Put a bow on it.

Here it is!  Your guide to holiday shopping for the little ones in your life.  These are Play to Grow’s fave items for gift giving.

Tips for toy giving:

  1. Buy something that does not take batteries.  The parents will thank you.  And so will the child’s brain.
  2. Look for something that can grow with the child, that they can use throughout their childhood.
  3. Stay away from gender stereotypes!  Boys can play house and girls can drive toy cars around.

All of the gifts are linked to buy them but PLEASE visit an actual store!  Although the holiday crowds can be crazy at time, remember it’s important to interact with people on a daily basis! Brick and mortars for the win!

Disclaimer: Play to Grow does not receive any monetary reward for this post or any of the links you click on.  They are truly just great products!  Wouldn’t that be nice though? (So, hey! Any retailers reading this, hit us up!)

shopping (1)

Latch puzzle


Toy house


Shopping Cart


Tea set


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Sit and Stuff Bean Bag


And more books


Step Stool


Pop up Tent

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Shape Sorter

For more ideas on gift giving, check out this past post.


Now, go shopping.
Then, go play!



Are you ready?

And all things holidays…buying gifts, mailing cards, potluck planning, turkey prepping, waiting in lines, waiting in return lines, not to mention the every day duties of laundry, cooking, carpools, sports, play dates, time out…TIME OUT.  Before all of that goes down, let’s just take a deep breath.  DO IT.  TAKE A DEEP BREATH.  DID YOU DO IT?

Now, this post is all for you.  Forget your to do list, forget what to make for dinner, forget if your kid is going to eat it, just be still.  Be here.


Now, take a minute to think about what you need.  What do you really need.

Is it your body?  Is your mind racing? Are you on an emotional roller coaster?  Choose from one of the activities below or see more ideas here.



Wine does the trick too.


Now, go relax.


Happy Hauntless Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Here are a few fun activities to get you through this spoOoOOooOoky week!

Feed the Ghost! Cut a ghost out of poster or foam board.  Break out a large sauce pan, mix up some pretend food and feed that ghost!  Use alphabet magnets to practice letters with your toddler!  Practice imaginary play, language, and turn taking.


Haunted Tent: Drape black sheer fabric, orange string lights, and throw in some flash lights for a not so haunted house.  This will encourage gross motor skills, independence, and spark sensory receptors.


Invitation to Play: While your little one is napping, set out a spread of play dough and left over Halloween decor.  Your little one will practice fine motor skills and choice making while his imagination flourishes.

Put your dancin’ shoes on for this one:

Lastly, don’t forget to check out our past post when preparing your child for Halloween Festivities!

Now, go play!

Tricks and Treats and Tips

If you are afraid your child will be afraid of costumes and strangers, and strangers in costumes, (they should be!), practice at home before Halloween festivities.

  • Play dress up in front of a mirror.  Use old Halloween costumes, or just hats and clothes in your closet.  Let your little one see you put on a mask and take it off. (It doesn’t have to be scary!)  Just so they know it’s still you under there.


  • Visit a Halloween store and point out all the costumes.  Use phrases such as “Wow!  Look out tall that skeleton is!”  “That witch is wearing a hat!”  “That’s a silly werewolf, does he look like —–‘s dog?”  What does a dog say?  This dog howls!”


  • Walk around your neighborhood and count the pumpkin decorations.


Need more fun?  Here is a recipe for Moon Dough.  It’s similar to play dough but softer.  Its crumbly but will hold a shape, sort of like a snowball.

Okay to Eat Cinnamon Moon Dough.
Serve in a pie pan with utensils for an invitation to play!

You will need:
4 cups Plain Flour
1/2 cup Olive or Vegetable Oil
Ground Cinnamon

First put your 4 cups of flour into a large bowl, then make a hole in the center and pour your half cup of oil right into the center. Mix together with a whisk or your hands (have your little one help!).  You’ll notice that the mixture is starting to form a crumbly texture. When you mold it together it will form a shape, and when you crumble it back down it returns to a dusty or floury texture. It takes only a couple of minutes to mix together. Add a pinch of cinnamon powder. Mix thoroughly into your moon dough and it is ready for play!


Now, go play!

Dora was ahead of the game.

The American Academy of Pediatrics creates guidelines for raising healthy, happy children.  Hospitals, doctors, dentists, and other care providers pass on these recommendations to families.  For example, the AAP recommends children should be in car seats.  So, parents place their babies in rear facing car seats with buckles properly placed.  The AAP also recommends weaning children off bottles around 15 months for dental hygiene.  So parents don’t let their children go to kindergarten with a bottle.  The AAP also recommends parents limit screen time as a family especially to children under two years old.  So….

Why are children still plopped in front of screens?  Because they are available.  EVERYWHERE.  At home, in the car, in the grocery store, at Grandma’s, in your pocket.  And screens (TV, phones, tablets) make life so easy!  Need a recipe, look it up.  Want to hear a song, tell Google to play it.  Need 5 minutes to peel potatoes, put a video on for your baby in their high chair.  Orrrrrr you could do this:

No screens, no batteries, no robotic voices.

Children learn to think creatively, problem solve, and develop reasoning and motor skills at early ages through unstructured, unplugged play.
What do children learn from a touchscreen?  How to swipe.

When children are interacting with a screen there is less interaction with adults or other children.  Less language, less imitation, less confidence, less development.

That being said…it’s okay to want 5 minutes to yourself and when all else fails, give them the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Theme song.  Give it to them so you can save your sanity.  Just don’t let it be the first resort or the every time resort.  A little screen time is not going to do permanent damage.  And when your little one is watching surprise egg videos, join in every now and then… “What’s inside? Oh! It’s a little brown cow! What does the cow say?”

Now, put your phone down and go play!


Have you ever watched your child observe a school bus drive by?  Have you seen your child try to put legos together or stack blocks only to have them fall down?  This is your child’s brain developing cognitively.  Babies are observers and as they get older they become explores, question askers, and doers.  By providing this experiences for your baby from day one you can help them develop to their fullest potential.

Make the world accessible.
Show your newborn her house, each room, look out the windows, walk the neighborhood, go to the grocery store.  Allow your baby to feel the breeze, lay in the sun, listen to music, touch (gasp) the dirt, the grass, anything that is a part of their world.

Narrate each day.
Label, describe, point, repeat, sing and read.
By talking to you child your are encouraging their language to develop.  If you have never heard a word you don’t know it exists, and if you aren’t taught what it means, you’ll never use it.

Create opportunities.
If you want your child to roll over, sit up, crawl, walk, talk, ride a bike, play baseball, make their bed, be kind, help others, and grow, show them how to do it.  All of it.  It’s been said before, you don’t need the most popular toy, a new app, the latest iPhone, your child just needs you.  You are the one they want, who’s attention they crave, so show them how it’s done.   Provide your child with the means to grow with what you have available.  Sit with your 5 month old and help him balance, reach for a toy and place it just within reach during tummy time, encourage sharing by sharing at home, say hello and thank you to the cashier at the grocery store, take her to the park to watch a softball game, have books on the couch, in the bathroom, in the bedroom, and everywhere in between.  Allow your child to observe, try and try again.



Now, go play!

A little R&R time

Responsibility and respect, that is.

When a child is old enough to follow a chore chart you can put your feet up at time and watch someone else do the dishes for a change.  But, to get to that point, first one must learn the importance of cleaning up and following directions.  By starting at a young age, a child is able to grow up learning what is important in your family.

Following directions
It’s easy to watch your family room turn into a toy store.  Babies and toddlers easily move from one toy to another without blinking.  Their attention span seems like that of a fly.  And before bed it can look like an actual tornado went through your house.   It’s not necessary to expect a 13 month old to pick up all of the toys, that’s mostly your job.  But, asking him to do just 3, 5, or 10 depending on the age is not much.  And when you are providing the example, he will be more likely to follow along.

  • Have her doll baby “help”.
  • Push a laundry basket or toy bin around the room as a bus picking up its “passengers”.
  • Fly her around the room, pausing to pick up a toy here and there.
  • “We’re all done cleaning up, big hugs/high five!  Now, let’s go get a bath/read a book/get our shoes on.”

Of course, at times there will be defiance, but as with everything, hold your ground and be persistent.   Don’t let her sneak away some nights and expect it another night.  Babies and toddlers need consistency.

Hello, Bye-Bye, Please and Thank You
Is there something your child does that he picked up on without you teaching him?  Maybe he pretends to put on your shoes at the door? Or holds a pretend phone to his ear and says “Hello?”  Has he repeated the one word you hoped he didn’t pick up on when someone cut your car off?
Raising tiny humans is hard, but it can be easier if you are providing the correct model.  YOU.  If you want your child to use manners, speak highly of others, not to tease or yell than guess what…you should be doing the same.  Be the person you want your child to be.  We know they mimic everything their parents do from pretend mixing a bowl to facial expressions and conversations.
Teaching respect and social cues is harder than following directions.  You can’t make a 9 month old say “Thank you”.  When opportunities arise, be the model and help your child observe what is expected.  Make it known it’s not all about them, but involving others too.

  • Leaving the grocery store, “Say Bye Bye!” While you are waving, hopefully the cashier is nice enough to play along.
  • At the playground, “Let’s watch the little girl go down the slide, here she comes!  Wee! Now it’s your turn!”
  • Getting a sticker after gym class?  Point out how cool the sticker/prize is to make an excited/happy feeling in your child. “Look at Miss Sarah and say thank you for the sticker,  Thank you!”  Try to get your child to look at the opposite person, any eye contact or a shy smile provides the same as a verbal “Thank You”.
  • As with any social interaction, think of yourself, how are you responding and interacting with others?  Your child is present for all of it, so treat others as you want your child to!

Now, go play!