Posts from the ‘Tips & Advice’ Category

When the Weather Outside is Frightful: Ideas for Indoor Exercise

The temps are dropping, the wind is picking up, and some parts of the country are starting to see snow and ice —it’s that time of year again! It’s almost impossible to make yourself get out in the weather. But you can stay fit and healthy through the winter, and you don’t need expensive gym equipment. Here are some indoor exercise ideas to keep you warm while working out!

  • Bodyweight strength training with baby—You can do planks, squats, push-ups, and more, all while watching your little one! Parents.com shows how to make it simple.
  • Online exercise TV —Whether you’re into yoga, barre, intense cardio, or strength training, there’s an online exercise program for you! Gaiam, DailyBurn, and FitnessBlender offer low-cost or free workouts you can stream.
  • Yoga for mom and baby —Yoga is nourishing for your joints and muscles, and it will relax you on days you’re stressed. MindBodyGreen has some wonderful ideas on integrating yoga and bonding with your little one.

How do you handle fitness during the winter months? We’d love to hear your ideas!

 

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Tips for Easy Holiday Entertaining with Baby

Entertaining family and friends during the holidays can be stressful enough on its own. Add a baby to the mix, and your stress level can go through the roof if you try to take on too much.

But holiday entertaining can be simple and enjoyable for both you and your guests. Here are a few tips to keep everyone smiling.

  • Make a list. With everything from cleaning the bathrooms to cooking favorite dishes, you’re not going to be able to remember everything! Write your tasks down so you can relax and know that nothing will be forgotten.   large_3447058308
  • Cook ahead. Many things can be made ahead, like desserts, cookies, and sauces. Freeze them and just pop them in the microwave or oven when you’re ready for them. medium_4311836838
  • Ask for help. Why should you do all the cooking? Ask each guest to bring something along, and your to-do list will drastically shorten.
  • Don’t think your meal has to look like a magazine photo. Even if you could make your holiday table look like those on the covers of magazines, everything is going to get messed-up as soon as everyone sits down and digs in! So don’t pressure yourself with fancy table decorations and making sure everything is pristine.
  • Enlist a family babysitter. Ask your sister, mom, or cousin to watch baby while you get some things done. Just set up the playpen close to the holiday action, and the babysitter will enjoy it too!
  • Keep the dishes to a minimum. Who says you have to use fine china? Use cute holiday-themed paper plates to save yourself the time of washing loads of dishes. 24949249
  • There’s no shame in going store-bought. You don’t have to make everything from scratch. Or anything from scratch! Do what you need to, and don’t feel guilty —there’s no reason to!
  • Take some time to reflect. Thanksgiving is a time to think about the good things in your life. Don’t allow holiday entertaining to let your mind become consumed with stress and steal that opportunity from you. As you go through the days, let your mind focus on the things you appreciate.

photo credits (from top): Nick Bastian Tempe, AZ, missteee,  armigeressStudio 5,

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!

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Safe and Spooktacular: 5 Halloween Safety Tips for Tots

What’s more fun than dressing up as your favorite animal or character and collecting candy?! Halloween is a favorite holiday for many little ones, and it’s easy to forget safety in all the fun.

Here are five safety essentials that you’ll want to include in your spooky celebrations:

  • Stay away from flames. Jack-o-lanterns are cute but there’s fire inside! Billowy costumes can catch on fire, so be aware of the type of costume you choose and keep away from open flames.
  • Be visible. Darkness comes early this time of year, so be sure you can see your little one at all times with reflector tape on his or her costume. You can also head out early while there’s plenty of light.
  • Keep costumes short. Long hems can cause falls, so stay with something short.
  • Enforce a no-running rule.It’s difficult for drivers to see small children at night, so keep them close to you at all times and enforce no running.
  • , so keep your tot close.
  • Use non-toxic face paint instead of masks. Masks make it difficult for little ones to see and breathe, so stick to non-toxic makeup for kids.

Halloween can be a fantastic, fun holiday for everyone as long as you keep it safe! What other tips do you have to share?

 

 
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Keep the Yucky Away: 5 Tips to Avoid the Flu This Season

Flu season is starting, and that means lots of germs floating around. Babies are particularly susceptible to the flu while their immune systems are developing.

Although every child will be exposed to some germs and sickness, there’s a lot you can do to minimize it. We gathered a few top tips from pediatricians to help you avoid as many of those nasty flu germs as possible. 

Kids often seem like germ magnets, but these tips will help you fight as many sick germs as possible!

Tummy Time: When Laying Around is Actually Working!

Although crawling seems simple to us now, it’s a complex process that babies have to learn as a first step to walking. Experts say your little one’s style can be all his or her own — what matters is that he or she learns movement. And that movement starts with tummy time.

By playing on their bellies, babies develop core muscle strength that helps them learn to crawl. When you’re playing with your little one, you can place a toy slightly out of reach so he or she can experiment with moving toward the toy.

Supervised tummy time makes for happier babies and teaches them valuable skills at the same time!

Organizing the Nursery the DIY Way!

We’ve all drooled over the fancy custom furniture and organizers designed to keep the nursery neat, haven’t we? But there are so many ways to make your own cute nursery organizers! Here are a few to try.

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Create drawer dividers with small baskets. Baby clothes are tiny! You can make them easier to find by dividing up your drawers with baskets to separate items.

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Use a shoe organizer to store small items on the back of a door. Shoe organizers are perfect for accessories. And they come in fun colors that you can match to the nursery!

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Make storage bins from diaper boxes. You don’t have to buy expensive bins for storage! You can make your own from empty diaper boxes.

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Get great use of your wall space with adorable bucket-shelves. These precious little shelves are created from plastic buckets, and they’re so easy to make!

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Design a pretty clothes-hanger. Baby clothes are so cute, why not show them off?! By hanging a branch from the ceiling with colorful ribbon, you can increase your storage stylishly! Find a tutorial here.

You can craft your way to a sweet and organized nursery without breaking the bank! What DIY solutions have you created?

Photo credits (from top): Apartment Therapy, IKEA, Amazon, Positively Splendid, Ohoh Blog, The Sweetest Digs

Recycled Memories: How to Make a Keepsake Quilt from Loved T-shirts

Quilts are cozy, and when they’re hung on a wall they make a wonderful keepsake that can be passed down through the family. And what better materials to construct a keepsake quilt from than well-loved clothing?

You can make a full-sized quilt from your own old clothing, or you can make a baby-sized quilt from items your little one has outgrown! If quilting seems intimidating, don’t be afraid. We found a fantastic, easy tutorial online from Missouri Star Quilt Company that teaches how to make a quilt from t-shirts. The tutorial uses full-sized t-shirts, but you can adapt it to make a smaller quilt by using your little one’s t-shirts.

Let us know if you try it! 

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Make Mealtime More Enjoyable! How to Cutesy-up Bibs and Burp Cloths

Plain bibs can be kind of blah. When you’re ready for something a little more exciting, you can make DIY fun and fancy bibs and burp cloths! Here are a few tutorials we found online that show step-by-step how to create some cute ones. (These would also make great shower gifts!) Gerber

Fabric-covered Bib: This fabric-covered bib by Lady by the Bay is so customizable, and it doesn’t require complicated patterns! 

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Artsy Bib: Crayola has a fantastic idea for creating a work of art on a bib

Appliqué Bib: This appliqué bib by StuffStephDoes is adorable, and you could appliqué any number of designs—monogram baby’s initial, illustrate his or her favorite animal, or do an abstract design.  

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Fabric Scrap Burp Cloth: Decorate burp cloths with fabric scraps you’ve got squirreled away!This tutorial by Thriving Home shows you how. As this tutorial demonstrates, Gerber cloth diapers make a great canvas to work your magic on!

Bibs and burp cloths don’t have to be boring! Have you customized a bib or burp cloth? We’d love to hear your ideas!

photo credits (from top): Gerber Childrenswear, Lady by the Bay, Thriving Home