Create a Sensory Tunnel

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Today, with big brother off to kindergarten (!), I had time for a bigger project than usual with Veronika. Using two old moving boxes from the garage, I opened up all the flaps and then nested them slightly one inside the other to form one long tunnel.

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Hmm, the box was intriguing, but Veronika didn’t head inside just yet.

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Next I poked three holes along the top. I stuffed in three socks, all with different patterns. One sock I left empty, one I stuffed with newspaper for a crinkly effect, and one had a musical rattle inside.

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Interestingly, the empty sock was her favorite. She loved trying to catch it and tug on it.

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She seemed quite determined to pull it all the way from the box, and was amazed every time it sprang back into place (Note: you can knot the socks at the top if needed, to keep them secure).

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I placed a few tantalizing toys inside (balls, cars), and finally that did the trick. In she goes!

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She looked absolute thrilled with her surroundings once inside, her own little fort! If you want, you could even make windows, but my boxes were a bit floppy and I skipped that step so that the tunnel didn’t cave in.

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She did also try lying on her back to kick at the socks, but preferred sitting up to play.

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What a fantastic morning of fun!

Pudding Painting

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Veronika is almost old enough to start making her first works of art, but there’s one problem with this girl: everything goes in her mouth! The solution, if your baby is the same, is edible paint.

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Today, I whipped up a batch of vanilla pudding (Whole Foods 365 is vegan). Let the pudding chill in the fridge, then add food coloring for “paint” colors.

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I gave Veronika a paint brush, which instantly made her look so proud; she’s seen big brother paint, and now it was her turn.

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Turn a little of the pudding paint out onto a highchair tray (or tape down paper, if you prefer) and let your little artist go to town.

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First she just made a few smears. Then she wanted to focus more on the paintbrush. Once the tip of it got in her mouth and she discovered the pudding was yummy…

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…her smile was priceless. Then she really got her hands into the mix.

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I showed her how to make circles and squares, plus a few letters.

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Soon we had green, where or blue and yellow “paints” had mixed.

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This was a fantastic foray into the world of art, as she nears 10 months old!

 

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Sticky Toys

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This cute game is a great way to test your baby’s “strength”. Veronika seemed to go wild for the slight effort involved, or perhaps just for the novelty of the way the toys were presented.

Use sticky contact paper or double-sided tape to cover part of the surface of a piece of cardboard.

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Arrange a few soft toys along the sticky surface and present to your little one. She immediately trotted over with interest.

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First Veronika seemed the most curious about the cardboard itself. She wanted to pick up the whole thing and wave it around.

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Then she seemed to become aware of the toys. I showed her how to lift one up – with a bit of effort – and stick it back on again. Note: You’ll notice that it helped to hold the cardboard in place for her with my feet!

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She was delighted when she gave a pull to ducky…

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…and was all grins for her big success one it was in her hands.

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In sum, an easy game that can entertain your baby for quite a while.

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Tube Talk

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Sometimes the best games with babies require only the simplest tools; to wit, this adorable little activity for which you only need an empty toilet paper roll or two!

I spoke through one and called out Veronika’s name, and she eagerly trotted over. This was something she had to come see.

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I held the tube up to her ear and whispered a few words. She turned her head eager to see where the sound was coming from!

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Of course she wanted to hold one immediately. She babbled down into it, which changed the sound of her vocalizations somewhat.

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And of course nibbled on it.

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Finally, I held the tube against the bare skin of her arm and spoke into it, which meant my warm breath reached her skin. There were lots of giggles for that one!

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Develop Your Baby’s Taste Buds

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Veronika seems bored of the foods I’ve given her in varying combinations for the past few months. Today, it was time to test her taste buds! Some of these suggestions were items I wouldn’t have thought for a nine-month-old, but it turns out she could chew them just fine and loved quite a few!

The idea was to pair contrasts; think: something sweet with something savory, or something soft with something crunchy. This will help your baby discern differences in tastes and texture.

First we paired kiwi with Tofurky slices.

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The Tofurky was an instant hit! She ate nearly an entire slice. Kiwi she seemed confused by, perhaps too strongly citric.

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Next up was mango and Daiya cheddar cheese. Cheese, another food I wouldn’t have thought of this young, was also a huge hit.

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Then she nibbled happily on the mango for a while after.

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Finally, I paired a soft banana date square from a vegan bakery with a crunchy apple slice.

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She loved both, and had one in each fist for a while, alternating bites.

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In sum, this was a delightful taste test that expanded baby and mama’s sense of edible possibilities.

Baby Pull-Ups

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Veronika will not be contained these days! Not only is she crawling everywhere now, but this girl wants to stand.

Encouraging pull-ups is a great first step towards helping your baby stand, cruise, and walk. To help Veronika, today I placed toys up as tantalizing bait on the couch. She still needs a little boost…

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…but once she’s up she can stand and support her weight and play with the toys as a reward.

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She also loves putting the toys back up on the couch herself.

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This activity works equally well on any surface that is about chest-high on your baby, although be careful with hard surfaces like tables that have sharp corners.

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It won’t be long though before she’s pulling up solo!

Summer Water with Baby

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Recently, I posted a round-up of fun field trips to take with the under-one-year-old set before the summer is out. Here’s a second round-up featuring a few water-centered ideas that – yes! – you can do with a baby.

Turn on the sprinkler:

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This is an easy one! Just head out to your yard or driveway, and set a sprinkler going. Bonus points for silly ones! Just dipping in baby’s toes is sure to elicit laughter or surprised little squeals.

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Find a water fountain:

Many parks have pretty fountains, which you can stop off at after a walk or playground play. In addition to being fun just to watch (splashy water!) you can quickly dip in baby’s toes for a cool off on a hot day.

Hit the beach:

I was worried about Veronika eating fistfuls of sand, so avoided the beach for much of the summer. But it turns out there’s a way to take even an everything-in-the-mouth nine-month-old to the beach safely.

First, bring shade. You’ll still want to slather your little one with sunscreen, but a large umbrella offers extra protection.

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Don’t forget to pack wipes, swim diapers, a change of dry diaper and clothes, plastic bags (for trash or wet clothing), and a nice sunhat.

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And toys!

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Beaches are the perfect place for a nap, so don’t worry about baby missing out on key shut-eye.

Once she was awake, first she wanted to play on a big beach towel.

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Then we took Veronika down to the water’s edge. Choose a beach with gentle water, whether that means a harbor, sound, lake, or other sandy stretch with few to no waves. She could happily sit and let the tiny waves lap at her toes.

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She did like digging her hands into the water and sand, but she only tried one nibble, which I easily diverted.

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In sum, I have no more fear about babies and beaches!

How have you and your baby played with water this summer? Please share in the comments!

 

Add Sounds to Feelings

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There are so many sounds we automatically attach to a specific feeling or emotion. You probably do many of these already (without even thinking about it!) but it was fun to focus on such sounds for a day with Veronika. Your budding communicator may start to make these sounds back, even before words form.

So when she was happy today, we said, “hurray!”

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When I bounced her up and down or she spun around, we said, “whee!”

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Then there was a big “oh no!” when her favorite stuffed animal fell down.

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And a “mmm mmm” for meals and snacks.

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And of course a sleepy “aaah” yawn sound around naptime.

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Connecting these sounds to emotions can help your little one connect the dots with what he or she is feeling, and help ease frustration in expressing emotions.

Plus saying “hurray” is always just fun.

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Share a Special Snack

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Veronika is old enough that she doesn’t need “baby food” anymore, and the best way to develop a love of healthy foods in your little one is to savor them together. I love making recipes that my two kids (and the grown-ups!) can share together now. To wit, this kid-friendly version of guacamole is a hit with everyone at the table.

Scoop the flesh from two avocados and transfer to a bowl; mash.

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Stir in 2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice and 1 chopped tomato.

I served the guac with cucumber sticks and bell pepper sticks, as well as toasted pita bread. You could also add toasted bread slices or roasted carrot sticks.

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Travis and Veronika had a blast sharing this afternoon pause together!

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Naptime Chill Out

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There always seems to be a pile of bills waiting for me during Veronika’s nap (adulting never ends), but as she moves into a longer, more predictable afternoon nap, I’m reminded that this is a necessary time when I can make room for my own headspace.

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In case you’re struggling to do the same with a baby of about 9 months old, here are a few of my favorite ways to┬áchill out while Veronika naps:

  • Drink an espresso.
  • Do the crossword. You could also read the news, but chances are that might just stress you out more. I stick to the puzzle.Body and Soul (2)
  • Listen to my music. This one is key if we’re on the go during her nap. When it’s just Veronika in the car, her music class CD is always going. When big brother rides along, pop music dominates. But when the kids sleep… mama music! I’m going to date myself but admitting that that means classic rock or classical music on repeat.Body and Soul (3)
  • Finally, remember to do nothing. There is always a room to clean, or a list to make, but sometimes your body and soul benefit best from a little nothing. In five minutes, she will wake up, and I will go back to being a mom. In five minutes, I will be needed again. But right now, I just am.Body and Soul (5)How do you pause and chill out when baby naps? Learn a new language? Meditate? Please share in the comments!