Sense with Me Panda Crate

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It’s finally here! After purchasing Veronika the three-month newborn Cricket Crate pack from Kiwi Co., I assumed I would follow up with a subscription to what was then called Tadpole Crate. As it turns out, the company was rejiggering a few things. Tadpole Crate existed, but not for babies as young as Veronika, with a hint of the product hitting stores by late 2019.

At long last, Panda Crate is here, designed for birth-through-2-years (Tadpole and Cricket have both been retired). I said Veronika was only four months old so she could pick up where she left off. That means the toys that arrived in her inaugural kit are meant for a four-month-old, not a ten-month-old, but I’m a completest!

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Sense with Me is all about the senses, perfect for babies who are rapidly developing them. We went through the six included toys first. Again, Veronika is “old” for these, but all of the toys have potential to grow with your child.

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One: Transfer Discs

Designed to help a baby learn to transfer objects hand-to-hand, that skill is old-hat for Veronika. But she loved the black-and-white visual of the toy and the smooth feeling.

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Even better, when tapped along the floor, the transfer disc wiggles and rolls. She chased it around her whole playroom this way!

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I also had her hold the discs, then drop them to pick up a second object, another skill she mastered ages ago but good for review.

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Two: Knot Ball

This engaging, cushy ball is designed for babies to grasp in multiple ways, and has a bell inside that adds a delightful ring.

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Veronika had fun squishing it, and also liked feeling it on her toes.

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For younger babies, you can see if they can grasp one rope or track the sound of the bell inside. This one has instantly become a hit for car rides.

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Three: Soft Rattle Blocks

You can never have too many blocks in the playroom! These ones have several sensory benefits. Two of them crinkle and two jingle; Veronika is certainly not too old to enjoy both!

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I squished a crinkly on near her ear and then moved it far away, to encourage tracking the sound.

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Best of all for my crawler was stacking them and letting her have at the tower!

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The blocks also each feature a different shape and color, so I talked about those with Veronika as she played, a little early learning.

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Four: Teething Ring

Certainly we’re not out of the woods when it comes to teething, so this toy was definitely still pertinent for a ten-month-old! Veronika was less interested in it as a toy, but younger babies will love that the beads are soft and the wooden ring is hard.

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Better, though, was Panda’s suggestion to put the teething ring in the freezer; now we pop it out when she needs a good soothing!

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Five: Crinkle Tag Toy

This toy was novel, even if designed for babies who can’t sit up yet! She liked holding it on her tummy and having fun with its crinkly crunchy noises. There is a nice variety of textures, and a bold visual of Polly Panda on one side.

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You can also use the toy to take about cause-and-effect (“You made it crinkle!”) and textures.

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It’s great for placing just out of reach as a crawling game, too, and Veronika was definitely old enough for that one.

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Six: Bath Book

This one was a huge hit! The book features Polly Panda and the colors turn darker in water.

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That makes it perfect as a bathtime toy, but we also read the book when dry to talk about what was happening in the story. You can point to the cute pictures for vocabulary building, like “umbrella” and “backpack.” As a side note, I think our book contained an error, with the recto/verso not matching up on two pages!

Veronika was also old enough to set her up with a wet paintbrush so she could “paint” the colors onto the book.

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This was so fun that her big brother horned in on the activity!

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I finished with a read-thorough of the crate’s Wonder magazine, intended for parents (unlike Explore magazine from Kiwi Crate, intended for the kids). Much of the information was review to a veteran mom whose been through the four-month stage twice. But there was a Grow section describing sensory development; an informative Learn section on signs of teething; and a Play section with suggestions to engage each sense.

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Your little one is never too old to enjoy touch play (tickling the soles of the feet!) or sound play (we have a new song to sing now when we brush her six teeth!).

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We finished up with some favorite books, all of which encouraged multiple senses, whether touch, sound, or sight:

  • Look Look! by Peter Linenthal
  • Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
  • Can You Say It, Too? Roar! Roar! by Sebastien Braun

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Tofu Bites

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These crispy tofu bites are a fantastic homemade alternative to store-bought chick’n nuggets. A big hit both for those who are Baby Led Weaning and with older kids!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (1-pound) package firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  1. Cut the tofu into 36 triangles.
  2. Combine the flour, pepper and garlic salt in a shallow bowl. Dredge the tofu pieces in the flour mixture and transfer to a baking sheet brushed with the olive oil.
  3. Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes. Let cool before serving.

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Hide-and-Seek

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Forget peek-a-boo, Veronika is old enough now for her first version of hide-and-seek! We enlisted big brother Travis’s help for this one, an eager participant.

He thought it was hilarious to trot out of sight. Veronika follows him like a puppy, so I knew she would follow once he disappeared from sight.

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As added incentive, have the older child call out (Veronika’s not yet sophisticated enough for real finding). When she “found” him, he yelled “peekaboo!” and they both erupted in laughter.

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They both wanted to play this over and over!

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Where’s Travis?

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Peek-a-boo!

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If you don’t have an older sibling (or just want to repeat the game while playing with baby solo), then a doll or teddy bear can be your hider.

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Can Veronika find dolly? She sure can.

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This time, I supplied the hearty, “Peek-a-boo!”

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A super-cute round of hide-and-seek.

Play Parachute

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Of the various parachutes Travis has made, this one flew the best.  So read on!

To make it, first we traced an 18-inch circle on a plastic garbage bag, great for both measuring and cutting skills.

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Use a hole punch to make 8 holes at even intervals around the parachute. The hole punch was tough to get through the plastic, so once I had made an indent, I sometimes had to poke the rest of the way with a finger.

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Tie a length of string into each hole, making sure they are all the same length. Punch two holes in a paper cup and tie four strings into each hole.

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If you want, you can decorate the cup with stickers or markers. Travis added a few stickers, but truth be told wasn’t that interested in the decorating portion.

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Gather the “parachute” up like an umbrella, then fold it in half and tuck into the cup so the folded part is pointing upwards.

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Now it was time to head outside and throw as high as we could (a mommy arm was helpful here).

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Then watch the parachute open up and float to the ground.

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Travis wanted to add a passenger to our parachute, so we put in a brave solder (i.e. a Lego).

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However, the parachute wasn’t able to unfurl with this little guy in the way, so I recommend letting your parachute having unmanned flights!

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