Mango Popsicles

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Popsicles aren’t just for big kids on hot days! Try this easy recipe for your baby or toddler so he or she can share in the icy cool fun, too.

Peel and chop 1 mango, and transfer to a blender. Puree until smooth.

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Add the juice from 1/2 a lemon and stir to combine. Pour the mango mixture into cups. Small dixie cups would have been ideal but since I only had larger paper cups, I poured in just a small amount to each one. Add a popsicle stick to each cup and freeze until firm.

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At first I thought this might be easier to enjoy on the floor with wax paper underneath Veronika to contain the mess. But it turns out the wax paper itself was a distraction!

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Up to the high chair we went! From here, watching Veronika figure out the popsicle was a delight. First she just wanted to feel it.

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The cold mango received alternating expressions of surprise, nervousness, and amusement.

When she finally figured out how to get the mango up to her lips, her look was pure delight!

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Truth be told, she didn’t actually eat much of this, but food is really still practice for Veronika. She did get to enjoy fantastic sensory play, banging the popsicle on her tray, sliding it around, occasionally getting a sweet taste, and smiling up a storm.

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Indoor Hide-and-Seek

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This stay-put version of hide-and-seek will introduce your baby to the concept of the game… and is sure to get a whole lot of giggles!

First, I set up a tent. Place two small chair nears each other, and weight each one down with a heavy book to avoid topples or accidents.

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Drape a sheet over the chairs. Your tent is ready!

Outside of the tent, I had Veronika play with a stuffed animal friend (named Marshmallow), much to her delight.

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Then, I placed him behind the sheet. She looked around, suddenly confused.

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“Where’s Marshmallow?” I asked. Together, we shined a flashlight on the sheet.

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She seemed quite curious. I lifted up the edge of the sheet and… There’s Marshmallow!

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Not only was she clearly delighted at the reveal, but she wanted to be the one to hold the flashlight and “find” him.

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We played several rounds of the game like this before it was time for advanced hide-and-seek: where’s Veronika!

I put her under the sheet with Marshmallow, and lowered it down. Very quickly (so she didn’t get startled or scared), I lifted the sheet and said, “I found you!”

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Needless to say, this version was also a big hit.

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I hope you and your baby love this one as much as Veronika and I did!

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Saying Hello for the First Time

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As Veronika navigates the “stranger danger” phase, a very normal developmental step for babies, I’m thinking a lot lately about the best way to introduce her to new family and friends. This week, she even did drop-off day care which was excellent practice!

When we entered the facility, I first held her in my arms so she could see the caregivers from a safe place. I pointed out toys that were familiar and that she likes best from home. At the top of her list these days: an “exersaucer” or anything musical.

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Her face did crumble when she was handed off into the caregiver’s arms, but I returned to hear that she had been “totally chill” and calm!

She was happily sitting on the caregiver’s lap, involved in a storytime for the bigger kids. These kinds of gentle first hellos make a big difference and I’m glad I’m tackling “stranger danger” early instead of letting it linger.

Here are a few other tricks, whether you’re placing your child in a day care setting or inviting people over to the house.

Encourage guests to get down to your baby’s level. I sit Veronika down in her favorite play area and let her get busy, pointing out a few favorite toys.

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Pretty soon, she’s not only playing happily but also engaging shyly with visitors.

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She does a lot of looking to me, as if to say, “Is this ok mom?”. Make sure to reassure your little one with smiles.

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In no time at all, there was a happy storytime taking place, her back turned to me, clearly at ease.


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Questing Stone

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This painted rock craft is sort of a DIY riff on a “Choose Your Own Adventure Book”! Travis and I followed Highlights magazine’s suggestion for the two sides of our first stone, and also created our own alternate versions.

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All you need for the craft are rocks and puffy paints.

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For the suggested version, one side was a unicorn head. The opposite side was a dragon’s tail. Mommy’s art skills are noticeably lacking, but I like to think that adds to the DIY charm.

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Give the puffy paint ample time to dry. Then, instead of a traditional story time, we made up a tale together. Because Travis seemed antsy just sitting still, we turned it into game with action figures. Here comes Iron Man to the castle…

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Whenever we came to a crossroads in the story, Travis flipped the stone. We decided the unicorn would represent a good outcome and the dragon’s tail was bad outcome. Yay, Iron Man got into the castle!

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Oh no, the next flip was the dragon, so he was swarmed by enemies at the next turning point of the story.

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Travis didn’t like this turn of events, so decided the blob of paint he’d made on another rock represented¬† “water power.” If we flipped to the water symbol, Iron Man would win.

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And so on! Big kids can get truly sophisticated with their storytelling, perhaps even writing down the all the possible junctures. My 5-year-old just loved the novelty of flipping the stone and acting out a tale as we saw how it all played out.

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