Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

And traveling with babies!

This task can be daunting whether it’s a day trip to Great-Grandmas or boarding a 6 hour flight for a week long vacation.  A friend of mine who works as a speech-language pathologist lives in the DC area but has family in Chicago and New Jersey, and friends across the country so every other weekend they are planning a trip.  Did I mention she has a 6 month old?  Not only is she an expert in communication but has great tips for traveling with a little one.  Here is what she shared with me:

For starters, take a deep breath.  Traveling with a baby can be scary.  It’s hard!  But there are ways to make it easier.  And if all else fails, turn on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and call for room service.  In all seriousness though, if things get too hectic, baby is overwhelmed and inconsolable, take a break.  Excuse yourself from the party, skip out on going out to breakfast with your in-laws, give baby a little downtime, quiet time, mommy time.  Remember, that’s all they want.  YOU.

Now, let’s get that bag packed.

-blanket for playing on the floor

-a few small toys

-a couple of books (favorites here here and here)

photo album of family members (Shutterfly has free prints via their app!

-songs/finger plays (they don’t take up any space!)

  1.  Keep a small bag of these toys in the trunk of your car for when you end up stuck at a friends house who doesn’t have kids.
  2. Lay the blanket down to establish a play space.  Do not expect baby to sit happily on the blanket for the rest of your trip but make it clear, to play with toys, you have to be on the blanket, or sitting in mom or dad’s lap.  This way, your crawler/climber/runner is somewhat contained and not all over the airport or under the dining room table.
  3. However long you are going, hours or days, give one or two toys at a time and rotate in and out to help maintain interest.  If you dump all of the toys out, within 5 minutes, you are going to be desperately digging in the diaper bag for something, ANYTHING.
  4. Somewhere without toys or baby is over it?  Chances are there are plenty of non-toys within your reach.  Empty water bottles, Tupperware, coasters, deck of cards, plastic cups for stacking/building/knocking down, tinfoil balls, basically anything in the kitchen that isn’t a knife.  (Pro tip – check out the junk drawer)

 

Airplanes:

Keeping a baby/toddler/adult happy and busy on a flight can be the most intimidating task of all.  Have you ever sat still for an entire flight?  NO.  Neither can your baby.  The same activities listed above can work.  In addition, toddlers can be kept occupied for a tad longer but do require some more advanced activities then a simple rattle.  Here are some options when you have SnakesToddlers on a Plane, or anywhere else (doctors office, extended car ride, restaurant).  Maybe you will even be lucky enough to board a plane where the passengers actually cheer on a crying baby.

-Notebook, stickers, crayons

Use an old wipes container as a travel art case.

Glue a dry erase or chalk board to the inside of the lid if you are crafty.

Pro tip – triangle crayons.  No rolling.

-Window clings if you are lucky enough to have a window seat.

Or stick them on the tray table.

-Play dough

-Toy cars/trucks and masking tape to make a road map across the tray table

-Snacks.  Snacks.  Snacks.  Snacks.  Snacks. Aren’t we all happier when we are eating?

-If you are lucky to be flying with a companion, and both of you are feeling brave,  choose seats away from one another.  This way you can trade off.  One person can get some quiet, and the surrounding passengers get a break as well.

Last but not least, you can do it.  There is always an end in sight.  Just like labor.  And if your child cries, so what!  Just remember, you set the tone.  If you are stressed, everyone else will feel it.  So try to have fun wherever you are.  It’s a vacation!  And don’t pass up the time for relatives to pitch in and help!

Happy Traveling!

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Reading Magic

Harry Potter turns 20?!  Not Daniel Radcliffe, the actor, but the book series.

In 1997, a small publishing company took a chance on a book written by J.K. Rowling.  20 years later, teachers credit her with boosting literacy rates and for creating readers who otherwise would have never picked up a book.

Summer makes more time for reading, or at least makes us hope for “beach reads”.

Here are a few proven true favorites for you and your little one.

 

And if no one can sit still, get outside!  Take a walk around the block, or even your yard.  Search for things you might not have seen before!  Every summer day does not have to be filled with day trips, museums, play dates, and swim class.  Take in your surroundings right outside the door.

Now, let’s play!

 

For Crying Out Loud

There are 3 main components to bring forth language skills.

Look, listen, respond.

From the second babies enter this world, they are communicating.  Crying, cooing, body language, eye gaze, pointing, grunts, smiles, and more.  Eventually, those grunts turn into words and the crying turns into “But, Mom!”.  The point is, everything babies do before producing an actual word is communication.  It’s the only way they know how to get attention.

As infants, babies cry because they are hungry, tired, for pain and for comfort.  Parents and caregivers learn their baby’s signs and what they need, when they need it.  Months go by and babies start reaching for what they want, crawling to explore another room, and vocalizing for mom, food, toy, etc.

Throughout your day, recognize the signs your baby is giving you and respond.  This makes baby feel like a good communicator, and he will continue to communicate with you.  As you label items and people, baby will pick up on that too.

A 7 month old clings to his Momma while she makes dinner and he reaches towards a bottle on the counte, grunting.  “Ehhh, ehh, ehhh, ehhhhhh”  Mom turns around to see what he is reaching towards.  “Oh you want your milk?  Say ‘Milk’ ”  Baby responds “ehhhhhh”  Mom: “Good trying!  Mmmmmmilk, milk”  And hands him the bottle.

The baby gives mom a big smile and drinks.  He thinks “I made a noise, I pointed to my bottle, and mom gave it to me.  I’ll have to try that again, mmmmmmm, this milk is good.”

Mom didn’t force him to say milk, and she didn’t ignore him either.  She recognized that her baby was trying to communicate with her, and he was using the language skills he has.  Pointing and grunting.

The next time you are with your child, put something out of reach that he likes and see how he responds.  Respect the skills he currently has and respond to the vocalizations.  Or if you try to help with blocks and he turns away from you, that’s body language saying “I can do it myself!”

In the meantime, model language through books, songs, and everyday conversations.  Your body language is important to them too, so smile and give that baby a hug.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

And traveling with babies!

This task can be daunting whether it’s a day trip to Great-Grandmas or boarding a 6 hour flight for a week long vacation.  A friend of mine who works as a speech-language pathologist lives in the DC area but has family in Chicago and New Jersey, and friends across the country so every other weekend they are planning a trip.  Did I mention she has a 6 month old?  Not only is she an expert in communication but has great tips for traveling with a little one.  Here is what she shared with me:

For starters, take a deep breath.  Traveling with a baby can be scary.  It’s hard!  But there are ways to make it easier.  And if all else fails, turn on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and call for room service.  In all seriousness though, if things get too hectic, baby is overwhelmed and inconsolable, take a break.  Excuse yourself from the party, skip out on going out to breakfast with your in-laws, give baby a little downtime, quiet time, mommy time.  Remember, that’s all they want.  YOU.

Now, let’s get that bag packed.
-blanket for playing on the floor
-a few small toys
-a couple of books (favorites here here and here)
photo album of family members (Shutterfly has free prints via their app!
-songs/finger plays (they don’t take up any space!)

  1.  Keep a small bag of these toys in the trunk of your car for when you end up stuck at a friends house who doesn’t have kids.
  2. Lay the blanket down to establish a play space.  Do not expect baby to sit happily on the blanket for the rest of your trip but make it clear, to play with toys, you have to be on the blanket, or sitting in mom or dad’s lap.  This way, your crawler/climber/runner is somewhat contained and not all over the airport or under the dining room table.
  3. However long you are going, hours or days, give one or two toys at a time and rotate in and out to help maintain interest.  If you dump all of the toys out, within 5 minutes, you are going to be desperately digging in the diaper bag for something, ANYTHING.
  4. Somewhere without toys or baby is over it?  Chances are there are plenty of non-toys within your reach.  Empty water bottles, Tupperware, coasters, deck of cards, plastic cups for stacking/building/knocking down, tinfoil balls, basically anything in the kitchen that isn’t a knife.  (Pro tip – check out the junk drawer)

 

Airplanes:

Keeping a baby/toddler/adult happy and busy on a flight can be the most intimidating task of all.  Have you ever sat still for an entire flight?  NO.  Neither can your baby.  The same activities listed above can work.  In addition, toddlers can be kept occupied for a tad longer but do require some more advanced activities then a simple rattle.  Here are some options when you have SnakesToddlers on a Plane, or anywhere else (doctors office, extended car ride, restaurant).  Maybe you will even be lucky enough to board a plane where the passengers actually cheer on a crying baby.

-Notebook, stickers, crayons
Use an old wipes container as a travel art case.
Glue a dry erase or chalk board to the inside of the lid if you are crafty.
Pro tip – triangle crayons.  No rolling.
-Window clings if you are lucky enough to have a window seat.
Or stick them on the tray table.
-Play dough
-Toy cars/trucks and masking tape to make a road map across the tray table
-Snacks.  Snacks.  Snacks.  Snacks.  Snacks. Aren’t we all happier when we are eating?
-If you are lucky to be flying with a companion, and both of you are feeling brave,  choose seats away from one another.  This way you can trade off.  One person can get some quiet, and the surrounding passengers get a break as well.

Last but not least, you can do it.  There is always an end in sight.  Just like labor.  And if your child cries, so what!  Just remember, you set the tone.  If you are stressed, everyone else will feel it.  So try to have fun wherever you are.  It’s a vacation!  And don’t pass up the time for relatives to pitch in and help!

Happy Traveling!

Surprise!

Whatcha got there mom?

Here is an easy activity to promote language, motor skills, turn taking, imagination, and sensory skills.

Pull out a large box, container, bowl, or brown bag.  Take a walk around the house and gather random items/toys.  You can do this with or without baby.

Bring the box back to the family room and dump the contents on the floor.  Make a big deal: Hold it up high and count down, “Ready? Here it comes!  3….2….1!!!!!”

Take turns putting items back into the box.  Now take turns pulling items out.  Allow baby to explore each item.  Name it.  If its a spoon, stir.  If its a car, zoom it around the floor.

Pull out an item and place it on your head, your child’s foot, the couch, on the dog, etc.
“The cup is on the dog, the cup is on the dog, hi ho cherry oh, the cup is on the dog”

For infants to crawlers, pull out items one at a time and let baby explore.  Use the above song with different body parts to awaken their body awareness.

As baby grows use categories:
“Let’s find all blue things/animals/soft things/cold things”
Or name specific items to make an indoor scavenger hunt:
“Can you find something you eat with?”  “Find a ball” “Let’s put a book in the bag”

You can also do this on a walk and find “nature things”  Use them to create a nature wreath!
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Love and Crafts

The key to arts and crafts?

SIMPLE. SIMPLE. SIMPLE.

The easier the craft the more fun it will be for your child AND you.  Think of an easy project, then find a way to make it easier.  And now, make it even easier.

How?  Plan activities that have few steps.  You can even set up the activity before beginning.  Break it down into steps so you know exactly what you are doing next.  Of course, have clean up materials handy and a space to place items to dry if necessary.

Here are three activities to try this week.

SHAKE UP HEARTS

  1. Cut a heart out of art paper, place in container with paint and mixers -heart candies, marbles, bells, dried pasta or beans.
  2. SHAKE IT!
  3. Let love dry 🙂

 

HEART STAMPS
heart-stamps-for-toddlers
Squeeze a toilet paper roll to form a heart and place tape around to hold the shape.  Stamp in paint then on paper.

***With all of these, projects, don’t ever let the stock photo fool you.  With a babe under 2, you will be doing most of the work.  Try the “hand over hand” method.  Here, place your hand over you child’s hand on the cardboard tube.  This way, you are completing the motion, but your child is a part of the fun.

“Stamp the heart, thump, thump, thump.”
“Dip and stamp, stamp, stamp.”

 

VALENTINES FOR THE BIRDS

Spread a thin layer of peanut butter (or soy butter, or sunflower butter, or almond butter) on a piece of bread.  Use a cookie cutter to cut out a shape.  Dip into a shallow dish filled with bird seed.  Thread with a string and hang outside the window.
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Stay tuned for monthly crafty ideas to do with your babes.  Touching on creativity is important on so many levels.  Creating helps children develop knowledge of objects such as crayons and paint, while experiencing sensory materials while getting messy or squeezing play doh.  As children grow, they begin to express themselves through art.  They can also begin to communicate through art where their words have yet to develop.  Children should be creating every day.  This doesn’t mean you have to plan an elaborate project every day.  Provide children with different materials.  Crayons and paper one day, chalk and chalkboard the next, or a white board and dry erase markers.

Now, go play!

 

Make time for books

Read to your child.  That’s it.  Reading is beneficial to children’s development.  Research shows that reading builds a love of reading, increases literacy skills later on, and develops positive relationships with caregivers.

When should I start reading to my child?
Today.  It is never too early to read to a child.  3 days or 3 months.  Children are constantly absorbing language.  That’s why when your child does begin to talk, the words will come out like the flood gates are opening.  A trickle at first, then full blown word flood.  Children hear anywhere from 13-45 MILLION words in the first four years, depending on how much parents talk and read to them.

As a newborn, have someone read while you feed the baby. Chapter books are great for newborns.   When you are making dinner and your baby is sitting happily in a bouncy seat, or wrapped up in a carrier, read your dinner recipe aloud.  Anything to hear words.

As baby grows and you develop a bedtime routine, take 5-10 minutes to look at books together.  Before or after bath to help wind down is a great time.  Maybe after breakfast or lunch place a book on their highchair tray while you clean up the dishes.  If your child is at the age (6-12 months) where everything goes in their mouth, provide sturdy board books or cloth books.  The idea is, allow children to explore books at their level.  If chewing on one book while you read another is where he is, let him go.  You don’t want to create a negative experience of books by saying “No” throughout story time.

As baby grows and starts moving, some children have a hard time sitting still for a book.  The key is, keep reading.  Allow baby to stand up, move around and explore the room, but you keep reading.  You are continuing the routine of story time (no matter what time of day).  And, he is still absorbing your words, and will ultimately come back for his favorite part of the book, or to look at a picture you point out.

When buying or borrowing books, the key is to find books that are simple. Look for books with one or all of the following:

  • few words to a page
  • simple, solid color pictures
  • repetative phrases
  • touch and feel
  • lift the flap
  • action words

Here, are some favorite books!