Alison Canavan and friends share their top tips for toddlers

05 May 2017 in Fundraising, Featured, Whats Hot

Big Toddle 2017

At our recent Big Toddle’s Little Breakfast event in partnership with Toddlebox, we asked our guests for their top parenting tips and suggestions for keeping parents sane through the toddler years (and beyond).

The entertaining but informative panel discussion was hosted by Alison Canavan, author of Mindful Mum, with panellists Sybil Mulcahy, a working parent, Editor of and TV3 Presenter, Sarah Keogh, Toddlebox’s expert dietician and Barnardos Project Leader, Jenna Russell. As mums, our panellists don’t just understand the daily challenges of balancing parenthood, work and searching for the fabled work/life balance, they live through it.

We asked our panellists and favourite bloggers for the advice they wish they had been given to boost their resilience to cope with the toddler years.

As a mum….

“One of the big tips I received before I had the baby was to go with your own instinct, you know best, what’s best for your baby. Sometimes I find that if someone questions me, I question myself but if I go with my own motherly instinct it works best.”

Grace Mongey, mum and blogger, Faces by Grace


“When it comes to eating for toddlers, patience is a huge thing.”

“Do what you want your child to do: so if you want them to sit down and eat proper meals, sit down and have those with them.”

“Try to eat the same foods as well rather than feeding them, putting them to bed and then eating yourself”.

“Go easy on them! Fussy eaters are not bold children, they are often genuinely struggling with what they are trying to eat, just be patient. Remember it takes 16 times to like a new food.”

Sarah Keogh 

“They (toddlers) only have two emotions; pretty much hungry or tired so if you stick to those hopefully you’ll survive the toddler years!”

Sybil Mulcahy


“If your child is kicking off at that stage, let’s say 6 or 7 o’clock at night and if they are screaming and going bananas, it’s 100% because they are tired and it’s their bedtime; so often time parents think that their child is acting out but really it’s because they are tired.”

Sybil Mulcahy

On the importance of self-care

“It’s amazing how much children absorb. I do mindfulness and a lot of it at home. I’m always telling James to breathe and use his breath so recently when I was very stressed he turned around to me and said Mommy, remember what you always say, just breathe!”

Alison Canavan

On the importance of routines

“We know from the work we do (in Barnardos) is the importance of routine, real consistent bedtime and trying to stick to that as much as possible. It really does set the child up for success the next day for school, so a good solid routine really does help a child.”

Jenna Russell

On the importance of hugs

“Give them a big hug a lot because the time passes so quickly.”

Alison Canavan

“Just lots of hugs because that’s what toddlers love. Lots of hugs!”

Sybil Mulcahy

Why didn’t I know this before!

“Bring three pairs of trousers with you on every outing if you have a toddler.”

“Do not invest in nice furniture or cream carpets or any type of cream couches because they are going to get wrecked, they are probably going to get peed on or get chocolate stains put on them or puree or whatever….”

Sybil Mulcahy

Barnardos Parenting Resource has useful information for parents from publications to parenting courses.

Childcare groups and families can register online for the Big Toddle or by phoning 1850 222 300.