Travel with Me Panda Crate

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Veronika received her second crate from Panda Crate today. As I reminder, she’s receiving crates meant for babies a few months younger than her actual age, since I wanted to be sure we didn’t miss a single thing. Read my full explanation here.

So, adapting “Travel with Me” slightly, we still had fun with the following crate items at 11 months old!

One: Travel Play Mat

This item is truly meant for those still doing tummy time, with tactile elements galore. The handy roll-up-and-velcro feature means you can take it anywhere in those early days when you don’t want your newborn on the floor (germs!).

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The reverse is a nice fluffy fabric, which makes it a cozy blanket for chilly fall days even now that Veronika is bigger. The one element she loved as an eleven-month-old was the pocket; hide toys in here for your bigger baby to find and you’ll get great smiles of delight.

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Two: Star Grasping Toy

Speaking of hidden toys, this is the one I secreted away in the pocket. The crinkly elements will be catnip for little babies’ hands. Because so many baby toys are round or square, the shape was also fun to talk about with Veronika.

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I touched each of the 5 points of the star, counting them out as we went.

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Three: Hanging Rattles

These two rattles attach to the loops of the blanket for any babies doing tummy time.

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I appreciated that they work great as travel toys even for older babies, since they fasten easily onto the handle of a car seat. My big girl didn’t let them dangle for long; she loved snatching them down!

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You can also of course use them to talk about the weather (cloudy, sunny). Best of all was using them more like maracas together, shaking along to songs in the car.

Four: Fabric Book

Last month, Veronika received a bath book about Panda, now it was time for a crinkly book. It’s super lightweight, making it perfect to pack as a travel toy. This one was fun because we could name vehicles and Veronika is old enough to imitate the sounds each makes (the vroom vroom of a car, the choo-choo of a train). The book has very few words, which encouraged me as a parent to narrate what we saw on each page, talking about all the details.

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Once again, I perused Wonder magazine, including a Grow section on muscle and movement development. The Learn section was a trip down memory lane: we hit all the suggested activities back in the day, whether tummy time skin to skin as a newborn, reading board books during tummy time at 4 months old, placing toys just out of reach at 5 months old, and encouraging rolling at 6 months old.

The Play section was also a nice reminder of ways I enriched Veronika’s experience as a younger baby: outings like going to a coffee shop, arranging a mommy play date, picnicking in the park, strolling outdoors, or going to the aquarium. If you receive the crate when your baby really is four-months-old (or thereabouts), you’ll love the suggested “Beyond the Crate” activity of Ribbon Play.

For travel-themed musical fun, I sang Veronika Wonder‘s version of “Wheels on the Bus” with cute new verses:

The baby on the bus goes on a trip,

On a trip, on a trip.

The baby on the bus goes on a trip,

All through the town.


The baby on the bus looks all around,

Up and down, what’s that sound?

The baby on the bus looks all around,

All through the town.

Finally, we checked out these three books at the local library:

  • Baby Touch: Tummy Time by Ladybird
  • Go! Go! Go! by Nicola Bird
  • Red Wagon by Renata Liwska

The Ladybird book in particular is fantastic, actually an accordion that folds open and can keep Veronika entertained for hours.

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We’re looking forward to more Panda crates, especially as the toys become more appropriate for Veronika’s true age.


Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

Head Shoulders (1)In the past, I’ve sung songs like ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes‘ to Veronika mostly for fun. But now that she’s saying her first words (like “cat“!), songs like these are great to learn vocabulary. Because babies love to mimic, see if your little one will follow along and pat parts of his or her body as you sing.

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We have a fun interactive learning desk with pictures of the body; it was great to sing the song at the desk and point to the corresponding pictures.

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I also pointed out each word on her corresponding body part. Knees and toes!

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I like to use my own face when pointing out eyes, ears, mouth, and nose. Hopefully she will reach out and start touching features back, soon.

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Finish the song with a big round of applause!


Catnip Toys

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It’s our cat’s birthday today, 11 years old! Travis loved the idea of celebrating our little guy, so we put together these easy catnip toys for him.

Ranger Rick had a template to follow for Halloween-themed cat toys, since National Cat Day (October 29) falls just before the spooky holiday. I printed out the pumpkin and ghost templates and  traced them onto appropriately colored felt, along with shapes for facial features and a green pumpkin stem.

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Whoops, because I didn’t have much white felt, some of our ghost features were reversed white-on-black.

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Use fabric glue or hot glue to attach both sides of each shape nearly all the way around, leaving an opening. Travis helped stuff these openings with cotton balls.

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And then of course we added catnip, a small spoonful to each. Travis thought the smell of it was wild, and loved the idea that it would drive the cat crazy.

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Seal up the remaining seam with more glue. I glued on the features, and then it was time to treat the cat!

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Travis loved tossing down the birthday present.

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And our cat was quite appreciative! How will you celebrate National Cat Day? Please share in the comments!

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