Dine on Roasted Finger-Foods

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I mentioned previously that Veronika has little interest in purees, and refuses to be spoon-fed. It’s been finger-foods and Baby Led Weaning for this little girl! I’ve had to completely rethink how to introduce food, compared to when Travis was little, but such parenting curve-balls are a great chance to learn something new.

I’m planning to post a round-up of her favorite recipes soon, but here’s a quick, adaptable recipe that works with almost any veggie. Tonight I used:

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 turnip, peeled
  • 1 parsnip, peeled
  • 1 carrot, peeled

Cut all of the veggies into 2-inch sticks. The carrot sticks especially should be long and thin, so they pose no choking hazard.

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Toss the veggies with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a baking dish. Roast at 425 degrees F for 25 minutes.

Transfer to paper towels to drain the excess oil and cool completely before serving.

Veronika loved choosing among the colors in this dinner veggie medley!

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Pasta Play

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Looking for the perfect sensory game for your baby? Look no further than cooked pasta from your pantry! As soon as your baby can pick up food and chew, you can safely play this texture game.

I cooked a batch of rotini pasta, figuring the swirls and ridges would make for the most exciting texture. Let cool completely, then set out a bowl or strainer of the pasta for your little one. It helps to have a blanket underneath – this game is about to get messy!

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Veronika got her hands right in there.

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First we simply talked about texture. I used words like soft, squishy, and cool to describe the noodles that she pulled up by the handful.

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Picking up individual pieces is great for developing her pincher grip.

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She also loved scattering them about on the blanket.

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And of course a few made their way up to her mouth!

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In sum, this is simple fun, as cheap as it comes and perfect for kicking off a summer of play!

Seek Out the Squeak

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This cute little activity will hone your baby’s skills in a number of areas: fine-tuning their hearing; playing with their sense of object permanence, and exciting them with a little anticipation!

First, I rounded up a few toys that squeak. I guess in our house that tends to be little pigs!

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Hide one squeaky toy under a scarf (or a dish towel would work), and make it squeak.

The muffled sound was less distinct than Veronika is used to. Where was the sound coming from?

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She homed in quickly on the scarf – although this may have been because the scarf itself looked novel and interesting.

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Tada! A squeaky toy. I squeaked it again as her reward, and praised her efforts.

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Uh oh, is that another faint squeak she heard?

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Now she knew how to locate the second toy.

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Okay, so maybe she was more thrilled with her little scarf toys than with the pigs underneath but she still was reaping the benefits of this game tangentially – and having lots of fun in the process!

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Vary Story Time

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Storytime with my eldest has always been about the story; even as a baby he sat and listened to a book. Veronika has been a delightful reminder of just how different all babies are, because she looks at a book and she wants… to eat it.

I still read to her every night, but I have to catch her attention! So today we played this little game, varying my voice in ways that made her sit up and focus a little more.

First, I did a silly read through of Goodnight Moon, reading the first half veryveryveryfast and the second half very…very…very…slow. This got looks of surprise and giggles!

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Next I read a favorite color book, but sang the words to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. This didn’t line up quite right on every page, but she kept looking at me with interest. I sure had her attention!

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Finally, I read in a deep, silly voice for another favorite book; this got lots of looks of delight after every page, almost as if she was checking to make sure it was still me doing the reading.

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This game will work best with books you read often, where baby is already familiar with the rhymes and rhythms and will notice the differences.

Choose books that lend themselves to getting in on the action, too. When the quiet old lady whispers hush, I put my fingers to her lips. Other good actions to copy include: tickling toes, giving hugs and kisses, or waving hello and goodbye.

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One final way to vary your story time? Vary the location! We took our books to a coffee shop today, where the novel space made her pay more attention to sounds on the pages, and less attention to their taste.

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Learning to Point

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Pointing is an obvious thing that we do as adults, but such an important skill for a baby to learn. Especially before words come easily, many toddlers will point for what they want, which can ease frustration for a parent trying to understand! Get a head start and encourage pointing with this simple game.

I lined up a few toys in front of Veronika, slightly out of reach so she wouldn’t automatically grab them.

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One by one, I pointed to each object and named it. I made sure to make my index finger very obvious, pointing and tapping it against the toy.

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This inadvertently became a cute game of “you choose”, since she ignored some of the objects I pointed out, but others got scooped up in her hands almost immediately!

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If that was the case, I pointed to it again as she held it.

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Your baby won’t be pointing yet but may wave hands towards a particular toy or pat at it, both of which are good practice towards eventually using just the index finger.

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Whatever the case, keep pointing, and your little one will soon follow suit!

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Animal Diaper Time

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The days of Veronika lying still during diaper changes are over and my little squirmer is constantly trying to grab at diapers or wipes or roll all around. I needed something to shake things up and keep her entertained!

The answer? Animals! I now have a few ways I include them at diaper time. First, I hung a few animal pictures from magazines on her wall. The bright visuals catch her attention!

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I also glued a few animal pictures onto index cards, favoring familiar farm animals and pets.

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I present these to her at diaper time, name the animal, and make its sound. Look Veronika, pigs! Oink oink.

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Finally, if even that doesn’t do the trick, I have a few plastic animals handy.

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I hand her a horse (or cow, or sheep) and name the animal and its sound, and she is happily distracted during the change.

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If all else fails, keep a favorite stuffed animal on hand, who can swoop in for a hug!

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Scrunchy Sock

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This easy DIY toy will delight your baby both in sound and looks!

To start, you’ll simply need to use any old sock. I actually used a pair of girl’s tights, which meant I could have a longer snake… and could also make two, one for big brother, since he eagerly needed one after seeing the project.

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Fill each sock with crumpled cellophane, and securely knot at the end. The sound of the cellophane seemed to alarm Veronika somewhat…

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But already she loved it!

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To make it a snake, I cut out details from felt: a red tongue, white and black eyes, and yellow triangles along the back.

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Hot glue on the pieces securely before baby plays.

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Now our snake was ready to slither and scrunch!

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Look Before You Leap

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As parents, we’re hard-wired to want to step in when we hear a baby mewling for help. But sometimes, it’s good to sit back and wait a minute (as long as your little one isn’t in true distress or in harm’s way) and let them figure a problem out for themselves. There aren’t really “do-overs” in parenting, but knowing I leaped a little too quickly with my eldest, this time around I’m remembering to look first.

To wit, today Veronika was busy figuring out how to get the lid off this box of toys. After a moment, she was quite frustrated.

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I encouraged her with a positive tone of voice and smiles.

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Pretty soon – she’d lifted the lid herself!

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I had one proud little lady.

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Waiting to leap can also help your baby reach his or her next milestone. Veronika is currently trying to crawl, and I deliberately set her up a little out of reach from some favorite toys.

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After initial frustration, she managed to turn herself sideways, but not forwards.

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Even this movement is excellent for her gross motor development, and then mommy could swoop in to help.

Same goes when I placed toys just out of reach during sit-up play.

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She’s become a “scooter” and pretty soon she beamed proudly, having reached a favorite squishy square.

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Remembering to look before I leap will no doubt be high on the agenda once she’s crawling, toddling, or running around on a playground. Start now, and you’ll get in the habit of raising a confident kid who can solve his or her own dilemmas… With you watching safely from close by, of course!

Go get that computer toy, Veronika!

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You can do it…

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Atta girl!

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Starring Role

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I’ve previously recorded Veronika and then played back the short clips for her to see. Even if she didn’t recognize herself in the videos, she liked seeing a baby on screen!

Today, big brother Travis wanted to have a bit more organized fun with this concept. We made a short “movie” with Veronika as the star – as baby godzilla!

This being a five-year-old boy’s movie, the plot was about a baby on the loose who was going to knock over city towers – oh no!

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While the two of them played, I snapped pictures of the “movie” unfolding.

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More importantly, I filmed!

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When it was finished, I sat them down to watch the playback. Travis was thrilled, and Veronika was delighted, even if she didn’t understand on the same level.

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This was such a cute concept, both to engage siblings in parallel play even if there is an age gap between them, and also to capture memories and moments in time.

Behold, Travis’s directorial debut:

Foot Day

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On the heels of a hands day with Veronika, today was all about feet… and those adorable piggy toes of course.

The idea, as with the day we devoted to hands, was to pick a body part and make it the focus for twenty-four hours. I recited a few nursery rhymes that feature feet (This Little Piggy is an obvious choice). I also sang ‘Clap Your Hands’, but made up verses about feet: stomp stomp stomp your feet; tip tip tippy toe; wiggle wiggle wiggle your toes etc.

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I then pulled out a few stuffed animal friends to show her their feet.

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It was fun to play with a clean pair of baby shoes!

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We read books about feet, including Dr. Seuss’s classic The Foot Book

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…and one that focused on toes.

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Finally, I pointed out feet to her wherever we saw them throughout the day. Look, mommy’s feet are in slippers!

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