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Bed Time For Baby

by Tara on April 25, 2013
category: 0 – 1 year (baby),1 – 3 year (toddler),Children’s Health

Consistency is key for most endeavors where children are concerned, bedtime is no exception. When it comes to getting your little one to sleep, you will want to make a routine that both of you will love and stick to every night. Although I can not guarantee this will make a seamless transition into slumber all the time, I can say that your child will be cozy in bed at roughly the same time every evening, which makes for a happier mommy and baby in the morning.

baby sleeping

Every child is different, of course, but it is widely excepted that young children should be put to bed around seven and eight PM. This was a natural time for my baby boy to go to bed, in fact, putting him to bed any later usually gets me wrestling with a grumpy bear throughout our entire routine. Your routine can be anything that works for your family, but I would like to share what works for us.

We usually start to wind down around one hour before our boy needs to go to sleep. We cut out anything that is super stimulating like his noisy toys in an effort to get him somewhat calmed as we transition into his bedtime routine. Even though, by now, our son knows what to expect, we also talk him through the separate events in the routine. For example, we might tell him, “Now we will have dinner and then we will take a bath.” That way once we are done with dinner, there is no surprise about having to get in the bath.

If both of us are home during bedtime, one of us will prepare his bath and bed while our baby finishes his dinner, otherwise, we carry him along with us and as said before, we tell him what we are doing while we do it. After bath, we take baby to his changing table for a fresh diaper. We often time give him a little lotion massage before putting on his pajamas. We also use a noise machine to create a background sound that cancels out any noises that may be happening in our house or neighborhood, not everyone is in on our bedtime routine, so we have to make due.

Our son has favorite stories that we read nearly every night. As he has grown, we make reading more interactive by asking him to point out characters in the book or show us colors as we read. It is fun and an easy way to work on his vocabulary during these precious moments. Our boy also enjoys a small sippy cup of milk while we read and relax into bedtime.

Once the story is over, we turn down the lights and get into our cuddle positions. Our family has adopted a co-sleeping method. Our son shares a family bed with us. It might not be for everyone, but we enjoy this closeness. From here we hand deliver our little one to dreamland by laying with him until he drifts off. We sometimes sing or hum to him as he fights his last attempts to stay awake.

This routine takes about an hour start to finish and with any luck, he goes to sleep without any cranky fussing. On a good day, this is still my favorite time with him. I love to catch a look at his angelic face as he slips into sleep, it is just about the best feeling in the world.

Considerations About Day Care

For many moms, there comes a time when when choosing a day care is part of the parenting process.  Whatever the reason, it is not an easy decision.  It can be a very stressful time because you are choosing the place where your sweet child will spend the better part of many days.  As a former infant/toddler, twos, and preschool teacher, I have found myself giving friends and family advice when they are on their quest to find the best center for their child.  There are a few things I always stress when having this talk and I would like to share some of those things with you in this article.

parents 7.04.00 PM

One thing that shocks most new parents is the high sticker price for child care.  It is especially expensive for infants and toddlers.  It is tempting to shop around for the best price, but you may be making sacrifices that aren’t apparent when you choose a less expensive day care.  Centers that charge less have a smaller budget to run their business.  Since it is a business, after all, you will find that these facilities go to great lengths to cut costs in order to keep their business profitable.  This doesn’t mean that it is necessarily a bad place, but you will find that they are most likely striving to meet legal requirements and not much more.

For example, an infant/toddler ratio is four babies to one teacher/caregiver.  Two-year-old children have a legal ratio of one teacher to twelve students.  Depending on your experience with children, you may or may not realize that these legal requirements are quite a bare minimum.  Twelve two-year-olds are A LOT of two-year-olds! As are four infants to one caregiver.  I am not claiming it is an impossible situation, but when you consider the type of care and attention your child gets when they are one-on-one with mom and dad,  they are definitely going to get less personalized care when the ratio goes up.

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Embracing Your Child’s Personality

by Michelle on March 25, 2013
category: 1 – 3 year (toddler),3 – 5 years (preschooler)

I was at the park with my kids last week, when I stopped for a moment, I took a look at each of my children. My two-year old was climbing the rock wall, and my five-year old was playing quietly in the sand. It was at that moment, that I realized how different, yet, alike my children are.

girls dressed up

My first born is now five. She was a very quite baby, I could hold her and rock her all night long. She loved to cuddle, she was always so happy and content. She ate extremely well. Even at a very young age she always liked her vegetables.

I remember people asking us, “Are you getting much sleep at night?” Joking of course, because usually parents don’t get a lot of sleep with a newborn. Ironically, we would say, “Yes we are…a full eight hours” She slept like a baby through the night.

As first time parents, we were in heaven. We thought that if this is what having kids was like, we got this in the bag. Fast forward five years, and she is now in Kindergarten, extremely independent, very competitive, excels in all her courses with school, and yet she still loves her quite time to read, play with her ponies, and even puts herself down for a nap.

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Recycling IS fun!

by Tara on March 11, 2013
category: 1 – 3 year (toddler),3 – 5 years (preschooler)

Feel like your child is growing tired of the toys he sees every day? Looking for ways to change up his play routine but don’t want to spend a bunch of money on toys that he will tire of too quickly?  I have the solution for you! One adult’s trash can be a a toddler’s treasure with a little re-purposing of household items.  The following is a compilation of some of my most successful recycled-item activities.  These things are easy to make and are guaranteed to provide a fun-filled play day with your tot.

homemade bowling

  • Water bottles and pop cans make wonderful musical instruments! For this activity, I like to use a variety of recycled bottles and cans of different shape and sizes.  Then I add whatever dry food I have on hand, like beans, rice, pasta, peas etc.  With a little duct tape ingenuity you can easily cover the holes in a can or secure a lid on a bottle.  Now you have an array of musical shakers for some music and movement time with your toddler.  Show your child how they work and then have fun, the sillier you are the better!
  • We all have a few clothes hanging around that we can’t wear and can’t donate.  These make perfect fabric choices for homemade bean bags! Yes this will require some sewing, but it is worth it when you see your child having a good time tossing them around.  Simply cut a few squares out of the old clothes.  Fold the patch in half, print side in and sew two edges.  Flip the fabric right side out and fill bag with beans.  Sew up the third side and now you have a bean bag! Games with this can be as simple as throwing them in the air and trying to catch them.  You can also cut out shapes from construction paper or newspaper and put them on the floor, then ask you child to help you throw the bag to the different shapes, now we are learning shapes too! You can make as many games as you or your child can imagine.
  • This is a super simple way to keep your child entertained and all you need is an old magazine.  Start by clearing your play space of all other toys. Then rip about 20-30 pages and crumple them into balls.  Now you have a ton of house-safe balls to throw all around the room.  Put a box in the center of the room and try to make throw them inside. Throw them all around the room and see how fast your little one can get them all back in the box.  After your child is tired of all that running, they will be happy to sit and shred the paper balls.  They will be happy to crumple, tear, and taste until it is clean up time!

I hope your family finds these activities are as fun as we have!

Have some recycled-fun ideas of your own? Post them here for us to try!

 

 

Meal Time for Toddlers

by Tara on February 25, 2013
category: 1 – 3 year (toddler),Children’s Health,Feeding

Choosing a meal our child will eat sometimes feels like a gamble.  I can hardly predict the days my child will have a healthy appetite and which days he will turn his nose up at any offering.  Over the year he has been on solid foods we have tried a variety of meals for our tot with mixed results.  Though it sort of hurts my feelings when my little guy snubs my cooking, I have to remind myself that his appetite swings don’t necessarily have to do with my stove-top skills, other factors might influence his desire to eat or not eat, like teething or a growth spur. I try to keep positive about the whole thing and make sure I offer him a variety of healthy meals and snacks throughout the day.  It’s all I can do to ensure that he is getting steady diet of fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy, and grains.

The following is a list of some of our winning breakfast combinations.

bfast

Proteins and Veggies

Egg Scrambles can be a great start.  This meal provides an opportunity to introduce some delicious super foods to your child’s diet.  I often use spinach, kale, or baby bok choy.  Diced mushrooms also make a good addition to this dish.

I warm a small amount of olive oil first and add my greens and mushrooms.  I stir them frequently until they are cooked.  While the veggies are cooking, I crack and scramble the eggs adding a little milk for a fluffier consistency when cooked.  Once my veggies are cooked I add the eggs to the pan.  Once in a while I will also add a small amount of ham for flavor and an additional source of protein.  I stir the mix until it starts to harden and then add some shredded cheese, because who doesn’t like a little cheese?! Once the cheese melts I remove the pan from the heat and allow the eggs to cool before serving.

Dairy

Yogurt is a great choice  You’d be hard pressed to find a child who does not like yogurt and my toddler is no exception.  There is an array of yogurts out there to choose from and I change it up, usually selecting ones that have fruit mixed in and whatever is on sale.  If my child refuses to eat everything else on his plate, he will most likely still be interested in yogurt so it it a breakfast staple at our house.

Grains

Oatmeal can be a hit or miss but it is a great start. This was not an immediate hit with our guy.  I had to offer it to him several times before her took the bait, but he finally went for it and now enjoys it a few times a week.  There are all sorts of flavors you can find at the market, our little guy prefers the type with brown sugar added.

Toast can also be a great whole grain. This is a simple addition to any breaskfast plate. Make sure you choose whole grain breads that are not enriched.  My child enjoys toast and my hopes are that he never develops a taste for plain white bread!

Fruit

Fresh fruit is a great choice but you have to find the right one.  It seems my toddler goes through phases of liking or disliking certain fruits, so I go through a rotation of melon, bananas, apples, pears, cuties, strawberries, and grapes.  This might be the first thing he goes for the last thing on earth he wants on his breakfast tray but I offer it always anyway.

As you can see, variety is the secret to my success.  If my son doesn’t eat his fresh fruit, I snuck a little in with the yogurt.  If he doesn’t end up eating all of his yogurt, he gets some dairy in his eggs.

Feeding a toddler can feel discouraging some days, but with a little creativity and consistency, you can make sure your child is getting the nutrients he needs to thrive.  Still trying to get the most out of your child’s meal times?  Here is a great guide to your child’s overall nutrition:

What to feed

  • Low-fat milk (It’s okay to switch to low-fat or nonfat milk once your child is older than 2, but check with your child’s doctor if you have questions.)
  • Other dairy like diced or grated cheese; low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, pudding.
  • Iron-fortified cereals like rice, barley, wheat, oats, mixed cereals.
  • Other grains whole wheat bread and crackers, cut-up bagels, rice cakes, ready-to-eat cereal, pasta, rice.
  • Fruits, sliced fresh or canned, avoid those in excessive sugar.
  • Dried fruit, soaked until soft so it won’t pose a choking hazard most kids like apples, apricots, peaches, pears, dates, pitted prunes.
  • Vegetables, cooked and cut up into pieces they won’t choke on.
  • Proteins like eggs; cut-up or ground meat like turkey meat or poultry; boneless fish; tofu; beans; smooth peanut butter)
  • Combo foods like macaroni and cheese, casseroles
  • Fruit and vegetable juices (100% juice)

How much per day

One serving for a child this age is about a quarter the size of an adult serving.

  • 2 cups dairy (1 cup milk or yogurt; 1 cup = 1 1/2 ounces natural cheese or 2 ounces processed cheese)
  • 4-5 ounces grains (1 ounce = 1 slice of bread; 1/3 cup ready-to-eat cereal, or 1/4 cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups fruit (fresh, frozen, canned, dried and/or 100 percent juice) Emphasize whole fruits rather than juice.
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetables
  • 3 to 4 ounces protein (1 ounce of meat, poultry, or fish; 1/4 cup cooked dry beans; or 1 egg)

Have a favorite that is sure to please? Share it in our comments section!

 

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