactic. However, with an overriding element of resignation and defeat in her voice.

I then heard her concede, ‘A white top and no bib, this should be interesting.’

No sooner had those words passed through her lips, than I was on exactly the same page as her.

Two years ago, I wouldn’t have had a clue what she was talking about.

But, having experienced similar on many occasions over the past 21 months, my sympathies were entirely with her. I don’t know what the end result was, but it would have most likely involved some washing upon the family’s return home.

It’s worth noting too that ‘interesting’ takes on a whole new meaning when you have children.

Before Louie entered the world, I considered it interesting to visit new countries and experience different cultures.

These days though, some food and a simple white top without a bib is all it takes to capture my interest.


Toddlers in Devon are clearly far more advanced in their development than their counterparts in Hampshire.

There’s a club in Plymouth offering children as young as five weeks the chance to learn Spanish and French.

I thought I’d misread it when I saw the age at which they start. The multi-sensory sessions allow kids to learn different languages through fun sing-a-long classes.

The lessons combine a mixture of music, role play, games, drama and story-telling.

It’s a brilliant idea and a great initiative.

I’d consider taking Louie along, but I’m having enough trouble trying to teach him English, let alone starting him on a second language.

Kerrie and I have noticed that some of his limited vocabulary does occasionally sound a little on the Italian side though.

We’re certain he said ‘grazie’ and ‘per favore’ the other day.

So, maybe he’s been going to some of the classes without our knowledge.

Language experts argue that boys can be lazier than girls at this early age. I’d have to agree.

Boys seem far happier pointing at things.

Right now, Louie’s able to sign more words than he can say. CBeebies’ Mr Tumble is the primary reason for that. Thanks Mr Tumble.