Saturday, August 27, 2016

Learning To Talk: Building A Vocabulary

This may sound extreme, but I am giving you advice based on what worked for us.

From the start, we did not allow background TV in our home. We didn't allow any active TV either. Until our daughter was 1 year old, we did not turn on the TV. Why? Because we read studies that language development is dependent upon a few factors - and that background voices confuse the developing brain. My guess is that this helped us tremendously. Our daughter's first words were at 5 months old. She said, "corn bread."

From the beginning, we bought a lot of books. The best ones, we have found, are the Bright and Early Beginner books by Dr. Seuss. I'm linking an Amazon wishlist - no, you don't need to buy us any books - I made this list for everyone else to see the books that worked best for us. We read to her night and day. When she was big enough to reach the books on her own, she'd bring us entire piles of books to read. The library of books listed do a lot to help your child with phonemes. They're learning words that you don't speak to them every day, but are important to building their vocabulary. The rhyme scheme helps as well.

Update: January 24, 2017 - Our daughter is now 19 months old. She knows and says her entire alphabet, can sing about 40 songs, can count to 12, says and knows her shapes and her colors. She is VERY verbal, speaking in full sentences. She uses a multitude of words. At 12 months old, her vocabulary was up to 800 words. It's far surpassed that now.

She has her own iPad now and I highly recommend the Smart Baby Big Box of apps. It's wonderful. There's an app-bundle that I would recommend starting at about 18 months. She's so fast at this stuff. It's wonderful and it's taught her all of her shapes and confirmed her learning of colors.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Super Nom Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli

Yes, I know that macaroni and cheese is not that great for your child. I also know that it's a staple of childhood. Now that Kraft has no artificial colors or flavors, I feel OK giving it to my child every fortnight or so.

She is one year old, and she loves cheese. What kid doesn't? The problem is, I want to make sure that she gets her vegetables and fruits as well. She eats fruit like a pro but only likes broccoli and peas for veggies.

So, here's how we make boxed pasta taste great! (You may also use this same technique with your own pasta and homemade cheese sauce. We tend to do that more often).

1. Boil the pasta according to the manufacturer's instructions. We are using Dory shaped pasta and that's 11-12 minutes. While cooking the pasta, steam 1/4-1/2 cup broccoli.

2. Drain pasta into a collander. Take the pot and rinse it thoroughly. Rinse the broccoli under cold water. 

3. Set the pot back on the stovetop over medium heat, and add the milk, butter, and cheese sauce. Stir well. Add a pinch of shredded cheddar cheese (we shred this ourselves using a cheese grater). Continue to stir. Allow the cheddar cheese to melt completely. The sauce may look sticky. Remove from heat.

4. Mince the broccoli using a chopper. We use one from Pampered Chef. It works great and is easy to clean. 

5. Add the noodles and broccoli to the cheese sauce and stir thoroughly. Allow to cool. Serve.  

Aha! Doesn't THAT taste delicious? Try substituting cauliflower as well. Nom!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Review: Seventh Generation Free & Clear Wipes

We tried Seventh Generation brand wipes, called Free & Clear wipes, recently. We got them for free as a part of their Generation Good community and we were very impressed with them. They're soft, thick, sturdy and held up through big blowouts! We were most impressed with the fact they they are alcohol, dye, paraben, phthalate, and fragrance free. This is important to me as E's skin is very sensitive and she often breaks out in a rash if she is exposed to alcohol products. We use a lot of 7th Generation products in our home already and began using them when we got pregnant. They work so well and we know they aren't harmful to the environment or to our child.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Toys, Toys, and More Toys

As you can see by my living room, we have a lot of toys downstairs right now. Toys go on rotation, because we have a big Toy Box full of them, too. We try to keep them different every week so that E stays entertained when she's learning and exploring. She loves to empty the little toy bin.

We also have a big playroom full of toys upstairs and a lot of toys in storage. Early on, we read that within the first year, the more new and different objects a baby encounters, the more their brain will develop. Who knows if this is true, but we wanted to give E the best chance.

So, which are her favourites? The vtech toys, hands down. She loves them! They talk and sing, and have lots of buttons to press. She has the Spin Around Learning Town, Sit To Stand Learning Walker and Sig To Stand Learn & Discover Table. She plays with these the most.

 Second is the Little Tikes piano. We all know the one, and she plays with it ALL of the time. If it's not in her toy rotation, she looks for it.

She also loves her classic Fisher Price stacking rings. She likes to examine each ring until she finds a favourite for the day.

Almost all of the toys E has were purchased for $1 or $2 at thrift stores. Some, her daddy had to take apart and fix. He's a whiz when it comes to electronics and motors. Most of the toys just needed a good scrub and fresh batteries. I would really suggest thrifting for toys before your little one arrives. Look up each toy and find out the recomemended age for use. Store them by age and open up a new box when your child advances. It's such fun!

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Art Of Buying Bibs

If you're anything like me, you bought everything you needed for your baby years before it was born. My husband and I had been married for almost six years before E came along, and my condition for having children was that I would get to decorate a nursery and a playroom before we got pregnant. Of course, this was a blast! We spent our weekends at thrift stores and I picked up some of the best items out there. This kid has 5 ride-on toys, 20 different kinds of blocks and about umpteen-bajillion baby toys. No, seriously, we had two of everything, including change tables, swings, bouncers, jumpers and bassinets. We just wanted everything to be perfect before our little one got here.

One thing we didn't count on was that we'd end up buying the wrong kind of bibs. I mean, a bib's a bib, right? Some of them have snaps and some have ties, and some are fluffier than others, but they all serve the same purpose - they catch spit up.

We got lucky from the very first day we brought E home. She has never spit up. Not once! She does have another fault, however. She doesn't latch. Not to a nipple, not to a bottle, and not to a sippy cup. She just drinks and the fluids come right down the side of her mouth. Our pediatrician laughed when we thought this was an issue. Our solution has been to use receiving blankets to catch the mess, and as E gets older, the mess becomes less. I wish we would have known how handy they are. We never use the little fabric bibs anymore, and only use receiving blankets for feeding. We would not have bought any newborn bibs at all had we known she'd never spit up!

She's 7 months old now and has been feeding herself since she turned 5 months old. She wants table food now and no baby purees, though she'll still eat a few Beech Nut products. Try to give her anything else, without disguising it in oatmeal, and she won't eat. That means that she's eating diced vegetables, fruit, bread, pasta, eggs and meat now. We're constantly making something new. 

Our nursery was finished in a Dr. Seuss theme and we had a Dr. Seuss baby shower with over 100 guests. We got everything we needed, and in that set we had two Dr. Seuss Bumkins bibs. I had no idea what they were except that they felt kind of like plastic and I wasn't sure how to wash them. 

Wash them we did, and now we KNOW what they're for! They're amazing at catching E's meals! She gets a little over eager about her favourite items, like broccoli, and she tends to spill a lot. We can easily refill her bowl 4-5 times per feeding by using the little pocket on her Bumkins bib. I wish I would have known about these when we first started buying. I'd have bought less of those little fabric bibs and a lot more of these! 

What are your thoughts on bibs? Is your kid a messy bottle taker? Do you have a lot of problems with spills and solid foods? What do you wish you had bought more?