Archive | Parenting

Challenging Your Preschooler’s Mind

Think of your preschooler’s mind as a sponge, just waiting to expand as your child learns. While structured learning doesn’t start until Kindergarten, the years leading up to this are just as important for your child’s mental development. Neural pathways are still forming in the brain and the more you challenge your child intellectually right now, the more of these pathways in the brain will form - making it easier for him to learn for the rest of his life.

Now is the best time to introduce your child to learning. You have the chance to ensure that this is a positive experience for your child. Wouldn’t you want him to associate learning with something that is fun and exciting? By working with your child now you can make sure that learning new things becomes something he looks forward to and you can also create good study or learning habits right from the start. Not only will this help him throughout his school years, but you will be raising a person that’s inquisitive and curious about the world around him.

The next question is of course what can you do to challenge your preschoolers mind? Your everyday life is full of learning opportunities; you’ll just have to open your eyes to the endless possibilities. Start by reading to your child each day. Curl up on the couch together with a couple of good age-appropriate books and read them to your child. Stop from time to time and talk about the story, the characters within it and the illustrations in the book. Start with simple questions like what is this character’s name, or what happened to the girl in the story. As your child becomes used to engaging in the story this way, encourage him to form his own opinion about what is happening. Also ask him what he thinks will happen next and why.

Ask your child to help you prepare dinner or lunch. Count out ingredients together and have your child guess what you may be making with noodles, sauce and hamburger meat. Explain why ingredients change color or texture when you cook them. You can even introduce simple math by adding one apple to two other apples etc. Engage your child in conversations about what is going on in his life as you cook. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn about what happened at daycare or preschool or on a play date just by asking your child.

Take your child along on your weekly trip to the grocery store and quiz him on shapes and colors. You can also talk about the different fruits and vegetables in the produce section, where they grown and how you eat them. You can even talk about the different countries that a particular fruit is traditionally grown in, such as bananas come from South America, or kiwis from Australia and New Zealand.

Set some time aside each week to draw, color or make some sort of craft together. This doesn’t have to be anything too difficult. Even the simplest things like a few crayons and a piece of blank paper can turn into a lesson in color theory or into your child’s first writing lesson. Remember to keep it simple and fun. Draw a letter and ask your child to copy what you just did. Give lots of praise for the effort. Use alphabet cereal or noodles to spell your child’s name on a piece of construction paper.

We are surrounded by colors, shapes, numbers and letters. They are on cereal boxes, street signs and billboards. Just keep an eye out for them and use them to challenge your preschooler’s mind. Every day brings new learning opportunities for your child.

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Tips For Grocery Shopping With Children

Holding a grocery list, pushing a cart and toting a toddler with you is like being in a horror movie especially if your toddler is acting up and shoppers are staring at the two of you. Fortunately, there are ways you can avoid this scenario. Below are some very useful tips for grocery shopping with children.

Shop With A List

Before you head to the grocery store, make sure you have made a list the night or day before. Having a list will help ensure that you do not forget anything and it makes grocery shopping faster and hassle-free. Ask your toddler’s input as you make the list. Make it clear that you are not going to buy anything that is not on the list. Make sure you stick to that plan.

Go When Your Toddler Is In A Good Mood

Make sure the two of you grab a light snack and that he has taken a nap before heading to the grocery store. Drowsiness and an empty stomach can cause meltdowns and tempts you to buy food you do not really want to eat. Shopping with a toddler who is well-fed and well-rested will make things smoother.

Visit The Bathroom First

A bathroom request when you are in the very back of a grocery store or waiting in line can be really annoying and toddlers are guilty of this. Talk to your toddler and ask him to visit the bathroom before you enter the store. If he insists he does not have to go, pull out the “Sit and Count to 10” rule. Have him sit in the toilet and count to ten and see what happens. More often than not, your little one will end up going.

Give Your Toddler Some Power

Watching you go around the grocery aisles can be very boring for your little one. To avoid boredom and to keep his eyes away from that candy bar, request your toddler to help you push the cart, give him the list and ask him to relate them to you, assign him to check off items from the list, have him get something you need or ask him to choose what brand of cereal he wants or the prettiest pumpkin so you can make squash soup for dinner.

Play Games

Grocery stores provide a fun and educational experience for toddlers. Play the I Spy game. Start by looking for something in the grocery store and then say something about it to help your little one identify it. For instance you can say, “I spy something that is red with a white sticker.”. Ask your toddler to find it and when he does, let him have his turn. Or, you can also ask your toddler to name as many fruits and vegetables as he can when you are in the produce section. Talking about why you need to buy ketchup or zucchini is also an ideal way to quench your toddler’s curious mind.

Never Give

No matter how much complaining, arm flailing, shrieking or whatever tricks your toddler does when he is having a meltdown, do not give in, ever. When you give in to your toddler’s whims (even just once) it gives your toddler the idea that he can do it again which will make the fit worse every time you say no. But if you stay firm and ignore your toddler’s whims and tantrums, it will make your toddler realize that no matter what he does, you will never give in.

Establish Consequences

See to it your toddler knows what to expect when he misbehaves or starts throwing a fit in the grocery store. Inform him before leaving the house and remind your toddler about the consequences once again before stepping foot in the store.

Offer Positive Reinforcement

If your toddler was so behaved while you were at the grocery store, praise him for a job well done. Say something like, “You were so patient. Thank you, honey.” or “I am so proud you did not cry when I said no about buying chocolates.” Follow it up with a hug and a kiss. Giving a little treat occasionally also helps. Doing this helps your toddler know that you appreciate his good behaviour which will encourage him to do it again and again.

Grocery shopping with children can be so much fun, yet at the same time, it can be a terrifying experience as well. But with the help of these tips, you and your toddler can survive grocery shopping beaming and relaxed.

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How To Make A Chore List For Kids

Knowing how to take care of one’s self, home and surrounding is important in raising children. Household chores are very effective in teaching a toddler responsibility. At an early age, toddlers should be encouraged to partake in this activity. Here are some tips on how to painlessly make a chore list for kids.

Tip # 1: Consider Your Toddler’s Age and Capability

The first tip on how to make a chore list for kids is to recognize what your little one can and cannot do. Since he is still a toddler, he will be limited to very simple chores. Below are some age-appropriate household chores:

•    For a 2 year old
o    Put dirty clothes in the hamper
o    Put toys and books away after playing with them
o    Dusting

•    For a 3 year old
o    Help set the table
o    Feed a pet
o    Water a plant
o    Clear own dish from the table

•    For a 4 year old
o    Set the table
o    Fold towels
o    Help make his bed
o    Wipe up spills
o    Clear the table
o    Help put away groceries

In addition to choosing age-appropriate chores, be sure to consider your toddler’s abilities to perform certain tasks as well. Thus, it is ideal to start small so you can check if your little one can manage before giving him another task.

Tip # 2: Make Joint Decisions

When making a chore list, see to it you involve your toddler. Ask for your toddler’s opinion. Listen to what he has to say. For instance, if your toddler volunteers to walk the dog, let him do it. Or, if you he likes to talk, ask him if he can keep his younger sister company in the playpen while you cook dinner. Letting your toddler make decisions makes him more likely to actually follow through.

Tip # 3: Post It In Plain View

Post the list on the fridge, in his bedroom or in another central spot in your home so your toddler can see it right away. In addition, instead of using plain sheets of paper to write his chores down – get creative! Use markers and pictures (that demonstrate what needs to be done) to get your little one excited in doing his chores. Or, why not make your own silly tune about sorting dirty clothes or putting toys away.

Tip # 4: Keep It Fun

Chores can be boring, especially for children. Blast the music while you and your toddler are cleaning the living room, sing fun songs such as Snow White’s “Whistle Whistle While You Work” or Barney’s “Clean Up”. Talk about anything while cleaning. Do not ask your little one to finish 3 or 4 chores at once. Take it one chore at a time. After your toddler is done, head to the kitchen and whip up a yummy snack or go out and have ice cream.

Tip # 5: Switch Them Up

Another way how to make an effective chore list for kids is to rotate chores or assign new tasks every so often. Give your little one different set of household chores every month or two so he will not get bored doing the same thing over and over. Ask your toddler to do something more difficult to give him an opportunity to learn something new and to test his progress.

Tip # 6: Do Not Redo The Chore

Your toddler will probably have trouble arranging the pillows or set the napkins crooked on the table, but there is nothing wrong with that, right? Show your toddler how it is done and then let him finish it on his own. Redoing the task your toddler worked so hard to finish will only hurt his ego and discourages him to follow his chore list.

Tip # 7: Pile On The Praise

Toddlers thrive on positive reinforcement. Whenever your toddler finishes a chore, praise him for a job well done. Let your toddler know that you are thankful and happy for helping you out. Give him extra playtime or allow him to eat chocolate for dessert. Knowing his efforts are appreciated not only boosts his self-esteem but also motivates your toddler to continue with his good work.

Making a chore list for your toddler is actually pretty simple. With a little planning, patience and teamwork, you will be able to come up with a chore list that can train and equip your precious one for growth and maturity.

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How To Prevent Toddler Tantrums

A toddler in the midst of a fit might be too hard to control. But even if it is impossible to stop your toddler from ever having a tantrum, there are many things you can do to prevent them. Here are some parent-tested tips on how to prevent toddler tantrums.

Identify The Triggers

What sets off your toddler to have a meltdown? The first step on how to prevent toddler tantrums is to figure out what sets off the behaviour so you can stop it before your toddler dissolves into a full-blown tantrum. For instance, avoid bringing your little one with you when you shop if you know he will just beg and whine for toys and treats. Choose restaurants with a quick service. Make sure your toddler is well-fed and well-rested before going to grandma’s house.

Give Your Toddler Choices

Giving your little one freedom to make his own choices gives him a sense of control which children constantly crave for. This is a very effective technique to prevent toddler tantrums. Substitute direct commands. Instead of saying “Put on your pajamas right now.” (which often sets off a battle), say, “Do you want to brush your teeth or put on your pajamas first?” or “Would you like to wear your blue pajamas or your white pajamas?”. Do not forget to compliment your toddler for his choice.

Encourage Your Toddler To Use Words

Most often, tantrums occur because a young child is unable to express his thoughts and feelings which make a toddler feel helpless. Teach your little one to say or sign words such as “hungry”, “sleepy”, “hurt”, “I want.” and “more”. The easier your toddler can communicate with you, the lesser the chances you are to struggle with tantrums.

Establish A Daily Routine

Toddlers thrive when there is consistency. Thus, it is very essential that you create a daily routine, including mealtimes, naptime, bedtime as well as everyday activities. See to it that you stick to the routine as much as possible. Having a routine helps your toddler know what to expect, giving him a feeling of security which in turn minimizes toddler tantrums.

Keep Your Toddler Busy

Plan active and quiet times for your little one. If you notice your toddler has been playing outdoors or around the house for quite some time, invite your toddler to sit quietly and read a story or finish a puzzle together. If you think your toddler has been cooped up in the house for hours, play active games, ask him to help you with household chores or take a walk around the neighbourhood to get some sun and fresh air.

Give Warnings

If there is any change of plans or activity, make sure you notify your toddler beforehand. For instance, before you pack up the toys or leave the playground, give your little one a 3- to 5-minute warning. Say something like, “We are about to leave in 5 minutes. It is almost time to say goodbye.”, “We will be cleaning up your toys in a while. After we pack them up, let us head to the kitchen and have a snack.”.

Provide Distractions

If you feel your toddler is about to have an outburst, try to distract your toddler. Play a new game. Go to the next room. Sing a song. Talk about anything under the sun. Be silly and make funny faces. It also helps to teach your toddler calming exercises such as counting to ten, taking a deep breath, going for a walk or writing.

Praise Good Behaviour

One way how to prevent toddler tantrums is to give children credit for their good behaviour. Give your toddler a big hug, kiss or a pat on the back for behaving well. Say “I am so happy you behaved in the restaurant.” or “Thank you for following mommy’s instructions.”.

Be A Good Example

Most importantly, there is no better technique how to prevent toddler tantrums by setting a good example for your toddler. If you shout when you are angry or frustrated, then expect your toddler to act the same way when he gets upset. Stay calm and be mature when dealing with difficult situations. Your toddler will see this and will most likely emulate the behaviour.

Toddler tantrums are normal. After all, it is a toddler’s way of expressing and experimenting with feelings. But, these preventive measures are very important in helping a toddler learn how to control emotions and display good behaviour.

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How To Stop Parental Alienation

Nothing is more painful than having a child who was once close to you become so distant because of the deliberate negative influence of an ex-spouse. This is a very difficult challenge any parent can face but thankfully, there are steps that can be taken on how to stop parental alienation.

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental Alienation (PA), also known as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a disorder wherein a child rejects a parent the child once loved. This is often common to children with parents who are in the middle of a divorce or involved in a custody battle. Parental alienation is a form of brainwashing wherein one parent consciously causes a child to turn against the other parent.
Parental alienation can lead to the child hating, disrespecting, being apathetic and refusing to see the other parent which can completely abolish parent-child relationship.

How Can You Stop Parental Alienation?

Stop Trying To Rationalize

One common method on how to stop parental alienation is to reason with the child, with the alienating parent or both. However, this method is usually ineffective. Why? Rationalizing with the child or the alienating parent will only force the other parent to try harder and will most likely result to confrontations, making the situation worse than it already is. You might become so frustrated with your toddler’s indifference that you will lose your temper. When you lose your temper, there is a bigger possibility that the alienating parent will seek court orders and accuse you of child abuse.

Remain Calm

Keeping one’s calm is one of the most important tips on how to stop parental alienation. Try your best to keep a level head and stay in control even if you are about to explode or when you feel you have been wronged.

Be Present

Disappearing may be the easiest route to take when a child is so difficult to get through to. However, it is very essential that you remain by your toddler’s side even if your toddler refuses you. Be present and follow the visitation schedule to a T.

Continue Being A Parent

Another way how to stop parental alienation is to keep being a parent to the toddler. Be consistent and affectionate. Make sure you are firm in your expectations of your toddler. Do not give in or overlook your toddler’s inappropriate behaviour just because you feel pressured.

Bond With Your Toddler

Focus on having fun with your toddler instead of talking about the situation or convincing your toddler to change his mind. Read books and play together. Look at family photo albums or reminisce the good times. Eat at your toddler’s favorite restaurant. Do things you both enjoyed doing together to help your toddler remember the memories the two of you have made. Most importantly, let your toddler know you love him very much.

Do Not Say Anything Negative About The Alienating Parent

You may be angry with the alienating parent, but never say anything bad about the other parent especially when your toddler is around. Continue treating the alienating parent with respect or at least be civil even if you are provoked. This is an effective way to show to your toddler that you do not wish your toddler and the other parent harm.

Avoid Blaming Your Toddler

It is okay to reprimand your toddler’s bad behaviour but never blame your toddler for what is happening. Keep in mind that it is not your toddler’s fault. The problem is between you and the alienating parent. Keep the issue between you and the other parent. Your toddler is the worst victim of parental alienation and is most likely to incur long-term emotional damage.

Do Not Be Intimidated

Do not feel frightened with the alienating parent. This limits the power the alienating parent has. When you show you are intimidated with the alienating parent, the more the parent is stimulated to bully and terrorize you.

Stop Negotiating

In addition, do not negotiate with the alienating parent. Alienating parents are not interested in any form of settlement since they will not consider any compromises.

Find Therapy For Your Toddler

You can also seek therapy for your toddler to stop parental alienation. Getting expert help is a very effective method to help your child gain support during this trying time.

Parental alienation is a terrible and hurting experience for any parent. It gives no guarantee that your efforts will be successful but you should never give up in making your child feel loved.

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Raising An Optimistic Child

One of the most important characteristics you can nurture in your child is optimism. Raising an optimistic child teaches a toddler to be capable in overcoming challenges much better than a toddler who is filled with pessimism. Here are some tips on how you can raise an optimistic child.

Set A Positive Example

The first step to raising an optimistic child is to become an optimist yourself. Keep in mind that you are your toddler’s role model – your toddler will mimic whatever you say and do. Sure, the world may not be a bed of roses but never let your struggles and complaints get the best of you. Make a decision to focus more on the positive – the things that make you laugh or things that would excite your little one. When you attain success, give yourself credit for a job well done. When facing hurdles, look for the silver lining rather than feel depressed.

Help Your Toddler Deal With His Thoughts

In order to raise an optimistic child, you have to help your toddler recognize his thoughts. Ask your toddler how he is feeling and what he is thinking. Listen attentively. For instance, if he got a low score in his Math subject, ask him what he felt and thought at that time. Then, help your toddler cope with frustrations and hurts. This teaches your toddler not to exaggerate things and put things in perspective.

Keep Your Toddler Busy

All too often, toddlers complain that they are bored. Such boredom can make a toddler dreary and too weak to let life in. Hence, it is very important to discourage boredom. Keep your little one busy and entertained by encouraging him to do various fun activities. Play games. Read a book. Doodle. Go out. Allow your toddler to spend more time in the playground or do whatever he wants to do (as long as he is safe). An optimistic child knows how to find ways to make himself happy, thus making life more interesting.

Encourage Success

Help your toddler experience success at an early age. Instead of doing things for your toddler, let your little one do things for himself. Give your toddler responsibilities at home such as putting his toys away, setting the table, sorting socks, etc. By doing these things, your toddler is achieving success which helps develop self-esteem and optimism.

Give Praise

It is very essential for a parent to acknowledge a toddler’s success. For instance, if he got a high score in his homework, say, “You did so well on your homework. I am proud of you!” or “You are such a hard worker, baby!”. Giving a child credit for his own accomplishments will make him feel good and think good thoughts.

Make Room For Mistakes

Raising an optimistic child means allowing the child to make mistakes. If your toddler wants to try out something new, encourage him to do it. If your toddler succeeds, then very good. But if he fails, persuade your toddler to try again. Explain to your toddler that people make mistakes and help him gauge what he can do so he can do better next time. Remember not to use negative labels or compare your toddler to others when he makes mistakes as this can permanently impact (in a negative way) his outlook in life.

Help Your Toddler Look For The Bright Side

For you to raise an optimistic child, you have to help your little one see the good in every bad situation. For instance, if he is unable to play outside because it is raining, play indoor games or make hot chocolate together instead. By working on the problem together, your toddler is able to understand that while things may not always go the way he wants it to be, there is still hope.

Show Your Toddler Affection

Make it a point to show your precious one you love him. Kiss, say loving words, give hugs and pats on the back and cuddle from time to time. Spend some one-on-one time every day. Studies show that children who are shown plenty of affection at a young age are able to self-soothe, a very important skill parents need to teach their children for them to successfully raise an optimistic child.

An optimistic child is full of energy, promise and brimming with happiness in spite of adversities. Helping your toddler become an optimist will make your little one believe that life is good and help him grow into a successful individual.

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Teaching Children Good Manners

Teaching children good manners is one of the most essential things parents can do. Having good manners will benefit children throughout their lives. Here are some simple steps on how parents can teach their children good manners.

Be A Role Model

This is the most important and effective tip any child expert and parent can give in teaching children good manners. If you want your toddler to model manners, you must lead by example. Remember, toddlers love imitating their parents. Say “Please.” and “Thank you.” when you ask someone to do something. If your toddler gets accustomed to hearing polite speech around the house, that is the kind of speech he will use himself.

Start With The Basics

Teaching children good manners is a process, so take it slow. Start with the basics – “Hello.”, “Please.”, “Thank you.”, “You are welcome.” and “Excuse me.”. You  can also teach your toddler to sign to articulate these words. For instance, when you say “Please.”, stroke your upper chest in circles using a flat hand at the same time. Ask your toddler to follow you. Gradually introduce more as your little one’s skills and comprehension develop.

Role Play

Practice good manners at home by role playing them. For example, show your toddler how to be respectful when answering the telephone. Pretend his stuffed animals are grandma and grandpa and they are visiting your home. Show him how to say “Hi grandma.”, “Goodbye grandpa.” and to shake hands. Or, pretend the two of you are in the grocery and someone is standing in front of the aisle. Have your toddler practice saying “Excuse me.”. With practice, your toddler will develop the confidence to deal with any situation that calls for good manners.

Make It Fun

To make teaching children good manners more enjoyable, why not turn it into a game. Play games such as Simon Says and Manners Detective. Play sports with your family or with other children his age. This will teach him the value of respect and sportsmanship as well as how to be a good team member.

Eat Dinner As A Family

Family dinners are a perfect time to practice table manners. This is the best way to show to your little one how to use utensils, chew food correctly, not to talk when his mouth is full, make conversation, say “Excuse me.” when he is full or is done eating and to bring his own plate in the kitchen sink. Teach your toddler to compliment the cook and the food and how to politely decline the food being offered if he does not like it.

Do Not Ignore Bad Behaviour

Do not ignore your toddler’s bad behaviour. Correct him on the spot without embarrassing your toddler. For instance, if he disrupts your conversation with your friend, beg your friend’s pardon and let your toddler know that it is not nice to interrupt.

Discuss It

Once you are alone with your little one, bring up the behaviour again so you can talk about it in detail and make sure your toddler understands how to behave the next time. But, do not punish your toddler. Communication is more effective in teaching children good manners than any form of punishment.

Provide Positive Reinforcement

Most importantly, provide plenty of positive feedback each time your toddler displays good manners. Children love praise especially when it comes from parents. Let your toddler know that he did a good job helping you carry the groceries or for courteously asking his friend that it is his turn to use the bicycle. Do not forget to give him a hug and a kiss as well. A little reward such as stickers, a bar of chocolate for snacks or cooking his favorite food for lunch also helps.

Teaching children good manners is a trial and error process. One minute your toddler will be very polite and then be very bossy the next. Just be patient and determined, your toddler will understand how to be well-mannered in time.

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Tips For Raising An Only Child

There are unique rewards and challenges to parenting an only child. To help you better parent your only child, here are some tips for raising an only child that you might find helpful.

Set Limitations

One of the most important tips for raising an only child is to set limitations. An only child has a tendency to be quite bossy and may even imitate your actions. Thus, you have to establish appropriate boundaries early on. Explain these boundaries clearly – how you expect your toddler to behave, what will and will not be tolerated as well as the consequences for bad behaviour. Setting clear expectations right from the start is important. They help your toddler feel secure and understand his limits.

Teach Your Toddler How To Be Independent

Being an only child can make your little one dependent on you and your husband which can lead to problems later in life. To teach your toddler to be independent, give your toddler responsibilities. Ask him to do age-appropriate household chores such as making his own bed, organizing his toys and setting the dinner table. Have him dress himself. Let your toddler do his homework. If he has trouble answering a math problem, do not just give him the answer. Instead, help him figure out the answer. Most importantly, allow your only child to make some mistakes.

Do Not Overindulge

It is very easy for parents with an only child to fall into this trap. Overindulging can make your toddler very demanding and he can grow up a “spoiled brat”. Teach your toddler to wait for his turn. Do not go overboard buying him so many toys and other items. If he throws a fit because he does not get what he wants, ignore it. Do not feel guilty. This will make your toddler realize that you will not submit to his every whim.

Maximize Social Interaction

Social development is very imperative in raising an only child. Remember, an only child does not have a sibling to play with which can make it difficult for the toddler to get along with others. Provide opportunities where your little one can mingle with children his age. Organize play dates with other moms. Consider putting your toddler in a daycare. Take him to the playground or park where he can spend more time mingling with people. Enroll him in a sports clinic, summer camp or a dance workshop. Invite your neighbour’s kids over and hold a movie and pizza party. These activities not only helps your only child build friendships with others but also teaches him to share, listen, wait for his turn, be empathetic and patient.

Teach Your Toddler To Entertain Himself

While social interaction is important in raising an only child, your toddler also needs to learn how to keep himself occupied. You do not have to entertain your toddler 24/7. Give your toddler a few toys, some books, art and crafts supplies, papers and coloring materials. Join him for a while. Talk to your toddler then once he is busy, back off a bit but do not leave the area. Just move a few feet away. Include few minutes of solo playtime in your toddler’s daily routine.

Relax and Enjoy

Studies show that only children can become too serious that they fail to see humor in things. To avoid this, do not be too focused in disciplining your little one that you forget to enjoy. Let loose. Smile and laugh openly with your toddler. Be silly. Play a lot of games together. Plan a day trip to the zoo or around the city. Cuddle and shower him with kisses.

Raising an only child does not have to be challenging. Just love your precious one unconditionally, set rules and expose your only child to different things, people and environment. By doing so, you can help your toddler grow into a happy, well-rounded, independent and friendly individual.

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Tips For Cruising With Toddlers

Traveling with a toddler can be daunting at first. But if you plan and prepare well, there is no reason why you should give up traveling with your child. In fact, cruising is a great vacation option for parents with toddlers. Read on for some tips on cruising with toddlers.

Choose The Right Cruise Line

You are cruising with a toddler so you need to pick a cruise that can accommodate children. Ask about kids’ dining options, play area, cabin sizes, bathtubs, kids’ programs, toddler supply service and other facilities such as 24-hour room service, laundry services, feeding, babysitting and diapering. Some of the best family-friendly cruise lines are – Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Cunard Line.

Study The Kids’ Program Thoroughly

It is very important that you read the fine print on the cruise line’s website or talk to your travel agent about kids’ programming. Make sure you inquire about the minimum age for kids’ programming (since it can be as high as three while some require an extra fee), the program’s hours, if the kids’ program is open year round or only during peak season, what kind of qualifications and training the childcare providers have, if they change diapers for non-potty trained toddlers or you have to carry a beeper in case a diaper change is necessary and if toddlers are given their own space or do they need to share with children of different ages.

Request A Balcony or A Family Room

If you have the budget, consider springing for a room with a balcony or a family room. That way, you can unwind on your balcony or in the adjacent room while your little one dozes securely just a few steps away. Plus, having a room with a terrace is good for soothing your toddler’s meltdowns since the wind in his face and the water will provide distraction.

Request A Crib

Make sure you reserve a crib ahead of time since most ships have a limited supply. But if you are planning to let your toddler sleep in a bed, ask if the ship can provide bed rails so you can have them reserved, otherwise, just bring your own. Also, ask for a mini fridge to store milk and snacks.

Time It Right

Longer cruises (10 days or more) are not good for toddlers as the time on board will just bore your little one. Short cruises that last for 3 to 4 days are more ideal. In addition, opt for a cruise with plenty of stopovers so you can take your toddler exploring on dry land.

Provide Entertainment

Entertainment is very crucial for successfully cruising with toddlers. You need to provide your little one plenty of distraction to keep him entertained during the trip from the airport to the ship as well as on board. Be sure to stock up on small toys, board books, board games, papers, crayons, a DVD player, CD’s, some of your toddler’s favorite movies and snacks. Giving your toddler a disposable camera is also a nice way to keep your toddler busy. He will truly have so much fun snapping photos.

Play With Your Toddler

Sure, you can just bring your toddler to the play area or ask the babysitter to look after your toddler while you have that romantic dinner with your spouse. But, do not forget that this is a time to maximize bonding time with the family. During the day, act like a child and play with your toddler, do a cannonball in the pool and join as many shipboard activities as you can with your family.

Stick To Your Routine

As much as possible, plan your day on the cruise around your toddler’s usual schedule. Do not change your toddler’s mealtime, naptime, bath time and bedtime as this will only confuse your toddler and put him in a bad mood.

Lastly, enjoy the cruise with your toddler no matter what happens. You can never expect your toddler to always be on his best behaviour or do what you want. Change your expectations. Accept the mishaps and laugh it off. This is a wonderful time to bond with your toddler so do not let anything ruin this trip.

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Must-Have Cooking Tools For Kids

Toddlers love getting involved in planning meals for the family. If you have a toddler who loves to watch you cook or stir ingredients, buying cooking tools for your kid is a great idea. Here are some cooking tools for kids to inspire your budding chef.

Step Stool

Do not let your toddler stand on tiptoes or sit on a wobbly chair. Bring your little chef to the right height with a well-built, stable step stool. Look for a model that puts your toddler’s belt clip 30 to 36 inches above floor level and choose one with a non-skid step and rubber floor pads.

Chef Hat and Apron

Your toddler’s cooking experience will not be complete without a costume. Buy your toddler a child-sized apron. Get one in a bright color or with fun prints. Do not forget to buy him a pint-sized chef’s hat as well to get the complete feel.

Non-slip Mixing Bowls

A set of small non-slip mixing bowls is a must-have cooking tool for kids. Look for a mixing bowl with a rubber bottom or one with a suction base. This way, your little one can dump and mix the ingredients in one place which prevents the bowl from sliding out of your toddler’s hands and messing the kitchen floor.

Basic Cooking Tools

Be sure you get your toddler basic cooking tools. Choose cooking tools made of silicone since it is gentler for little hands. There are a lot of silicone kitchen utensils in the market so you will not have a hard time finding them such as spoons, egg beaters, spatulas, rolling pins, whisks, measuring cups, measuring spoons and sifters. Go for silicone cooking tools in bright colors to make your toddler grin with delight as he mixes, kneads and measure.

Hand Chopper

Do not let your little chef use a knife because it is too dangerous. Instead, give him a hand chopper to slice foods for soups and toppings. It is very easy to use. All your toddler has to do is put the ingredients under and repetitively push down to lower the cutting blades.

Cookie Cutters

Every toddler loves cutting and forming their food into cute and fun shapes. Buy your toddler shape shifters in various forms so he can transform his food into stars, hearts, circles, triangles, diamonds, gingerbread man, etc. Cookie cutters will certainly liven up any food encouraging him to finish his meal and maybe try out vegetables.

Hand Juicer

Get a press-type hand juicer and let your toddler help you work the lever and express orange and lemon juice. Letting your toddler see how fresh fruit juice is made will make him excited to make his own concoction.

Muffin Pans

Muffin pans are not just for muffins. Muffin pans are very versatile. Your little chef can use them to make meatloaf, frittatas and little tortes. Get a silicone muffin pan to make it easier for your toddler to use. Plus, it is a cinch to clean.


Protect your toddler’s tiny hands by having him wear cut-resistant gloves. Cut-resistant gloves will protect his hands from sharp edges while allowing his hands to get a firm grip on whatever it is he is holding.

Mini Mill

Get your toddler a mini mill with a round shape so he can comfortably hold it. This is a cooking tool that will help your little one learn about the joys of grinding ingredients.

Storage For Utensils

Your toddler’s cooking utensils will need a storage space to keep them clean and organized. Buy one that is spacious and accessible so your toddler can easily put away his cooking tools after every use. A large lunch box, tool kit or plastic box are good storage options.

Most toddlers love helping their parents in the kitchen. Giving your toddler these cooking tools will certainly have your toddler begging to cook up a storm with you.

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