Face to Face

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The other day, my husband attached Veronika’s car seat into the stroller base facing away from me – and it felt so wrong!

It’s a reminder of why I always make sure to face her car seat or stroller attachment toward me, and was the perfect prompt for today’s activity: put in face-to-face time with your infant.

If your baby faces you in the stroller, you can narrate everything you see while shopping or walking. Travis likes to engage Veronika, too!

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Likewise at home, I made a point of engaging Veronika face-to-face while in the Ergo. I  lifted her up slightly so our faces were near each other, and narrated the happenings in our home and kitchen,

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Her big happy eyes tell me she loves the interaction!

Repeat a Simple Story

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By now, you may notice your two-month old starting to show preference for certain stories over others. Ways to tell that a baby this small is engaged with a book? Eyes are alert, face is smiling the gaze is eagerly turned towards the pages. Or perhaps the baby just seems relaxed while you say the words.

I noticed that Veronika seemed particularly peaceful during readings of Time for Bed, a sweet story I used to read to Travis as well.

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That makes it particularly useful when I need to settle her down. Don’t be afraid to read a story more than once through – whether over the course of a day, or a couple of times in one sitting. The repetition of words – both within the text itself, and thanks to a double-reading – will be a comfort to your baby.

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What’s your go-to book with your baby? Please share in the comments!

Where Are You?

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This sweet activity is great for bonding plus gross muscle development; it’s a nice variation on standard tummy time.

Today, do your baby’s tummy time on… your tummy!

I lay down flat on my back, and placed Veronika on my chest. At first, she was quite content to lie there with her cheek against my shirt.

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I lifted my head slightly, and called her name. You could instantly see her eyes light up, alert to the communication. Continue to say your child’s name, and help lift the head slightly if needed. Here she is trying to lift her neck.

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Good work, Veronika!

Try Some “On” Time

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I’m not ready to leave Veronika with a babysitter yet… but I also have moments when I need, well, my brain and my hands! Now that Veronika is old enough for quality face time with relatives, I can try some time being “on” as me and “off” as a caregiver.

When you need a moment, invite someone (grandparents are usually more than willing!) to take time “on” with your baby. Veronika absolutely adores staring at these new and comforting faces.

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Meanwhile I’m free to get things done – bills, Christmas clean-up. And if I really have time for a pause, the crossword!

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What do you do in your parenting “off” moments while someone else is “on”? Do share in the comments!

Mirror Faces

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Babies love looking at faces, and this cute activity is a great way to get your little one looking at his or her own.

Lie some place comfortable with your baby, like a soft blanket, and hold a hand mirror up over your faces. You can just gaze at first, or point out facial features.

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From there I moved on to making lots of different expressions, naming them as we went. Happy, silly, sad. Oh no, grumpy!

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Your baby might even try to mirror what you’re doing!

Cooing Game

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Travis keeps asking when his baby sister will start talking I’ve been setting his expectations, telling him that first she’ll go from purely instinctual noises (the nehs and the hehs to cooing, from cooing to babbling, from babbling to syllables, and finally from syllables to real words.

Well, the time has come for the cooing stage! Veronika is just starting to make vocalizations, trying to “talk” back to us, and Travis (and I!) are delighted.

To encourage these noises, take a quiet moment face-to-face with your child, either in a bouncy seat, or on your lap.

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I made cooing noises to Veronika, and waited for her to coo back in response. In addition to adorable noises, you’ll get some cute faces.

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This early on, you can focus on the vowel sounds: aahs, ohhhs, ooohs, and eeehs are all early to come to a baby.

Travis loved pitching in, making sounds and waiting for Veronika to “talk” back. A great activity for engaging big siblings, and for helping your child’s language development along.

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Instant Entertainment

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Veronika’s reached an age (just shy of 2 months!) where she might actually need a little entertainment on trips away from home, rather than remaining content simply staring (or sleeping). Enter in this perfect solution:

Keep a zip-top plastic bag in your purse or diaper bag, filled with two to three small toys.

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You can rotate these options frequently, to keep things interesting, but it means you’ll always have something on hand to dazzle the eyes and ears if the need arises.

Suggestions include rattles, toys that crinkle, or ones that squeak.

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We love this new light-up teether!

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You could also add a small, lightweight book to your pouch, if it fits.

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Veronika loved her little kit!

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Whatever you pick, keep the baggie in your purse and you’ll never be caught empty-handed.

Starry Night Crate

Starry Night Crate

The Starry Night crate will be Travis’s very last Koala Crate; I can’t believe my baby is going to be a “graduate”! I considered this crate a real test, then, to make sure he’s mastered the Koala and is ready for Kiwi (aimed at 5- to 8-year-olds).

He immediately knows when a crate has arrived, and needs to get his hands on the materials. When I told him the air-dry clay inside was for the moon, he noticed bubbles in it and declared, “Look, craters!”

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So along those lines, first up was the Glowing Moon. Press the air-dry clay over the surface of a provided ball, until it’s as even as you can get it. As a slight flaw, the clay was very sticky. I’m not sure it was supposed to be – Travis may have warmed it up in his hands through the package! But it made the spreading quite difficult. We did then use the provided hard ball to make “craters.”

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This was a neat science lesson for kids, since real space debris hitting the moon makes real craters, in imitation of their miniature version.

Next dab on glow-in-the-dark paint.

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We waited for the moon to dry, then hung it on the provided cardboard stand and watched it light up in his room. Very neat!

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The second activity was a Meteor Toss; Travis was super excited to learn there was a game in this crate, not just crafts. All you need to do is drape the provided fabric over a small ball, gather it up, and tie with a ribbon.

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Travis has just recently begun lacing up shoes, so proudly did this step alone. Now set up the cardboard “galaxy” and take aim.

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Travis enjoyed the challenge of making the universe successively smaller, or standing further away. If you like, keep score!

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Finally, we put together the Galaxy Bottle. First, squirt blue glue into the bottom.

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Next add pom poms and space objects (planets, stars, etc.). Then it’s time to add two colors of glitter, which Travis loved.

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I filled the bottle about two-thirds full with water, and we could play the suggested activity. Use the spinner, then tilt the bottle to find the objects floating in space.

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This was another neat science lesson, since I pointed out to Travis how hard an astrologist’s job is, to locate far off things like galaxies and supernovae among all the black of outer space.

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As a cautionary note, you may want to glue the lid on the bottle – it is very brave of Koala to assume kids won’t try to unscrew the cap!

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Again, this was our farewell crate. Stay tuned for the first post on Kiwi Crate in the new year!

Be a Kangaroo

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There’s certainly no right or wrong time to feed your baby, but I prefer to be an “on demand” nurser (listen for that “neh” sound, mamas!), which means Veronika might go three or four hours between feedings during the day, or prefer just a 90 minute stretch. But between 8 and 11 p.m., that girl wants to eat! A lot of it is just comfort nursing, after a point, which means I reach a moment where I want to cradle her close, but also eat my own dinner or get things done!

The solution? Take a cue from mother nature and try on a kangaroo pouch.

I have an Ergo carrier for shopping and walks and being truly hands free, but at night, a much easier sling that goes over the shoulder allows me to keep her close, but still get things done.

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Slings are fantastic for their ease. Your baby will feel comfort and warmth, but you get your hands. Make hushing sounds or hum to your baby, or simply rock back and forth – the movement will certainly remind your little one of the womb.

This is one of those activities that’s a win for everyone!

Introduce the Family

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We’re lucky that Veronika’s two month birthday and first round of vaccinations coincide with the holidays – because this is the perfect time to introduce new family members! Just as with friends of the family, your infant is now more attuned to his or her surroundings, and taking an interest in what the people around are doing.

I’m used to Veronika gazing at me, but it’s so heart-warming to watch her turn her focus on other people as well.

When you introduce baby to aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives, take it slow and try not to overwhelm your little one. Veronika loved taking a special moment in each person’s lap or arms, quietly having a moment one-on-one. With aunts…

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…uncles…

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…a special story time from a cousin…

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…and grandparents.

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Uncle’s fingers make the perfect fingerhold at nap time!

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It didn’t matter whether it was the holidays or just a simple weekend; it felt special to take the time to do this, and let Veronika bond with her family members. I hope you enjoy this activity with your baby, too!