Toolkit

This is the place to come for my little tricks and tidbits of enjoying life with your little one. Suggestions vary by age, and please check back frequently for updates!

Morning Fun

Greet the day with joy, and at least you’ll know you’ve started things off on the right foot, despite pitfalls that may crop up later in the day!

Newborn-12 Months old

  • Bond over your first nursing session (or bottlefeeding) of the day.
  • Take time for fingerplays and nursery rhymes i.e. Where is Thumbkin.
  • Open the curtains to check the weather together.

12 Months-2 Years

  • Make a game of morning stretches: We reach up high, then twist, then declare ourselves “awake!”
  • Tiptoe: If you have a family member still sleeping, have fun exaggerating a tiptoe or whispered voices around the house. This is particularly fun if we have to creep into the master bedroom for a toy while my husband is still asleep.
  • Sing a good morning song: Choose one or two that you use every morning, and your little one will probably soon sing along!

Bedtime Enjoyment

Use these ideas to make settling down an enjoyable moment, not a battle every night!

Newborn-12 Months Old

  • Do a “walk-around” with your baby in your arms: say goodnight to all the furniture/rooms, both to settle your child down and teach new words.
  • Read a bedtime story.
  • Sing lullabies during final nurse (or bottlefeed) of the day.

12 Months-2 Years

  • Continue doing the “walk-around” except your toddler will likely want to run on his or her own two feet!
  • Add fun to storytime: Have your child shine a light on the book, on words or favorite pictures as you read.
  • Sing a familiar song to make hygiene tasks more fun and less fussy. I recommend the tune of Mulberry Bush, changing the lyrics as needed “This is the way we brush our teeth [brush our hair] [put on our pjs].”
  • Go on a flashlight “safari” just before bed.
  • Say a favorite rhyme (“Wee Willie Winkie” or “Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite”) as you tuck your child in. They’ll come to associate it with sleep.
  • Instead of just turning off the lights, making a game of “blowing” them all out. Count to three at each light switch, and have your child magically blow the lights off. Turning a nightlight on in this way is great too, especially for little ones who are afraid of the dark!

Daily Tasks:

Laundry, cooking, errands, and cleaning all have to get done, even with (or especially with!) a kid in the house. Save your sanity with these tips.

Newborn-12 Months old

  • Use laundry folding as a teachable moment – names of clothing items, colors, size comparisons etc.
  • Have a freezer bag for your coldest grocery items, so you aren’t worried about things melting when you get home and need to nurse the baby immediately.
  • Consider vacuuming during your baby’s nap from the get-go; it will help accustom them to sleeping through some level of noise as they grow.

12 Months-2 Years

  • Always keep staples on hand for a few easy meals (nut butter & jelly sandwiches, pasta with tomato sauce). That way, you won’t send your child to bed hungry even if they upend Toddler’s First Pad Thai all over the floor.
  • Invest in a few pint-sized cleaning tools, either store-bought (Melissa & Doug make a great kit), or simply old items you have at home. Challenge your child to clean alongside you, race to see who can clean first, or make a game out of finding crumbs.
  • Turn grocery shopping into a “hunt.” Children still riding in the cart can point to foods of a certain color when asked, for example. Older children walking at your side can help fetch easy items like cereal boxes off the shelves.

Mealtime Tips and Tricks – coming soon!

Pure Joy:

Below are a few suggestions for the proverbial “little things” – small things you can do with your child almost any time or any day, but that make a big difference. Sure to bring joy to the whole family!

Newborn-12 Months

  • Coming soon!

12 months-2 Years

  • Coming soon!

2-4 Years

  • Let your child be your hairstylist. He or she will get a kick out of having free reign over mommy or daddy’s hair if you give them license to go wild (just don’t use real scissors, please). Incidentally, this game is also a great way to talk through the process of a hair cut, or discuss what happens at a hair salon for any children with anxiety about an upcoming appointment.
  • Star gaze! Not only is this activity exciting anyway – my son loves to talk about the planets – but it also feels slightly taboo because it means going out after dark, (and usually after bath/pjs). In addition to stars, we always try to spot the International Space Station. Show your child easy constellations like the Big Dipper, then see if you can make up some family constellations. My son decided that two bright stars near each other looked like buttons on a coat, so now we always look for Button Constellation.
  • Color Together. When’s the last time you sat down and colored just for fun? And I don’t mean those super involved adult coloring books that give me a headache. Print out a few simple pages and just lose yourself in moving the crayon back and forth in the simple way your child does.
  • Put their pjs in the dryer on a low setting just for about 5 minutes while they’re in the tub. Once they’re dry and slip into those pajamas, it’s the equivalent of a kids’ day at the spa! My son’s beaming smile whenever we do this is instant payoff.
  • Be silly the next time your child is in a bad mood. Have a little monster with a temper tantrum on your hands? Tell him or her that you’re sucking the bad mood out of their ear (make sure to make a yucky face – eew, tantrums taste gross!). Or nibble the bad mood out of their toes. Or slurp it up off the top of their head. You get the idea! It’s hard to keep a tantrum going when you get a fit of the giggles.