Monday, January 25, 2010

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How I Taught My Toddler Shapes & Colors

I am not getting paid to write this, first of all - but I felt compelled to post this because I feel so strongly about these books:

The way I have been teaching my toddler his shapes, colors, numbers and letters is through a book collection called "My Books" from Southwestern Publishing. There are four books in the series - shapes, colors, numbers and words. The books have bright colors, fun illustrations and are in both English and Spanish for all the words. The books also include large tear-out posters in the back of the different elements from the books.

My son absolutely LOVES these books. We look at them multiple times as day. He is 21 months and knows his shapes, knows about half his colors and he also can identify all the single-digit numbers and half the alphabet. I'm not a trained child development expert - just a mom of five - but to me, that's pretty early and I credit these books.

I took the posters to FedEx/Kinkos and had them laminated, which was not cheap but SO worth it because he loves looking at the posters too. I say "Where's the stars?" and he'll point to all three places on the poster that has stars.

Now here's the kicker: Southwestern is actually a publishing company that focuses solely on helping college students make money from door-to-door sales. They do not sell on-line! Here's the contact form so if you are interested, you can find out when the Southwestern sales people will be in your neighborhood. They have a finely-honed sales pitch that could be off-putting if you hate being "sold" but if you can appreciate the quality products they're hawking (and there are many for all levels of child) and that you are helping a college student build their sales business and make money for the summer, then you'll be very happy with the result.

I can tell you we are.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

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Top 10 Must-Have Baby Items - and one to forget!

I have 5 kids in my life; my youngest is 21 months - and there are a few things I've learned over the years that you just have to have, and a few things you can forget!

Must have:
1) Cloth diapers - while you may choose to use cloth for your actual diapering needs, I used them for spit up towels, to wipe noses and faces, burp clothes, etc. You can get big pack for less than $5. And you don't feel bad when they get gross.

2) A jogger/stroller - if you have a stroller, you have no excuse for not exercising. I'd recommend finding one with a tray and a cup holder. While it may seem like a pain to drag along with you, it makes it so much easier to keep your little one in one spot and comfortable.

3) White noise machine - with all our other kids being older, it is great to have a white noise machine to keep the toddler's room "sound-proof" while the others get ready for bed or if they get up earlier than him. It also helps your child go to sleep as it cues a calm and quiet environment. Our is from Brookstone but there are many out there from other places.

4) A & D Ointment - While I am not a doctor, I believe this mild ointment is a cure-all! I use it for chapped skin, flaky lips, red bottoms, cuts, whatever. It is very much like Vaseline, which I also love. I kept both tubes - A&D and Vaseline in my diaper bag.

5) Triple Paste - every mom has her favorite diaper rash treatment. I have tried pretty much everything and this is the one I think works the best. It's a little expensive but I say it's worth it because it does not seem to sting and it works very fast! I do have to say that Burt's Bees is by far the very best smelling!

6) A floor "arch" play area - if you ask for any toys on your baby registry, the floor play place is one you will definitely use for a while. This is the kind that has a mat they lay on and then the toys are suspended above. This helps with tummy time, hand/eye coordination, discovering their hands and feet and much more.

7) A "bouncy seat" - I particularly like the kind that vibrate - like the car or the dryer (which are tricks for putting baby to sleep). This is a great place to let your baby be comfortable and safe while you change the laundry, brush your teeth or let the dogs out. Always make sure you keep it on the floor so when your baby wiggles, they don't fall off the counter in the chair.

8) Binky clip/Glow in the dark Binky - you really need a way to make sure the pacifier does not fall on the ground and a clip works great - tack it to their shirt. Also, a glow in the dark pacifier is great because you can find it in their crib in the middle of the night when they wake up.

9) Emory boards - for their little fingernails. I learned the hard way that the nail clippers are just too "variable" meaning it's too easy to clip their little finger tips. Using an emory board is much safer and less challenging. I always used to file their nails after they had drifted off to sleep to reduce the "wiggle" factor.

10) Saline drops - again, not a doctor but my doctor did recommend this many years ago. The drops and eventually the spay keeps their nasal passages irrigated which is really important during the winter months when you are inside, or when you live in a dry place like we do here in Colorado. My older kids still use their spray every day and I'm convinced it helps keep colds away and helps keep noses less stuffy when they do have a cold. It's like a neti pot for little people.

One to forget -

Wipes warmers - is that really necessary? The wipe is only on their bottoms for a couple of seconds.

I hope these tips were helpful for you. Please check out my website for more ideas of what to do with your toddler as they grow! Enjoy!