Friday, December 10, 2010

5 Brain-Boosting Gifts for Little Ones

With Christmas just around the corner, you may be wondering what toys are best to support your child's development and encourage cognitive growth, language development, creativity and imagination. Here are a few ideas for choosing Christmas presents that will facilitate healthy development through play.

1. Blocks
Blocks are a great toy at every age. You can purchase blocks made from cloth, foam, wood, cardboard and plastic.  Blocks teach children about cause-and-effect, ie. "When I hit the tower of blocks, it falls over!"  Blocks encourage creativity as children explore new ways of building and add to their block play by using toy cars, animals and people.

2. Books
Did you know children who come from homes where books abound grow up to be children who love reading? (See Jim Trelease's Website)  Adding to your child's personal library is a Christmas gift that will support their learning now and in the future.  Choose age-appropriate books and books that your child shows a high interest in. See THIS post for some great book recommendations.

3. Music
Encourage your child's love of music by providing him or her with child-sized instruments and CD's filled with favorite childen's songs. The love of music seems to be inate in young children.  Age-appropriate music encourages brain and language development as children learn rythm and rhym through their favorite children's songs.

4. Puzzles
Puzzles teach problem-solving skills and help children feel competent as they accomplish difficult tasks.  Make sure that you purchase age-appropriate puzzles.  Babies and toddlers fare best with chunky, wooden puzzles.  Preschoolers may enjoy more advanced wooden puzzles and large floor puzzles.  You can spend time with your older children creating puzzles with larger numbers of pieces and more intricate designs.

5. Dress-Up Items
If your child doesn't already have a stash of dress-up clothes, Christmas is a great time to start a collection. You can decorate a toy box and fill it with some of your old clothing or purchase new or used costumes and other dress-up items such as hats and shoes. Dressing up encourages "dramatic play" where children recreate familiar scenes, such as when they play "house" or "school." Children also use dramatic play to exercise their imaginations as they take on new roles and plan out the plot of their game.

Friday, December 3, 2010

How to Store Homemade Baby Food

The most simple way to store homemade baby food is by freezing it in ice cube trays.  After pureeing your baby's favorite meals, store a few servings in containers you can place in the fridge and pour the remaining puree in ice cube trays to preserve for later.  You can then remove just a few cubes at a time according to your baby's serving needs.  Thaw the cubes in a small saucepan and make sure that they are not too hot before serving them to your baby. 

Looking for ways to spice up your baby's food?