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
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.
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 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!
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.
I love fancy clothes on little people. Unfortunately, my little people don't always love those darling outfits. I've learned that crinoline and toddlers don't mix. Neither do itchy sweaters or cheap shoes. As you get ready for your Christmas and holiday celebrations this month, consider these seven tips for dressing toddlers up. Most importantly, keep in mind comfort and pack an extra change of clothes (or two).
I don't believe in rushing into Christmas. I don't shop before the first week of December. I don't put my Christmas Tree up until a week after that. But I do know that if I want my kids to enjoy some Christmas crafts and have the "right" (read comfy) clothes for the holiday I need to start planning at least by December 1. So right now, I am planning our Christmas activities -- a performance of the Nutcracker, some decoration making, and maybe even a little shopping. I'll get there eventually.