Bonding with Family

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Chances are, you want your baby to be close to family members: to recognize them and feel comfortable with them. But this can be hard, especially if visits with loved ones occur only on hectic holidays or when relatives live far away. One solution I’ve found is the weekend vacation, particularly when accommodations are shared!

Gone are the days when families bunk down in separate hotel rooms A joint rental like an Airbnb can mean multiple cousins and generations spend significant portions of time together. Magic happens around the breakfast table, early wake-ups, late night giggles, and more; it can be the ideal way for a new baby to truly know relatives.

To wit, Veronika had a blast on a recent long weekend with family. She got to spend not just a few hours, but three full days with cousins, ranging from her age…

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…to bigger!

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Aunties and grandparents get to hold her long enough that she know longer feels “stranger danger” in their arms.

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Big smiles abound, and meals are shared.

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If you can’t swing a full weekend with family, consider at least a barbecue or special event that spans a day or afternoon.

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The quality time will allow a baby to understand that these relatives’ faces are the important ones in his or her life.

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Veronika sure seems to get it!

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Social Baby

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Veronika is ten months old, which – believe it or not! – is a delightful age to take out for social occasions. Yes really! There’s no toddler ‘tude yet, and chances are your little one still isn’t walking so is content in a seated atmosphere. So consider this a golden window to have a get-together over brunch or lunch with friends you haven’t seen in a while.

Today, Veronika got to come to a luncheon with dear friends, and she loved it!

She could play on the floor with toys…

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Practice pulling up on chairs…

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And get passed lap to lap. What a social butterfly!

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Let’s Go Fly A Kite

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Kites are pure magic for babies. As I watched Veronika watch a kite for the first time today, it was one of those moments where you remember how new everything is for little ones. There is magic in what might seem ho-hum to us grown-ups, and exposing babies to even the smallest bits of wonder helps us be kids again.

So if you don’t have one, its worth investing in a simple kite. The activity was as simple as this: We headed to a park with Veronika, and unfurled a butterfly shaped kite.

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Whenever it caught the wind, her face lit up.

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She was so eager to see this amazing new object that she left our picnic blanket and went trotting off through the grass on hands and knees!

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When I held her up, she loved catching the tassels of the kite’s tail.

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For a grand finale, we looped the string of the kite around her stroller bars (take care with this, and make sure your little one can never get tangled in the cord). The faster we moved, the better the kite fluttered just in front of her, and she loved it!

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Color Hunt

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Here’a fun activity for the next time you walk around the house with baby: turn your exploration into a color hunt!

I painted four squares on a piece of cardboard, choosing red, blue, green, and yellow. It was easiest to strap Veronika into the Ergo carrier so my hands were free, and off we set on a search around the house.

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When we came to an item, I paused and held it next to the appropriately colored square.

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Name the color first as you point to the object, and then as you point to the square on your cardboard.

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When we returned to her playroom, I set down the cardboard and made piles of toys alongside each color.

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I stuck with similar objects – blocks, stacking cups, cars – so she would have a strong visual of the color in each pile.

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And of course she just loved playing with the items. This game is a great way to get your little one hearing the names of colors and understanding the difference between shades, so enjoy!

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Exploring Patagonia

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Here was a very different lesson plan from Raddish Kids, in conjunction with the Comida Argentina recipes Travis has been cooking up. My kindergartner got to learn social studies, all about one region of the world!

Truth be told, the unit was quite simple compared to many Raddish lessons. I showed Travis the Patagonia region on a fantastic map we have featuring elevated surfaces for mountains. He immediately picked up on how mountainous the region was, and also how close to the ocean.

We read a few fun facts about the area, including the discovery of dinosaur fossils. Then it was time for a video!

Raddish provided a worksheet for children to draw images of what they learned in the travel video. Travis immediately paused it and said, “Mom, there’s water!” His delight was infectious, pausing the clip every few seconds to draw the glaciers (“silvery mountains!”), desert, flies, or any other things that jumped out to a five-year-old boy.

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There are numerous ways to continue the lesson from here. Children are encouraged to present their knowledge while pretending to be something, be that an archaeologist, chef, journalist, or artist.

Because Travis loves YouTube clips, I suggested he be a travel blogger giving his review of Patagonia. But first, he wanted to make those glaciers! He raided the craft bin and wrapped Styrofoam balls in aluminum foil. These were glued to a sheet of shiny cardstock as “ice”. He added dowels as “desert”. All of this received lots of glue on top as snow.

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Without further ado, here’s my little travel blogger, enticing you to Patagonia!

Hummus for Babies

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This mild hummus is just right for toddlers and babies. Because you can control the amount of salt, it’s preferable to store-bought hummus.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15-ounce) drained and rinsed can garbanzo beans
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. Combine the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

Texture Track

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This was admittedly an ambitious game with a ten-month-old, since it involved lots of tempting materials. But Veronika loves vrooming cars on the floor (she’ll do so for ages, going “vvvvv”), so I knew she’d enjoy the game!

To set up, fold a piece of cardboard in half. Cover half in shiny aluminum foil.

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Next, I filled a shallow tray with just a thin layer of sand. Definitely keep the amount small if you’re worried your little one will spill it.

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I set up the ramp to go up and into the sand tray. With Veronika watching, first I chugged a car sloooowly up the ramp.

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Then I let it zoom (“fast!”) down the shiny side. It comes to a stop in the sand.

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There is so much to talk about as you play the game (the textures of the materials, different paces). Don’t be surprised if your baby wants to grab at the ramp or the foil!

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Soon Veronika wanted to try her own hand at zooming the cars up and over.

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The sand was her favorite part by far.

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She loved running her fingers through it, and the crunchy sound that the cars made when we simply drove them back and forth in the bin.

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Learning About Feelings

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Here’s a fun way to teach your baby about feelings as he or she begins to navigate the world of emotions; bring stuffed animals in on the action!

The very first one I wanted to illustrate for Veronika was love. I said the word and gave her stuffed animal a big hug.

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She wanted to copy me right away!

Next, I sat the happy stuffed animals around me for a story time, explaining that story time makes me happy. Make sure to exaggerate the emotion as you say it. For happy, that meant a high voice and big smiles. She was excited.

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There are so many children’s books featuring emotions that you can read through. Our book included different scenarios and emotions on each page. After I read the text, I stopped and had her stuffed animals act it out.

The fox was sleepy.

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Oh no and then worried.

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And then “surprised!” Veronika copied my motions and put her hands up in a big, “Oh yay!”

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And there was a happy ending of course.

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Read through several books this way, so you can explore the gamut of emotions with your little one. Veronika looked concerned when the animals were worried…

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…and thrilled when they were glad. She enjoyed this story time so much, and I did too!

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Peace Pendant

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There’s been a bit of discord in our home lately, not unexpected with a five year old! Kindergarten routines are new, which makes things understandably tough, and Travis is at an age where asserting oneself and independence are so important. This craft now serves as a token to make peace whenever we get caught in a clash of wills at home!

Trace two circles on craft foam, one purple, one yellow.

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Leave the purple circle whole and cut the yellow one into a peace symbol. The latter was tough for Travis, so I helped out. Glue the yellow to the purple, cutting to fit if needed.

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Travis loved adding stick-on craft gems for decoration. Groovy!

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Glue a piece of wide ribbon into a loop, and then adhere to the back of the purple foam.

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Thread a length of string or yarn through the ribbon so it can be worn as a necklace. Now whoever needs to stop and take a deep breath can pause and put on the pendant! Try it and see if it brings a little peace to your home.

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Stacking Rings

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Stacking rings are such a simple and classic baby toy, but they bring such joy and fantastic learning! Your baby is problem solving as he or she figures out how to stack the rings, as well as honing fine motor skills. Because many are brightly colored and ordered in size from largest to smallest, they are also great for language development.

Today, Veronika and I mixed things up to bring new life to her standard stacking ring set! Instead of threading them onto the provided post, I gave her a wooden spoon to slot them on to (you could also try the game on your arm).

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She was immediately intrigued.

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The spoon itself was fascinating to her, and I think she believed herself to be Queen Veronika, brandishing it like a royal scepter and chatting to the spoon for quite some time.

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Eventually I coaxed her into adding more rings onto it.

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She was delighted when she saw that her spoon now had three fun rings, not two.

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She loved to stand up holding it, as well!

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If you want to challenge your baby with smaller rings, try stacking on shower curtain or window curtain rings instead! How do you and your baby play with stacking rings? Please share in the comments.

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