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!

Magic Reindeer Food

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It’s Christmas Eve! Reindeer might like carrots, but you can also try this magical mix to guide Rudolph and his team right to your home. Kids will love the sparkle and magic of the project.

Travis and I set out two bowls, and added 1/2 cup sugar to each.

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In one, we added drops of red food coloring, and we turned the other green.

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Stir in 1/2 cup oats to each bowl. Look at that sparkle!

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Your kid can taste the reindeer food if they want to, although Travis declined! It’s not that this version is perfectly edible, as opposed to using glitter, since any animals who nibble won’t be harmed.

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Pour the reindeer food into jars, and add a holiday ribbon for a nice touch.

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If you want to share the fun with friends or cousins, put some of the mix in a zip-top bag, along with instructions. We printed out this little rhyme:

Sprinkle this reindeer food outside tonight

The moonlight will make it sparkle bright

As the reindeer fly and roam

This will guide them to your home

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Before bed, we sprinkled some on our lawn. Travis loved shaking out big handfuls of it!

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Now we wait for St. Nick!

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Feed the Frog

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Ha, this activity is probably more suited to a creepy-crawly time of year like Halloween, but how do you keep a 4-year-old busy on the day before Christmas? With some good, spider fun, it turns out!

Travis spotted an old trove of spider rings in our craft bin, so we set up this game.

We needed a tissue box, and I let Travis go to town emptying the box and playing with the leftover tissues – something I wouldn’t normally encourage, but every once in a while, you need a sacrificial tissue box.

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Ideally, use a green box. Ours had streaks of green as well as other colors, so I guess looked more like one of those tropical bright frogs – why not!

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I made two big eyes for the frog, simply drawing black circles onto white paper and taping to the frog. Cut out the plastic around the hole of the tissue box, and your frog is ready to eat.

Present your child with the “frog”, a pair of tongs, and a set of spiders, and challenge him or her to feed the frog. Tongs are great for fine motor skills!

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Travis would happily have done this all day. To throw in a little education, I asked if he could think of a pattern to feed the frog. “Black, orange, black, orange,” he suggested. Yes!

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Next we tried rolling a dice, taking turns and feeding the frog the appropriate number of spiders.

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When our frog got full, we simply dumped him out and started over.

Travis wanted other things for froggie to eat, so we found red pom poms, which he decided were poisonous bugs.

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He even suggested we make a little mouth for froggie that could open and close, to keep all the food inside.

In sum, a great way to keep your kids entertained!

Meet New Friends

 

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If you’re following along in my baby game journey, then your infant is nearly 2 months old (!) and finally getting his or her crucial first dose of vaccines. This means it’s safer to play with other young children, so it’s time to meet some new faces!

If you haven’t done so already, it’s the perfect time to introduce cousins or host playdates with friends of the family, or invite over some of a big sibling’s buddies.

No need to do anything special (although we combined one playdate with a cookie swap!); babies love watching older kids, and older kids will love sitting near baby, perhaps stroking an arm.

Veronika has been taking long daytime naps lately, but she was absolutely entranced watching big kids run around the living room, which kept her wide awake.

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She watched from her swing for over an hour without a single fuss!

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Big kids are so cool!

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If an older child wants a special role, you can definitely help make them feel useful. They’re great at handing over a clean diaper, wipes, or simply talking to baby during a change.

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Host a Cookie Swap

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Travis doesn’t know it yet, but he’s about to receive a subscription to Raddish Kids as a gift this holiday season. Having gotten a sneak peak, I’m already impressed with the company. A suggested further activity from his upcoming December package was a holiday cookie swap. I instantly knew I wanted to make this happen, but it had to be quickly, even before he opens up his first box on Christmas morning. Could we pull off a cookie swap in just a few days? Yes!

First, we decided on a date for the party, then downloaded the invitation template and sent off to a few buddies. Come to Travis’s cookie party!

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The day of the party, we set our computer to play holiday tunes…

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…and added festive decorations around a cookie table, including garlands, pinecones, and various crafts we’ve made this holiday season.

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We offered 4 kinds of cookies to our guests:

Classic Thumbprints

Peppermint Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Caramel Cracker Bark

and Snowball Cookies

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Now it was time for guests to arrive, each bearing their own plate of cookies!

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I recommend keeping things manageable – 3 to 8 friends, depending on your child’s age and the size of your home. Older kids may want to do an organized tasting, sitting down and rating each cookie. Little kids just loved running around and occasionally stopping to chomp a cookie! Meanwhile grown ups got to sit around, enjoy sweet treats, and chat.

As a couple of extras, we also added gingerbread men ice cubes to fruit punch for the kids, and I provided gift bags for everyone to take home the cookies they wanted.

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This was an absolutely perfect afternoon – I’m so thankful to Raddish for a suggestion I’d never have come up with otherwise, and can’t wait to see what Travis receives in his official first December kit. You can be sure there will be a blog post about it!

 

Baby Face

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Veronika ia nearly two months old, and we’re moving on from just black and white to bright, bold colors – now in her visual repertoire!

This cute crafting idea is perfect to catch your baby’s attention, since in addition to primary colors, babies love faces.

Trace a circle on a piece of felt and cut out.

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From here, I made two versions. In the first, I cut out eye holes and a smile.

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In the second, I glued on eyes and a mouth in additional colors, for even more stimulus.

I attached one under the hood of her stroller, to enjoy on walks out.

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The other was perfect for gazing time in the bassinet! If you have the time, you could make a whole batch of these, with different emotions on each circle.

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Black & White Dot Pictures

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Travis and I cleaned out our craft bin this morning, and happened upon an old sheet of black dot stickers. I instantly knew what to do with the leftovers!

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We’re always mixing up visuals for Veronika’s tummy time, or time spent in her bassinet, and these black dot stickers were perfect against sturdy watercolor paper.

Instead of random patterns, I made one page with letters; a V for Veornika and T for Travis felt appropriate.

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On the reverse, I made shapes and lines.

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Obviously it’s much too early for your infant to absorb the lesson here, but it’s never too soon to introduce concepts of letters and shapes!

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All she knew right now was that she loved them. The pictures were a big hit both at the diaper table and during tummy time.

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Caramel Cracker Bark

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Having never made “Christmas crack” before, I now understand how the recipe gets its name. It’s not just that it’s made with crackers, but it truly is as addictive as crack.

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This recipe included an important milestone in Travis’s culinary journey – he got a turn at the stove!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup Earth Balance butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 48 saltine crackers (such as Back to Nature)
  • 12 ounces non-dairy chocolate chips
  1. Line two baking sheets (or one large baking sheet) with aluminum foil, and coat with cooking spray. Set aside.Caramel Bark (3)
  2. Arrange the saltine crackers in an even layer on the baking sheets – 24 crackers per pan.
  3. In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar and butter over medium heat; cook for 5 minutes, until bubbly and melted.Caramel Bark (4)
  4. Pour the caramel mixture evenly over the crackers. Bake at 350 degrees F for 7 minutes.Caramel Bark (5)
  5. Remove from the oven and sprinkle evenly with the chocolate chips. Return to the oven for 2 minutes.Caramel Bark (6)
  6. Use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the crackers.Caramel Bark (7)
  7. Transfer the baking sheets to the freezer and freeze for 20 minutes. (Note: I let the pans cool for about 5 minutes, before the transfer to the freezer). Break into uneven pieces and store in an airtight container.

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Calm Baby

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In all the hustle and bustle of a household – whether your little one is the first child entering an adult sphere, or a younger sibling now contending with the hubbub of big kids – there’s often a lot of noise. It feels like we’ve had more than our fair share lately, from an under-the-weather big brother watching loud holiday movies, to music playing, to ambient sounds of dishwashers and laundry machines.

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If you notice your baby showing signs of overstimulation (arms flailing, turning the head away), then take a moment for this easy activity.

Veronika and I retreated to a quiet room with no background noise, where we could just be for a moment. You can talk quietly, or sing softly, or just sit with your infant.

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In moments you should notice the baby relax in your arms. Veronika sure did! I got smiles and her wide-eyed adoring gaze – making this a zen moment for mama too!