Toddler Blog

Dining Out With Your Little!

Having a toddler in tow doesn’t mean your social life has to end! Here are some quick tips for surviving DINING OUT WITH YOUR LITTLE!

Get to know the most kid-friendly restaurants in your area. Local websites like  tastertotsla.com here in SoCal have helped us. Yelp can help too. Though nothing is as valuable as a recommendation from another mom!

Feed your babe before you leave the house. This way you can focus on your own food when the time is right. And if she wants to taste new things at the restaurant, great. If not, she’ll still be content with a full belly.

Arrive early. It’s a smart way to beat the dinner rush! And it also gives you time to get situated and get acquainted with your server. Friendliness goes a long way!

Keep your visit short, but your diaper bag full. Save those tasting menus for another trip, but be prepared with extra diapers and a change of clothes just in case.

Bring some simple distractions like a favorite book, stamps, or removable stickers. Just make sure they are easy to clean up and quiet activities. Work those kiddo’s fine motor skills while you wait for your food!

Have realistic expectations. Kids are not mini adults. And while we can challenge them, we have to adjust our expectations accordingly. Pick your battles and praise all appropriate behavior.

Be prepared to exit quickly. Worse case scenario, if your little has a meltdown, be seated by the door for a quick escape route so that there is minimal disturbance to the other customers.

Encouraging Proper Pencil Grasp

Moms are often concerned when their toddler struggles with a crayon or marker. But proper pencil grasp (using those tripod fingers) is something that comes over time. The best thing we grown ups can do to encourage it, is to lead tots in activities that strengthen their fine motor skills and focus on the hands and fingers. Here are some tips to help you play along!

Bust out the play doh! Rolling, flattening, and creating with play doh uses all the exact muscles we need to strengthen. Add a pair of kiddo scissors and you’ll really be building your little’s skills!!

Work out the hands! Try things like catching and rolling a ball. Keep at it!

Now work a little more closely by helping your LO put coins into a piggy bank slot. Takes concentration and muscle control.

Next practice threading beads or cheerios onto a pipe cleaner for an added challenge!

Don’t forget the fingers! Sing “Where Is Thumbkin?” as a fun warm up. Then try wiggling and tapping each finger individually.

Have some fun tearing up pieces of newspaper and then collaging them onto construction paper as an art activity that doubles as a finger exercise.

Finally, explore clothespins. Have your kiddo practice opening and closing them, picking up cotton balls, etc. It’s a finger workout that will keep them entertained as they grow!

BEYOND FINGER PAINTING!

Painting is boundless fun, no matter your age. And painting using different materials as tools will work fine motor skills, lead to better pencil grasp, and excite little imaginations to no end!

 

Here are our favorite items to create with when going BEYOND FINGER PAINTING!

 

Raid the kitchen for inspiration!

Sponges provide lots of messy, painting fun. Cut old ones into smaller pieces to extend the playtime.

Cookie cutters make perfect shapes on a page.

Plastic forks can make awesome flower petals or fireworks.

Straws can turn globs of paint on paper into beautiful, modern splatters with one big breath out.

Break out the baster. Just add a bit of water to your paint and your little will love squeezing it up and out!

 

Explore the toy box! 

Toy trains and cars make awesome tracks across the page.

Plastic animals have paws and fins that love to leave a trail of colorful paint behind them.

Place old school marbles or small bouncy balls in a box with your paper, then roll them around in paint.

 

Keep it natural! 

Press flowers into pastel colored paint for a Springtime mini masterpiece.

Use leaves to create an Autumn inspired canvas.

Feathers glide creating soft, unique strokes across the page.

 

Don’t underestimate the bathroom!

Qtips make tiny, adorable prints. Try using one in each hand to get both sides of the brain working.

Cotton balls create fluffy clouds and soft tree tops. Use them attached to clothespins for double the fun.

Use old caps as different size circular stamps.

Don’t toss that toilet paper core roll. Dip it in different colors and let it roll across the page!

 

Don’t forget to use what you have right in front of you! 

Mom, your recycled wine corks make for great stamp making.

Bubble wrap give paintings texture that can look like fur on animals or leaves on trees!

Flyswatters in paint take outdoor painting to a new level of excitement.

You’ve tried your fingers, now try your toes! Toe painting is one your littles own’t soon forget!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outside The Box Questions For A Babysitter

Hiring a babysitter can seem like a daunting task, so we’re here to help! Of course its important to connect with your potential sitter about logistics like availability, pay rate, and references. But what do you ask when you want to go a bit deeper? Check out our Outside The Box Questions For A Babysitter!

“What was your favorite childhood toy?” This question is a lot more exciting to answer than the generic, “What do you like to do with kids?” It takes the pressure off the sitter to come up with the “right,” educational answer and allows her to speak from the heart. The type of toy or play she reminisces about is also what she will most easily engage your child with today.

“Who was your favorite babysitter or teacher growing up and why?” This question tells you a lot about your sitter’s past and what traits she values in a caregiver. You may even ask if she’s had any negative experiences with sitters or teachers. Hearing both sides, get a full vision of the type of babysitter she aspires to be.

“Do you have young kids in your family?” This is a great way to find out more about her personal involvement with family care. Watching a proud auntie’s eyes light up as she talks about her toddler nephew is a great way to get to know her. And it may even lead into a conversation about which ages she finds the most exciting or challenging to care for.

“What are your favorite things to do on your days off?” This is a more open ended question than the usual, “What would you do with my kids on a long Saturday afternoon?” You will learn a lot about what activities she enjoys, who she prefers to spend her time with, and what types of places she feels the most at home in.

“What are some things a family can do to make a babysitter’s job easier?” Encourage her to be honest! Does she feel overwhelmed by food prep? Does she hate getting called at the last minute for work? Does she feel uncomfortable disciplining a child without the parents there? This is also a great time to ask about her past experiences with families. The good, the bad, and everything in between. Learn more about her up front and it will smoother sailing throughout your babysitting adventures!

 

An Ikea Hack!

After another epic trip to Ikea-land, we came home with one too many cardboard boxes and some new Mala florescent paints. But instead of just taking our paint to plain old paper, we decided to create giant cardboard murals… $10 never went so far!

Toddlers will love it if you shake the cardboard back and forth underneath them as they squirt the paint, modern art style.

For bigger kids, tape a cardboard slat on the bottom of an outdoor table. Then have them lay on their backs to paint, Michelangelo style!

Green Nest 101: For Parents Who Want To Raise Healthy Kids

Come learn with us as Shanit of Pure Made Baby shares her recommendations for parents looking to create a green lifestyle for their little ones. Then subscribe to our channel for even more tips on how to build a healthier environment for your family!

A big thanks to Pure Made Baby. Visit http://puremadebaby.com for these and other products that promote a green lifestyle!

 

Simple & Sweet Bird Feeder

This is one of those times when playing with your food is completely acceptable! Let’s make a bird feeder so simple & sweet, even the littlest family member will be able to join in on the fun. They make a perfect Valentine’s Day gift, and also serve as a reminder that Spring is just around the corner!

Gather a handful of cereal Os into a bowl. Then take a pipe cleaner (or piece of twine or string) and let your little ones practice threading the Os onto it. Strengthen fine motor skills, practice counting in different languages, and maybe even sneak a snack together. Older kids will enjoy this activity too by bending the pipe cleaner into unique shapes or letters.

Lastly, twist the two ends of your bird feeder together so it can hang easily. Finding the perfect spot for your feeder on a nearby tree or shrub is almost as much fun as creating it!

What To Do In A Long, Long Queue

What’s a mama to do when stuck in a long, long queue? Even as a grown up, even without a toddler in my arms, I admit I hate waiting in line. But waiting is a part of life and learning patience & delayed gratification is one of the most valuable lessons we can give our kids. Here are our best tips for keeping your tot happy while waiting in line!

1. Play a game of Eye Spy! This is a mini scavenger hunt for the eyes. See if your little one can find all of the red things in the room. How about all the number 2s on a sign?

2. Make silly faces together. You may not have time for much makeup, but you can put that compact mirror to good use.  Your little will learn muscle control and how to recognize emotional cues.

3. Clap out a rhythm. If you tap twice quickly, can your kiddo repeat that beat? Try different sounds and speeds.

4. Play a mini game of Follow The Leader. Encourage your tot to watch closely then repeat a movement the very best they can. Vary speed and size to keep it interesting!

5. Guess the hand! Put a coin in one hand behind your back, then bring them back to have your little guess which hand the coin is in. Take turns hiding.

6. Name your faves. Older toddlers will love to chat and bond with you over all their favorite things. What’s your fave color, number, animal, song, or snack to eat?

7. Enlist the help of a toy friend. An old teddy bear becomes a perfect puppet when stuck in line. Give him a funny voice and let him tell your kiddo a short story!

8. Pack a prop. A deck of cards or a few pipe cleaners can keep tiny hands busy while you wait. Best of all, they require little space and make no mess.

9. Blow bubbles outside. Epic lines at theme parks are a breeze with these! Have your littles pop as many of them as they can!

10. Get tech savvy with your voice recorder app! Kids will be mesmerized by hearing themselves in the play back. And don’t forget, you’ll make your parents day by sending them the undeniably cute audio clips afterwards!

 

 

 

EASE THE GOODBYE BLUES!

Saying goodbye isn’t easy, especially for our kiddos. What may be just a couple hours apart can look like an eternity in their little eyes… But there are some simple steps parents can take to help EASE THE GOODBYE BLUES!

 

Prepare them in advance! Tell your child multiple times when you are leaving, who will be coming to play with them, when you’ll be back, what you’ll do when you return, etc etc. Details and repetition give them security! Just make sure you are super positive every time you go over the plan. You can even ask them questions and let them respond with the answers you’ve gone over multiple times. This technique assures they’re retaining all the info you’ve given them!

Establish a set goodbye routine! Now that you’ve reviewed how the separate time is going to go, it’s time to keep your farewell short, sweet, and predictable. Acknowledging your tot’s feelings of sadness is important, as is reassuring them that you’ll be back, but then you need to move on your way. Maybe you always share a special bear hug or you kiss the cat on your way out. Just keep it consistent. Then exit with love in a positive, confident that way will show you trust whomever is watching over them.

Mix the familiar with something new! If a babysitter is coming over, make sure your little’s security blanket or favorite toy is nearby. Then plan for a fresh and exciting object or activity to be explored once you’ve gone. A new set of watercolors may be all your kiddo needs to see the babysitter’s visit as a positive experience. At the very least, it will serve as a minor distraction to soften the initial goodbye. Even if your child does cry once you walk out the door, the babysitter will have something specific to bring your LO’s attention back to!