Thinking of gift ideas for toddlers can be difficult, especially if you don’t have any toddlers at home. I have been caring for toddlers for 22 years and I have some great ideas to share with you to help you get something the child will love.
Archive for Child Development
I’m super excited you are interested in making healthy choices with your kids. Kids, more than ever, need healthy choices and healthy examples. My healthy kids fun pack will help you along the way.
Kid’s growing bodies need proper nutrition for the best development. Their growing minds will remember the patterns set for them and will continue to follow in those footsteps all their lives. It’s much harder to make changes when you’re used to doing the wrong things.
You have found your way to our FREE Printable Healthy Kids FUN Pack!
WHAT IS THE HEALTHY KIDS FUN PACK?
The pack is packed full of color sheets, garden planting helps, and garden helpers, AND some great recipes for things kids love to eat that you can cook for them from the things you grow yourself! You don’t want to miss out on this and it’s all FREE!
All you need to do now to get the FUN pack is fill out the subscription form below and click subscribe. Shortly after, you’ll receive a welcome e-mail asking you to confirm your subscription. Once you confirm, you’ll receive an e-mail with a link to your FUN pack.
How much does my child need to eat? It’s so hard to know what is enough and we worry our kids are not getting the nourishment they need. Many times we think kids aren’t eating “anything” when in fact, they are eating the appropriate portion sizes for their age.
Are kids fifty million times worse for parents than anyone else? What Can You Do About It? Why is it that a child can be perfectly fine and then their mom or dad walks in and they go nutso in seconds flat? If you are a teacher, childcare provider or a parent, you have seen them phenomenon over and over again. It baffles parents and providers worldwide.
Moms and Dads, there is nothing more frustrating than a child with a strong will. How do I know this? Well, I’ll tell you a secret…I was a strong-willed child. Not only that, I raised one. I have kept over 80 children in my 22-year career as a childcare provider. I have seen strong-willed children. I have loved strong-willed children.
Reading to your child is one of the most important things you can do for their development. It has so many benefits for children. The more you read and the earlier you start, the better for children’s learning.
Sometimes it’s hard as a daycare provider or a parent to find the time to read to your children every day. It’s super important to MAKE that time. Your children will be better off for it and in turn our future will be as well. Click here to check out my favorite children’s books.
Spending time reading with your child creates bonding with them.
Do you have a favorite reading memory as a child? Mine is when my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Nelson would read to us at circle reading time every day. She read us the Ralph books and the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. Recently, she celebrated her 100th birthday. Click here to see more about it. Bonding through reading helps kids to learn to build healthy relationships. Healthy relationships are the foundation for success. It also helps them learn and understand interactions with others. This even further helps with building healthy relationships. It helps improve social skills which are the foundation to school success.
Reading to your child helps their brain develop.
There are pathways in your brain that are formed through experiences upon which future learning follows. If those pathways aren’t built, future information cannot travel on them. Reading helps build these pathways. The more you read to your child, the more pathways are built. The earlier you begin, the more pathways are built. Children learn 50% of what they will learn in their entire lifetime by the age of 3, these are critical times to build on. Reading is a great way to build them. Cognitive skills are greatly improved by reading.
Reading helps children develop creativity.
Books take people on adventures to faraway lands. They teach life lessons. Reading helps us imagine or even travel through time. Reading to your kids early will give them amazing ways of looking at things. It will help them develop a sense of wonder.
Reading books to kids helps them develop literacy skills and language.
Children who are read to have higher vocabularies and develop earlier speech than they would if not read to. Vocabulary is linked to IQ and other types of intelligence.
Reading opens the door to a promising future.
The lack of strong reading skills gives kids many challenges in life. Studies show children who aren’t reading at grade level by third grade have a higher rate of continued struggle with reading as adults, are more likely to drop out of school in later grades, face unemployment and even jail later on.
The root of many problems for people who fail to succeed is social issues. Many of them are rooted in lack of education. Reading can stimulate a child’s readiness for education. Literacy boosts economics, keeps families together, and reduces poverty. Reading is even shown to help reduce gender inequality for women in the work place.
All further learning is affected by a child’s ability to read. Reading to children can stimulate the desire to read, the understanding that words have meaning, and the comprehension of what is being read and how to read themselves.
Reading helps with language skills and helps children communicate.
It is vital for success in school and college. It also is vital for success in the work place.
Reading is fundamental to so many other forms of learning. It’s necessary to cook a recipe, read a prescription label, operate equipment and so many other things that are vital for life. It’s the basis of everything else around us. Click here to read more about the importance of reading.
Grab a book and put a child in your lap for a story today. You will be making a huge investment in the future.
Any post on this blog may contain affiliate links which pay me a very small commission for items you purchase using the links but costs you nothing extra. I can help defray a small percentage of the cost of producing the blog to share information with you.
Kids LOVE playing dress up and it’s great for boosting their creativity. Is there anything better than pretending to be a princess, a super hero, or an animal? I love supplying my kids with a ton of creative supplies to enjoy dramatic play.
Kids learn so much through dramatic play. It helps them express their feelings, try different roles and see what it’s like to be someone else, and work through their problems in a safe way. There is so much more going on during dramatic play than meets the eye. They need pretend play for growth and development.
Small receiving blankets and bandanas are a great resource that doesn’t cost a fortune. They can be used to wrap babies, as blankets for playing house, tied up as a pouch to carry things in, You can make them into a picnic blanket or table cloth. Kids can tie them around their heads, wrists, or waist as super hero or rock star gear. The uses are limitless. I always have several available.
Some items from around the house.
Bags of all kinds can be used as diaper bags, purses, totes or any number of other things when kids are playing pretend. Plastic or real keys on rings are a big favorite for kids to pretend they get to drive a car. Kids also love wallets to put their stuff in. They can be old wallets you are done using or plastic toy ones, the kids don’t care.
Another great item for dramatic play is big button up shirts. Kids can pretend they are using them to dress up as doctors, veterinarians or pretend they are suits to be a business person or preacher or whatever they wish. These are always a big hit at Little Sprouts.
Dress up center.
Dress up clothes can be super expensive in the daycare/teacher supply stores. Another great way to get dress up clothes that won’t break the bank is by getting Halloween costumes. Many times I have had daycare parents give me old costumes their kids grew out of. My mother in law used to work at Wal-Mart and she would buy me costumes on clearance after Halloween for my dress up center. There’s nothing like blessings from other people.
Oriental Trading Company offered me some costumes in exchange for my honest opinion about them on the blog. All opinions on the costumes are completely my own. I jumped on the chance to see if their costumes were quality and would last in the dress up center. I chose Captain America, Elsa, and a Ninja Turtle. We have been playing with them like crazy and they are super durable.
The costumes are not very expensive, click here to see their selection. They are inexpensive enough to use for Halloween or a great price for filling your dramatic play area as well. I prefer to choose costumes that don’t have pants because those are hard for my young children to get off and on by themselves.
Captain America costume.
The Captain America is super cute, equipped with big muscles and everything. Sometimes the kids put it on backwards and have super pumped backs. I think that’s so cute. It came with a mask that looks awesome. The kids all love to be a super hero. Who doesn’t. They have put this costume on and off 100 times and it is still holding up like new. It’s definitely worth the price and a great addition to my dress up center.
The Elsa dress is a dream come true for my little girls. Several of my girls have had them at home and loved bringing them over, so I knew the kids would love to have one here. It’s super cute with great features that remind them of the movie. Everyone loves being a princess.
Ninja Turtle Costume.
The Ninja Turtle costume is by far my favorite. It has a chest plate and a turtle shell for their back. The costume is super cool looking. It also comes with not just one face mask, but all 4, so the kids can choose which turtle they want to be any time. It’s fun to be able to change your mind. Even better is that 4 kids can be superheroes or Ninja Turtles, so that’s even more bang for your buck.
All of the Oriental Trading costumes are holding up well. I was surprised by the quality for the price they are listed. I would totally recommend you ordering from Oriental for your Halloween needs, and of course, you can do like I did and use them in your dress up center. They are a great way to get costumes your kids will love without having to spend a ton of money. They have a huge variety of costumes to choose from in so many sizes, even for adults.
How do you stock your dramatic play area?
Don’t forget to pin for later.
Everyone wants to keep their babies safe. It’s hard to know the best practices for safe sleep for infants. There are some things we can do that can help cut down on accidental and unexplained infant deaths. SIDS is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and is when a baby dies with no explanation at all. Many infants die from SIDS, it’s much more common than you think. It’s not detectable or preventable, but there are risk factors that can be removed to keep babies safe. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends best safe sleep practices.
SIDS can occur in children from birth to as old as 12 months. Suffocation and asphyxiation deaths occur at a high rate at that age span as well. Children under one year of age have no reflexes indicating to them they are in danger of suffocation, so they don’t yet know to fight to help themselves. It’s up to adults to protect them from it. Remember, SIDS is not preventable or detectable.
SIDS rates have been reduced drastically over the past 20 years by practicing safe sleep practices at home, in child care centers and homes, and with other caregivers. Parents AND providers must work together to ensure safety for all infants.
SIDS is a tragedy that is very very close to my heart. My life has been affected by it deeply more than once. I wish there was a way to prevent SIDS but we can cut down on risk factors. We will discuss best practices to cut down on risk for SIDS and other infant deaths all together.
NO SMOKING AROUND BABIES
The number one way to cut down on infant deaths is by not allowing smoking anywhere near your baby ever. Smoke is full of so many different chemicals and some of those chemicals alter a baby’s brain function in a way that prevents them from being able to arouse from sleep. The effect is even higher on Native American babies and even higher yet for African American babies. All babies deserve healthy air and a smoke free environment.
BACK TO SLEEP
Placing babies on their back to sleep helps make sure the airway stays the most open during sleep. This helps for adequate oxygen to move through the baby’s airway and into the blood stream through the lungs. Babies should not be allowed to sleep on their tummy or side where they can easily roll on their tummy.
Why does sleeping on their tummy pose risks? When baby’s face is close to the mattress, carbon dioxide, which is exhaled as baby breaths, can pool around their face. The baby then breaths in less and less oxygen as the sleep time continues and over time, may become depleted of adequate oxygen causing it to be difficult for baby to wake up.
FURNITURE MADE FOR BABY TO HAVE SAFE SLEEP
Infants should not be allowed to sleep in car seats, bouncy seats, swings or other baby furniture that is not made for sleeping. These products do not allow for baby to sleep flat on their back which is the best way for them to get enough oxygen while sleeping.
Car seat sleeping deaths are the highest cause of suffocation or asphyxiation deaths in infants. When a baby is properly seated in a car seat which is properly installed in a car, they are in an upright position with the harness properly positioned across their nipples. This is safe for sleeping. When the car seat is taken from the car, the seat drops back further and changes the position of the airway of the child. The seat is not flat, it’s rounded, so this causes the throat to be in an unsafe position for maximum airflow.
Another problem with car seats is people usually loosen the straps when they take them out of the car. This is the biggest risk factor because many times children suffocate when they slide down into the seat. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t let your babies sleep in the car seat when it’s not properly installed in the car. Please don’t.
KEEP THE CRIB EMPTY FOR SLEEPING
Infants should never be put to sleep with stuffed animals, pacifiers with straps or toys attached, fluffy bumper pads, or even blankets. Yes, blankets can contribute to infant deaths. Children should never use a blanket or a pillow in bed until after age one. The reasons are the same, they can cause exhaled carbon monoxide to pool around babies face and reduce oxygen intake. Cribs should be clean and clear with nothing but a firm mattress and a tight fitting sheet. Pacifiers are fine as long as they don’t have anything attached to them.
DON’T KEEP BABY TOO WARM
Infants should be dressed in the same type of clothing that would be comfortable for adults for the weather conditions. If you are comfortable in shorts and a tank top, don’t have baby bundled up in footed pajamas. If you’re hot, they’re hot. Your house should be kept at a comfortable temperature for an adult in light clothing. Keeping baby too warm causes them to sleep too deeply which is a big contributing factor for SIDS and other incidences.
Remember to use your common sense when choosing the best sleeping place for your child. Co-sleeping or letting babies in bed with adults or other children is not safe for infants under 1 year of age. Adult beds are not made for infants. Do not sleep babies on couches, floors, tables or other surfaces not designed for infant sleep.
For more information on safe sleep, click here.
Talk to your childcare provider, family and friends about infant death and ways to cut down on risk factors for your baby. Everyone should know. Share this post with everyone you can think of who has an infant so more people can be aware. Remember, SIDS is not detectable or preventable, but we can use what the AAP recommends as best practices.
Don’t forget to pin for later.
If you have young children, I’m sure there are times you struggle with what to feed them, am I right? Kids can be picky. Feeding toddlers is not a simple task. It’s hard not to worry they are eating enough or eating enough of the right things.
If you are in this situation, please remember that a toddler portion is very small. What we think a serving of food is may just absolutely too much for a small child. Remember when feeding toddlers, kids don’t need a pound of protein, toddlers only need about an ounce and a half of protein 2-3 times per day. Protein is in meats, nuts, whole grains, some vegetables, cheeses, milk and all kinds of other things.
MILK IS FOOD
Remember, milk is food. Children only need 3, 6 oz. cups of milk PER DAY. That’s it. Most sippy cups are 12 to 16 ounces, so if you give your child a sippy cup full of milk, that may be all the milk they need for that day. Many children drink tons of milk and juice and then won’t eat any solid food. This is one of the key things I have learned about feeding toddlers. Do you know why they don’t? Because they are full.
There are enough calories in those big cups of milk to keep them from getting hungry. Make sure kids have water to drink throughout the day, and just a few small cups of milk with meals. Juice and other sugary drinks are totally unnecessary and give kids way too much sugar in their diets.
Mealtime should be fun.
Keep the pressure off at the dinner table. Dinner time should be fun, full of conversation, lots of smiles, and good times. It should not be full of eat your food, eat more, one more bite, Mommy wants you to eat. That’s just not pleasant and children will learn they don’t like to sit and eat with the family if it’s not a pleasant experience. This will help you greatly when feeding toddlers.
If all your child wants is junk food, skip the snacks between meals. Your child will get hungry for real food if they are truly hungry at meal times. Children do not need candy and Little Debbie’s. Leave that stuff at the store. I have been feeding toddlers for years. Click here to see how I get my kids to eat healthy foods.
A few weeks ago, I was asked to review a book written by a Pediatrician. I jumped on the chance when I found out she wrote it for helping people get kids to eat healthy food. I read it and loved every bit of it. After 21 years of feeding other people’s kids and 24 years of feeding my own, I know a lot about feeding children and the author of this book is right on target! “Feeding Toddlers. A Pediatrician’s Guide to Happy and Healthy Mealtimes” is a great find for any parent or caregiver. Click here to download your copy today.
Amazing book full of wisdom!
This book has some of the best tips I’ve seen on happy and healthy mealtimes. Whether your child is fussy, picky or a great eater, there are great tips in the book to help you give them the optimal diet. It also helps with tips to make your mealtimes peaceful again.
The book includes:
- The Problems with Toddlers
- Let Go of the Stress
- What is Healthy Eating?
- Your Healthy Eating Routine.
- Some Other Bits and Bobs.
- Cooking Tips.
- Some Really Easy Recipes.
Establishing healthy eating habits for kids is key to helping them become healthy adults.
What they put in their bodies establishes habits for a lifetime. Help them grow into their very best selves by doing your best to feed them well.
Click here to download your copy of the book.
Don’t forget to pin for later.
You won’t believe what my kids are learning through simple outside play. Being outdoors has positive effects for physical and mental health in all ages of people. We need more time outside!
Look at this picture of my kids playing outside, and let’s talk about all the things that are being learned here. There is so much learning going on, and these are all things we are pressured for our kids to learn, things they are tested on, things they are drilled in school. These kids are getting all of these benefits without feeling pressure or anxiety, they are HAVING FUN!
Let’s start with the two kids in the front on the teeter totter, what are they learning? Teeter tottering teaches kids how to balance their weight against another child’s weight which is a math skill. It also teaches them balance in their physical bodies as well as multiple other physical development skills they need. In addition, the back and forth motion the kids experience as they go up and down fires synapses in their brains which form brain connections for them that lay the foundation for further learning such as reading, math, and science.
Okay, now let’s look at the next group of children on the swings, what are they learning? They are developing large motor skills like the two kids on the teeter totter, as well as learning balance. They are learning how to make the swing go back and forth which is simple physics. They are learning gravity. They are learning coordination. Their brains are firing synapses that will form pathways for later information to travel on as well. Physical activity teaches children SO much!
Now let’s check out the kids at the back table. They are scooping gravel and filling the top of the table with it. What could be learned from scooping gravel? They are developing fine and gross motor skills as they scoop up gravel and pack it into their prescribed areas on the table. They are learning math skills such as volume and measurements. They are using their imaginations and building critical thinking and problem solving skills as a group. They are also learning social skills. The scope of what is happening in this picture is immeasurable and what I have mentioned here only scratches the surface.
These kids are having a great time, doing healthy things, and their brains are exploding with learning and pathway formation for future learning. This is a miracle to watch every day. They are developing balance, muscles, control, coordination, critical thinking, problem solving, math, science, colors, language, social skills, and the list goes on and on. And guess what? They are LOVING what they are doing!
Active play makes kids smarter! It just does. Where did we come up with the idea that learning is supposed to be miserable? Learning is supposed to be fun! Let them play!
Let them play, inside and OUTSIDE. There are so many extra benefits to active play outside. When the kids are super crazy active outside it saves wear and tear on my house and furniture. My house is small and if they are flipping and running inside the house, someone always gets hurt. Outside there is room to run and play actively without risk of slamming into a wall or a piece of furniture.
There are other great benefits to being outside. There is so much more to explore and learn about outside. There is sensory stimulation from the breeze, grass, trees, animals, bugs, rocks, dirt, and so many other things that are full of learning opportunities. There is so much to see and do. There is so much to find out. Check out the amazing benefits of gardening outside with kids. Click here to read about it or here to watch a video on the benefits of getting kids in the garden.
Outside there is plenty of fresh air and sunshine which gives kids vitamin D, a vital nutrient for health. There is also immunity boosting power in the outdoors. There are mental health benefits from soil touching the skin. I don’t know how it works but somehow, the beneficial microbes that naturally occur in the soil, make the chemicals in our bodies work more like they are supposed to and helps keep our mental health on track. Also, getting dirty outside may actually strengthen a child’s immunity and overall health. Talk about wow! Click here to learn more about it.
In the past twenty years, we have become and inside society. The average child in the US spends as few as 30 minutes of outdoor play each day and more than seven hours in front of an electronic screen. EVERY. DAY. What’s even worse, some children get even less time for active play, as little as 15 minutes.
Active play is vital for children’s academic success. Kids cannot learn if they are not moving. Why? Children are unable to blow off steam without playground time. Behavior problems arise in children who don’t get enough recess. In addition, children must engage in active play for optimal brain function. Physical activity sharpens their minds. Extra homework does not help children advance in school, the brain-body connection is stronger than we realize. Children who are allowed to run for more than an hour a day, have increased cognitive skills including focus and multitasking.
People were made to move, but today most of us are sedentary. We were created to work to get food or travel, and historically had to perform physical tasks for our own survival. Movement, or lack thereof, is shaping children’s brains.
Physical activity boosts overall health, strengthens muscles (the heart is one of those muscles) improves brain function and thinking skills. We must exercise our bodies in order to exercise our intellectual potential.
Regular participation in physical activity helps cognitive skills because of increased blood and oxygen to the brain. Increased growth factors that help create nerve cells and keep our brain synapses plastic, (or flexible) which strengthens interconnections and protects them from damage. Physical activity, also increases endorphins and norepinephrine which improves our mood and reduces stress.
Numerous studies have been done on children, adults, and animals and they all come up with these same results, we need to move and we need to get OUTSIDE!
Click here to learn more.
Play is important in the lives of every person, young or old. We should spend time every day doing something we enjoy and the more of it that is done outside the better. The benefits that help children develop, help us adults to function better as well. We get positive mental health benefits, enhanced mood, better ability to concentrate and focus on the tasks we have at hand, and a plethora of other benefits for our bodies, minds, and spirits.
Get outside and get moving today, you’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel when your lungs and pores are full of fresh air!
Next week is EARTH DAY! Here are some great Earth Day activities to get you playing outside from Ever Change Productions: 12 Outdoor Activities to Celebrate Earth Day