Hedgehogs & other creative new products for parents

Just when I was ready to declare 2014 The Year of the Hedgehog at the ABC Kids product expo, I was slapped in the face by another silicone feeding product. So, for nursery decor, foxes on on their way out and prickly pokey hedgehogs are coming in strong, but everything else will be made of rubbery-textured stuff.

Year of the Hedgehog #YOTH

I want to make this a thing so you should tweet and instagram at us with the #YOTH and #rookiemoms hashtags whenever you see a hedgehog where none existed before.

Hedgehog clock by Tree by Kerri | Year of the hedgehog

Tree by Kerri Lee makes this really cute wooden artwork including clocks, milestone blocks, light switch covers, funky night lights, keepsakes up the wazoo, and lots more. All original artwork made in the USA, and she was  a pleasure to meet. Check out her other stuff.

The Skip Hop hedgehog comes as a backpack or lunchbox

We are Skip*Hop fangirls, and this year they made us wish we had a reason to buy a new backpack, lunchbox and water bottle with all the cute. For better or worse, my monkey backpack is still going strong and I’m sticking with it!

Mary Meyer plush hedgehog for babies

Mary Meyer has a new line of natural baby toys that equates to hedgehog + natural materials + tags and loops = perfect baby toy. I took a photo at the new product showcase and can’t locate the new version online yet, but this one (above) comes pretty darn close. She also has a Happy Hugs Hedgehog clip-on toy that can attach easily to your baby gym.

To find even more hedgehog-styled baby products, see what amazon is offering. You’ll be stunned!

Super clever new products for parents

I was overwhelmed by the innovative ideas for solving the same old parenting challenges. Here are a few of my favorites:
Baby Rescue Rapid Evacuation Device

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One rookie mom’s 7 favorite apps that are not for her children

Thanks to Mandy Chuey for this guest post. Favorite apps of a social media mommy #rookiemoms

I can’t take the credit for being a social media mommy without encouragement from my husband, a tenured Silicon Valley Network Engineer guy. So basically he introduced me to a lot of the sites, apps, programs (whatcha call ‘em)? But now that I have landed in the world of social media thanks to my better tech half, I don’t want to return. It’s not that I had dial up AOL or anything, but I sure didn’t have FourSquare, Instagram or Nextdoor at my fingertips.  We live in a world that is super connected at super speed; you can get ANY and ALL parenting information in seconds from emailing your doctor, WebMD, and  youtube clips on how to wrap a Moby (still didn’t help me).  Also, I’m pretty sure The Bump will be sending me updates on my 18 year old daughter’s development while (fingers crossed) she’s in a dorm away at college.

I will not pretend as if I know the difference between 3G or 4G — and full disclosure: I still ONLY have the iPhone 4S. (Cringe.) After this article is posted my husband will sure to be wearing a disguise next time we go out together. With that said, I’m attempting to share what I know, what I use, AND my parenting experience as a social media-addicted mommy, which to some may not be much compared to moms sporting Google glasses, but I do what I can with a 10mo and 3 yr old, people!

Let me give you a tour of the most vital apps on my phone.

Facebook:
Pretty self explanatory. Mark Zuckerburg didn’t just rein in over a billion in one day for nothing. Pics and updates of friends and family and as some studies have said, updates to make you feel less than and depressed reading other people’s fabulous status updates while you’re home eating Ben and Jerry’s out of the container. My husband calls me a “lurker” because I check out what other peeps are doing but don’t post much myself.

My favorite feature is having a private family wall on a “closed group” where we exchange important personal updates and check-ins in addition to adorable pics of our offspring.

Nextdoor:-
A website to connect with those in your ‘hood.  Group members have to plug in a local address and get approved to join.

I love Nextdoor for Classifieds and immediate safety issues. Think Craigslist for a smaller mile radius. Example: I posted all the extra baby stuff  I needed to shed last week for free. My kiddies’ room was cleared out in 24 hours and I got immediate gratification!

Nextdoor is also useful to post nearby break-ins, school events AND our local Police Sargent and District Representative are members and update us on current events. Never a dull moment in The Town. (That’s Oakland, aka Oaktown for you non-Bay Area readers.)

SeeClickFix:
SeeClickFix encourages all of us to become more active citizens in taking care of and improving our city by reporting non-emergency issues close to home in a fast and easy way. I used the app to report graffiti and illegal dumping. My proud moment was getting a stop sign installed on on a dangerous intersection. I’m no Norma Rae, but it does feel good to improve your neighborhood. After taking a picture and posting a fix, you will get confirmation that the issue is acknowledged. Neighbors can even vote issues to rank importance. Now that’s validation.

More service requests have been reported by citizens on SeeClickFix than on any other mobile platform. Cool.

Instagram:
Another excuse to post adorable pics of my offspring WITH amazing camera features AND photo editing that makes my pics spectacular.  Kinda makes me feel like Ansel Adams.

Twitter
Besides following some of the funniest comedians of our time, I use Twitter to catch breaking news, parenting articles and MOST importantly 510 Families tweets! (That’s the Bay Area blog run by Heather and Whitney) It’s great to get info on local family events up to the minute! I also tweet at local businesses and restaurants to let them know how much we appreciate them.

My moment of twitter glory was when I scored a calendar from East Bay Parks and Rec (@EBRPD) when I correctly answered a trivia question identifying a beach in Alameda. Hold your applause.

Vine:
Pure entertainment. Get to see how creative other people can be in a short film clips. I’ve made numerous videos of guess what…my children, of course!

Pinterest:
Pinterest has almost everything: kid art activities to high-end home design photos. We recently purchased a new home in Oakland and have used Pinterest to search for drought-tolerant gardening, fence design and paint colors. I also found amazing birthday party ideas from favors to the cake for my daughter’s third birthday Bug Party. The coolest feature of Pinterest is sending ideas and pics to your friends or spouse to review.

Ok, I do not have any pics of children on here, maybe the ONE place I don’t!

So, I’m no Steve ‘Mom’ziac, BUT I am a mom trying to use social media to the fullest to benefit me and my kiddos. Social media-mothering is more than a few excuses to post adorable pics of my offspring. I’m fully aware that by the time I finish writing this another app, program, game or website will be created and I’m perpetually uncool.

*At press time, I finally received my iPhone5s, but now the 6 is being released. Sigh.

Favorite apps of a social media mommy #rookiemoms

What are your favorite parenting apps?

Then I tried bribing my picky eater even harder

Bribing my picky toddler with cookies

I learned a few important things since I last reported on bribing my preschooler with dinosaur toys to get him to try new foods:

  1. It is not really a “bribe” it is an “incentive” (I don’t understand why, see definition of bribe.)
  2. Maybe my choice of prize was too weak
  3. My strong-willed child is immune to this kind of tactic

Whitney and her seven-year old daughter felt strongly that the toy dinosaurs were not enough to move the needle on Sawyer’s eating. They enthusiastially suggested that I use a bag of Star Cookies from Trader Joe’s as a new motivator. As you can see above, I put the dessert-prize in front of him each dinner and let him know which foods he had to try for each one.

At barely three-years old, he seemed to fully grok the experiment and was often motivated to try enough food for at least one cookie. But he never tried enough foods for more than one cookie. Again, I believe he ate what he was going to try anyway.

  1. One night, he ate PLAIN PASTA for a cookie. While that seems like a total gimme, most nights he will eat zero pasta, so I’ll call it a win. He nearly nibbled the fig he chose at the grocery store, but didn’t.
  2. The OMG-HE-ATE-MEAT award goes to the night he ate dinosaur chicken bites slathered with cream cheese and ketchup. I’ll roll with that. Ironically, he wouldn’t touch the tomatoes he picked from our garden while singing a song from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood about trying new foods!
  3. One night he willingly ate blueberries for a treat. It seems basic, but it was a big deal.
  4. The final night, I offered him a DONUT for finishing his dinner. Instead of being motivated, he called me stupid and lost his chance at dessert for a manners violation (despite eating the breaded-frozen fish spread with cream cheese and ketchup).

I give up!

Bribing my picky toddler with cookies

My biggest lesson: I will now keep cream cheese and ketchup at the ready for all future meat attempts (and let him eat pancakes with faces until he outgrows it)!

I would encourage other parents of picky eaters to make a “Will Eat” list to remember the {good} stuff that is on the limited menu. It might make us feel better. While I’ve had a lot of fun collecting data on my child’s eating habits (or lack thereof), I want to back off of experimenting on him for the time being.

[All photos are from Heather Flett: all rights reserved]

Tech Tuesday: I *heart* Common sense media

I first learned about Common Sense Media when my creative and cool mom friend, Jeanine, invited our group of mom friends to take our then three-year olds to a questionable matinee. My first instinct was that if Jeanine and Pepper were going, it must be good. But then another mom friend, Jennifer, said she heard that it was too scary and bailed out. Then again, another Jennifer I knew already took her daughter (barely 4). So, which Jennifer is a mom like me supposed to believe?!

That’s when my husband clued me into Common Sense Media for trying to make these kind of decisions. Its perfect when trying to figure out whether Nemo is too scary (yes, it is for us), Desperaux too tragic (yes, it is for us), or Dora too sophisticated (no, but it drives me bonkers so we opt out) for our three-year old.

Here’s a terrific example from my real-world: this Cars vs Cars 2 smackdown gives it to you straight. Yes, I think that Cars 2 was no movie for children, but maybe you want to hear from other parents, educators, and children before deciding for your family. At the very least, you can be armed with which scenes to fast-forward and what topics might come up in conversation. Common sense media does all that for you with these comparison charts and detailed reviews.

Common Sense Media review of Cars movie

VS.

Common Sense Media review of Cars 2 movie

Do a quick search on any TV show or movie that you’re thinking of plopping your kid in front of and find out the quick and dirty details without having to preview everything first. I mean, are you really going to go to all these movies yourself first?!! Go on, test it out and let me know what you think.

What shows does your kid love right now? Anything that you thought was fine but totally just failed the commonsensemedia.org challenge?

Related post: Find out what my little ones were watching at 5:30 on weekdays with my confessional TV round-up of shows for my two boys.

5 tips for dealing with a toddler who won’t stay in bed

Having just hosted my 20-month old nephew on an overnight visit, I am reminded that toddlers can pop out of bed (even leaving the room!) without the skills to go back to sleep. I asked toddler sleep expert, Nicole, to weigh in on the little kid that won’t stay in his bed at night. Nicole Johnson is the Lead Baby Sleep Consultant and owner of The Baby Sleep Site and she shares her ideas on this jack-in-the-box behavior below.

How to keep your toddler in his bed at nightIf you’ve transitioned a toddler from a crib to a big kid bed, then you know that lots of fun stuff comes with that transition. New sheets! New bed! Not to mention the fact that it’s a classic “big boy” or “big girl” milestone.

But here’s what they don’t tell you about that big kid bed: your big kid can climb right out. And that can make for a whole new set of bedtime problems – namely, what we at The Baby Sleep Site call The Jack-in-the-Box Syndrome. For some families, jack-in-the-box behavior is a short-lived phenomenon. Other parents, however, spend months – even years! – dealing with a jack-in-the-box child.

So, why do our little ones spring out of bed like tiny wind-up toys? And most importantly, what can we parents do to keep them firmly tucked in bed?

The Jack-In-The-Box Syndrome (or, Why Your Toddler Won’t Stay In Bed)

If you think about it, the jack-in-the-box “dance” that many parents and toddlers/preschoolers do makes perfect sense, from a child’s perspective. For your toddler, bedtime is relatively dull. She knows that mom and dad are no doubt partying hard in the living room – so why wouldn’t she want to join them?

And parents often unwittingly encourage jack-in-the-box behavior by their responses to the behavior. If your toddler gets another story, or an extra bedtime snuggle, or even a little bit of extra attention, every time he gets up, then he has incentive to keep doing it.

Of course, we have to remember that child development plays into this, too. Many toddlers go through a few bouts of separation anxiety (namely during the 18-month sleep regression and the 2-year sleep regression). Some toddlers also struggle mightily with nightmares and night terrors

5 Tips to help your little one stay in bed

So how can you help your jack-in-the-box toddler actually stay put at bedtime? Try these 5 strategies tonight:

1. Assess the Schedule:
Sometimes, toddlers hop out of bed every 10 seconds simply because they’re not tired. So take a look at your toddler’s schedule – is bedtime too early? If your toddler still takes an afternoon nap, then bedtime shouldn’t be happening before 7 or 8 p.m. And speaking of naps – how close is that nap to bedtime? Your toddler needs at least 5 hours of wake time between the end of the afternoon nap and bedtime.

However, the reverse is also true – sometimes, toddlers are sleepless at night because they’re actually overtired. If your toddler is done napping, or is in the midst of a nap transition, from one nap to none, you’ll need to do an earlier bedtime – aim for 7 p.m. or so.

2. Institute a strong bedtime routine:
Toddlers thrive on routine – particularly sleep routines. A strong, consistent bedtime routine will do wonders for helping your toddler understand that it’s time to settle in and go to sleep. Be sure that your routine isn’t too long (15-30 minutes is perfectly sufficient) and that it’s not too stimulating (no tickle-fights before bed!). Also make sure that your routine is, you know…routine! You need to consistently do the same thing each night in order for it to become routine for your toddler.

3. Try a sticker chart:
It’s incredible what a toddler will do for a sticker! If bedtime drama and jack-in-the-box behavior is an issue in your home, try a sticker chart. Maybe your toddler gets to put a sticker on the chart before bed if she is cooperative during the bedtime routine, and then another sticker on the chart before breakfast if she stays in bed all night long.

4. Consider using the door as an immediate consequence:
Sometimes, your toddler’s jack-in-the-box behavior will be due to real anxiety or perhaps a nightmare; in those cases, you’ll obviously want to comfort your toddler and help him feel safe. However, more often, repeated jack-in-the-box behavior is more of a discipline issue. For this reason, some families find it helpful to respond with consequences. Remember, to be effective, the consequences of your toddler’s behavior need to be immediate – threatening ‘no TV tomorrow’ after your toddler gets out of bed for the fifteenth time isn’t effective, since the consequence is delayed.

Instead, some parents use the bedroom door as a sort of consequence – mom or dad may leave the bedroom door open 90 degrees, on the condition that their toddler stays in bed. When toddler gets up, the bedroom door closes to 45 degrees. If toddler gets up again, the bedroom door is closed all the way for 1 or 2 minutes, at which point the whole process starts all over again. (Note that this tip isn’t for everyone; some parents feel this is too harsh, and not all toddlers respond well. Use your judgment in determining if this would work for your toddler.)

5. Employ the Silent Return to Bed:
Even if you tweak your toddler’s schedule, implement a great bedtime routine, and provide incentives in the form of stickers to encourage your toddler to stay in bed, you will no doubt have some jack-in-the-box moments here and there. This is just to be expected – toddlers love to test boundaries, after all! In this case, we recommend that you try the ‘Silent Return to Bed’ – that is, when your toddler wanders out of his room, silently walk him back, tuck him in, and leave. You want these interactions to be as boring as possible – no threatening, no bargaining, no discussing. This will help discourage your toddler from repeat attempts to engage with you by getting out of bed. We find that if parents are consistent in doing this, it can significantly reduce jack-in-the-box behavior relatively quickly.

Finally, keep in mind that jack-in-the-box behavior can be a sign of a larger sleep problem. If your small person pops out of bed constantly, wakes up multiple times per night, doesn’t nap well, and is up at the crack of dawn, you most likely need to help your toddler learn to fall asleep (and stay asleep) independently.

Parents from all over the world visit The Baby Sleep Site each month to find solutions for their children’s sleep problems. Visit today, and download a copy of our free guide,5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night. You CAN reclaim your sleep…and we can help!

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Nicole Johnson is a married mother of two wonderful boys and owner of The Baby Sleep Site®. When her eldest son was born, he had a lot of sleep problems – he would wake every one or two hours, all night long! She got busy and thoroughly researched literature and scientific reports until she became an expert in sleep methods, scheduling routines, baby developmental needs, and more. She overcame her son’s sleeping issues in a way that matched her own parenting style, and knew it was her mission to help other tired parents “find their child’s sleep”. If you have your own sleep issues, maybe she can help you, too.

Activity #109: Enroll for lessons

Sign up for a fun class | Stefania takes hip hop

If any of your hobbies are languishing, it is time to rev them back up again. You’ll be so glad you did.

I have loved taking pottery classes as a new mom but don’t have any pictures because my hands were too covered in goo! We know another rookie mom who took a painting class while her husband put the baby to bed during cry-it-out sleep training. Now, that’s money well spent!

Stefania (above) is about to take Lee Pazmino’s Hip-Hop class at Uforia Studios in Palo Alto above. Can you find a weekly class (art, wine appreciation, photography, cooking, dance, Italian lessons) to get your creative juices flowing again?  Committing to our own fun and enrichment can easily fall to the bottom of the to-do list; having a class that you’ve paid for can bump it back to the top.

What lessons are you not taking that you’d like to start? 

Inspired by an activity in The Rookie Mom’s Handbook: 250 Activities to Do With (or Without!) Your Baby (on kindle).

[Photo by Stefania Pomponi. All rights reserved]

Activity #30: Stumble into a family-friendly pub

 

Today’s challenge, your thirtieth, is to discover a family-friendly pub in your area and test it out. Yes, we tried this a few times. Sure, baby Julian made a frat boy of himself and booted the first time. Nobody cared!

#rookiemoms maternity leave challenge: stumble into a family-friendly pub with your babyYou don’t have to compromise on ambiance every time you go out for dinner with your baby. You want a beer after work (or after spending the day alone together), and your baby wants to bang spoons on the table. No problem.

Bars that serve food also service babies. Many of them have noise levels that will enable your family to blend right in. So don’t be afraid: Go to a sports bar or an Irish pub. Pull up a high chair and get rowdy with the rest of the crowd.

rookie moms maternity leave challenges

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Excerpted from The Rookie Mom’s Handbook. Photo from Greg Neate via flickr.

Sawyer’s third birthday party: Bubbles on a budget

I recently learned that there are professional bubble-blowing entertainers that you can hire to make bubbles as big as a car and enclose party guests in soapy orbs, but those guys charge $300 for a 45-minute show. Dazzling as that would be, I figured I could save $275 and have nearly as much fun by hosting Sawyer’s third birthday party at our closest playground.

Throw a bubbly bubble party with bubbles

We threw a bubble birthday party, and it was not hard at all. Apparently, I’ve been acquiring bubble tools and solution for years now: when we hauled out all our bubble gear, we didn’t need to buy a thing. If you’re not crazy-insane for bubbles, you may want to purchase a few things or take some time to mix up DIY solution and create your own wicked cool bubble wands (with or without the children depending on your patience).

Activities:

The main attraction is the BUBBLES so kids can play with bubbles, blow bubbles, make funky bubble wands, spill solution, chase bubbles, pop bubbles, try to catch them without popping them.

And when all that gets boring, play at the playground. I love having parties at the park because I just prevented 15 soapy little three- and four-year olds from trampling all over my home looking for the good toys.

Decor:

Bubbles, of course! Set the bubble blower on automatic. Helium balloons also work well for that bubbly feeling – and make great party favors.

My favorite purchased bubble thingies:

  • We love this Gazillion bubble blower and have had it for years. Worth noting: kids and careless adults (ahem, myself included) frequently overfill this little guy so it can be a mess. Put on a picnic table with a paper towel underneath to keep it from vibrating itself to the ground. Use the correct solution or it can get all gunked up. At only $10, I think it might be a fun gift for a bubble-loving child, too. Best automatic bubble blower for the price
  • Wacky wands and tray. For less than $7, this set gets fun-shaped wands in the hands of your guests. You can use the provided bubble solution tray or put out a plastic dishpan for even more suds like we did. Super fun bubble wand assortment
  • Automatic handheld bubble shooters like this Toysmith mini ray gun let little ones just dip and blow lots of bubbles at a time with a motorized fan. I like the reduced frustration for small people. For less than $7, this one looks like an animal head and is well-reviewed.Great little bubble blower for little kids

The thing I wish we had: Beeboo big bubble blower. I swear we had one in the garage but the day I go to build a party around it — poof! — we can’t find it anywhere! For only $13, I woulda got another one if I realized it was missing before the morning of our party.Super cool big bubble blower

Worth mentioning is the bubble stuff I wish poured down the drain rather than use: Whatever you do, do NOT purchase or use Crayola colored bubbles. These things are stainy, messy, and don’t really create colored bubbles.

Food:

At Sawyer’s request, we served bagels (round) and cake for a mid-morning brunch party with a slight Frozen theme. I think you can divert from the theme a bit to serve food the birthday child likes.

Party Favors:

Jumbo bubble wands as party favors (look like light sabers)Why not give out these epic jumbo wands in solution? $18 buys you a dozen. They are cooler than your average bubble kit and look like lightsabers. I nearly provided them to our guests but then I forgot to click “order” on my Amazon cart so, instead, made an accidental anti-materialist statement by not passing out favors.  You can also hand out the balloons if you got the right number.

Sawyer had a blast at his bubble-themed birthday party and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an easy, fun, outdoor party!

Related: 5 tips for a cheaper third birthday party and 10 cheap birthday party tips.

Throw a bubbly bubble party with bubbles

Activity #291: Let your baby ride the family pet

Someday, your baby will be a man.

Or a woman.

When that time comes, your pet will fit into your kid’s lap. But for now, isn’t it super cute and funny to take pictures that really show how teeny weeny your little one is?

Let your baby ride the family pet, within reason of course

Make sure to follow common sense tips for pet safety, but he’s your pet (dog, cat, tarantula, snake, rhino, etc.), so I shouldn’t have to tell you that.

{photo by Maury Boswell, used with permission, all rights reserved}

I bribed my picky eater with toy dinosaurs for 2 weeks

Professionals recommend bribery
Inspired by an NPR/Freakonomics story about bribery in which an economist gives each of his four children the opportunity to earn “a lot of money” for eating fresh fish in Hawaii every day during their vacation, I decided to try to bribe my preschooler with trinkets to try new-to-him foods. After all, the radio story revealed that children were more motivated by prizes than anything else (like knowing that good foods build healthy bodies).

The prize I laid out was a plastic dinosaur for each new-to-him food. For roughly two weeks, I presented him with his dinner along with 1-3 toy dinos for trying eligible foods. He didn’t earn anything for eating applesauce or cheese quesadillas, but he could have for trying a bite of a grape (yes, a GRAPE!!!), which he declined.

I bribed my child to eat healthy food with toy dinosaurs

If I’m totally honest, you should know I wanted to keep this bribery program running long enough to for him to earn 72 dinosaurs, no matter the duration. My friend, the engineer, calculated that he could try seven different foods at ten times each and I was overly optimistic when I purchased them. Instead, I had to cut the experiment off after 14 days because it was such a colossal failure that Whitney was losing her patience with me. Yes, Whitney.

In 14 days, Sawyer earned only four dinosaurs and two of them were total cheats on my part.

Where did we begin?
Sawyer is not your typical picky eater, if there is such a thing. He approaches unfamiliar foods with anxiety and nervousness. If he’s going to try it, he might sit in my lap cowering and retching before he fully tastes the thing and declares that it is not bad.

Got that? He actually likes most foods that he tries, but he is unwilling to try new things. Ugh. So frustrating.

According to family legend, this was never more true than his approach to ice cream. Once we felt like he was old enough for a taste, he refused. He was offered ice cream many times, until he finally — nervously — agreed to open his mouth for it. Of course, he loved it. By the next time we had ice cream, he had already forgotten that it was a positive experience. So he refused it another few times. This usually happens about three times before he remembers that he liked any food in the past.

It is also worth noting that he has two big brothers who willingly eat food like salmon and kale salad with smiles on their faces and we all sit down to family dinner most nights of the week, where everyone eats the same thing.

When Sawyer decided, for the second time, that broccoli was pretty good, we made a video together so I can show him next time he is reluctant. It was his idea.

Did bribing work?
Sawyer was largely unmoved by the dinosaur bribery scheme. He tasted what he was going to try anyway so we did have some slight progress toward trying and liking new foods. He acted like he wanted the toys but never enough to move the needle. The four dinosaurs I gave out were for the following:

  1. a dessert with honey, raisins, and dates — after days of no progress, I wanted to make it easier for him (and me!) to succeed. But c’mon.
  2. homemade cheese pizza — the crust was unusual so I thought he might not eat it, but awarding a bribe for a kid eating cheese pizza is embarrassing.
  3. a cheeseburger — this was HUGE for us, real progress toward a new food. Interestingly, we were not at home when he ate it so I think it is very likely he didn’t have dinosaurs on the brain.
  4. broccoli — and he said he liked it. Notice he’s in my lap because of his anxiety but quickly wanted to make himself a video because broccoli rocks.

Other days, he ate all the foods that were not dino-eligible or Nothing At All. Yes, multiple days in this game, my two-year old went to bed with no dinner.

What did I learn?
Was it a waste of time? Was it fun for me because I am a data geek? Was it nice to get positive feedback from other friends with picky eaters? Yes, yes, and yes.

I enjoyed trying something new on this kid but, all in all, I only passed out four dinosaurs. I don’t think that bribery changed Sawyer’s behavior in a significant way, but Whitney and her family think I need to offer a better prize.

Activity #28: Pack a picnic and roll in the grass

Rookie Moms Challenge 28: Pack a picnic dinner and save time on cleanup

The challenge for the day is to take advantage of a warm afternoon and feed your family outside; it’s time for a real live picnic. It is so much easier to clean up Cheerio crumbs when I can just shake my blanket into the grass and leave the rest to the bugs.

I like to keep it simple by splitting planning duties with friends or just hitting the great outdoors with my lunch and my baby:

  • Pack up the requisite baby gear during a naptime.
  • Pick up your lunch at a favorite deli or take-out joint. In other words, don’t hurt yourself by cooking if you don’t have to. (Another variation is have the pizza come to you)
  • Head to your local park or favorite grassy patch with a blanket.
  • Enjoy the first-rate free entertainment of light dancing through the leaves and cold, prickly grass. Watching other kids and dogs rounds out the fun. Baby Holden could just sit there and watch a caterpillar (like for 30 whole seconds).

rookie moms maternity leave challenges - try all 52

This is your twenty-eighth weekly challenge! Share your successes, attempts and photos with us here or on facebook. Share on instagram with hashtag #rookiemoms for a virtual high-five.

Baby and toddler activities in Myrtle Beach, SC

Activities for babies and toddlers in Myrtle Beach, SC

Stacie from the site formerly known as NewMommyHelp.net offered to share with us a week’s worth of favorite baby and toddler activities in her hometown of Myrtle Beach, SC. Thank you Stacie! As a mom of four little ones, she knows the local hotspots and places to avoid.

She tells us: Myrtle Beach is often referred to as family vacation land. There is way too much to do here.

This guide is designed to give you the best of the tourist attractions, while also pointing you in the direction of some lesser known local favorites. Enjoy the best of the East coast and low country charm of South Carolina!

Monday: Beach Day!
Try going at the beginning of the week, and maybe you’ll like it so much you will come back another day. If you’re looking for a less crowded area, try one of the public beach access points–head North on Ocean Blvd starting at 48th Ave N. Even your littlest one can enjoy the sound of the waves and the constant breeze you’ll find at the beach. Not to mention hours of fun for a toddler digging in the sand and jumping waves as they wash in. We have to drag our children away when it’s time to go home. Have lunch at Ultimate California Pizza (2500 N Kings Hwy).

Tuesday: Library
Baby Storytime at Chapin Memorial Library (10:00 AM). For details call Sue Ellen or Jen at 843 918-1275. They have a large outdoor playground too. Have lunch at Magnolia’s, a much-loved favorite among locals and tourists (2605 N Ocean Blvd.)

[Read more...]