Last updated on Feb 23rd, 2021 at 01:01 pm

The overriding expert opinion when it comes to firsts is to be careful of projecting your fear, and acknowledge your toddler’s feelings.

First dentist appointment
Ideally, a child should visit the dentist by the time his first tooth appears, which is usually between six and 12 months of age, and then have check-up appointments every six months thereafter.
According to paediatric dentist Dr Janet Gritzman, fear is the number one issue she encounters in toddlers in her chair. “Once the child is confident and pleased to come to the dentist, it’s far easier to do dental procedures on him.”
Angela Hutchison, parenting-skills coach and founder of Parent Works (www.parentworks.co.za), suggests acknowledging your toddler’s feelings and potential fear around a visit to the dentist.
Avoid saying how much you hate going to dentists in front of your toddler, and don’t lie to him. ‘It won’t hurt at all’ is a statement you don’t know to be true.”

First haircut at a salon
Graham Tod, owner of kids’ hair salon, Chop It suggests visiting the salon before the appointment, so your toddler becomes acquainted with the environment. “The key to a stress-free haircut is having an experienced kid-friendly stylist cutting your toddler’s hair.”
If your littlie is reluctant to sit on a chair by himself, he can sit on your lap while watching an old favourite on one of the TVs. Hair can either be washed and conditioned, or just sprayed with water from a bottle before the cut. Avoid wanting to hold your toddler in a head lock. “Kid hairstylists are trained to cut the toddler’s hair safely and accurately, even if he’s moving most of the time.”

First aeroplane flight
The key to keeping your angel from being the child who people talk about on a flight, is keeping him occupied. “I’ve noticed that kids who are entertained with activity packs on board are the least disruptive,” says Leigh Palmeiro, an air steward with plenty of air miles under his belt. “Colouring books, portable DVD players and play dough are all winners.”
When the activities are done, don’t let your toddler run up and down the aircraft’s aisles, and don’t let him wander around the cabin unsupervised. It’s not safe and he can get seriously injured. Pack an extra set of clothes for unexpected spills and remember that it gets chilly in a plane, so always pack a jersey for your toddler.

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First swimming lesson
Leanne Smith, a swimming instructor at Sandton Seals, believes introducing your baby to water from an early age will help him to be more relaxed for his first swimming lesson. “The progress at a first lesson is dependent on the child’s personality,” says Leanne, “but all toddlers should be happy in the water by the end of the session.” I always start my toddler and young-children groups by getting them to kick their legs in the water while sitting on the pool’s edge,” she explains. “And we play lots of games; they enjoy themselves so much, they don’t even realise how much they’re doing in the water. “Enjoy the lesson,” says Leanne, “and your toddler will too.”

First day at nursery school
“Often, the parent struggles more than the toddler with the first day at a nursery school,” says Angela. “If the parent acknowledges their own feelings of guilt or sadness at not being with their toddler, it will help manage the actual leaving, without projecting all of that onto the child.”
Stay confident about school, so your toddler feels more secure, and once at school, it’s better to say goodbye and let him settle without you.
It normally takes two weeks for a toddler to settle into the new routine and parents can expect their little ones to be more tired than usual.
Avoid waiting for your toddler to be distracted before leaving. “Parents must always say goodbye to their toddler, even if it causes tears,” says nursery school owner Lynne Ferriman. “The toddler needs to become familiar with the routine that his parents will leave and also come back later. If you don’t say goodbye, when the child does eventually realise that you’ve gone, he feels abandoned and insecure.”