Terrible Twos Survival Guide

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It’s the day every parent dreads: the day the terrible twos tantrums start. For some lucky parents, they may never come at all. If your child is one of the more typical two-year-olds, here are some ideas we’ve gathered to try to help your child through his or her toddler years.

  1. Use positive words. Instead of saying, “Don’t bite!” try saying “We only use our teeth for eating.” Your child will remember the positive words longer and respond better to them.
  2. Use pictures. Toddlers relate well to pictures, so try labeling toy boxes with pictures of what goes in them, like a picture of a doll on one box and a picture of legos on another. Put a picture schedule in a prominent place so your little one knows what to expect next. A picture of food for lunch and a child napping will help him or her know when to get ready for those activities.
  3. Distract. The good thing about children’s short attention span is that it’s easy to get their minds off of something they don’t like and onto something they do like. For instance, at the pool, if your child wants to go into the deep end and screams when you don’t let him or her, try distracting your little one by throwing balls or splashing with him or her in the kiddie pool.
  4. Give your toddler time. Little ones’ minds process slower than yours, so give your toddler warnings a few minutes ahead of time. If it’s time to leave a playdate, tell him or her ten minutes in advance and then five minutes in advance so he or she knows what to expect.
  5. Be calm. When your child is upset and screaming, it’s easy for you to get upset and frustrated. Do your best to remain calm and to use calm words, because speaking harshly or angrily will only reinforce negative behavior.

There are lots of things you can do to help your child through his or her twos. Those of you who have toddlers, share what you did that helped!

5 Tips to Teach Little Ones Not to Bully

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Although nobody likes to think that their child could bully, no little one is immune from pressures, and may resort to bullying. As KidsHealth explains, there are reasons kids bully, and they need help learning how to cope positively with those triggers.

If you take the opportunity while your child is still young, you can teach him or her how to choose not to bully. His or her behaviors in daycare and preschool will be a good indication of how he or she will act in school. Here are some things to try to help your little one learn not to bully:

Teach empathy. Help your child realize that when he or she is mean to another kid, that kid’s feelings are hurt. Role play, or ask, “How would you feel if someone said or did _____ to you?” Help your little one realize that when he or she does or says mean things, it hurts other people the same way it would hurt him or her. Teach your little one the Golden Rule: do to other people what you want them to do to you.

Don’t allow bullying at home. If you have more than one child at home, teach them not to be mean or bossy to each other to get their way. Encourage them to ask each other kindly for things. If they treat each other unkindly, let them know their actions are not acceptable. If you only have one child at home, it may be harder to enforce a “no bullying allowed” policy, but you can still teach your child to respect you and not yell or do unkind things to get his or her way.

Help your child to “make up for it”. If you hear that your child has bullied other kids at daycare or preschool or on playdates, teach him or her that it’s important to make his or her actions right. Go with him or her to apologize to the other child, and perhaps ask the other child’s parent what your child can do to make it right.

Figure out why your child bullies. If your child has a habit of bullying other children, try to find the root of the problem. It may be that he or she feels powerless in other circumstances, so when it comes to other kids, he or she tries to control. Or your little one may feel hurt by other kids, so he or she reacts in kind. Or your child may still be working through a me-centered view, thinking that the world revolves around him or her. When you discover the source of your child’s behavior, work through it at home. KidsHealth offers insight to help you think through causes of bullying behavior.

Be an example. You are your child’s role model. When he or she sees you lash out or get angry when you don’t get your way or when you feel out of control, your little one will follow your example. Help your child learn not to bully by learning to express your own negative feelings in a better way.

Experts at StopBullying.gov offer even more ideas to help. Parents, what has worked for you to teach your little ones not to bully?
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Planning Your Family Vacation with Baby

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It’s about time to start planning for your family summer get-away. If you’ve added a new member since last summer, you may be wondering how baby affects your vacation plans. Here are some tips and ideas to help you plan the ideal trip for your family!

Stay close(ish) to home. Avoid long plane rides and long car rides. Try to aim for a couple hours by plane and six or fewer hours by car, depending on how well your baby travels. You may want to save long, exotic trips for when your child is older.

Check out a cruise. Many cruise lines welcome families with small children. You won’t have to worry about preparing meals, and you’ll have day-long entertainment. Some cruise ships even allow you to order diapers and baby supplies ahead of time so you won’t have to lug a few extra suitcases just for baby.

Try renting a house or condo. Find a fun location close to home (think historic city or a beach) and rent a house or condo. If you have your own space, you won’t have to worry about baby’s midnight squalling waking the neighbors down the hall.

Staycation. This sounds boring, right? It doesn’t have to be! How many cool places are there around your area that you just haven’t gotten to because life is so busy? Turn off your email, don’t answer calls, and visit all those local places you’ve always meant to get to but just haven’t. Vacation at home can be just as fun (and much cheaper!) than vacations in normal vacation spots.

Plan the perfect trip this summer with your little bundle of joy!

Easter Basket Ideas

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Easter is almost here! In keeping with the Easter basket tradition, fill a basket with goodies for your little one. Help your child celebrate with these fabulous Easter basket ideas:

  • If your child is too tiny to really enjoy the normal Easter basket goodies, put a piggy bank in her basket to jump start her college fund, and include a new toy to play with.
  • Instead of loading your tot’s basket up with sugar, give him or her items that will inspire creativity, like child-safe crayons, sidewalk chalk, finger paints, or water colors. If he or she is old enough, try some small containers of play dough. You can even make your own–check out this link!
  • Give a basket filled with books to help your little one learn to love reading. You can either give Easter-themed books or your favorite children’s books.
  • Help him or her get ready for summer fun with a basket full of summer toys and necessities: think items like baby sunscreen, baby beach and pool toys, or a cute bathing suit.
  • If your little girl is a princess-in-the-making, fill her basket with must-have princess items, like a frilly dress-up dress, a tiara, and princess shoes.
  • For your sport lover, create a basket full of kiddie balls and a kiddie bat.
  • Stimulate a love for music by filling your toddler’s basket with kid-sized musical instruments, like a drum and some maracas. Throw in a kid’s kazoo for extra noise!

Easter baskets are a fun way to celebrate, and they can be a lot of fun. If you put your creativity to work, you can come up with something unique.

Stay Cool: 7 Ways to Transition Your Spring Maternity Wardrobe to Summer

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If you know you’re headed for a summer pregnancy, you can plan ahead for the warm days that are coming by purchasing maternity clothes you can wear in cooler spring temps or on sweltering summer days. Here are 7 ways to transition from spring to summer and stay cool doing it.

  1. Purchase clothing in lightweight fabrics, like cotton. Avoid bulky knits. You can wear these lighter fabrics now by pairing them with one of your pre-baby sweaters or jackets. When summer comes, your lightweight fabrics will breathe and help keep you cool.
  2. Stick with lighter colors–think summery whites or pastels. Darker colors will attract heat in the summer, something that you, and your baby belly, will dislike.
  3. Go for loose fitting. We’re definitely not saying you have to wear your partners t-shirts and shorts! But keep in mind that during the summer, clingy fabrics will make you sweat more and may cause chafing. Make your baby belly happy and avoid the clingy stuff.
  4. Avoid buying long sleeved tops. You won’t wear them during the summer. If you buy short sleeved and sleeveless tops, you can wear them now with a jacket or cardigan, and later by themselves.
  5. Try out the maxi dress. You can wear it now with a denim jacket. Then, when summer comes, the loose and flowy material will help you stay cool and comfortable.
  6. Get yourself some maternity shorts. You’ll be thankful you did. Depending on where you live, they may not work well for most of the spring, but you’ll get plenty of wear out of them in June, July, and August.
  7. Leave your four inch wedge sandals in the closet. You may not think of shoes as maternity clothes, but get something comfortable, supportive, and cool for the spring and summer months.

If you get creative, you’ll find that it’s possible to save money and stay comfortable all spring and summer long!



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Spring Wardrobe Fun for Your Little One

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Really, we promise. Spring will come. In some parts of the country, it may not seem like it, but it is on it’s way! Help your little one get ready for it by getting some of these fun spring wardrobe items.

  1. Sunny G’s. No child’s spring wardrobe is complete without a pair of tiny sunglasses! Whether your little one is a few months old or a few years old, sunglasses will have the fashion-conscious gawking at his or her cuteness, and they’ll keep the harmful UV rays out of his or her yes. It’s a win-win all around!
  2. Suspenders. We know—these used to be SO nerdy. But the nerd look is in now! And suspenders aren’t just a boy-thing anymore. Your kiddo—boy or girl—will look fab in them. Try an unexpected color like pink or white for girls or red or green for boys. An added plus? No more saggy pants.
  3. Cardigan. Your little one is still tiny so he or she gets colder than you would in springtime temperatures. Get her a cute heart cardigan or him a sweet striped cardigan to keep warm when the sun is out but the temperatures are chilly.
  4. Hip hats. Your little boy or girl will look super sassy in a newsboy or even a straw fedora this spring. Or try bear hat complete with ears!
  5. A scarf. No, not the wool variety you stuck them in all winter long. Think something lightweight, or try an child-size infinity scarf. Aqua or coral are great colors for spring scarves!
  6. Cool shorts. And not your grandpa’s shorts either. Boys shorts come in all colors and patterns—pink, blue, yellow. And for girls, try a cute pattern, like polka dot or even a seersucker!

Your little one will be the talk of the town if you dress him or her in one of these super cute spring wardrobe items!

5 Ways to Build Your Child’s Imagination

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In a day and age when kids’ imaginations are filled with movie characters or video game scenarios, getting your child to develop an imagination can be difficult, but it can be done! Try these ideas and activities to fire up your little one’s imagination:

  1. Turn off the TV. Ungluing your toddler from the TV will give him or her time to play and be imaginative. TV can be addicting, but with your help, your child doesn’t have to spend his or her life in front of the television.
  2. Give your little one the right materials. Your child’s imagination doesn’t need much to grow big. All he or she may need is a box, some old clothes, or a few toys. Set aside a “creative corner” in your house with simple materials in it for your child to play with. Don’t allow video games or the latest gizmos and gadgets in that corner so your child’s imagination grows with the simple things.
  3. Make up stories. Create your own characters and plots. No matter how silly or far-fetched they may seem, your child will love them! Then, help your child make up his or her own stories. Your little one will learn to create stories by watching you.
  4. Create with them. Paint, sculpt, draw, or do whatever fits your child’s fancy. Help your little one see that he or she can create something beautiful. Praise his or her work, and then teach how to keep improving.
  5. Give free time. You may think your child needs structured activity during all his or her waking hours. In reality, though, giving plenty of supervised free time will allow him or her to play, imagine, and create.

Your kiddo may be the next Beatrix Potter or the next Michelangelo. Helping him or her learn to imagine now will help your little one learn how to be creative in whatever career he or she has in the future.



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How to Handle In-Law Expectations When Baby Arrives

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Baby just got here or is about to get here. Along with the rest of the emotions that accompany new-parenthood, most parents-to-be wonder how they should handle the in-laws. You may have a great relationship with your partner’s parents, or you may have a strained one, but with a new baby in the picture, your relationship is bound to change. Here are some ideas we’ve gathered to help when it comes to baby’s grandparents:

  1. Listen — You’ve probably read a myriad of parenting books and magazines. Your doctor has informed you on how to best care for your baby. Everyone you meet has an overabundance of parenting advice to share. The last thing you want to hear is more advice, but your in-laws have been down this path before, and they may have some good tips to share. Listen to their advice, take the good and leave the not-so-good, and thank them for being so caring.
  2. Different isn’t bad, just different —Your partner’s parents may change diapers differently than you like or they may have different ideas about bedtime. As long as their ideas are safe, they aren’t necessarily wrong. If you don’t agree with advice they give, politely thank them and tell them you do it just a bit differently.
  3. Stand together — If your in-laws are causing problems, like dropping by a bit too often to keep any eye on how you’re raising baby, discuss it with your partner. Plan ahead to talk with them about how you are raising your child. Also consider setting boundaries for the in-laws (for instance, after baby is born, you and your partner need the first few days alone to bond with baby) that both of you uphold together.
  4. Stand your ground — If you absolutely don’t agree with your in-laws about some point of child-rearing, or if you fear for your child’s safety with them, be firm and explain to them the point of difference, or don’t let your child be around them without you.
  5. Communicate — Many problems can be solved if you simply talk it out with your in-laws. You may never see eye-to-eye, but at least you will be able to understand where the other is coming from.

Keep in mind that your in-laws adore your baby and want to see him or her grow up happy and healthy. It’s important to let them have a part in your little one’s life.


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Host a Cheerful Spring Baby Shower

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Embrace spring and all its glory with a baby shower! Whether you’re planning a shower for a baby boy or baby girl, a spring shower is cheerful and fun. Even if the weather is still a bit chilly outside, bring spring inside with your decor and food choices. Here are some ideas to get you started!

  1. Spring blooms. Try putting together or purchasing arrangements of daffodils and tulips. Glass vases full of twigs with spring blossoms, like dogwoods or cherry blossoms, also look fresh and springy. Or, if you’re going for a more rustic feel, try grouping several mason jars together with a peony or two in each.
  2. Presentation, presentation, presentation. Spring is a time when outside feels light and airy. Give your shower the same feel by using a variety of sizes and heights of cake pedestals to serve your food. Even carrots and celery sticks look inviting on pretty glass pedestals.
  3. What to drink. What better way to add more color to your party than by serving guests old-fashioned sodas in glass bottles? We love this shower idea from Bump Smitten!
  4. Delicious eats. Serve all foods inspired by spring. Think berries, fluffy cream puffs, or sugar cookies shaped like spring flowers. Make up fruit kabobs with strawberries, bananas, and pineapple. We think these Rasberry-Lemonade Granitas look especially yummy. Add just a touch more color with food by settting out jars of brightly colored candy, like gum drops.
  5. Party favors. What says spring more than a pinwheel? Send each guest home with a cute homemade pinwheel. Get the instructions here!
  6. Games to play. You can stick with the tried and true baby shower games, but add a spring twist. For instance, play baby shower bingo with flowers instead of normal bingo markers.

Celebrate spring and the new baby with a spring shower!
photo credit: Lotus Carroll via Photopin

How to Host a Pint-sized St. Patrick’s Day Party

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Want to introduce your toddler to the luck o’ the Irish? Plan a St. Patrick’s Day party for his or her little pals. Here are some ideas:

  1. Turn your house into a green wonderland. Decorate with green and gold. Think all the things kids love—streamers and balloons. You could even try making these pretty green carnations to make an arrangement for the table.
  2. Become a leprechaun. Or look like one anyway. Print out and prepare these free leprechaun beards from Spoonful.com for you tiny guests. On the invitation, ask that all the tots and their parents dress in their Irish best—green, gold, clover accents—whatever they can dream up.
  3. Eat green. Serve all things Irish to your little leprechauns. If the kiddos won’t be into corned beef and cabbage, try green Jello in the shape of clovers or this fun green popcorn. At the end of the party, serve everyone mint chocolate chip ice cream to send them off on a sweet note.
  4. Search for a pot o’ gold. Plan activities for the party guests like a gold coin hunt. Hide plastic or, better yet, chocolate gold coins around the house or yard for the kiddos to hunt for. The guest with the most wins the most luck!
  5. Dance like the Irish. Put on some old Irish tunes and teach the little ones how to dance an Irish jig. This may take a little practice ahead of time on your part!
  6. Whip up a little Irish magic. All kids love painting and gluing things together. Help them create a few little crafts like these over at Sheknows.com. We love the green blarney stone!

Have fun this St. Patrick’s Day celebrating the luck o’ the Irish with your toddler and his or her friends!


photo credit: San Diego Shooter