Monday, November 29, 2010

100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know - Great Gift Ideas!

With Christmas just around the corner, you may be considering what to purchase for the children in your life. Books make wonderful gifts and you can even write an inscription or tape a picture of yourself on the inside cover. With so many children's books on the market, it can be hard to know which books are worth your money. The New York City Public Library has compiled a list of 100 exceptional picture books. Whether you purchase these new or second-hand or borrow them from the library, try to share these books with your little ones.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Make Your Own Vision Board for Baby

What you will need:
-1 white poster board
- enough red paper to be able to cut out 8 squares that are each about 4 1/4 inches wide and 5 1/2 inches tall
-black and white images, some great ones can be found here.

     1. Cut a piece of white poster board into horizontal strips. Each strip will create one vision board and should be about 7 inches wide.
     2. Divide your strip of poster board into four equal sections, folding the board on each division accordion style (fold towards the back, then towards the front, then towards the back again). If your strip is about 22 inches long, your divisions should be around 5 1/2 inches apart from one another.
     3. Cut 8 squares out of red paper for each board. The squares should measure to be about 4 1/4 inches wide and 5 1/2 inches tall. Glue the squares on the front and back of the board in each of the sections that you created in step #2.
     4. Cut out some black and white pictures to glue on the red squares. Babies especially love pictures of faces. Some great pictures can be found at this website.
     5. Laminate the board, if you can.

You did it! Now enjoy spending some time with your baby enhancing their vision development!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Edible Thanksgiving Craft - Apple Turkeys

If you're looking for a fun and easy craft to do with your children this Thanksgiving, try making these turkeys out of apples.

 You will need: red apples, gum drops (big or small), whole cloves, orange candies and toothpicks. 
Make the feathers by placing the gum drops onto the toothpicks and then insert them into the back of the apple.  For the head, take two cloves and insert them into the side of the orange candy.  Then cut a red gum drop into fourths and use 2 of the pieces to make a waddle.  Use a tooth pick to stick the head into the front of the apple.  Now you have a turkey!

 Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Baby Food Recipes

If your little one is already eating solids, why not include him in your family festivities by creating a holiday meal with his taste buds and development in mind. Wholesomebabyfood.com has a wonderful list of developmentally appropriate recipes that you can make using the foods the rest of your family will be eating.

One Pot Thanksgiving Dinner

- A simple and quick recipe making use of the Thanksgiving foods. 
Leave out Meat and Cranberries for babies 6-8 months. 

1 cup of Turkey - uncooked ( breast or leg meat)
1/2 cup peeled and cubed winter squash
1/2 cup peeled and cubed white potato
1/2 cup peeled and cubed sweet potato
1 small handful of fresh or frozen cranberries
Combine all ingredients in a medium sized sauce pan
Add 2 cups of water
Bring to a gentle boil and then turn heat to low
Simmer on low for 20 minutes or until turkey is no longer pink and veggies may be easily pierced with a fork.
Transfer the cooked One Pot Thanksgiving Dinner to a large mixing bowl and mash or chop as needed.
Process in a Blender or Food Processor if needed for babies who do not like lumps and textures.
This will freeze nicely if pureed on Thanksgiving Day, you may also take a piece of cooked turkey and combine it with the veggies being served to create Baby's Thanksgiving Dinner.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Free Indoor Fun in Provo

Are you itching to get out of the house and take your little ones somewhere fun? Here are a few FREE ideas in Provo.

1. The Provo Towne Center Mall recently opened a new Play Area for children! You can get some excercise by strolling around the mall and then watch your little ones as they climb and explore. http://www.provotownecentre.com/
2. Bean Life Science Museum at BYU. Entrance is free but donations are appreciated.
 3. Provo City Library Story. Enjoy free indoor fun at the Provo City Library.
4. BYU Museum of Fine Art. Admission is free although donations are appreciated.
5. Provo Borders Special Events
Check out special events for children offered at Borders in Provo by clicking on this link and scrolling to the bottom of the page.

Looking for more free activities in UTAH COUNTY? Click HERE

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"The Secret Language of Babies" - Book Review

Long before your baby says her first word, she is communicating with you in a number of important ways. Your baby uses cries, coos and body language using her face, arms, legs, hands, feet and even toes to tell you what she is feeling or in need of. The Secret Language of Babies, by Sally and Edwin Kiester, outlines what your baby is trying to tell you through these important cues.

Some of the highlights of the book are:

~ How to Interpret Your Baby's Cries - This section describes 10 cries, what they sound like, what your baby is trying to tell you and how you can help meet your baby's needs. (p. 47-51)
~ A Guide to Understanding Baby's Facial Expressions - This section explains 8 common facial expressions babies make and what they are trying to say. (p. 57-61)
~  Explanations on what your baby is trying to tell you with his arms, hands, legs and feet.

Interesting Facts: Did you know that when your baby moves his arms in a windmilling motion and his facial expressions are happy, he is showing you that he is excited about seeing you or about what is going to happen next? (p. 69)

Interesting Facts: Did you know that your baby extending her big toe is a likely sign that she is in pain? Also, the whole foot being pointed toward the floor may evidence acute pain. Finally, your baby may express discomfort by slightly curled toes. (p. 79)

Find more interesting facts by reading this insightful book, full of helpful hints, relevant research and beautiful pictures.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Teach Your Baby to Sign for FREE

As a new mother myself, I have heard a lot about introducing basic signs to infants to encourage communication. I have read the pros and cons (yes, there are pros and cons to just about every parenting topic, even sign language for hearing infants) and decided that I want to introduce simple signs to my baby for the following reasons:

1. Babies develop the ability to physically manipulate their hands and arms before they can move the small muscles of the mouth and tongue to articulate words. 

2. Baby girls usually speak before baby boys, but babies learn to sign at the same rate despite gender. I have a baby boy and I would like him to be able to express his needs as early as possible.

3. Being able to sign a need helps babies reduce their frustration at not being able to express needs.

YOU DO NOT NEED TO SPEND MONEY TO USE BABY SIGN! Basics such as diapers and wipes are expensive enough, don't make this one more thing you feel compelled to spend money on. There are countless books, DVDs and classes promising to teach you and your baby to sign. Why not access the FREE resources available and learn to sign with your baby without draining your bank account. 

-Try your public library for resources on signing with children or American Sing Language. Most public libraries have fun DVD's such as Signing Time, that you can use for free!

-Make your own signing book. Take a picture of an item you want to teach a sign for such as "milk" or "cup." Then take a picture of you or another person performing the sign for the item. Print the pictures and place them side by side in a small photo album. Share this album with your baby and practice the signs together.

Visit any of these links to learn signs for free:

http://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-layout/concepts.htm - A detailed description including pictures of 100 signs to start with. 
www.signingbaby.com - Written by a Mom, this website includes practical resources to help you get started.
http://commtechlab.msu.edu/sites/aslweb/browser.htm - ASL dictionary. Click on a word and watch a video demonstration of the sign.
http://www.mybabycantalk.com/content/dictionary/dictionaryofsigns.aspx?letter=A - My baby can talk has a dictionary of basic signs you can use with your baby. 

Do you have any additional suggestions for teaching your child to sign for free? Success stories? If so, please leave a comment!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Easy Homemade Crayon Craft

If you have young children, you probably have a box of broken crayons somewhere in your house. Instead of throwing them out, turn them into fun, chunky crayons. Your child will enjoy helping make these and they will love coloring with their homemade creations!

SUPPLIES: Old Crayons, Muffin Tins, Muffin Liners (if desired).

1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Remove the paper from each crayon and place the crayon pieces in a muffin tin.
3. Place the muffin tins in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the wax is melted.
4. Allow the wax to cool. When the crayons have cooled, pop them out of the muffin tin.

5. Provide your child with paper and enjoy their artwork!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Help Your Baby Learn to Sit Alone - 6 Months

The first 5 to 6 months of your baby's life are full of changes as your baby grows from a sleepy, fragile newborn to an active, alert baby. As your baby has spent time on his tummy every day, known as Tummy Time, he has been strengthening his arms, neck, back and stomach muscles. (Read more about Tummy TIme HERE). Your baby most likely rolls from front to back and back to front, which also takes lots of muscle strength and control. The next milestone is sitting alone. In order to be able to sit alone, your baby must first learn to sit with support.

Here are some ways that you can help your baby learn to sit alone:

-If you have a nursing pillow or upright infant seat such as a Bumbo or high chair, place your child in her chair and provide some toys, read a few books or play games like "Peek-a-boo" and "Pat-a-cake" while your little one practices sitting.

-Don't run out and buy one of the above mentioned items if you do not already have one around your house. Instead, use a square or rectangle shaped laundry basket. Place your baby in the center of the basket with a few pillows around the edges for support. Provide some toys for your baby to play with and make sure you are close by to monitor and offer encouragement. 

-You can also use an inflatable swimming tube on your living room floor, in place of a nursing pillow. Just make certain that your baby is always supervised to avoid any possible danger. 

-Here is another fun exercise you can do with your baby: Sit on the floor with your knees bent. Place your baby on your knees and hold him securely around the waist. Tilt your knees to the left and see if your baby can bring himself back to the center. Repeat by moving your knees to the right.

Taken in part from Home Visitor's Guide, Welcome Baby, p.6.12. Utah County Healthy Department, 2004. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pets and the New Baby

Pets are a wonderful addition to your home and family, the provide love, entertainment, and purpose to our lives. When you are expecting a baby and you have a pet, here are some things to consider:

The first thing to do is make an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure Kitty and Rover are in tiptop health and all their vaccinations are up-to-date. While there, be sure to tell him or her that you are expecting, and ask about restrictions on what you can and cannot do with your pets while pregnant. Ask the vet for advice on preparing the pets for a new baby. Most veterinarians will be happy to offer tips that will help both Kitty and Rover adjust to the new arrival.
Remember that Rover and Kitty are members of your family. They have become accustomed to your attention and their lifestyle. The closer you can maintain the same routines for them after the baby is born, the easier the transition will be. This means that whenever possible keep up the daily walks, petting rituals, and evening snuggles. If you know that your routine is going to change after baby is born, it is best to adjust it now with your pets, before baby enters the scene.
You will need to establish some boundaries for Kitty, who may be used to going where she pleases in the house. Blowing up some balloons and placing them in areas where you want to discourage her from going can help. The squeaking and loud popping sounds the balloons make, as well as the occasional balloon clinging to her fur from static electricity, should be enough to convince her to avoid these areas at all costs. Filling the bassinet or crib with balloons and allowing Kitty to jump in will quickly teach her that she does not want to be there.
Washing Rover's blanket in the same laundry soap you plan to wash the baby's bedding and clothing with will help the adjustment beforehand. The most helpful thing for Rover would be to have dad bring home a receiving blanket from the hospital that was used by your baby. This will help Rover adjust to the new scent of baby far more quickly.
Once your new baby arrives at home, it is important to pay special attention to your pets, especially in those first few days when baby comes home. If possible, have Dad pay attention to them while you feed the baby. Then have Dad burp the baby while you take your turn paying attention to Kitty and Rover.
Don't be afraid to allow Kitty and Rover to come over and give baby a "hello sniff," while you have the baby safely cuddled in your arms. It helps them get adjusted to the source of this new scent and become more familiar with the baby's movements. Remember, even the most faithful family pet can be startled by a baby's sudden actions or cries, so it will be important for you to take the time to assure Kitty and Rover that these movements and noises are okay.

By the time your baby is on the move, your pets should be well accustomed to having a new member of the family. It will be important for you to establish boundaries by letting your baby know not to play with Rover's dinner, nor pull Kitty's tail.
With some careful planning, the bonds that will be established between Kitty, Rover, and your baby will be strong, and you will be able to sit back and watch proudly as your entire family develops and interacts well together.

*Pets have instincts just like humans do, so most likely your pet, who is a loving member of your family, is going to know that the new addition is a fragile baby. Although being cautious is never a bad thing, don't assume that your pet will misbehave, give them a chance to show you that they are capable of adjusting. Children greatly benefit from having a pet to grow up with, they will have a constant companion and friend that they will cherish throughout the rest of their lives. *

Taken in part from: