We’ve seen the photos and there is no getting round it. Not only is he the cutest baby on our front pages at the moment, Prince George is also on the cusp of his most exciting and challenging developmental period. He is toddling, cruising and crawling around – and Mums and Dads know that they can’t keep their eyes off them at this stage. With George’s 1st birthday on July 22, seasoned parents know that the Terrible Two’s is a myth. It’s the period up to the second birthday that is often parenting’s biggest challenge. With sleep routines under pressure from teething and the ability to climb out of the cot – William and Kate will find themselves stretched at either end of the day and overnight. Come eight o’clock at night, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be ready to put their feet up, exhausted from running around after their fast moving bundle of joy, and looking forward to when the nanny comes back in the next day to provide an extra pair of hands and eyes.
With the help of Rosemary Albone, Early Years and Families Expert, we have considered these developmental stages that will keep Mum, Dad and the Royal Nanny very busy in the coming 12 months:
1. Walkies. We’ve seen the pictures of George out and about, toddling and holding on to Kate’s hand. There will come a point in the day when she needs to let go of him for an instant – and he pulls himself up on the sofa to get a better look at that lovely tiara on the mantelpiece he’s had his eye on.
2. The Jolly Sportsman. George will experience a huge burst in his physical skills at this stage. He is now upright and able to move independently, developing his gross motor skills and honing early hand eye co-ordination (I can pick up, drop, throw an object) as well as fine motor skills (raisin spotted at fifty crawl paces, race over there, pick it up and put it straight in my mouth!).
3. Renaissance Toddler: Adventurer and Scientist. George will be at the height of his early exploration stage, as he gets to know the environment that he lives in, works out how to open and close doors, tries going up and down the stairs (with Kate, William or the Royal Nanny in close attendance), and has a go at everyday activities in his unique toddler way. He will also be a mini scientist – with an insatiable curiosity about how the world works, with an ability to move towards things that are interesting to him. “Children are hard wired to learn and be curious, test things out. George might have been looking at Lupo the dog’s bowl for the last 12 months, but now he can get there and try what’s in it for himself! All of which is cute to tell your friends about but ultimately this stage requires a lot of vigilance from parents and carers.”
4. Sleep, what sleep? George will be exhausted by all the physical activities and the growth spurt that he is living through, but with teething and the current lighter evenings, his sleep pattern may be impacted. “If William and Kate have established an evening routine, they must stick to it. Even if parents can only spare 15 minutes to calm their baby down with a nice bath and a bedtime story, they will help their child get off to sleep and allows them to still have a relaxed evening together.” Luckily for the Royal Nanny, George will still be napping every afternoon, as children his age still need restorative sleep.
5. Early diplomacy skills. Communication is key at this stage in development and children will be happy to babble away, with one or two random words that may have a meaning for close family and carers but which will not be understood outside the family group. Regular shared mealtimes, story time and song time will help George develop his social and communication skills at this age, setting him off on an early path towards his role as a statesman, royal and unofficial ambassador for the UK. In a departure from Royal Etiquette, the Queen would not have taken meals with her children frequently, but you can be sure that in this household it will be a non negotiable.
Exhausted yet? If we could send one message to the young royals it would be – strap yourselves in, this is going to be one year you’ll be tested, challenged and surprised, and possibly glad to see the end of as parents!
This blog was originally published in the Huffington Post.