Sometimes it can help to consult outside sources to find new ideas for working through the challenges that can come along with parenting our little ones in the early years. Here is a list of some of my favorite parenting books, along with recommendations shared by our Little Wonders teachers.Read More
When we first brought our baby home, we were excited to introduce her to our 2 year old dog. After a year, our toddler and dog are the best of friends and great playmates for each other. Introducing the new baby to the family dog requires patience but it can be done. It definitely is more beneficial if your fur baby is properly trained and listens to commands – this makes for a smoother transition and for more control over the situation.
Here are some tips we found helpful when we introduced our dog to our newborn. I am by no means a pet behavior or pet training professional but I found these tips helpful for our family:
Get your dog used to the fact that a new arrival is about to come
- Change is always stressful so try to make this time easier by getting your dog used to the fact that there will be a little human around.
- Let them smell all baby related items, like diapers and baby clothes, bottles. If you intend to allow the dog into the baby’s room, let them sniff the crib, the toys, blankets, car seat, blankets, swaddles, swings, bouncers and other baby paraphernalia that will be lying around the house. This way the barrage of baby items doesn’t dumbfound your dog.
Make the introduction slowly
- When we first brought our baby home, we let our dog sniff her and her swaddle. He was curious and interested but don’t worry if your dog isn’t interested or is cautious.
- If they are curious but excited, temper their energy. Asking them to sit while you let them smell baby slowly. Remain calm and maintain a gentle, relaxed energy as dogs can definitely sense when you’re tense or anxious.
- If they are uninterested or cautious, leave them be. Don’t force the introduction or rush it, let it happen on its own when the dog feels relaxed and at ease. You want to make this experience a pleasant one for both the dog and you and, of course, baby.
- Don’t be discouraged if your baby and dog don’t do well with each other. Sometimes it takes time, not all dogs and babies have the right temperament for each other and it may take longer for them to get used to each other. Use your best judgment and be patient.
- Depending on your comfort level of how involved you want the dog to be with baby, encourage interaction but also ensure boundaries are established. Your dog still needs to be able to listen and obey your commands when you give them while they are around baby. Safety is of upmost importance!
- For example, we did not want our dog to lick our newborn on her face so we had to constantly reinforce that behavior to make sure he understood that it isn’t acceptable. Consistency is key.
- It goes without saying: always make sure any interaction between dog and baby is supervised. NEVER leave a baby unattended with a dog, no matter how good the dog is with kids.
Teach both the child and dog to be gentle with each other
- As your baby gets older and more interactive, it’s important that they learn how to be gentle with your dog.
- Similarly if your dog wants to play with your child, teach them to be gentle and less rambunctious than they would play with you.
- Teach them to pet your dog gently by demonstrating. Use a soft, gentle voice while petting the dog gently.
- Allow them to participate in basic pet care like brushing or feeding. Use your discretion if your dog is sensitive or has issues with food guarding.
Hopefully these tips are helpful as you help build a wonderful friendship between your dog and your baby. We love watching our dog and toddler interact and are constantly amazed at how good they are with each other. She now has a built in playmate and furry best friend for life!
Spring is here - a great time for new beginnings, new adventures, and maybe some new books? Here are some well-loved favorites as well as some newer releases, all perfect for your developing little bookworm. If you’re not shopping locally, don’t forget to use the Amazon links to support Little Wonders while you shop!
Books for younger babies:
Look! Look! by Peter Linenthal - This high contrast black and white board book (along with others in the series) will grab your little reader’s attention.
Hello Bugs! by Smriti Prasadam – Another series of high contrast books (with some sparkles just for fun) that is sure to be one of baby’s favorites.
Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton – Sandra Boynton’s cheerful rhyming books are fun for parents and children alike.
Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman – The beautiful language and illustrations make all of Nancy Tillman’s books a joy to read.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin and Eric Carle – This well-loved book has stood the test of time, as have all of Eric Carle’s classics.
Books for older babies:
Colors ABC Numbers by Roger Priddy – This series of oversize board books features colorful pictures and corresponding words that are perfect to support language development.
Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino and Steven Kellogg – A sweet little llama searches for a llama mama in this fun-to-read rhyming book.
The Little Airplane by Lois Lenski – Pilot Small is off on a flying adventure in this board book that’s perfect for any plane-loving little person.
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney – A sweet book celebrating the love between parent and child, this is a much-loved classic like many of Sam McBratney’s books.
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss – A true classic, this rollicking rhyming book is as fun for parents to read as it is for children to enjoy.
Books for toddlers:
All Aboard the Dinotrain by Deb Lund – Deb Lund’s fun-to-read books (including Dinotrain, Dinosailors, and Dinoplane) feature dinosaurs going on all sorts of rhyming adventures.
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker – The perfect bedtime story for any truck-obsessed toddler, these trucks have worked hard all day and are ready for a good night’s sleep.
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty – Perseverance and creativity are the order of the day as Rosie learns to celebrate her ingenuity with the help of a famous great-great aunt.
Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney – A little excavator discovers that sometimes being small is just what’s needed in this fun-to-read rhyming book.
Journey by Aaron Becker – The first in a trilogy, this beautiful wordless picture book follows the journey of an adventurous little girl who discovers the importance of friendship.
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn – Chester Raccoon needs a little extra reassurance when he goes to his first day of school. Perfect for separation anxiety and transitioning to pre-school.
We hope you enjoy these books as much as we do! Happy reading!
We live in an area of seemingly unlimited activities for kids. Museums, indoor play structures, gyms; classes are everywhere. However, most of these things cost money, which for most of us is not unlimited. And sometimes you need a break from the park! This is my list of go-to free (or low) cost activities to do with littles. Sometimes you just need to get out of the house!
Maybe you’ve seen some of these in your neighborhood. Community members build a small cupboard-like structure, usually located in front of a private home. People are invited to trade books, with Little Free Library’s “take a book, return a book” policy. We love to visit different ones around our area. We borrow a book, return it to a different Little Free Library the next week, and take another book. This is just so much fun. You can search for libraries in your area, here.
Did you know that you can visit the concierge at Hillsdale Mall and borrow a Kiddie Kruzzer stroller for free? There are several varieties, but my kids love the double fire truck model. My kids enjoyed this long after they had stopped cooperating with traditional strollers. We have spent several afternoons, just doing laps around Hillsdale Mall in our fire truck. Sometimes we will visit Mrs. Fields for a cookie before heading home. The concierge is located on the lower level, near the M.A.C Cosmetics store.
Construction site viewing
If you have a kid who loves trucks, it can be so fun to go and visit a construction site. I use this website for the city of San Mateo to look for current areas under construction and then we will go visit and just watch for a while.
Visit the ducks
Bay Meadows Park in San Mateo is best knows for busy soccer fields. There is also an almost hidden pond at the North end, where my kids love to see the ducks. There’s a path around it, perfect for strollers or bikes. This is especially fun in the spring when you can hope to spot some ducklings.
Trader Joe’s coloring sheets
Trader Joe’s grocery stores are great for families, with lots of family friendly foods available. My kid’s favorite thing about them is the monthly coloring sheets. We will stop in and pick up a new sheet. Later in the week we bring it back colored and they are absolutely thrilled to see it hung up in the front. Usually they are given a lollipop for their efforts. A win for everyone!
When I was in high school, I didn’t have time for lunch. By that I don’t mean that I was so busy I spent my lunch period doing homework or other things, I mean that I literally did not have time in my class schedule for a lunch period at all.
While I think that’s probably an extreme example, and one would hope that none of us are packing our toddlers’ schedules so full that we forget that they need to eat, many of us have accepted as normal a constant state of ‘busy-ness’ in which we feel so pressed for time that we put some of our most basic needs aside in order to keep up.
It can be hard to slow down and let our kids be kids when we are so used to being constantly on the go ourselves. It can feel unnatural and perhaps even cause us to worry. Will our kids fall behind their peers if they don’t start music lessons and sports in preschool? What will we do with them all day if they’re not in lots of activities? Won’t they get bored? We’re supposed to spend our entire weekends shuttling them to and from various engagements, right? Are there certain activities that are more important than others? How many activities is too many? Too few?
Of course, there is no magic number of activities in which to enroll our kids, no set formula for dividing time between structured and unstructured things. The key is to find a balance that feels right for your family. Here are some things to consider when scheduling your kids’ time:
- Respect your child’s need for unstructured time to play. Sometimes scheduling a lot of activities for our kids comes from a desire to make sure they keep up and learn new things. However, research shows that a lot of learning and creativity comes from downtime and boredom. Children need this time to grow.
- Select activities for your kids carefully, and be open to their interests changing over time. Just because you loved soccer or music or dance as a child doesn’t mean that your child will.
- Observe your child and how he or she responds to their schedule. Do they drag their feet whenever it’s time for a particular class, or are they excited to go? Do they seem stressed or anxious? Every kid is different and what might be an overwhelming amount of stimulus and activity to one may not be to another. As in most things in parenting, there isn’t a single right or wrong way to do things. You will always know your kid best.
- Unstructured time doesn’t have to mean chaos. You can still maintain a loose routine for your child and for yourself without falling into the over scheduling trap.
- Encourage independent play from a young age. For some of us, scheduling activities for our children comes from a desire to avoid having a bored kid or to give ourselves a break from entertaining our kids. If we cultivate our children’s natural curiosity, though, we may find that we are less taxed by unstructured time with them. There are many ways to do this! Parenting educator Janet Lansbury has some great tips for fostering independent play, including in this post.
- Model the types of behavior you’d like to see from your child in unstructured time. Do you pull out a phone or device whenever you have a free minute? If we want our kids to develop the ability to play independently and to be comfortable with unstructured time, we need to put this skill to practice ourselves and give them the opportunity to observe it in action.
As in so many aspects of parenting, balance is key. There’s no harm in letting your kid try out classes and other activities. But there’s also no harm in resisting the pressure to sign up for everything! Try to trust that the real learning our kids are doing as toddlers does not require they be enrolled in a particular music or sports class. Simply by being in the world and interacting with it and with us, our kids grow and learn. We are enough for them!
Often as parents we find ourselves amidst a myriad of activities for our kids, there are places to go, people to see, things to do, errands to run. As a result, date nights and couple time eludes us. We barely have time for ourselves, let alone to plan a date night! And sometimes, when we do find the time, spending time with our significant other ends up being going to bed early because we're so exhausted from the week or the day that there's no energy left for romance. So with Valentine's Day being around the corner, I thought I'd share some tips on how to make the most of couple time, so that even the most tired of parents can still enjoy a little quality "us" time.
- It does take effort - Quality couple time takes effort. It doesn't have to be extravagant but it does require some commitment from both parties to make it happen. The truth is, you have to make time for it and that can be done in different ways. Whether it’s committing to 1 date night a month, hiring a sitter for the kids, or trying to come home early from work on Fridays for dinner, this all takes the conscious effort of deciding to make this a priority. Both of you are responsible for this, the intimacy of your marriage or partnership is your responsibility, so take the reins and make it happen.
- Bigger isn't always better - Don't be fooled that quality "us" time needs to be a fancy dinner date or an exotic weekend getaway, it doesn't always have to involve flowers or gifts. Whatever your style, make sure its quality time. It could be a Netflix movie and ice cream (or wine) on the couch, or it could be a hot date at a hip restaurant in town - the most important thing is that you are spending time together, doing something you both love and enjoying yourselves together, without the kids.
- Undivided attention - Put away the devices (laptop, phone, iPad) and give your spouse your undivided attention (even if its only for 15 minutes). "Us" time doesn't have to be long either - like in a formal date. Sometimes all it takes to spend good quality "couple" time is sitting in bed, telling each other about your day. One person talks and the other just simply listens, and you take turns. This is sometimes all you need to feel connected to your partner and for your partner to feel heard, especially if they’re having a hard day. Never underestimate the simply gesture of asking "how was your day?" and just listening with an open heart.
Finding time together can be challenging when you're a parent, but don't let it be an excuse. You have to work at it. It doesn't always come easy but think of it as setting a great example for your children. When they see you model a happy, healthy marriage or partnership, you're teaching them important pillars for their future relationships and marriages. It doesn't just benefit you both as a couple but your kids get to see how much you love each other, which benefits them too.
~ Daphne Howe
On these cold winter days, when we tend to find ourselves inside due to poor weather, many parents can be struck with a feeling of dread – what can we do today to prevent the big “B” word? That “B” word we are talking about is boredom, and for many parents it is something we go to great lengths to avoid. To keep our children stimulated and engaged, even in these winter months, many parents choose to fill their children’s daily schedule with activities and events.
As well intentioned as this may seem, a recent article by the World Economic Forum (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/09/being-bored-is-good-for-children-and-adults-this-is-why?utm_content=bufferb8f6b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer) suggests that there is value in letting our children be bored. As the article’s author explains, boredom can be seen as an opportunity rather than a deficit. Boredom helps to prevent the expectation that children should constantly be entertained or on the go. In boredom, we give children the opportunity to create their own pastimes and explore their inner curiosity, perseverance, and playfulness. Plainly put, simplifying our schedules and powering down from the outside world can be a great benefit for our children! As Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D, a developmental and clinical psychologist in Oakland suggests, children need to read, write, think, draw, build, and create. So much structured time does not allow for this to happen.
As Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting suggests, by consciously saying “no thanks” to packed days, parents and children can “gain time, connectivity, security, and ease.” Here are a few tips she suggests for simplifying our family lives:
- Avoid overscheduling. Moderate your family’s extra activities, focusing on essentials, so that you and your children can function at a sustainable place.
- Embrace ordinary days. Not every day needs to be exceptional and our children shouldn’t expect that. Learning to appreciate the ordinary days can build character and encourage creativity.
- Cut back on screen time. Eliminating screens helps foster children’s interactions with other humans and encourages exploration with the environment.
- Reduce toys. According to Payne, simplifying play makes parenting easier. She suggests doing this by keeping a small selection of open-ended toys, like blocks and simple dolls. Echoing the same sentiment suggested by the World Economic Forum, Payne suggests requiring children to play outside often and allowing them to be bored. Through boredom, we can help to facilitate basic creativity and resourcefulness.
Here are some additional tips for finding that balance between over-scheduling and boredom:
- Be a role model. Make sure you enjoy unstructured time so you children will value it as well!
- Check in with your child and make sure that his/her activities are things they truly like to do.
- Make time for unstructured family time so that you can create opportunities for bonding, problem solving, and physical activity.
- Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep and create a bedtime routine that works for the whole family.
So here’s to relishing this time of year!
Celebrating holidays with young children can be magical. Witnessing their wonder and joy is truly a gift in itself.
At the same time, though, many of us feel overwhelmed during the holidays. Between visits with extended family, a desire to create memorable and fun experiences for our children, traveling or hosting family with toddlers, and finding gifts for everyone on our list -- all on top of the day to day work of parenting young children -- it’s easy to feel stressed!
Traditions can be a salve for these stresses -- a way to slow down and focus on our families at a time of year when we are otherwise being pulled in a million directions. We all know how much our little ones thrive on routine, right? Traditions are really just routines dressed up. Traditions, like routines, help us and our children know what comes next. They remind us of who we are and where we come from, and they give us something to look forward to and to take comfort in. Repeating traditions year after year can strengthen our families and help our children to feel loved and secure.
Below are a few tips for cultivating traditions with your children. I’m also sharing a few of my family’s traditions in the hope that they may spark an idea for you, too:
Start small. A tradition does not need to be elaborate! Something as simple as reading a beloved story before bed each night can be a tradition.
Borrow and share traditions with other families. A tradition doesn’t have to be invented from scratch to be special. Last year was my daughter’s first Christmas and I wanted to commemorate it in a special way, but couldn’t come up with any great ideas on my own, so I turned to the internet for inspiration. Behold the start of our ‘ornament a year’ tradition: each Christmas, my husband and I pick out an ornament that represents
something important or noteworthy from our daughter’s life that year. I love knowing that every year when we decorate our tree we’ll see the ornaments and remember something about what she was like at each age. I hope that as she grows up she’ll enjoy hearing stories about when she was younger as much as we’ll enjoy telling them. I kind of like the idea that other families may be doing this with their children, too!
Trust that traditions will develop organically. Think back on your childhood and the traditions that were most important to you. From where did they emerge? The most treasured tradition in the family I grew up in involves getting food from McDonald’s on Christmas Eve. (This was definitely not a tradition my parents intended to create!) December 24 is my oldest sister’s birthday; one year when she was a kid she was allowed to pick a special birthday treat and requested McDonald’s. Nearly 40 years later my siblings and I still make an annual trip to the drive-thru. Sometimes just going with the flow and doing what works best for our family at any given point will lead to a tradition our kids are excited to come back to year after year.
Don’t be afraid to adapt or modify traditions as needed. Sometimes it can be hard as young families to balance the desire to continue traditions that pre-date our children with the reality that life with kids is different than life before kids. Maybe we’re not sure how or if we can continue a tradition from the family we grew up in or something special we’ve treasured doing with our partner before we had kids. Creativity and flexibility is key here! Our baking projects may be a little less elaborate when we let the kids help, and family game night might be more Candyland and less Settlers of Catan for a while, but there is still something special about continuing a tradition that’s important to us and letting it change through the years as we go through different stages of life.
Cut yourself (and your kids) some slack. We all know that toddlers can be experts at dismantling our best laid plans. Try to keep in mind the age and temperament of your child(ren) and have realistic expectations before putting too much stake in how a particular tradition or experience will go. Maybe a photo with Santa in which everyone is smiling and in their best holiday attire is not going to happen when your toddler is going through extreme separation anxiety or actively dislikes wearing fancy clothes. It’s okay if things don’t turn out exactly as planned.
Consider creating traditions that are centered around giving. We all want our children to grow up to be generous, kind people. Holidays offer a great opportunity for us to model the spirit of giving and create traditions that bring our family closer together at the same time. Anything from making holiday treats to share with friends and neighbors to donating toys to kids in need can be a great way to spread love to others while also modeling generosity for our children.
Wishing you and your family a happy holiday season!
I try to model a generous spirit for my children all year long, but it’s especially easy to do this time of year. There are so many opportunities for teaching children about giving during the holidays!
We love to bake treats and deliver them to friends and neighbors during the holidays. There are many ways that kids can be involved in this, such as:
- Helping with the baking or decorating of treats
- Putting stickers and bows on packages
- Helping with delivery (load treats in a wagon to deliver to your neighbors or have the kids help bring cookies to their teachers when they come to school)
If you have a little artist, have them help with holiday cards. This can mean they decorate envelopes for your family cards or draw and decorate cards for their teachers or friends.
There is a wonderful organization called Cards for Hospitalized Kids (cardsforhospitalizedkids.com). You can make cards (for holidays or any time of the year), mail them to the organization, and they will be distributed to children who are currently hospitalized. You can find all the details about where to send them and what to have them say on the website.
We like to do a giving tree every year, like the one for Life Moves in the classroom at Little Wonders. With toddlers I find it is hard to have them help with picking out toys for others, but there are always many choices that involve things like clothes and personal items. I like to have the kids come to the store and we talk about how we are giving this to someone who doesn’t have the item and how wonderful it is to help people. The kids can carry the items into the classroom and put them under the tree too.
I have also seen giving trees at the library and in stores this time of year.
Various Drives and Donations
We like to bring cans or boxes of non-perishable food to the library when we visit.
- Bring last years winter coats to a shelter, such as Life Moves
- Donate old books to your library.
- Purge toys and clothes to make room for new gifts and donate them to Life Moves.
The important part is to have your children help with gathering and delivering the items and talk about how its important in your family to help, give back, and reduce waste.
Have a happy holiday with your Little Wonders! Here’s to celebrating the real meaning of the holidays this year!
The holidays are upon us and with the excitement of this fun time of year, we also welcome colder temperatures. Gone are the long days of summer when we could easily bring our rowdy kiddos to the park for hours on end to burn off some of that seemingly endless energy. Since we can’t always venture outside for long periods of time, colder temps and rain usually mean that we have to get creative in order to pass the days with our little ones so that we all end up happy (and with our sanity intact!) by the end of the day. Here are a few suggestions for activities to fill those cold winter days that are coming our way.
Community centers, museums, and libraries are wonderful places to escape the cold while experiencing something new and exciting for the little ones. We are lucky to have many great centers in our local area! Here are a few to add to your list this winter:
What better time to craft than during the holidays! Making ornaments and other holiday art projects is sure to be a hit. Try out these crafts for loads of fun:
- Cottonball snowman – What you need: construction paper, glue, cotton balls, pom poms, contact paper, and markers.
- Cut out snowman figures from the contact paper and glue the non-sticky side to the construction paper. Once attached, lift the top layer off the contact paper and let you little one place the cotton balls and pom poms on the paper to make a snowman.
- Handprint mitten ornament– What you need: construction paper, finger paint, scissors
- Trace a mitten on construction paper (make larger than your child’s hand). Dip child’s hand in finger paint and place handprint in traced mitten. Let dry and cut out traced mitten. Attach string and hang on the tree!
Toddlers are a delight in the kitchen and love to help when it comes to baking. If your kids are young enough that this is their first time helping out, here’s a helpful reminder: KEEP IT SIMPLE! Have your little ones help by measuring out the ingredients, sifting flour, icing cookies or dropping sprinkles on frosting. Chances are after a few minutes they will be ready to move on to the next activity so keeping them engaged for a short period of time is all it takes for them to have loads of fun.
Embrace the cold
Get out with the family to participate in winter sports we can only enjoy during this time of the year. Bring your kids to the ski slopes for their first taste of skiing and snowboarding. While you’re in the snow build a snowman and make some snow angels!
Even if you’re not headed to the snow, be sure to enjoy the outdoors locally. Kids love to be outdoors, so just bundle up and head outside!
It’s almost Halloween, an exciting time for all of our little ghosts, goblins, witches, and pumpkins. Along with all the fun and excitement, all the new elements of
Halloween can be unsettling or even downright scary for the littlest people. Here are
some suggestions to make this Halloween the happiest yet.
Prepare your little pumpkin for spooky surprises. The world of Halloween is filled
with all sorts of new characters, and ghosts, monsters, and witches (and even
princesses and Elmo) can be startling or scary. Before heading out on Halloween or
in the days leading up to it, let your toddler know that they might be seeing these
new-to- them characters. You can also talk about creatures who might jump out and
say “Boo,” and even practice saying “Boo!” right back.
Consider the candy conundrum. Halloween is closely connected with candy and
trick-or-treating for most people, but chances are your little pumpkin hasn’t made
the association yet. With all the other new parts to the Halloween experience, this
might be a year to enjoy the sights and sounds of the neighborhood rather than
focusing on hitting every house on the block. If you decide to squeeze in a few “trick-
or-treats,” consider letting your child select one or two pieces from their loot, then
saving the rest for the grown-up goblins at your house or workplace. (Of course be
sure to check all candy for choking hazards or unsafe packaging before the candy
Young toddlers can also celebrate Halloween by helping to hand out treats at home.
This is a great time to model eye contact, please and thank you, and taking turns.
You might want to consider handing out non-candy items such as Halloween
stickers, pencils, or small non-candy snack packs.
Costumes – the great debate. Halloween costumes can take a lot of time, money, and
energy to create, and we’ve all heard stories of that infamous toddler who took one
look at their intended costume and flatly refused to have anything to do with it. To
avoid (or at least mitigate) the frustration that the may raise, develop a “Costume
Plan B.” You might grab a hat and some face paint or even have a Halloween t-shirt
on hand just in case. Whether your toddler is sporting their costume or rocking a t-
shirt, make sure you’ve got options just in case the evening is warmer or cooler than
We hope these tips help you have a wonderful Halloween with your little ghosts and
goblins. Happy Halloween!
Ah summer, languid and idyllic days filled with laughter and fresh air. At least that’s what Facebook and Pinterest seem to depict. I have a dark secret to share with you – while there is plenty of laughter there is also a lot of dirty clothes, dirty floors, and dirty (and sometimes cranky) kids. And very little of it is languid. However, as for idyllic, I’m trying to hold on to memories of my childhood where all I remember is having fun. Being on the other side as the parent, I need that reminder, that my childhood memories are filtered through forgiving rose tinted glasses.
Cut yourself some slack. Those extra 15 minutes you are able to give your child today – that’s the memory they will keep and cherish. Sure there are a lot of fun things to do in the area and I encourage you to explore but don’t feel like you’re failing as a parent if Camp Mom or Camp Dad isn’t prepped and ready to go every day! I think a little boredom is a good thing – from it can come creativity and ingenuity. Though be careful if they get too quiet, that’s rarely a good sign ;).
We have a membership to Curioddysey and we often pick other outings based on the discounts we can get. Over the 4th our whole family got free admission to the Santa Barbara Zoo. We’ve used our Curioddysey membership to get discounts as the San Francisco Zoo, Oakland Zoo, Happy Hollow, The Portland Children’s Museum, the Columbus Zoo and a few others I can’t bring to mind at the moment. And I should mention that we love going to Curioddysey too! Knowing that we can go somewhere locally and get in for, usually, half price, is a real draw.
Now that the drought is more or less over we’ve been using the hose a little this summer. We don’t leave it on for long, but few things are more fun than running through the water in your own backyard where swimsuits can become optional (for the kids that is). We love splash parks too. Ryder Park has water again this summer, over by Seal Point in San Mateo. And Stulsaft Park in Redwood City, Stafford Park in Redwood City, and Burton Park in San Carlos – and these are only the ones we’ve visited.
And few things are more fun – for all of us – than an impromptu picnic. Our favorite? Costco pizza, watermelon and popsicles. And it means everyone has someone to be with. At the end of those less than languid and very messy days there is serenity in getting to unwind with a grown up friend while letting the kids run out their energy for a *fingers crossed* good night sleep.
Classes have finished for the summer and some of us—myself included—are saying goodbye to Little Wonders. We started at Little Wonders with the Baby Play class when my son Robbie was 10 months old. I had been looking for an activity we could do together that would be fulfilling for us both and as soon as we walked in to Little Wonders, I knew we had found the right spot. I can still remember our Preview session when Robbie crawled right out of my arms and started playing on the floor, he knew right away as well that Little Wonders was the place for him. Mireille likewise knew we were in the right spot (as usual) and got us signed up right away. Connecting with her and all of the other amazing teachers has been such an amazing introduction into the world of childhood education from the parent side of things. We truly have the best teachers around! In the 2.5 years we've been a part of the Little Wonders community we have found such a welcoming and supportive community, where we've made so many friendships that I know will last as we move on to full-time preschool.
This year was my first on the Board, serving as Publicity Chair, and helping to transition Little Wonders to our fabulous new website and blog format. It was such a rewarding experience to be a part of the Board and to help guide our school and community, I highly recommend it! I would like to personally thank my blog team for providing such wonderful and creative articles throughout the year. And thank you all for reading! I look forward to seeing what Ika and the new team of writers do next year!
Lisa Mumbach, Publicity Chair
Time flies when you are having fun; I can't believe the school year is already coming to a close! If feels like it was not that long ago that we embarked on our Little Wonders Journey and looking back it is amazing to see the amount of mental and physical development that has happened in such a short span of time. It has been a blessing to be part of such a supportive community to help navigate this season of toddlerhood. From discussing nurturing ourselves, to taking risks and the challenges of potty training, I have learned so much from me fellow mama's as well as the patient and gracious teachers here at Little Wonders-- which I am so grateful for. We are aging out this year, and while we are sad to leave Little Wonders we look forward to having some fun over the summer session and staying connected through alumni events and future play-dates with all our little friends.
Love & Gratitude, Crystal Adams
Hard to believe the school year is already drawing to a close until I look at photos of my Little Wonder on his first day of school and compare to his last! We’ve grown so much over the past several months, and have felt so supported and loved within the Little Wonders community. Thanks to all of the wonderful teachers, parents, and especially outgoing parents for your wisdom, advice, and shoulders to lean on. We’re looking forward to a sun and fun filled Summer session, and another year of building and learning come Fall!
Wrapping up my first year at Little Wonders, I am amazed at how far we have come since September. When my daughter and I rolled in to our first Monday morning class, we were one frazzled mama and a cruising baby. I hardly knew what we had even signed up for -- I just knew that EVERYONE I talked to seemed to be in love with this "Little Wonders" place, so I should probably try it out. Looking around the classroom and discussion table those first couple of sessions, I quickly started to understand. Here I saw more parents and babies just trying to navigate the huge changes that come around that first birthday, each one grappling with the possibility of increased independence -- or not, depending on the day of the week. And grapple we did! Now this same class is full of toddlers who run, climb, talk, and even LISTEN...and a group of parents who just seem so much less stressed than we did at the beginning of the year. Personally, I am grateful for the shared joys and concerns at discussion ("thank goodness that isn't only happening in my house!!"), the connections with those other moms and dads, and the "aha!" moments for simple things like easy snack foods (CORN ON THE COB!). I can't wait to see what next year at Little Wonders brings! (Look for us in the Wednesday evening class!)
Ryan Phua Memorial Kids’ Ride
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Downtown Burlingame, CA (at California and Lorton avenues)
Race starts at 10:30am
Register online: www.ryansride.org
14th Annual Ryan Phua Memorial Kids’ Ride, Sunday, June 25, 2017
Come join the fun! The 14th Annual Ryan Phua Memorial Kids’ Bike Ride, part of the 31st Annual Burlingame Criterium, is the largest kids’ bike ride in the US. The event is scheduled for Sunday, June 25, 2017. Each year, over 500 children twelve & under pedal to the finish with thunderous applause. Feeling proud of their “win,” each child happily receives a medal, popsicle and goody bag.
Ryan’s Ride is a labor of love to memorialize Ryan, who died to Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood in July 2003 at age 2 years old. Ryan and his twin brother Matthew were born after their father battled and survived cancer.
While the event is free, children participants raise pledges for the Ryan Phua Memorial Fund, established through the LIVESTRONG Foundation to fund cancer-related programs in the Bay Area. Close to $750,000 has been raised so far. There will be free entertainment for the whole family after the ride. Top fundraisers receive gift certificates to a local toy store or a brand new bike.
For more information: www.ryansride.org
Like us: www.facebook.com/ryansride
Planning a trip to the happiest place on earth can be a daunting task; especially for first time visits. We took a trip this Spring when our Little Wonder was around 2.5; what motivated us to take this trip when he was this young is that kids before 3 are FREE! Free park admission, and they often can eat free off parents plates in many dining packages—which saved a lot of money.
As a planner by nature and profession I did an extensive amount of research online and amongst my Disney obsessed friends before the trip and I am so glad I did. It really helped prepare us for the trip and prioritize what was important, which lead to a pretty stress free happy time at the park. Here are some of my top tips I learned from my experience that helped make our Disney Adventure a truly magical trip.
PLANNING THE TRIP—TIMING, TICKETS & HOTEL
No matter when you decide to go to the park, it will be busy so you need to have a solid strategy around timing for your visit. Weekdays are always better than weekends, with Mon-Wed being the least crowded days. In regards to time of year, prior to spring break and before the holidays are lowest peak seasons. Looking to the rest of 2017, here are some of the non-peak times to consider:
Weekdays in May
Mondays through Thursdays the last two weeks of August
The first half of September (except the days of Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend through Labor Day, Aug 31-Sept. 4, 2017); Mondays through Thursdays for the remainder of September and October
Mondays through Thursdays in November (minus the weekend of Avengers Super Hero Half-Marathon Nov. 10-13, 2017, and the week of Thanksgiving)
Mondays through Thursdays during the first half of December
Undercover tourists has a great compilation of best/worst times to visit the park as well as a crowd calendar.
As for your length of time at the park, that really depends on your objectives for the visit and if you want to do both Disneyland and California Adventure. Knowing that we would have to take a lot of breaks and leave early, we wanted to maximize our time and options and opted for the Three Day Park Hopper Ticket. This allowed us to go to both parks, and gave us just enough time to get to our must-see’s on the trip. Whatever option you decide buy your tickets online before you go and research prices; we found the best price options on Getaway Today which was a highly recommended site from several Disney pro friends.
If it is within your budget to stay in one of the 3 hotels on the Disney Property—Paradise Pier, Disneyland Hotel, Grand Californian—DO IT! We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel and it really did make the trip that much more magical, and made life a lot easier when taking breaks. Plus the pools are fantastic, and so necessary if you go during the summer.
Paradise Pier is the more budget friendly option, where the Grand Californian is the newest/most expensive but also closest to the park and includes a private entrance into California Adventure. We stayed at the Disneyland hotel and loved it. Upon check-in we got our first character encounter in the Lobby meeting Goofy, and our little guy was obsessed with Castle headboard in the rooms that had lights and plays "When You Wish Upon a Star." The Disneyland Hotel is also very roomy, we fit three adults one toddler with tons of room to spare! Beyond the close proximity to the park, staying at the Disney properties gives you other perks like priority dining reservations, 1 hour early entrance to the park with magic mornings and extra magic hours.
Disney also has affiliation with over 40 Good Neighbor hotels, where depending on your length of stay can give you access to perks such as magic mornings. My biggest piece of advice for staying at a Good Neighbor hotel is to factor in the extra time (30-45 mins) it takes to get to/from park (either walking or parking/tram ride to park) into your schedule. For us, since we are not frequent Disneyland visitors it was worth the splurge to stay on a park property to have the whole magical experience and save time/have added proximity convenience.
CHARACTER / EVENT DINING and PLANNING YOUR DAYS AT THE PARK
Once you have your timing and accommodations booked the next thing to tackle is planning your days and securing dining reservations.
The #1 tip I can give to having a truly magical Disney experience is do the character dining or any meal/show bundle you can. Not only is it super fun, but it saves you so much time in the park as you get quality time with the characters for pictures and autographs and it really just immerses you in the Disney experience. Many of the character dining experiences are at the resort hotels, but you do not have to be a hotel guest to make a reservation. Reservations can be made 60 days in advance and go fast, so make sure to book in advance. My top character dining reco’s would be the Surf’s Up Breakfast at Paradise Pier (only character dining guaranteed to have Mickey) and dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen. The topic of character dining can be a whole blog post of its own—Disneyland Park Daily has a great guide to all the character dining options, highly recommend checking out as you make your reservations.
Disney also offers several meal/event bundles for popular attractions like the World of Color, Frozen the Musical and the Electrical Parade. While some can be quite pricey they are wonderful options of getting a nice meal and saving time waiting in lines for attractions. For example, we did the Frozen lunch bundle, which gave us priority seating in first ten rows and no line—which saved us about 2 hours (avg. wait time for Frozen show). Prioritize what show attractions are important to you, investigate your options and make your reservations early if interested. Disneyland Daily has a fantastic review of all the various Event/Dining Bundles, highly recommend reading before making your reservations.
Once you have dining reservations made, it is a good idea to make some general daily plans of how to structure your day. Even with a 3 day park hopper, it is impossible to see everything in both parks. Long lines, tired toddlers, and general exhaustion prevent this from happening so it is really helpful to prioritize you must-do attractions and things you would like to see but would be okay missing if you don’t get to it. To get started you can review interactive park maps online, and you can even preview most rides by searching for videos of them on YouTube. Some other park tips to factor in to your visit:
Download the Disneyland Park App, it is amazing and gives you estimates on ride wait times, location of characters, and you can manage all your reservations through the app.
Visit Magic Kingdom Mamas, and follow them on Instagram. These moms are adorable season pass holders that are at Disneyland 3x+ per week and offer the best advice for navigating the park with little ones, and have extensive reviews on every ride/attraction.
Bring a stroller and your best walking shoes, you will need it as the walking is intense (average 12 miles a day on my fitness tracker) and it is helpful for impromptu naps, shade for your little one, and a general carrier of all your stuff.
Pack water and snacks to bring to the park. Disneyland food is delicious (and extremely allergy friendly, they accommodate every allergy) but expensive. Disney has no restrictions on bringing in your own food so pack as much as you can, with the amount of walking and time at the park you will need it!
On main street there is an infant center where you can buy/change diapers, heat up food, have a private place to nurse, etc. All bathrooms are extremely friendly for baby changes but it is nice they have this center if you want a little more privacy.
Lastly, when planning out your day you need to factor in your must see attractions and rides. Lines can be long and sometimes you can only get 1-3 rides done in a 3 hour period; so having a strategy of knowing what you want to see is very helpful. Disneyland Daily offers the best overview of Fast Pass (reserved ride time, no line), Ride Swap, and Single Rider Lines; which was the most helpful resource for me when planning our strategy. The only ride for Toddlers the Fast Pass helps with is Toy Story, the other ones they are too small for but can be useful if you plan to ride some adult rides without your little one. We were lucky that our little one was obsessed with the rides and had no fear, he really liked them all. Here are my top picks for rides and attractions based on our experience with our 2.5 year old.
Disneyland (Lands in order of favorite areas for my toddler)
Toontown—Everything here is perfect for toddlers, lots of play grounds to explore and they can visit Mickey and Minnie in their houses. Best time to see them is getting to Toontown right when it opens (1 hour later than rest of the park) and going to their houses first.
Fantasyland—Casey JR Train, Storybook Canal boats, Small World, Teacups, Dumbo
Tomorrowland—Astro Orbitor, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Finding Nemo, Autopia (driving cars)
Critter Country—Winnie the Pooh
Adventure land—Jungle Cruise
Frontier land—Fun to walk around but not much for Toddlers to do.
New Orleans Square—Pirates was closed when we were there, I am not sure if it would be toddler appropriate.
California Adventure (Lands in order of favorite areas for my toddler)
Cars Land—Most popular area, so good to go to first or during magic hour. Toddlers are not tall enough for the Radiator Spring Racers ride, but can go on Mater's Junkyard (basically teacups in a truck) which my son loved.
Hollywood Land—See the Disney JR show, it is 30 mins and is an interactive live action show with characters from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Sofia the First, and Doc Mc Stuffins. Lots of fun! This is where the Frozen show is as well as lots of characters, including Marvel superheroes.
Bugsland—Pretty much every ride here is toddler appropriate and this is one of the most fun areas in both parks for Toddlers. My son absolutely loved it.
Paradise Pier—Toy story, Mickey’s Ferris Wheel, Little Mermaid. This is also where you will find Buzz and Woody from Toy Story.
For our trip we decided to spend two days at Disneyland and one day at CA adventure, which was perfect. We got to see all our must see attractions and shows, and left completely happy and exhausted. While planning the trip was a lot of work, I can honestly say it was the trip of a lifetime. Seeing our guy light up and have so much fun created memories for a lifetime that we will cherish forever. I hope you find these tips helpful, and good luck planning your family adventure!
-- Crystal Adams (Friday PM class)
Summer is fast approaching! Do you know how you and your Little Wonder will be spending your days? Here is my current list of toddler-approved activities:
Little Wonders Summer Session
Summer classes start June 12! Standard classes (AM, PM & Wed evening classes) meet seven times between June and August. Class format includes:
- Informal circle time including singing, movement, and stories
- Free play time for the children at all stations with half the parents watching the designated station areas each week
- Snack / meal time for the whole class
- Facilitated discussion time for half the parents every other week
The Baby Play Class also meets seven times during the Summer. Baby Play Class format includes playtime and informal discussion with parents and children together.
Visit https://www.littlewonders.org/class-schedule-summer-2017 for more details and to register today!
Tired of your own children’s book collection? Check out someone else’s while simultaneously enjoying some social time AND air conditioning!
- Toddler storytime at your local library - visit https://smcl.bibliocommons.com/events/ to find up-to-date schedules
- Storytimes at your local bookstore - Barnes & Noble at Hillsdale in San Mateo has children’s storytime every Saturday at 11am! Too far from home? Ask your local bookstore if they have a similar program!
Swim Classes ($)
Maybe you swim year-round, or maybe you swim nearly never. Regardless, your toddler may be interested in dipping his or her toe into the water sooner rather than later! There are parent-and-me classes available throughout the Peninsula at a variety of price points. Check out your local Parks & Recreation listings within the next month or so, or start the sign-up process at one of the private swim academies ASAP (spots fill up fast).
Outdoor Play Spaces (Free!)
Grab your sunscreen, water bottle, and hat! Your toddler is probably already letting you know that outside in the beautiful sunshine is the place to be, so why not go for it? If you do not already have a favorite local park, here are a few that we like to frequent:
- Paddock Park (San Mateo) - https://www.yelp.com/map/paddock-park-san-mateo
- Beresford Park (San Mateo) - http://www.cityofsanmateo.org/index.aspx?NID=3336
- Washington Park (Burlingame) - https://www.burlingame.org/index.aspx?page=419&recordid=201
Indoor Play Spaces ($)
Sometimes it just gets too hot to play outside during the summer months, even when the drive to play is still strong. Luckily, there are a number of drop-in indoor play spaces on the Peninsula as well! Here is a quick reference for when you just can’t fathom sitting outside in the summer heat:
- La Petite Playhouse (Redwood City) - http://www.lapetiteplay.com/
- Safari Run (San Mateo) -
- *Note: This location is recommended for ages 3 and up
- Diddalidoo (San Bruno) - http://diddalidoo.com/
- Bumble (Los Altos) - http://www.bumblelosaltos.com/playroom/
*Note: This location is actually a restaurant! I’m REALLY looking forward to trying it out sometime.
Let’s be real—sometimes you need a major change of scenery. When a huge trip to Japan is just not on the table, a day trip to somewhere fantastic and different can be a great alternative. Here are some fun places for parents and kids within a (relatively) short drive from Little Wonders:
- CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point - http://curiodyssey.org/
- Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo - http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/depts/csd/jmz/
- Swanton Berry Farm Coastways Ranch U-Pick - http://www.swantonberryfarm.com/upick
- (If you have a child who likes to eat berries, show them where the berries come from!)
- Harley Goat Farm - http://harleyfarms.com/2.
San Francisco & North Bay
- SF Zoo - http://www.sfzoo.org/
- California Academy of Sciences - http://www.calacademy.org/
- Aquarium of the Bay - https://www.aquariumofthebay.org/
- Bay Area Discovery Museum (Sausalito) - http://bayareadiscoverymuseum.org/
- Happy Hollow - http://www.hhpz.org/
- Children’s Discovery Museum (San Jose) - https://www.cdm.org/
- Vasona Park - https://www.sccgov.org/sites/parks/parkfinder/pages/vasona.aspx
Santa Cruz & Beyond (possible overnight trips)
- Roaring Camp Railroad (Felton) - http://www.roaringcamp.com/
- Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk - https://beachboardwalk.com/
- Monterey Bay Aquarium - https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/
We are fortunate to live in the Bay Area where produce is often fresh, local, and even organic—not to mention widely available. While many of our local farmers’ markets are open year round, summertime markets boast additional vendors—not to mention local strawberries, nectarines, tomatoes … (pardon me, I’m drooling now.) So take advantage of the beautiful summer weather to expose your little wonder to the natural wonder of this produce! You can sample fruits, vegetables, and local products together —if all goes well, you might discover some new favorite flavors. Take an ice chest and a blanket so that you can prolong the outing to include a picnic lunch or dinner! Here is a quick overview of some of the farmers’ markets on the Peninsula:
Millbrae Farmers’ Market
Saturday 8am to 1pm
Millbrae City Parking Lot in the 200 block of Broadway between La Cruz and Victoria Avenue.
Fresh Market, Burlingame
Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (year-round) and
Thursday 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (May through mid-September)
Park Road at Burlingame Avenue, Burlingame, CA 94010
25th Ave Farmer’s Market
Tuesdays 4:00pm to 7:30pm
May 2 - October 10, 2017
194 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA
San Mateo Farmer’s Market
Saturday 9:00am to 1:00pm
1700 W Hillsdale Blvd, San Mateo, CA
San Mateo Bay Center Farmers’ Market
Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
951 Mariners Island Blvd., San Mateo, CA
(Across from the Bridgepointe Shopping Center)
Foster City PJCC Farmers’ Market
Wednesdays 9am to 1pm
Peninsula Jewish Community Center
800 Foster City Blvd, Foster City, CA
(Inside of the building)
Foster City Farmers’ Market
Wednesdays 2:30pm to 6:30pm
Saturdays 9am to 1pm
Charter Square Shopping Center
791 Beach Park Boulevard, Foster City, CA
Belmont Farmer’s Market
Sundays 9:00am to 1:00pm
1299 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA
San Carlos Downtown Farmers’ Market
Sundays 10am to 2pm
700 block of Laurel Street, San Carlos, CA
(Shops are also open; live music often plays)
Redwood City Kiwanis Farmers’ Market
Saturday 8am to 12pm
April 15 - November 2017
500 Arguello St
Redwood City, California
Kaiser Redwood City Farmer’s Market
Wednesday 10:00am to 2:00pm
Apr 5 - Nov 22, 2017
1150 Maple St, Redwood City, CA
May your summer with a toddler be educational, entertaining, and ever so WONDERFUL!
-- Elizabeth Euresti, Monday AM 2016-17
St. Patrick’s day is this week and we have rounded up a few fun baby/toddler crafts as well as links to some local Penninsula events to celebrate the holiday!
Scrap Paper Rainbow- Gather some local scraps and practice color sorting/glueing skills with this fun craft.
Lepruchan Handprints- Have some fun with paint and capturing your little wonders tiny handprint.
Clover Leis- This craft is mess free, and bonus helps little ones practice fine motor skills with stringing the lei. If you don’t have straws on hand, pasta tubes would be a great substitute.
Check out Bay Area Parent for a round-up on detailed activities around the whole bay area, a few key events right here in the Penninsula to highlight.
Shamrock Shindig at Hillsdale Mall- Thursday March 16, 4pm. Event includes Irish dancers, custom contest, and crafts.
Hiller Aviation Museum- Lepruchan Skydive Saturday March 18, 10am-1pm (leprechaun skydive at approximatley 11am).
If you're like me, as a childless person you didn't think much about Daylight Savings (except perhaps to enjoy that extra hour of sleep in the Fall!), but as a parent it becomes a whole other ballgame. Kids don't care about the time on the clock changing, which can throw everyone's sleep off for days. Some of you may have been preparing for the change all week, gradually adjusting your little one's sleep schedule for a seamless transition—way to go planners! I tried that the first year and it backfired in spectacular fashion, so now we just kind of roll with the time change in our house and hope it works itself out (with varying degrees of success). If you haven't been planning ahead, here are some tips/game plans to help your little one adjust to Springing Forward tonight.
- Pretend it didn't happen. Just change your clocks as you normally would but keep everything else the same—naps, bedtimes, meals, etc. happen at their "usual" time according to the new clock setting. Your kiddo might seem a little out of it or grumpy at first, but the more you stick to your routine, the faster they will adjust.
- Control the light. If you don't already have blackout shades, I highly recommend them. We've had them since our little one moved into his own room and they are a lifesaver. I always had trouble going to sleep when it was light out as a kid myself, so I totally understand the impulse to fight back, and a dark and quiet room is a parent's best friend. Try bringing your kiddo into the bedroom earlier to adjust to the darkness and let his/her body trick itself into thinking it's night time.
- Plan ahead. If you're reading this now, it's a little late to do this, but you can gradually change your child's sleep schedule by putting him/her to bed earlier in 10-15 minute increments each day. If you haven't planned ahead, you could start this now, and take a few days to get to Daylight Savings.
The most important thing is to be patient. Kids don't know how to tell time and have no idea what this whole Daylight Savings thing is anyway. It'll take a few days for everyone to adjust and get back on track, so cut yourselves some slack and hope for the best. And don't forget to set your clocks tonight! (Or just let your technology do it for you!)
Ski week is upon us, and Spring break will be here before we know it. Now is the perfect time to consider taking a trip with your toddler! This is a road fraught with both stress and fun— much like the rest of parenthood. Here are some snippets of advice as you prepare to adventure with your Little Wonder.
What to Bring
Gone are the days of traveling light, my friend. Luckily, by this point, this should come as no surprise! Here are a few things that might not come to mind right away, but that experience shows should NOT be left at home:
1.Plans for a sick toddler
There’s nothing worse than your sweet-pea getting sick while you are on a trip—believe me, I know. Unfortunately, it happens. Luckily, you can plan ahead to mitigate the awfulness! Take a few of the basics with you: your insurance card, your pediatrician’s contact information, a thermometer, infants’ or children’s Tylenol, saline nose drops or wipes, a pack of tissues. If you have room and know that you are going somewhere with dry air, you might also consider taking a portable humidifier. If you are going somewhere new, consider looking up local pediatricians ahead of time in the event that you need to see a doctor in person. It is much less stressful to research pediatricians and urgent care options when your baby isn’t suffering from a seal-like cough at 2am in Mexico City … for example ...
2. Food for the “road”
You know your toddler is going to want a “nana” and yogurt just when there are no bananas or yogurts in sight, right? And that you’re going to hit traffic, or flight delays, or SOMETHING that keeps you in travel mode for an hour or two longer than you anticipated, right? And that you and your SO are also going to get hangry at some point while traveling with a toddler, right? Good, now that we’ve clarified that, PACK LOTS OF SNACKS FOR EVERYONE for travel day. My secret weapon is small cans of tuna with crackers -- protein and carbs, plus their shelf life is looooong if they don’t get eaten on this trip.
Take more than you think you need. Make a list of what and where they all are so that when you hit hour five of close confinement, your brain doesn’t just implode with the next round of toddler squeals. (I say this as a pretty darn patient mom.) Some inexpensive suggestions include:
Sticky notes (less sticky than stickers, still lots of fun!)
Large pom-poms (big enough not to be choking hazards, fun to sort)
Window clings (sticky, but non-staining things that are fun on windows)
Teacher Mireille also recommends wrapping all of your diversions in wrapping paper—the extra step makes each item more fun (and more time consuming to open!).
4. Back-up toddler transportation
Sure, those little feet want to go, go, go, but you need something for when they don’t want to go, go, go where you do! An umbrella stroller doesn’t take up too much room, nor does a baby carrier (e.g. Ergo, Beco, Tula …).
What NOT to bring
1.ALL of the diapers/wipes you will need
Unless you’re going camping or will be somewhere rural where they don’t sell diapers for some reason. I use cloth diapers at home, but have had no trouble buying disposables when traveling. I buy enough diapers and wipes for travel day and maybe a few days after, then figure I’ll be going to a grocery or drugstore for something once we’re settled in at our destination anyway. The fewer things to lug around on travel day, the better!
2. ALL of the snacks
Will there be food at your destination? If the answer is no, I struggle to understand why you are going there … unless you’re camping, in which case that makes sense and more power to you for camping with a toddler! Unless you are going out into the wilderness, or unless you have a food allergy to take into account, you can and should find food to try at your destination. There are children everywhere, and they all need to eat. You can buy and try the local crackers, yogurt, milk, fruits, veggies, etc. that are consumed by the toddlers at your destination, and that way you don’t need to fill up your suitcases with your own food from home. (More room for clothes, toys, and souvenirs!)
1.Buy a seat for your toddler
If you are not completely put off by the idea of paying full price for your toddler to have his or her own seat, I cannot recommend it highly enough. (Of course there isn’t a choice once your kiddo hits age two—I’m talking lap-eligible kidlets.) Yes, your toddler will likely end up in your lap or in the aisle or somewhere else weird at different points in the flight. But take-off, landing, nap time, and turbulence? The safest place for your mini-me is strapped into a seat using an FAA-approved car seat or FAA-approved Child Harness Device (CARES). For more information on FAA-approved restraints, see https://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/
2. Check bags
The last thing you need is something else to lug around while you are trying to chase down your toddler in an airport. Take what you need for one day and one night in your carry-on, and check the rest. If the airline loses your bag, you can make due with slightly stinky clothes until they find it or you buy replacements. Just make sure your toddler’s favorite toy isn’t in the checked bag … just in case.
3. Board early … or not
There are definitely two camps on this one. On the one hand, boarding early allows you and your toddler to get yourselves and all of your gear settled in without the hassle of every other member of humanity trying to shove things in bins and under seats. You can strap in your FAA-approved carseat, take your little one for a diaper change or potty break, and engage entertainment round one before the aisles are full. If you are travelling alone with your toddler (i.e. one adult, one toddler), family pre-boarding is practically a must. However, if you are traveling with a second adult, you might consider skipping the pre-boarding … partially. Send one adult ahead with as much gear as possible. Have Adult A set up the carseat, load up the rollerboard into the overhead bin, and start making snacks accessible. Adult B continues to run toddler around the gate area as long as possible. Toddler then needs less running around once on the plane and is more content to sit and be entertained in other ways. (Of course, if you get anxious about being late or planes leaving without you … this probably isn’t the plan for you.)
Hopefully this has been a useful (or at least entertaining) read as you prepare for your trip. We would love to hear your travel stories and other helpful tips when you return from your own toddler adventure! Bon voyage!
Happy New Year everyone!
We're in for some wet weather in the Bay Area this week, and when the weather outside is frightful, sitting cooped up in the house all day with an active toddler can turn into an extreme exercise of patience for both of you, especially after a few rainy days in a row. Keep the winter blues away with a few new rainy activities this winter.
Winter art activities
Potato Stamp Snowmen – Cut potatoes make great paint “stamps” for little hands.
What you need: White or gray paint, colored construction paper, potato, small plate, crayons/markers Directions: Cut potatoes in half, pour a small amount of white paint onto a plate. Have your toddler place the cut side of the potatoes into the paint and then “stamp” circles onto their paper to create a snowman shape. Use crayons or markers to draw a top hat, scarf, and scenery.
Sparkle scenes – Nothing is more fun than dumping, shaking, and brushing, until your toddler shakes all the excess off to reveal the sparkling picture underneath!
What you need: Glitter, glue stick or white glue/paint brush, paper, crayons/markers Directions: Using crayons or markers draw outlines of bells, trees, snowmen, or other fun and simple shapes. Let your toddler use a glue stick, or a paint brush dipped in glue, to “color in” the outline and then shake glitter all over the glue. The more the better! Lift the paper to shake off the excess into a collection plate or bowl, repeat.
Choose simple recipes that allow lots of dumping, mixing, and topping for your toddler. Make sure you keep a small bowl for “tastes!”
You can measure, then hand the cup over to your baker to dump into the bowl. Explain what you’re doing, and take the opportunity to talk about kitchen safety as well. Before your treats go into the oven - have your toddler sprinkle with a topping like mini-chocolate chips, sprinkles, oatmeal, or cinnamon sugar.
Build an obstacle course
Set up pillows, blankets, couch cushions, and those empty Amazon boxes to create an indoor obstacle course. Have your toddler run around obstacles, climb over them, and even jump into soft piles of pillows and blankets. Great way to get some energy out on days where the kids are cooped up inside.
Put on some tunes, dress up in some silly clothes, pull out musical instruments or make your own from spoons and bowls. While away the minutes dancing like there’s nobody watching and encourage your little one to wiggle the rainy day blues away.
Build a reading nest
Throw a bunch of blankets and pillows onto the couch or floor and create a big, cozy “nest.” Have your child choose some books and snuggle up in your special nest to read. If your child enjoys looking through books on their own, bring your book along and model a lifetime love of reading while next to your child as they look through theirs.
Get out the galoshes
The rain doesn’t have to mean you stay inside all day! Take advantage of the fun environment outside. Bundle everyone up and go on a nature walk around your yard, your neighborhood, or your local park. Let your little one enjoy some fun stomping in puddles and exploring the wonders of a rainy day, explain the rain, talk about clouds, look at the wet leaves of plants, catch raindrops on your tongue. Rain can be magical for little ones.
Rainy Day Outings
When it’s been raining for days on end, even the most amusing indoor activities start to feel a little stale. Take advantage of our great local resources while staying dry.