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Toys That Will Develop Your Toddler’s Motor Skills

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Bubby has really exploded with his gross motor skill development and his ability to manipulate items with the dexterity in hands. He’s progressing so quickly that I can hardly keep up! He is 18 months old now and I am finding he is walking that line of toys that are either too advanced or toys not advanced enough.

I am always looking for toys that can be used for a long time as he discovers new ways to use them and I like toys that are a sound quality that will last a long time. So when I came across a sale at Melissa and Doug’s and discovered I could peruse toys based on age, category, or skill development, I immediately whipped out the credit card to make some purchases. I even bought a small round to keep for Christmas morning and for his 2nd birthday next summer! Bonus points to me!

What I love about Melissa and Doug

  • Many of their toys are made of a nice solid wood that hold up really well with a rambunctious boy who may or may not throw things a lot.
  • I love how they have toy descriptions and learning opportunities detailed on the back of many of their toys so parents can easily see the multiple ways to teach skills to their children.
  • Several of their gross motor and dexterity toys are basic colors so you can reinforce color recognition with your child.
  • They have an amazing customer service for any questions you may have about a product.
  • They have awesome resources directly on their site to give you ideas on how to incorporate their toys with your kids.

What I don’t love about Melissa and Doug

  • Most of the time I’m OK with their pricing because I know the toys will last forever, but sometimes it gets a little high for my pocket.
  • I wish they had more of a variety of toys for children before the 12 month old range.
  • They don’t offer rain checks during sales. So if you really want a particular item during one of their sales and it’s out of stock, then you’re out of luck until it’s available again.

Here are some of our favorite toys that have gotten reused in different ways since Bubby turned one and still uses today at 18 months and I know will still get used until he’s at least two years old, if not until later!

(This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are always my own. See full disclosure here.)


Stack & Sort Board
I purchased this for Bubby back when he was around 12 months old. I noticed he really started getting into stacking and I thought this would be a good place to start. You can click on pics to enlarge them. 🙂

This stacking toy is great because now he uses it to focus sliding the small blocks on the rings and as he grows, we can continue to work on his color recognition AND work on his numbers by counting the correct number of blocks on each specific ring. I like how they have the numbers color coded on the front of each stacking pillar. This is a toy that will certainly last until his close to three years old. You can see it here!

Pound & Roll Tower
This has been a fun toy that has required me to be patient and just let Bubby explore his dexterity development a little bit. I gave this to him when he was about 14 months old and he really wasn’t quite ready for it. He just wanted to walk around banging stuff. BUT I gave it another go a month later and modeled for him how to use the toy and he started to catch on. You can look up the tower here.

Chunky Puzzle
I seriously love M & D’s chunky puzzles. They have a great variety that works for the varying stages of toddlerhood. We have animals ones, a body part one and one I bought and saved back that is the left and right hand with parts for each finger that are numbered for counting! The one below is a current fav with my pre-toddler as he likes to try and get the shapes to fit in the correct spots. I love the colors and how each shape is labeled to0! Check out the puzzles here.

Caterpillar Gears Toddler Toy
This was a fun toy to introduce as Bubby started developing his gross motor skills. He was really into turning knobs and rotating objects so I was excited to pull this one out. He loves it. It’s another one that will be great for when we are really working on color recognition. The gears easily come on and off so he can start to practice matching the colors as he places them on the gears. Check out the gears here.

Toys I’m saving for Christmas and his birthday
* I’m excited to give him this specific Shape Sorting Cube Classic Toy . It’s a little different than a traditional shape sorter with more of a 3D effect and I love the basic colors to reinforce his color recognition.

*Deluxe Pounding Bench Toddler Toy This pounding toy is a little different than the tower. I like that he has more to pound and can work on his pencil holding skills to fit the pegs back into the hole before he can start pounding again.

*We got him these nesting and stacking blocks that we plan to give him for his 2nd birthday. I think he’ll enjoy the race cars that come with it! Check them out here.

*My favorite item I’m most excited about are these toddler stainless steel pots and pans! We have a little play kitchen for him and plan to throw this in with the 2nd birthday party! Woohoo!

So that’s my fav list for toddler toys from Melissa and Doug that I think are perfect to use with your 18 month to 24 month old! What about you mamas? Have any Melissa and Doug favorites or Toddler Favs for this age range?

Toys for Two Year Old. Toys for 18 to 24 month old. Toddler toys to develop motor skills.



My Favorite Must Haves for Toddlers to Help in the Kitchen

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Something happened when Bubby started walking when he was about 12 months. He had to be EVERYWHERE I was. And if you know anything about being home with a toddler, a lot of time can be spent in the kitchen fetching snacks, figuring out lunch, surviving meltdown hour until dinner time…

In order to avoid having my clothes tugged on until they were two sizes two big and milk spilled on my shoes, I decided I needed to change my game plan. I needed to help Bubby develop as my kitchen helper. So I did what any good mama does and started googling, looking for tips.

I came away realizing that having kitchen utensils that actually allow my toddling son to feel like he is part of what I’m doing would definitely outweigh the costs. I want him to feel comfortable and confident in the kitchen when we’re cooking. Here are a few of my favorite items!

(This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are always my own and unbiased. See full disclosure here.)

Items and Ideas for Toddlers in the Kitchen. Items for your Toddler to help in the kitchen.

Learning Tower
I absolutely love having a learning tower and I wish I would have bought one sooner. It is by far my favorite toddler kitchen item. If you start looking up learning towers, you’ll find lots of different options out there. I wasn’t too concerned about having one that he could climb in and out of by himself, but I did want one that was smaller and wouldn’t take up a lot of room in our kitchen. I found this one on Etsy and enjoyed that I could customize the colors.
img_0020 img_0041 img_0039The biggest thing I would complain about this learning tower is that at first, I thought I would like how narrow it was so I felt like he was safer while standing with me. After having it for a while, I wish I would have purchased one like this. Yes, it’s bigger, but it’s foldable and I think I would have liked that feature better.

As you can tell, the width doesn’t hinder him from being able to enjoy what he helps me cook with! 🙂

Toddler Weaning Table
This toddler table or as many call it, “weaning table” is definitely my second favorite item. We keep it stashed in corner of our kitchen, and I love how I can just slide it over by the cabinets so he can work on whatever he is “cooking” while I’m cooking. This is especially helpful to have if I’m doing something that is hot over the stove and need him to be occupied with his own task. I can just set him with something easy (like sorting pasta or rice, he LOVES doing that!) and get supper going!
img_0043I also love this table because as he is getting older, he can carry his snacks over to the table by himself and eat on his own. We practice some Montessori in our house and this table helps with that a lot too. I love the versatility it brings and the independent training it offers too! Plus, once you start looking at toddler tables, I felt the price point was decent.

Toddler Approved Kitchen Utensils
I keep a draw like this just for Bubby’s stuff. I can easily grab what I need if we’re cooking a certain item so he can start helping me right away. Here is a list of regular go-to items that you’ll find in his drawer. I bought most of these from Wal-Mart and Amazon too!

  • Silcon spatulas–Wal-Mart has a great selection of these mini sized cooking utensils. As you can see I stalked up on spatulas, whisks and tongs!
  • Baking Utensils are kept with all my other baking supplies. I absolutely love this set and Bubby particularly likes the rolling pin. Right now he sort of whacks the counter with it, but you know, he’ll get there. 😉
  • Strawberry Slicer–Some folks might think this is silly or unsafe, but as he has gotten older and more in control with his motor skills, this slicer has been the bomb. He LOVES pushing down on it and watching the strawberries squish through! And bonus, he can eat what he slices!
  • This hand held fruit and veggie chopper made me nervous at first. But as he has grown, he loves cutting bananas with it. Again, this is one of those skills they develop and if you know anything about Montessori, you know this isn’t unusual to see toddlers use these kinds of utensils.
  • One of my other top favorite items is this tater masher. I used to use beaters to make our mashed potatoes, but now Bubby gets a big kick out of smashing them for us with his own masher.

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As you can see, I keep a jar with a lid and a small bowl of pasta so he can do his little “sorting” game he does. This is one of those of quick items I grab when I’m cooking something hot and I need him to be independent from what I’m doing.

Toddler Apron
If you’re going to be doing all that cooking, then you can’t go wrong with this laminated Toddler apron. It didn’t even occur to me to get one until a friend of mine kind said one time, “uh you know they make kid aprons, right?”. This one works just right for us and I like that I can wipe it clean.

Alrighty, mamas, let’s hear it. What would you add? What are some of your favorite items to have in the kitchen with your littles? Let’s chat in the comments below!

Peace,
Glo

Four Healthy Snack Alternatives for Your Toddler

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Bubby is screaming at the store because he’s hungry. My errands ran later than I planned and here we are: a starving toddler on the brink of total meltdown. I am a parent who will give him a snack to hold him over until our late dinner. My problem is that I need a healthy snack that I can whip out of my purse in the middle of the grocery store. While I personally love vanilla flavored puffs and Cheez Its, I know I can’t feed my toddler these kinds of snacks every day, all day. Do you feel me?

(This post contains affiliate links which means if you click through then I may get a small commission to aid in my coffee and writing addiction. Thanks 🙂

fourhealthysnackalternativesfortoddler

I needed a mom hack. I needed some tips to handle the hungry toddler at the doctor’s office. I needed to keep my sanity  to avoid universal-toddler-meldown-hour at 5:30 PM.  I decided to take matters into my hands and figure out a way to make some healthy snack alternatives for my toddler. Ladies, I give you FIVE HEALTHY SNACK ALTERNATIVES FOR YOUR TODDLER. You’re welcome 🙂

 

Frozen Sweet Potatoes

You might be thinking, huh? but yes, these healthy, frozen sweet potatoes will quiet your toddler in no time during universal-meltdown-hour, while you’re trying to get dinner on the table. What I like about these is that I would serve these as a side dish anyways with dinner and they are healthier than mashed potatoes! So how does this work?

Buy your sweet potatoes in bulk. Wash them and cut them up in cubes like so.
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Leave the skin on them and boil them in water as if you were cooking mashed potatoes. Depending on the size of your batch, this will take about 3o minutes. You don’t want them to get toooooo mushy, so keep an eye on them. Once they are done boiling and softish, I gently, and I mean gently, toss them in a little butter and cinnamon.

Then I lay them on some cookies sheets (using my silicone baking sheets which I LOVE and easily keeps them from sticking to the pan!) and put them in the freezer until they are hard.
img_0032Once they’re frozen, put them in a freezer safe bag. When it’s time for snack time, zap in the microwave, covered by a napkin for about 1min-1min30sec. The skin peels right off! Voila!

Homemade Nutrient Packed Bites (Puffs but for toddlers!)

These bites are awesome because they have a sneaky super veggie in them and your toddler wont even notice. Plus, I get tired of seeing rice and corn as an ingredient in our snacks, so I like the oatmeal alternative. Perfect to keep on hand in your purse or pull out of the freezer to keep in your bag as you run errands.
INGREDIENTS:
1 c baby oatmeal (yes, I know toddlers are pass this, but it helps with consistency)
1 T oil (I prefer coconut for healthier reasons)
2-3 Tablespoons of applesauce
1/2 cup of spinach
1 Tablespoon of milled Flaxseed
2 egg whites
1 t baking powder
2-3 Tablespoons of water if you need it for consistency

INSTRUCTIONS: Get your oven preheated to 350 degrees. I recommend blending the spinach, applesauce, and flaxseed first. In mixing bowl, combine the oatmeal and baking powder with the egg whites. Then add your blended ingredients to the mixing bowl. Feel free to add cinnamon too!

TO BAKE: I would put your mixture into a Ziploc bag, twist the top of the bag so you can squish it to one corner, then cut off one of the corners so you can squirt your portions on to your baking sheet. Make them a good size for a toddler! You don’t have to do this, but it takes FOREVER if you just pick up portions with your fingers. (If you’re unsure about how to do this, check out Tips from a Typical Mom. She shows you how.)

I have found that they do best when cooked for about 10 minutes, then turn your heat off and leave them in the oven until they feel like the right crispiness to you! (This made about 100-150 quarter sized bites.)

TIP: You can freeze them too and put them in the microwave or let them thaw in your diaper bag through the day or just eat them frozen with a nice crunch!  If you don’t freeze, they’ll keep for about a week.

White Cheddar Cheese & Whole Wheat Crackers

If you haven’t noticed in the toddler snack world, crackers are like a must. Show me a toddler who doesn’t like some sort of cracker and you’ll see my jaw drop. But remember, not all crackers are created equal. While I love Goldfish as much as the next toddler, if we’re going to eat crackers, shoot for crackers that are made with whole wheat (not enriched flour.) Triscuits can be a great, inexpensive, and easy choice. Shoot, you can find them in the off-brand at Aldi and they still have a great simple ingredient list. If you’re a little more particular, many like these are what you should keep an eye out for.

Cheese. Who doesn’t love crackers and cheese? I used to give Asher the simple cheese sticks and then one day I read the ingredients and wondered if I could find a better alternative. I try to go with as little ingredients as possible when I shop. The best cheese choice I found? Good o’l white block cheddar cheese from Aldi for $2.49 a block. Yep. It’s been a life saver and I feel good about no food coloring or extra additives being added to it. Cheese is not yellow folks. Why do we need to buy it colored if we can avoid it? If I can make one little different choice to reduce the amount of processed foods in our diet, then sign me up!

Smoothie Ice Popsicles

I don’t know about you, but I have a little spot in our cabinet where I like to keep those incredible smoothie fruit pouches for my toddler. They are perfect for that quick, on-the-go snack or side when you’re out and about. But that isn’t the norm and Bubby loves smoothies and I am certainly not making them fresh all the time.

The thing I love about smoothies is 1) it can be a good trick to make them think they’re eating something like ice cream, and 2) you can jam pack them with sneaky healthy food and they can be oblivious. Some of my favorite sneaky foods I like to throw in there? Kale, Spinach, Flax Seed, Broccoli (yes, put this in with yogurt, apples and pears and you’d never know!) and of course I like to throw in some exotic fruit to add a flare to our nutrition (like mangos, pineapple, blackberries, etc.).

An easy alternative to the on-the-go puches is to make your toddler a smoothie batch ahead of time. And to make that even easier, use these AWESOME Silicone Ice Pop Tubes. I absolutely LOVE them and their ease of use. Before I had these I just used good o’l ice cube trays and we got by fine. If you’d prefer to stick with the pouch feel of things for ease of use, then these amazing reusable pouches are for you. I used these a ton when Bubby was younger and they freeze just fine.

The easiest way to defrost these is to put them out in the fridge in the morning during breakfast for an easy afternoon snack. OR you could put them in your diaper bag while you’re doing errands and they are nearly perfect when it’s snack time. If you use ice cube trays, then just pop out a few cubes and put them in a bowl in the fridge. Easy peasy for that yogurt based smoothie.

I have always wanted to try some homemade graham crackers but haven’t found a recipe I like enough to share just yet. Of course fruits and veggies are always good to have for snacks, but why not add more tools to our bag?

What about you? What are some of your favorite snack alternatives for your toddler? Let us know below in the comments!

Peace,
Glo

 

 

 

45 Daily Activities to Do with a PreToddler (12-18mos)

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What are some daily activities I can do with my pre-toddler (ages 12-18  months)?

I wake up with my coffee and think to myself, “What should I do with my boy today?” What activities do we have available to do with my 12 month old pre-toddler? Then I realized I should ask YOU GUYS what you do with your pre-toddlers and compiled some great responses.

If I am being honest, there have been times when I twiddle my thumbs trying to think of things to do with my 12 month old boy. I tend to be the obsessive kind who is always checking to see if I’m “stimulating” his development appropriately and all that nonsense. Thank God for my patient husband who is there to humor me when I get this great idea to model rubbing my tummy and patting my head and recording my singing voice so Bubby can hear it when I’m not there. OK, maybe I don’t go that far…or do I? But nevertheless, I needed a simple, basic list to reference for our daily schedule at home and it dawned on my that I should just write down what we like to do and post them in the house. Then, anytime Husband or I or a sitter need a quick idea, BAM we got one. We have plenty of blank space too so we can add more as he grows.

45 Daily ActivitiesPIN

I am sure I will make another one as he gets older and his abilities change, but for the short season of pre-toddlerhood, this list works just dandy in our house. Feel free to print this off for your household or Pin it for later!

I would LOVE to hear other ideas from you guys so give a shout out in the comments. 


PRINT THE LIST HERE. You can see the printable form below to see if it’s something you should have around the house. Cheers!

*Go to the pool.
*Play make believe with stuffed animals
*Walk on some trails nearby.
*Blow bubbles.
*Play-doh!
*Look at books.
*Go for a walk.
*Go to the park.
*Sidewalk chalk.
*Pack a picnic lunch in the park.
*Picnic in the backyard!
*Play in the water outside.
*Sing songs. Clap with baby. Act them out with baby. Raffi is my fav 😉
*Go to the local library.
*Rec classes for babies.
*Sort blocks.
*Stack cups.
*Use non-perishable food for sensory activity bin (beans, pasta, etc).
*Flour in a bowl for sensory fun!
*Play hide and seek.
*Put clothes in the basket and take them out, repeat.
*Rotate favorite toys to keep them favorites!
*Play with any of these favorite toys OUTSIDE!!!!
*Play in the grass! Feel the leaves and trees!
*Pull baby around on carpet in laundry basket.
*Bring the pool into the bathtub on the rainy days!
*Pick baby’s favorite book, make your own cut outs and act it out. Or just act it out!!
*Make a pillow fort!
*Play with puzzles. Chunky puzzles are the best for little’s  hands!
*Crunch alllll the paper!
*Organize toys.
*Color.
*Make an obstacle course in the house.
*Make cookies.
*Play Dates!
*Play peek a boo.
*Did I mention dancing???*Stickers are fun!
*Roll a ball back and forth.
*Finger paint.
*Race cars in the kitchen. (These ones with lights are pretty awesome!)
*Bouncy balls on the floor.
*Sort craft pom poms in muffin pan..
*Sort anything, anywhere!
*Build with blocks.

DailyListforPretoddlerJEG

Quick Tips You Need to Help Reduce Toddler Tantrums

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Ohhhh the toddler days. Threenagers. Terrible (or Terrific!) Twos. Whatever kind of animal you’re dealing with you as you go through toddlerhood, I think many of us can relate to toddler tantrums. I am so happy to have a guest post today to offer you some quick tips on ways to defuse a toddler tantrum.

I met Heather through a mom’s group on Facebook. I was desperate for help with Bubby and his napping and she has literally saved me! Once I started communicating with her more through the group, I did what anyone would do and stalked her profile 🙂

I found out that she is an advocate for Love and Logic. I had heard about L and L when I was a teacher and used bits and pieces of the philosophy in my classroom. It never occurred to me to think about using some of those skills when it came time to discipline my son. Just like any parenting advice, you take what you want and leave what you don’t need. Heather’s tips today are ones you’re going to want to add to your toolbox!

Heather has shown great patience with the many moms she has helped through our mom’s group. She encourages you to review what you’re doing and see what works best for your children. I have seen it in her comments to other moms over and over. If you are interested in more of what Heather has to offer, you definitely should check out her Facebook page she has listed below.

If you are interested in knowing more about Love and Logic, this book is a great starter that introduces the foundation of its philosophy. I’ll let Heather finish the rest!

reducetoddlertantrumspin

 

 

PARENTING & CHOICES: The More Control You Give, the More Control You Get

It’s split in the parenting world about what parents think of giving children choices.  Some parents feel like it creates choice addiction, or that kids should just do as they’re told.  Others believe giving choices empowers children in the decision-making process, thus creating a more cooperative child.

Giving my children choices is my secret weapon.  I’m a mom of two energetic, brilliant, and some may say strong-willed (gasp!) children, ages 3 and 22 months.  I am also a facilitator for the Love and Logic Early Childhood Parenting Made Fun Curriculum. I have enjoyed presenting a different way to view parenting and giving parents simple tools that are life changing.

Choices is one of those tools.

The interesting thing about control is the more you give, the more you get.  The more control you can give your toddlers, the less likely they are to experience tantrums from feeling “powerless.” The reality is, picking their own color of cup or deciding if they want to skip to the car or sing to the car as you leave the library, can empower your toddler while defusing a tantrum.

So how can we as parents use that to our advantage? The secret is giving your child small choices throughout the day so you can make “withdrawals” on the larger issues.  However, things can go very wrong if choices are not used properly.  Here are a few quick tips you can start using now to reduce upset toddlers.

  1. Give 99% of choices when things are going smoothly. Don’t wait until all hell has broken loose at bedtime to start giving choices!

  2. Provide choices on issues that are not dangerous or cause a problem for any else.  Always provide two choices that you can live with.

  3. If the child does not choose in 10 seconds, choose for the child.  For example, if your child hesitates too long  when asked, “would you like milk or water?”, respond, “looks like milk.” Pour the milk. So what happens when the child throws a major fit because you chose? No problem! Respond with a simple, “I know, it’s hard.  I bet next time you’ll make a fast choice!” And move on.

  4. It never fails that your child will want to choose the invisible “Option C.” Respond by repeating your choices and choose for the child if no appropriate choice is made.

There’s two types of choices I have pinpointed- choices that really don’t matter to you, the parent (“red cup or blue cup?”) and choices that are preceding a power struggle.  Make sure you try to include similar styles of choices throughout your day! Then when you know certain situations are always power struggles, start out with a choice. “Time to take a bath! Do you want to hop like a bunny to the bathtub or crawl like a bear?”

When I do this in my home, I can actually see my child’s brain go from “NO!” to actively thinking about which choice he’s going to make.

Brainstorm choices ahead of time so you will be ready when the situation arises.

Here’s a few ideas for choices you can incorporate in your daily routine.

“Would you like milk or water with breakfast?”

“Are you going to put your shirt on first or your pants on first?

“Are you going to wear your red shorts or your blue ones?”

“Do you want a story before bed or no story?”

“Do you want your night-light on or off?”

“Do you want to — now or in 2 minutes?” (This is a great choice for transitions)

“Do you want to walk to the car by yourself or do you want me to carry you?”

“Do you want to hop like a bunny or crawl like a bear to the bathroom?” (Get creative!!)

Go ahead, offer your child some choices and watch your child’s face light up as the ball is in their court! I’d love to hear some testimonies of how choices have worked for your family! To catch videos and tips of me using L & L with my kids, be sure to check out my Facebook Page.

I’d love for you to stop and post any success you’ve had to encourage other parents! Also, you are welcome to contact me through my page with any questions about parenting struggles you’re facing.

As always, let us know any tips or successes you’ve had in the comments below!