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Maureen Ryan

Maureen\'s Toddlers and Twos Blog

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Toddlers and Pets

Sunday March 30, 2014
bunny.jpg
That is not my bunny. Much to their disappointment, my children need to visit other people's homes (or in the case of this picture, the town library) to play with pets. My husband and I briefly considered getting a dog, but I felt it was too much responsibility on top of what I was already juggling -- especially when it came to trying to keep Little Guy from pulling a tail or sticking fingers in a canine's mouth.

While we've decided that our toddler is not ready for a pet, we have plenty of friend who have created cheerful homes filled with small children and furry or feathery animals. Our friends have everything from bunnies to dogs, chickens to cats.

If you're thinking about a pet, consider what makes for a good child/pet relationship and the pros and cons of dogs, cats, or exotic animals. Then, if you decide to bring a pet into your home, invite us over -- my kids are dying for more animal time!

Spring, Spring, We Want Spring

Wednesday March 26, 2014
toddler outdoor fun
We actually had snow this morning. Not much, but it killed the hope for warmth. Next week it looks like we're scheduled for some long overdue high temperatures. I can't wait, and I know Little Guy is just busting to be outside more for fresh air fun. The older kids are designing a backyard obstacle course that their little brother than conquer. I'm preparing for a few trips to the playground.

So hurry up spring~

Welcome St. Paddy's Day

Wednesday March 12, 2014
march.jpg
We're getting ready for the the big green day. It's an important religious feast day, but it has take on other significance as well. It's a time to sing, dance, craft, and get ready to welcome spring -- and whom among us ins't eager for some spring after this winter?

Of course, the day has a bad reputation for being nothing but a drinking fest. In truth, St. Patrick's Day is the perfect holiday to celebrate with toddlers.

Toddler Product Reviews

Saturday March 1, 2014
What do toddlers need? Not much beyond the essentials. However, if you're shopping for toys and outdoor gear or health and wellness products, you want to be sure you buy the best of the best. Check our list of product reviews that include everything from train play sets to diapers to summer backyard fun.

Toys and Learning

Friday January 31, 2014
Melissa and Doug Sorting Cube
Toddlers play in many different ways. Whatever they do, is a learning experience to them (even if it looks just like throwing things and chewing on stuff to us). The fact is, your little one doesn't need iPads or high-tech toys to build skills. Blocks and even a cardboard box can be among the most dynamic tools a child has. There are some playthings, though, that do offer special opportunities to boost early learning skills such as shape and color recognition.

If you're looking for something powerful to add to the toy box, consider these five fun learning toys and books. Image: Pricegrabber

8 Things for Toddlers to Know

Thursday January 30, 2014
It's amazing what little ones pick up just by watching you and interacting with people and things around them. However, sometimes it's necessary to give them a (slightly) more formal lesson to help toddlers build essential skills. From being able to tell someone her full name when she's lost to identifying shapes, there are key skills and bits of information that you can start teaching your tot now. Of course, toddlers learn through play, so you can integrate all of these "lessons" into games and fun. Not many specialized learning tools are really worth the investment. However, I (and my toddlers) always love LeapFrog Fridge Words -- a great tool for building phonemic awareness Otherwise, though, toddlers don't need much to help them grow cognitively and emotionally. I recommend blocks, water toys, and other things that allow for open-ended play.

Bye, Bye Paci

Wednesday January 22, 2014
Toddler with Pacifier
Toddlers are really amazing people. Almost daily, they are forced to adapt and alter their way of doing things in order to accommodate changing bodies, advancing skills, and new rules from mom and dad. For instance, just when they've gotten used to sucking themselves to sleep, we come along and take away the paci.

There are some good health and safety reasons to begin helping your toddler give up the pacifier -- but that doesn't make it easy. Feel free to take it slow, but, according to the experts, try to ween your little one off the suckie pal as soon after her first birthday as possble.

Image: kevinrohr/http://www.sxc.hu

A Space Of His Own

Sunday January 19, 2014
toddler in exersaucer

I am not sure there's anything that a toddler loves more than freedom to move, but I do think that socializing would be a close second. While I can't always let my little kids have free reign in the house, I do make every effort to provide a safe play spot where they can both enjoy a little freedom and be in the midst of things.

An exersaucer, for instance, lets a baby who is not yet steady on his feet hang out with older siblings (although, he might also find himself being used as a doll, as my son did in the picture above). Play yards and enclosed areas are also a great way, I've found, to allow a child some time to develop independence, because you can give him some space and let him explore toys, books, and that tissue box you acccidently left nearby without anyone showing him what it's "supposed" to do.

And, yes, I admit that creating a safe play space (or preferably several that you can rotate a toddler through) can offer momma a bit of breathing room. In fact, with the right mix of toys, music, and plenty of long breaks to play with you and others, you might be able to retire the Wiggles Dance Party DVD as your I-need-to-get-dinner-ready distraction.

image © Maureen Ryan

Meal Time Drama

Wednesday January 8, 2014
We transitioned Little Guy out of a high chair around his 2-year old birthday. It made sense since we were moving and he seemed more interested in climbing (and tipping) the chair than sitting in it. Trading in our high chair for a booster worked out well -- for a while, anyway. Now he wants nothing to do with the booster either.

Meal time boosters are a great option for smaller toddlers and preschoolers who want to be part of the family and sit together with you at the table. But they still require your independent and spirited tot to be buckled in. If you don't use them securely, they can be hazardous. All of Little Guy's efforts to pull out of the straps and unbuckle the chair straps on the Eddie Bauer Pop-Up Booster Seat we use has been a struggle. Tonight, I decided to give him a chance to sit "like a big boy" without the booster. He fell right on his head. Hard. Mommy feels bad and baby feels worse. I just hope it's going to help convince Little Guy to stay buckled sooner. Suggestions welcome!

Balancing on Two Wheels

Monday December 30, 2013
Chopper balance bike
Little Guys eyes grew three sizes when he saw what his daddy had put together for him. It looks like a superhero motorcycle (according to him), but it something completely different. Testing out the Smart Balance Chopper -- a balance bike made for kids as young as 2 -- was a thrill for everyone in the family.

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