Monday, April 29, 2013

Toddler Activities: 20 Months Old

One of the challenges of being a stay at home mom is finding activities for your little one to keep them entertained throughout the day. These are a few of our current favorite activities:

Letter Jump: I saw this great alphabet learning game on Pinterest and had to try it! In the original post, they made letters out of painter’s tape right on the floor, and then used little flashcards with the alphabet to choose the letter to jump on. Because I have an 8-1/2-months-pregnant belly, and the idea of laying out a bunch of letters on the floor with tape did not appeal to me, I cheated a little bit and used some alphabet foam tiles that Emma got for Christmas. I popped out the inner letter from a few of the tiles, threw the tiles all over the floor and put the letters in our laundry basket. One by one, I held up a letter from the basket, said the letter and Emma went and jumped onto the tile for that letter. There were a couple that she needed help with, but overall she did very well.

Tongs Practice: Emma thinks that tongs are pretty neat, so one afternoon, I grabbed her little sand bucket, the tongs, and a few of Emma's bath toys. I showed her how to use the tongs to pick up her bath toys and put them in her bucket. It took her a few tries - one time using both hands, on time with just one hand - but she got the hang of it pretty quick. She also really enjoyed dumping the bucket after she'd picked up all the toys.

And, of course...

Read: Reading is one of the best activities you can do with your child at any age!

A few of Emma's current favorites are:

My 3 good things for today are:
  1. Derek made a fantastic ice cream cake from this recipe. We all gave it a thumbs up!
  2. It's so warm outside, we may actually be able to plant some flowers in the garden this week.
  3. I (hopefully) get to meet the little guy in a matter of DAYS!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Toddler Bed Transition

We have transitioned Emma into her very own toddler bed! Although the first few nights were challenging, it has been about a month now and overall the transition has gone much more smoothly than I would have expected.

 Here are the tips that seemed to work for us:

  • Talk about the move from crib to bed before actually making the transition, and if possible, let the child help pick out the bed/bedding - We talked to Emma about her “big girl bed” in advance. She went with us to pick it up, and was in the room when we got everything set up. It helped that she was involved every step of the way.
  • Keep the crib in plain sight for a while - A child's crib is the place where they feel the safest, so taking it away the same time that you put them into a new bed can make it scarier for the little one. We left it up in the same spot it's always been.
  • Plan ahead for an active child - Look around the room and make sure that anything that could be unsafe to a wandering child is put up or secured.  We always make sure all toys are picked up at the end of the day.
  • Use a nightlight - We’ve always had a soft light in the nursery at night so that we don’t have to turn on a bright light if we need to go into the room for any reason. Even if your child has never been afraid of the dark, it might be a good idea to use a nightlight.
  • Follow the same bedtime routine – This one is fairly obvious, but it helps to stick to the same routine you’ve had in the past. We read a couple of books while rocking, then give hugs, kisses, say goodnight, and turn out the light. Derek lays her down and leaves the room. It has always worked for us, so we followed the same steps to put her to bed.
  • If your child gets out of bed, go in and put him or her back - We didn’t want to let her cry it out because she just came to the door that first night.  She’s not going to go back to her bed and just go to sleep if she’s crying at the door (at least – not the first night). So we took turns soothing her and putting her back in bed. We kept these visits short and to the point. This is not snuggle time with Mom and Dad – we were just there long enough to calm her down and return her to her bed. Nowadays, she generally stays in the bed from the start, but we have had to repeat this process after she’s been sick and when we’ve been traveling away from home overnight.
  • Be positive! - When we discussed the big girl bed, we always made it seem fun and exciting. It was always expressed as something that was a big deal and a huge step toward becoming a big girl.
  • Be patient but consistent – This is probably the most important and also most difficult step. The toddler bed is new for your little one and you can’t expect him or her to be used to it right away. The first few nights will probably be lengthy and frustrating, but try to stay calm and stick with it. Although it was tempting that first and second night, once we had used the toddler bed, we did not let her sleep in her crib.  However you’re planning to transition, make the decisions and stick with the routine. Going back and forth is just confusing for your child and prolongs the process for you. 

The only issues we have come across are during nap time. Emma knows that she can just get out of bed and play. At first this stressed me out and I was constantly going and putting her back in bed, I quickly realized that my appearances were not really helping the situation. Now if she is coming to the door or crying, I will go in and soothe her and put her back in bed, but if she is playing quietly, I just let her be. I know the room is safe and she manages to fall asleep on her own. I have had to scoop her up and put her in the bed twice in the past month when she fell asleep playing on the floor, that is a small price for battle-free naps.

As with most "life changes" with your little one, it may seem like the process will never end. But if you stick with it, your child will be sleeping the night away in their toddler bed in no time!

What strategies worked for you when you were making the toddler bed transition?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Toddler Easter Basket

Our family had a fantastic Easter weekend, and I hope yours did as well!

Derek's family has a tradition of hiding Easter baskets, and letting the kids search for them. This really works great in our northern climate where a big outdoor egg hunt isn't always possible. We found that it is also perfect for a toddler, who may not have the attention span for a long search.

For older children, you could also create a scavenger hunt for your kids. Instead of having their Easter baskets just sitting on the table ready, have your kids wake up to find an egg with a clue, that takes them to another clue etc, until they find their basket.

One of the toys in Emma's basket was a collection of chunky foam letters and numbers for the bath. We made a trail of numbers leading through the living room to her basket. She also got goldfish crackers, golden raisins, bath markers, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, a tube of Chap-stick (one of her favorite things), some Easter-y cookie cutters (for cookies or play-doh), and two small Dr. Seuss books. I was surprised at how quickly Emma's basket filled up!

We knew she'd be getting candy from her grandparents, as well as aunts and uncles (in addition to charming a few pieces away from Mommy and Daddy!) so we made a concerted effort NOT to include any candy in her basket.

A few other great (non-candy) ideas are:
  • Coins or even Dollar Bills 
  • Stickers
  • Seeds to plant together after Easter
  • Hot Wheel Cars
  • Hair ribbons and bows
  • Bouncy Balls
  • Erasers
  • Lip Gloss
  • Character Band-aids
  • Sea Shells
  • Play-doh
  • Army men
  • Plastic Animals/Bugs
  • Bracelets/Necklaces
  • Rubber Stamps
  • Pony Tail holders
  • Marbles
  • Mini nail polish
  • Coupons (You can make them: "Good for one extra bed time story, etc...")

Got any other candy-free egg ideas you'd like to share? I'd love to hear them!