Posts from the ‘Playtime & Bonding’ Category

Teaching to Share: Activity Ideas for Happy Play Dates 

Sharing isn’t a natural instinct for most of us. When we’re in the toddler stage, we want everything for ourselves, so sharing is a skill that has to be taught.

We’ve gathered a few ideas to help you make those play dates happier and more enjoyable for everyone, as you teach sharing.

  • Understand developmental stages. Babies under 2 aren’t yet ready to share. Their little brains aren’t capable of thinking how others feel. It’s hard to wait, but let your little one play alongside friends, rather than expecting them to play with them.
  • Model sharing. Little ones learn by watching. When they see you sharing, they’ll try to emulate. If you use the word “share”to describe what you’re doing, your tot will pick it up even faster.
  • Encourage almost-sharing. Many times children will show a toy to a friend, but not quite let it go. They’re making progress, so you can encourage that behavior by praising them for showing the toy. Later, suggest that your little one go get the toy he or she showed to a friend and let the friend play with it.
  • Set a timer. Tell your tot that you’re going to set a timer for 10 minutes, and when it goes off it’s time to let someone else play with the toy.
  • Set expectations. When you head out to a play date, tell your little one to “Get 3 toys you won’t mind sharing with your friends.”If an incident arises at the play date, remind your tot that these are toys to share.
  • Put away special toys. We all have special items we don’t want to get damaged. Kids are no different. If you’re hosting a play date, let your tot know that he or she can put away super-special toys for safekeeping. But those toys can’t come out while the visitors are there.

Have you come up with successful ways to encourage your little one to share? We’d love to hear your tips!

Too Many Toys: Clearing Up the Clutter

Nearly every mom has experienced it: toys overflowing from bins, closets, and boxes. Little ones get tired of toys after a while (sometimes after not so long!) and pull out more, so toys start creating clutter.

What to Expect has some great tips on how to teach tots to take care of their toys and clean up. Here are our favorites, plus one of our own.

  • Schedule just a few cleanups. It’s impossible to keep everything looking photo-ready. Pick two or three times a day to clean up, and create a routine for your little one. If things get really out of control, you can always add in extras as needed.
  • Be flexible. Sometimes the castle just has to get finished being built, and putting all the blocks away will mean starting over the next day. It’s a good idea to occasionally make exceptions for in-progress projects. You may even want to set aside an “in-progress” corner to keep it contained. 
  • Keep it fun. Cleanup becomes a game when you work together! Set a timer and see how quick you can complete the task, sing silly songs while cleaning, or create games out of cleanup time to make it easier.
  • Break up the work. If things have gotten really messy, divide up the task into smaller sections. Then tackle one at a time. It will be much more manageable for both of you!
  • Donate unused toys. Sometimes little ones just outgrow toys. One day they love a favorite, and the next day they completely lose interest. If you have toys that have been collecting dust, you can share the love by donating them to a local charity.

How do you handle cleaning up the clutter? We’d love to hear your top tips!

photo credit: momboleum via photopin cc

More Than Fun and Games: 8 Ideas for Sensory Play

Although diagraming sentences in English class may have given us the idea that school is boring, we’ve all figured out by now that learning can be fun! And sensory learning is especially enjoyable for little ones.

Sensory play teaches children to investigate and explore using touch, taste, hearing, seeing, and smell. And it helps them to develop cognitively, physically, emotionally, and creatively.

We’ve gathered some fun ideas for sensory play that you can enjoy with your little one!

  • Play with musical toys.
  • Toss stuffed animals.
  • Color with child-safe markers.
  • Make a touch book of different textures from your home.
  • Sit very quietly outside and try to guess the sounds you hear—birds, children laughing, etc.
  • Read a book, using different voices for different characters.
  • Ply with colored blocks.
  • Take a nature walk and feel leaves, branches, and grass.

And don’t let baby have all the fun! Jump right in and join your little one — he or she will love it even more!

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star: How to Make Bedtime a Happy Learning Experience

Babies absorb so much when their tiny brains are growing. You can even use bedtime to teach valuable lessons your little one will use later on! Here are a few ideas.

Counting — You can help baby learn to count with the traditional bedtime activity of counting sheep! Mix it up by counting other farm animals on some nights. 

Stories — Tell your favorite bedtime stories to your little one. As baby gets older, encourage him or her to make up stories to share.

Music — Many of us have wonderful memories of our mom or dad singing lullabies. You don’t have to have a beautiful voice to make meaningful music! If you need some help, check out this lullaby app for iPhone or this one for Android devices.

How do you use bedtime for teaching moments?

Rub-a-Dub Organizing for Easy-to-Access Bath Toys

Babies are tiny, but the amount of toys that usually accompany them isn’t! Organizing regular toys is pretty intuitive — toy boxes, plastic crates, fabric bins. . . the list of options goes on and on! But when it comes to bath toys, organizing can be a little trickier. There’s not a lot of room in the bathroom for crates, and no one wants baby’s toys lying on the floor.

We scoured the web for some creative solutions to use and share. Here’s what we found.

Froggy StorageThis cute little frog-shaped organizer attaches to the wall of the tub and has drainage holes to prevent mildew.

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The TubbyThis storage solution is a stretchy pouch made from neoprene with mesh panels, and also attaches to the tub wall. 

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Shower Totes — You don’t have to get fancy to get organized. Simple shower totes are great for storing toys.

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A Colander — And you can make it even simpler with a plastic kitchen colander! You can keep the colander in the tub, ready to go for bath time.

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We all know bath toys make for happy babies, and organized bath toys make for happy parents. What solutions have you come up with for storing bath toys?

Image Credits (from top): Gerber Childrenswear, Boon, Inc., Apartment Therapy, The Container Store, Mega Housewares

Time for Friends! Fun, Easy Playdates and Other Socialization Ideas for Your Little One

Friendships are one of life’s greatest gifts! We know it’s been true in our lives, and we want the same for our children. When your little one starts to get interested in playing with others, it’s time for friends!

Playdates are a great way for toddlers to play with others and learn important socialization skills at the same time. Setting up a playdate is simple if you know other moms with little ones — just send out an invite (or text!) with a suggested date and time, and ask each one to bring a snack along.

Playdates don’t have to be a big production. They can be as simple as putting on some music and dancing with the little ones, taking a walk around the neighborhood, playing ball in the back yard, or pulling out the child-safe markers and some paper. If you have more time, you could plan a craft.

What if you just can’t seem to coordinate schedules with other moms or you haven’t met a lot of other moms yet? Playdates aren’t the only way for toddlers to get socialization!

Here are some other ideas:

  • Storytime at the library
  • Ballet, swim, other lessons
  • Picnic at the local park — there may be other moms with little ones there you can get to know
  • Take your little one with you! Wherever you go (the grocery store, the doctor’s office, the post office), your little one can learn how to interact with others. Socialization is a skill that needs to be applied to a variety of ages, so everyday places are the perfect way to teach these skills. Let them learn from you!

How do you feel about socialization? What do you do?

Moving, Exploring, and Playing with Baby

Babies move! Even before they’re walking, little ones seem to be born with the ability to get around fast, don’t they? Moving, exploring, and playing are all part of learning and growing.

We spend a lot of time coming up with ideas to make moving and playing easier for little ones. Comfy knits that let baby wiggle with easy-to-get-into t-shirts and pants, and (of course!) our Onesies® brand bodysuits designed to keep babies happy.

Is your little one a mover? How do you keep your baby comfy and free to play?

Time for Lullabies! Sleeping Soundly on Summer Nights

Temperatures are heating up outside, and we’re cranking up the air conditioning! If you live where it’s not quite so warm, you may be able to skip the AC, and allow the naturally-cooler evening air to keep your family comfortable. (Lucky you!)

Are you in the sunny South? How do you keep your little one cozy on nights with the AC on? If you’re up North or out West where the nights are cooler, share your favorite nighttime outfit for keeping your baby comfy without the AC!

photo credit: Etolane via photopin cc

Have Fun With Your Little One

Chances are that your idea of fun and your toddler’s aren’t quite the same. Your idea of fun might be watching a marathon of your favorite TV series, hiking in the mountains, or having an uninterrupted afternoon of shopping or crafting. Getting your child to sit still for even a half-hour cartoon is next to impossible. And a shopping trip? Probably not. So how do you spend time with your child and still enjoy it? Here is a list of fun things to try with your little one:

Build a fort. Take an afternoon or evening and put blankets over the furniture to create a fort just for you and your little one. Even if your kiddo isn’t yet to the walking stage, he or she will love crawling in and out of her kid-sized structure. Crawl in there with your little one, and read a book together.

Take a long, slow walk. Take your child to the park and let him or her play, run, and discover. Slow down and move at his or her pace. Try to see your surroundings through your child’s eyes—the bright colors, the people, the animals—and try to get a sense of the wonder he or she feels.

Have a dance party. Turn on some music and dance away. You don’t have to dance all night—even just fifteen minutes of dancing with your child will be quality time spent with him or her.

Tell your little one about your day. Your child doesn’t have to be a teenager or adult for you two to just be able to talk about life. Tell him or her what you did at work, and about things you saw on your drive. Then ask your little one about his or her day, and really listen.

Having fun with your child doesn’t have to be some elaborate endeavor. It can be as simple as building a fort or taking a walk. What suggestions do you have for fun times with your little ones?

 

photo credit: elviskennedy via photopin cc

Spring Play Date Ideas for Happy Kids

As temperatures rise, spring is the time to get outside! Get together with other moms and dads and let your kids play till their heart’s content. Here are some great springtime play date ideas!

  1. Host an Easter egg hunt. Purchase a couple bags of plastic Easter eggs from your local dollar store. Hide them around the yard in fairly easy-to-find places (depending on the age of the group, you can make it harder). If you’re feeling especially giving, put little prizes in some of the eggs, like a piece of candy.
  2. Decorate Easter eggs. If your toddlers are a little older, they’ll love this activity. Gather a couple egg dyeing kits and enough eggs for each child to be able to decorate a few. Decorating outside makes the cleanup process easy, and you don’t have to worry about pastel dyes staining your carpet.
  3. Plant a group garden. Talk with all the moms and dads ahead of time to see if any of them would be willing to host a small (not more than a few feet square) kiddie garden in their yard. Till the ground ahead of time to make sure it’s ready for planting. Have seeds for a few common veggies like carrots or lettuce ready to go, and then help the kiddos as they plant their garden. An added bonus? You’ll have ready-made play dates all summer long—weeding and watering!
  4. Paint. Set up a group of easels on the drive and prepare child-safe fingerpaint. Help the children find an object in nature to paint and then let the little Michelangelos go to work! (Note: Be sure to use non-toxic, child-safe paints.)
  5. Visit the park for a picnic. Take a blanket and have each mom or dad bring a dish to pass. Then, let the kiddos play on the playground or take them on a nature walk.

Enjoy cool temperatures with your kiddo and his or her pals this spring!