3 Engaging Back to School Reading Tips

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The school year is off to a great start and I’m thrilled to share these reading tips!

Choose Relatable Books: If your child loves books about trucks, dinosaurs and horses, find fiction and non-fiction text that relate to those topics. Children also love reading books about the things that are happening in their lives. For example, if your child is going to a new school, loves visiting the supermarket, or has a sibling on the way, find books that tackle those topics so that they can create a personal connection to what they are reading.

Create Reading Routines: Set routines around books and stick to them. For example, pick a day of the week to visit the library or bookstore, so that your child will have opportunities to be exposed to a variety of texts and pick out new books to read. Also, set time aside every day to read with your child. When reading is integrated into a daily schedule, it sends a message that reading is valued and your child will start to develop a habit of reading for pleasure. When you take the time to read with your child, they learn new vocabulary, reading strategies, author style (from a series or books from the same author), and most importantly a love of reading. Make the time spent reading with your child even more exciting by adding funny voices, acting out parts, or by creating a cozy reading nook.

Let your Wiggle Worm Move: If you have a young pre-schooler or toddler, they need opportunities to move! Sit on the floor with your child while they are playing and just start reading a book. Chances are they will periodically come over to check out the book, or finish a phrase from a book they’ve read a million times. Trust me, they really are listening, even if they are dancing or running in circles around the couch.

Happy Reading!

What are some of your favorite reading tips?

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Airplane Travel with A Toddler

This summer we traveled to Maine for a visit with my parents. Unlike last years trip which was pretty easy, traveling with an active 2-year for six hours was intense. Here are a few things I learned that will hopefully make your trip a little less stressful than mine:

Ipad– Make sure that you’ve got your iPad loaded with lots of different shows. Try a few new shows that your tot has never seen before, as well as a few tried and true favorites. Even though Emory loves Daniel Tiger on a daily basis, Elmo’s World, Finding Dory and Dora the Explorer were the winners. We also purchased a Speck iPad Case  that was easy to hold and kept the iPad from getting broken, when dropped multiple times from dangerous toddler hands. Headphones were a major fail, so we just turned the volume down really low and the hum of the plane actually masked the sound of Elmo’s voice.


Snacks– I’m not a huge proponent of snacking all day, but when traveling with an active toddler anything goes. We ate snacks from the moment we sat in our seats, until the moment we landed 5 hours later. Even though I brought snacks, the airline has a children’s snack box filled with a mixture of junk/healthy snacks(cookies, raisins, apple sauce), many of which I never allow Emory to have, and so of course this snack box became a huge hit. We also used a Zoli Snack Dispenser to help us keep some of the snacks in more of an organized fashion. You can also take pouches through security in a clear plastic bag( I took an entire gallon bag full), which is a lifesaver because they are still a staple easy on the go snack! Here are a few examples of  other snacks that helped keep our sanity, and our toddler entertained, even though so many made a huge mess:

  • Rasins
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Berries
  • Cheese sticks
  • Inner Snap Peas
  • Apple Juice boxes
  • Popcorn
  • Grapes
  • Seaweed

Window Seat– The window seat actually helped us to achieve a moments of peace, since Emory loved looking out the window at the clouds and lights. It also kept us away from  the aisle, which she constantly wanted to run down. We were able to set-up a little station in the corner for Em and she actually spent most of the flight standing up either watching her iPad, eating, or reading books.


Reinforcements– If you are traveling solo, make friends with others around you and the flight attendants. They will help you when you need to take a trip to the restroom or will provide a welcomed playmate. We made friends with all of the neighbors and it was a collaborative effort to keep Em happy and entertained with minimal screaming . On the way back, my mom travel with us. We took over an entire row to keep her entertained, enabling me to get a few breaks.


Books– Books are always a main staple for any type of travel. For airplane travel, you need books that are light-weight and don’t take too much space in your bag. We’re pretty obsessed with Daniel Tiger books  at the moment, so we brought along a book of 5-minute stories that lasted the entire flight. We also brought Just One You, and What a Wonderful World which are a couple of my toddlers favorite stories.

Travel Light- If you can swing it, try to share a suitcase with your toddler. It’s amazing how much gear we actually travel with and all of the coordination it takes (cart, gate check etc). We brought our amazing Mountain Buggy Nano travel stroller that was perfect for wheeling through the airport and putting through the security. For our next trip, I plan on taking a page from my friends toddler playbook and purchasing the Costco Travel Carseat since it’s super light-weight, a great price point and easy to install.


Patience– This is the final and most important tip. Your patience will be constantly tested, as you try to wrangle a toddler from not kicking the seat or running up and down the aisles. Take deep breaths and just know that the flight will end and tomorrow is another day. I also suggest having a glass of wine once you get to your final destination!

Good luck! What are some other amazing travel tips for mamas with active toddlers?

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Snacks for Toddler Foodies

Discussion about snacks has been all the rage with my mommy friends the last couple of weeks. All our toddlers want to do is snack and finding healthy, but tasty options for picky eaters can be tricky. I’ve put together a few ideas that I’ve learned from my mommy friends and that work (mostly) for Em:

Blogs 

I get a lot of snack and meal ideas from a few bloggers that really know how to get down in the kitchen. Here are a few of my favorites;

Gastromommy– Sarah is a fellow LA mama who is a former college instructor turned stay-at-home mommy. Her blog is filled with great tips for Baby-led Weaning, as well as great recipes.

Baby Foodie– I’ve been following this blog since Em could eat solid foods. Her puree combinations kept meal time exciting and her toddler snacks continue to be a staple in our house. She’s also written several amazing books Little Foodie, Little Bento and Whole Food Baby, which I frequently reference.

California Toddler- Another local LA mama, who uses Instagram to collaborate with toddler focused companies and always shares inspiring plated food ideas!

Storage Containers for Snacks on the Go

Keeping snacks organized when your’e on the go is important. These two storage options are a must have:

Munchkin Snack Catchers– These snack catchers are great because they are easy to clean, the top is easy for tiny hands to grab food and most importantly keep snacks contained. We fill ours with fruit, veggies, crackers etc. and we’re good to go for the day.

Yummi Pouch Cloth Snack Bags– Snack bags are amazing because they aren’t bulky and also do a great job of keeping snacks contained. These bags are also washable in the dishwasher on the top level!

 

Here are a few easy snack ideas:

  • Dr. Pragers Spinach, Kale, Broccoli and Sweet Potato Minis –  Microwave these for 2-minutes and you’ve got an easy, portable, and healthy snack that are packed with nutrients.
  • Earth’s Best Mini Waffles- Add peanut butter, a sprinkle of chia seeds and a thin slice of banana for added potassium.
  • String Cheese ( Cheddar, Goat, Mozzarella)- Make it fancy and add some whole wheat crackers, lunch meat (without nitrates), grapes and you’ve got toddler charcuterie.
  • Smoothies– You can make so many smoothie combinations and thanks to the Trader Joe’s frozen fruit section, you can try new flavors all the time. We personally love adding figs and cherries, and always a huge handful of spinach to boost iron. You can also choose your adventure and decide which kind of milk you want to use( whole milk, almond milk, coconut milk).
  • Muffins– I’m wild about mini- muffins because they are easy to make and transport. Our silicon tray is one of my favorite kitchen tools and I use it weekly. I usually whip up a big batch at the start of a week that keeps fresh in an air-tight container. To prevent your toddler from getting bored, muffins can also be made in many different combinations ( eggs, blueberry, zucchini carrot etc), so that your toddler won’t get bored. Sarah’s Gastromommy blog also has some really great muffin recipes.
  • Cottage Cheese- Berries are a staple in our home and we try to pair them with cottage cheese for flavor. A mixture of cottage cheese and applesauce also is a big hit at our house.
  • Mini-Bagels– These are the perfect size for little fingers. You can spread cream cheese,almond butter, cashew butter or peanut butter on top for an extra protein boost.
  • Siggi’s Yogurt Sticks– I learned this trick from my mommy friend and I’ve been obsessed ever since! Put the Siggi’s Yogurt Sticks in the freezer and take one out when you’re ready to use it. If you wait about 15 minutes, it becomes a nice cool ice-pop treat. It will be even more refreshing in the summer!
  • Banana Ice-Cream– I learned this one watching Daniel Tiger, but it works and it’s yummy! Save a few bananas and make sure they are really ripe. Cut them into pieces and put them into the freezer. When you’re ready add the pieces into your blender and voila you have banana ice-cream. Top with fruit and you’ve got a fun and healthy treat.
  • Veggies– Roasting veggies really brings out the flavor, but it takes time and management of a toddler around a hot stove. We still do a lot of steamed veggies and our favorite are carrots, broccoli, and string beans. Cucumber slices and red pepper sticks are also a favorite with some hummus for dipping.
  • Rice Cakes– Add a little peanut or almond butter on top and you’ve got a great snack. They even have little mini rice cakes that are the perfect snacking size for a tiny toddler.
  • Bitsy Brain Food Smart Crackers(Whole Foods)- This organic crackers are amazing and each pack has 1/2 serving of veggies. We pair these with hummus, and fruit.
  • Happy Family Organics Chickpea Straws– A yummy snack that comes in two flavors: cheddar + spinach & sweet potato + rosemary.  These are crunchy to munch on and can be served with veggies or fruit. To give it a little kick, add a side of hummus for dipping.

Happy Snacking!

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Bye-Bye Binky


Before I had a baby, I was always the mama that swore her kid would never have a pacifier. Well, that all changed when Em came along because it helped her sleep, which meant that we could sleep, too! With all good things, we knew that our days with the pacifier were numbered, and so when Emory turned a year, we started to transition away from it. We are thrilled to say that now at 21 months we are completely pacifier free! Here’s how we eventually weaned Emory from her pacifier, and yes she is sleeping through the night! Please note that all of the ideas are solely what worked for us and may not work for every child.

    1. Limited Use– Starting at a year, we limited the use of the pacifier to naps and bedtime. She protested at first, but quickly got used to our new routine. It also curbed my stress around making sure that pacifiers were in so many different places ( car, crib, stroller, diaper bag etc).
    2. Reading– Of course we read a book! Bye-Bye Binky by Maria van Lieshout was suggested from a friend, and I immediately ordered it. The book is about a little girl who is too big for her binky and gives it away to a little girl that needs it more. Emory loves the book (mainly the pictures of the little girl) and I do think it helped her to start understanding the concept of separating from a beloved object.

 3. Saying Goodbye- For an entire week, we talked about how the pacifier was going “bye-bye” because it was broken and practiced holding onto her lovey instead to help her fall asleep. Our conversations and practice paid off because she now holds on tightly to her lovey to fall asleep and has totally forgotten about her pacifier.

4. Cold Turkey–  We were forced to go cold turkey because Emory was chewing through her pacifiers. The first night was pure hell (make sure that you have your wine ready)! Em screamed “paci” for 2-hours. I would go in about every 15 minutes and readjust her blankie until she finally feel asleep. The second night, the crying was a little less, and she was asleep in about an hour. By the fourth night, I swear Em was snuggled with her blankie, and went right to sleep without even looking for her paci. From that night forward, she’s never asked for a paci and we are officially pacifier free! I was hesitant to go cold turkey, but now I’m glad that we did because it’s over and we don’t have to stress about getting rid of it anymore.

Final Thoughts: If you are on the fence about taking the pacifier away, I wouldn’t suggest starting the transition before a a major life event, such as switching to a toddler bed or traveling. Ease into it, and pick a time that is calm(if that exists) to ensure an easier transition. Good luck!

A Few More Pacifier Book Recommendations

Pacifier Are Not Forever by Elizabeth Verdick and Illustrated by Marieka Heinlin

Blinky by Leslie Patricelli

No More Pacifier, Duck by Michael Dahl and Illustrated by Oriol Vidal

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