Category Archives: Infancy

Great Benefits to Nursery Rhymes

Don’t underestimate the age-old success of nursery rhymes!  I think sometimes we get caught up in the new and improved that we forget the great benefits to the tried and true.

Nursery rhymes are definitely tried and true. 

They are great for infants through to preschoolers (and probably beyound).  The beauty with nursery rhymes, is it doesn’t take much effort to entertain our little ones with these.  Very little prep work involved AND great benefits.  The sing-song effect is very calming. They offer a great variety of vocabulary (and our little ones are learning from what we say whether we realize it or not!). Hearing the rhyming words over and over teaches detailed awareness of the language. They learn to listen for the sounds that make up a word (phonemes) which helps them learn how to work with the language.  And they are doing all of this without worksheets or lessons.  They are learning and we don’t even realize it.

Ways to include nursery rhymes in your day:

  • Read compilation books with the best of the best nursery rhymes written.  
  • Recite them outloud while driving in the car, going on a walk or changing their diaper (they are great distractions for even the tiniest babies).
  • Use hand motions and act them out.   
  • Sing them.  
  • Use them to encourage your toddler during clean up. 
  • Find rhymes that coincide with topics of interest or unit studies (ex: Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush would work well when teaching basic hygiene; The Itsy Bitsy Spider works with lessons on bugs)
  • Add a nursery rhyme to your letter, color, or number of the day lessons (Little Boy Blue for blue day; Jack and Jill for J-day) 
  • March to the beat of a nursery rhyme (a great way to practice rhythm!)Do all of the above and do it consistently.  Consistency is the goal. 

But isn’t it funny how sometimes the easiest things are the things we forget about?  At least that’s me.   I’m counting this post as a reminder for myself :)

So here are a few popular rhymes in our house to get us started:

  • Humpty Dumpty
  • Row Row Row Your Boat
  • Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
  • Jack and Jill went up the hill
  • This is the way we wash our hands
  • Old McDonald
  • Ring Around the Rosie
  • It’s Raining, It’s Pouring
  • Rain, Rain Go Away

Ok, this list is looking pretty typical, huh? I’m no nursery rhyme expert. I’m not even sure everything on the list counts as a nursery rhyme. I just use what I know.  Sometimes I even forget the words and make something up that rhymes!  My poor child will never know the real words for Lullaby and Goodnight but oh well.

Here’s some popular websites where you can print out both words and pictures for nusery rhymes, or even hear them with animation. 

There are tons of books that compile nursery rhymes. J got A Treasury for One Year Olds as a gift that we still use now.  The series offers a new book for each year, though we haven’t gotten any of the others. The older books apparently also include popular stories too. Of course there are cds you can buy that include nursery rhymes.  We don’t personally own any, but my mom plays some for the grandkids and they love them.  You could also record your own (see this post on recording stories on cd yourself).

This is something you can try right now!

Flying with an Infant

Since we are often flying the friendly skies (between 6-8 trips per year which comes out to about 12-18 plane rides yearly), I thought I would share my thoughts on flying with J at each age. J’s first plane trip was at 6 weeks and he now has his own frequent flyer card.   I will certainly acknowledge that the frequency of our travelling really helps when it comes to his behavior both in the airport and on the plane.  He knows what to expect, he knows what we expect, and he knows what will happen if he breaks the rules.  Of course he wasn’t born this way.  It’s been a learning process for us all (and we’re still learning!).  So here’s a little that I have learned over the past couple years.

First off is babyhood.  This age group is by far the easiest to fly with (at least in my experience so far).  You don’t need anything to entertain them.  They entertain themselves (just see how J is fully engrossed in his fists!).  They will most likely sleep for the majority of the trip which is just beautiful.  Enjoy it!  They grow out of this stage and you will soon be working the whole flight! 

What to Bring (this is not an all-inclusive list; I’m trying to remember back a few years ago!):

  • Extra clothes for baby and for parent - It’s amazing how a child with no prior blow-outs can suddenly surprise you in mid-air.  I always dressed J in the footed pjs so I wasn’t worried about him losing socks.  It was just easy for us.  If you choose to dress your little one in shoes, security does require you to remove their shoes too.  Save a step and leave the shoes in the luggage. 
  • Antibacterial wipes – I wipe down EVERYTHING when we first sit down; who knows who sat there before you and the cleaning crew does NOT clean windows, trays and arm rests thoroughly
  • Diapers and wipes - of course, right?  Pack even more than you would normally need for the duration of travel.  Layovers happen. Blowouts happen.
  • Carrier -this is the easiest way to travel through airports. Most security lines do NOT require you to remove your baby from a wrap/carrier.  **Of course, if they ask you to remove them, don’t ask questions.  It will do no good.  Just comply and move on through.**  Definitely keep them attached to you unless directed otherwise.  This provides one less step while going through security.  I have traveled alone with my infant J in a stroller.  You are left trying to close the stroller, hold your baby (who of course just fell asleep so now you’re waking him up with all the joggling), get that stroller up on the security belt while of course dealing with your other belongings too.  Even if you need a stroller for your trip, I would still recommend wearing baby through the airport.  It’s just easier.
  • Changing mat or burp cloth - I had a small bag that fit inside my larger diaper bag with a changing mat that carried a few diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes.  I liked having this so I didn’t have to carry the big diaper bag down the aisles to that tiny restroom. **Oh and some planes do not have a changing table in the restroom(albiet the smaller ones; honestly we’ve only been on one in all our travels) .  One more reason it’s nice to have that changing mat/cloth just in case. A burp cloth works well since you could potentially use it for other things if needed.
  • Feeding supplies - I nursed J even on the plane, at first using a nursing cover but later I found a zip-up sweater worked even better.  It was one less thing I needed to bring on the plane and honestly I always felt conspicuous with that huge nursing cover whereas I could easily tuck J’s head behind one side of the sweater to nurse and no one even knew.  Nursing works great on a plane.  If you bottle feed, I personally suggest the Drop-Ins for travel.  You only have to bring one actual bottle and then just toss the insert when finished and refill a new insert when needed.  Less bulk to pack, no worries about cleaning out the bottle before the next feeding.  I have used these before during travel and they worked well.  For long flights I dried some dishsoap on a sponge, cut them up into small squares and then used one to clean out the nipple (or later sippy cup) for later use. 
  • Bib- J rarely needed bibs on a normal basis, but I always had one on him during flights.  It saved us from having to change clothes if he were to suddenly spit up or drool excessively. 
  • Small Pillow - this may seem excessive, but it was worth it for me.  I happened to own a small sponge contour pillow that worked perfectly.  It wasn’t bulky, it curved up around the edges to keep J centered.  I could simply lay the pillow on my lap and then J on the pillow which kept us both cooler and more comfortable.  It also worked well as a temporary nursing pillow. 

General Tips:

Stay relaxed and remember this too shall pass. Yes, you will of course hit turbulence RIGHT when you’re in the bathroom, beginning to peel that blow out diaper off your infant.  Yes the pilot will come over the announcement to warn everyone to get back in their seats at that moment.  Just stay relaxed, try and see the humor in the situation.   Yes, your baby might decide to scream through security, even if they’ve never shed a tear prior.  Just keep calm. This too shall pass.  Yes, your infant will fill their diaper to overflowing RIGHT when the plane leaves the gate and you aren’t allowed up to change them while waiting in that 30 minute line for takeoff.  Just stay calm.  This too shall pass. Getting annoyed or stressed does nothing to help you or your little one.  I fully believe our little ones excel in reading body language.  They will read into your stress and become more easily agitated themselves.  That will do no one any good.

Keep a sense of humor about the trip.  I know I mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating.

 Show your little one off to the other passengers when you are waiting to leave the gate (don’t force your baby on them, but let them admire them all they want).  Be friendly with them.  Tell them how old your little one is, even be honest about your nerves but also mention you will do your best to keep your guy calm and content throughout the flight. This serves multiple purposes.  It helps you remain calm.  It helps them remember you are a fellow human, not just some mother who dared bring their child on a plane just to annoy them!  It helps them hold their patience a little longer if that adorable baby decides to cry for awhile…. or stinks up the plane momentarily.

Don’t worry about routines.  On a normal basis, I am a proponent of schedules and routines for J.  On planes, I am just fine with getting off the routine.  If J wanted to sleep longer while flying, fine.  If he wanted to eat more often, no problem.  My goal was keep him content, which has great side benefits:  mom/dad is kept content and of course the other passengers on the plane remain content too. 

Feed baby just before entering airport.  This honestly always worked best for us when J was an infant and young baby.  J would often get a catnap on the way to the airport and I would feed him in the car upon arrival.  This meant he was well-rested and well-fed BEFORE either of us had to deal with the craziness inside.  You don’t want a hungry baby in the security line or while heading onto the plane.  They will also likely be at least hungry enough to feed a little (though not necessary, see next tip for more) upon departure if you want them to suck on something during take-off.

Don’t worry about ear pressure.  That’s seems to be a very common question I get about flying with little ones.  J has never had an issue with his ears while flying.  In talking with other moms, they’ve told me the same thing.  To be safe, I would be sure there is no ear infection prior to your trip and then don’t worry about it.  **I should note that there was one instance where J’s pediatrician found an ear infection in one ear eventhough J had NO symptoms at all.  I had just taken him to the doctor pre-travel as a precaution.  I’m so glad we did.  I wouldn’t want to get on the plane only to realize then that his ears were a problem. **

It’s true that drinking or sucking on something helps to relieve pressure in the ear, so be prepared just in case. But if your little one is sleeping, my suggestion is let them sleep.  Don’t worry about their ears. I see parents on planes waking their sleeping baby up for takeoff/landing to feed them fearful that their little one will be in pain.  Usually they end up with a fussy baby that didn’t want to wake up and doesn’t want to eat.  With the pressurization on planes today, cabin pressure is not a big problem at all.  If you notice anything it would most likely be during the initial descent (about 30 minutes prior to landing), but even then a problem is unlikely.  They are way better with this today than 20 or 30 years ago when we were flying as kids.  Again, J has never had a problem.

Most importantly, flying gets you to where you need to be… and does so quickly (comparitively speaking).  You will make it and your little one will make it.  I would not let fear of travelling with an infant keep me from flying.   Go and have fun!

And you might just make it with ease. Actually while flying with an infant, this is entirely likely!

I’ll be posting my thoughts, experiences and helpful activities for flying with older babies, pretoddlers and toddlers soon.

Coupon from Seeds Family Worship

Seeds of Courage (Vol. 1)

You’ve heard me mention these CDs from Seeds Family Worship before.   As a little reminder, they are great children’s worship songs that put scripture to music.  They aren’t just for kids either.  I love them.  J loves them.  My husband loves them.  As my husband put it, “You can’t get better than divine lyrics.”  (See this post for more info on them)

We currently have all five of their CDs. They literally rotate from one to the next.  We love each one.  And we’re all learning scripture!

Here’s the good news, Seeds Family Worship is offering a great deal to all my readers.  You can get 20% off of your cd purchase by using this coupon code at checkout, ENGAGINGTODDLERS.  This offer expires in 6 months, December 14, 2010.  This discount is good for everything except clearance prices.  Since Seeds Family Worship already offers a free cd for every one that you buy, this extra 20% makes a good deal even better.  If you want to hear some of their songs, check out this link.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do receive a free cd after the purchase of 10 cds using this code.  Since I have all 5 of their cds anyway, I’ll be giving any free cd away to others. 

You really won’t be disappointed with their cds. I hope you find the coupon code helpful! Check out their website at http://www.seedsfamilyworship.net/

Mother’s Day

We’ve been sending my mom and grandma’s some of J’s artwork quite a bit and honestly thought they could use a little break from it :) 

They always tell me how much they’d rather get photos than store bought cards, so this year I incorporated our a photo of J into our Mother’s Day message…. with sidewalk chalk!  (again, gotta love this stuff!)

You can’t get much simpler than this.  J helped by “writing” the letters (scribbling over each one with his blue chalk) and then I coerced a smile out of him and snapped a picture.  Notice his hands up by his cheeks?  This is what he does when he’s being forced to smile(shhh… don’t tell the grandmas!).  I printed the photos, along with a few other favorite shots from the past month and mailed them in place of a Mother’s day card. 

Age: 24 months

Homemade Toy: Family Board Books

I made these board books for J when he was probably 12 or 13 months old.  It was SO easy to accomplish and well worth it.  J has always loved them.  I think these would be great from infancy on (just keep your little one’s slobber away since the ink will bleed… or seal the pages beforehand).

I bought a board book kit from Amazon; I’m pretty sure this is the link. I still have a three blank books to make.  The kit included the books, blank labels for each page and a computer template to download.  Of course you don’t have to use the labels.  You can draw on the books or even have your toddler create their own book.

The family book I made is really simple.  I include parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  We don’t live anywhere near ANY family, but I really wanted J to learn who all his relatives were.  This way when we are able to see them, he is already familiar with their pictures at least.  Each page in the book has just one labeled picture so it’s very clear who is who.  I used to read this book a lot to him before we took a trip to visit family.  After each trip we’ve taken to visit family, J tends to return to the book a lot on his own too.   I do think if I were to do it again, I would try and include photos that were a little more fun… like Grandpa playing with a ball or Aunt Jenn riding a bike (whereas I just have a front photo of each one smiling). 

“My Dad Loves Me” was actually a Father’s day gift (from J to daddy).  This is his favorite of the two board books, probably because Daddy is J’s favorite person in the world!  I included lots of pictures of J and dad from birth until the present (or when I created the book obviously).  I added a rhyming story to go along with the photos.  J loves that he sees them playing the guitar or playing with a ball in the pictures.  When we’ve taken a few trips without dad, I brought J’s daddy book along with us to read which he really likes.

Here’s the text of J’s daddy’s book:

Right from the start, Dad was my biggest fan. 

We share kisses and cuddles and lots of big grins.

My Daddy is teaching me to play the guitar.

I’m teaching him to take care of the car.
We work out together.
We act silly together.
We walk and we ride and we explore together.
We splash around in the pool.
We eat ice cream ’till we drool.
Whether we’re playing ball or just hanging out,
My Daddy loves me. You can’t get better than that!
Another side benefit of the books is that when J has experienced a little separation anxiety and hesitant to play alone, I have kept the books within his reach so he has pictures of those he loves close by.  I got this idea from an online group I’m in.  I’m honestly not sure how much this helped since any bout of separation anxiety was very short lived.  It certainly didn’t hurt though!
FYI…. I also bought this blank board book kit and it really only included the blank book and some ideas/instructions on how to create your book.  I haven’t used this one yet; it’s currently stuffed in my craft cabinet. 

Read This: Because a Little Bug went Ka-Choo!

Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo! by Michael K. Frith, Rosetta Stone (1975, Hardcover)“Because a Little Bug went KA-CHOO!”  is such an adorable book that I had to mention it here.  It’s probably been J’s favorite for the past 3 or 4 months.  The book is in The Cat in the Hat’s line called Beginner Books.  It was written by Rosetta Stone (gotta love that name by the way!). 

The story is adorable, all about how a little bug’s sneeze causing a chain reaction that ends with mayhem in the nearby town.  The pictures are adorable too.  J loves that he can find all the characters on basically every page.  My aunt gave J this book, saying it was her daughter’s favorite almost 20 years ago and the first book her daughter learned to read.  Well, it’s still a winner today.  J has much of the chain reaction memorized already.

Why Didn’t I Think of That? Children’s Scripture CD from Seeds Family Worship

** Edited to add:  They’ve just offered a coupon code to my readers.  Enter ENGAGINGTODDLERS at checkout and you’ll get 20% off of your cd purchase. This coupon expires  December 14, 2010.  If you would like to hear some of their songs check out this link!**

Have you ever noticed how it’s so much easier to memorize to music? 

I’m gonna assume you answered yes :) 

Somewhere in my search for activities, I discovered a BRILLIANT set of CDs from Seeds Family Worship.  They put scripture to song and they do it BEAUTIFULLY!  The songs are great for kids, but they’re also great for adults.  I listen to their CDs even when J isn’t with me.  I would have ordered them even if I did not have a child at all.  They are that good. 

I absolutely LOVE this product (can you tell?).  J absolutely LOVES this product.  It will be my new gift for family and friends.

I currently have two of their CDs, but will soon order the remaining 3 in the series.  Each CD has scripture focused on a specific topic.  We have “Seeds of Purpose” and “The Power of Encouragement”.  The other choices are “Seeds of Faith”, “Seeds of Courage”, and “Seeds of Praise”.  The lyrics are direct quotes from the NIV Bible.  Each song has the scripture reference and the text; the text is repeated (in a praise song style).  The repetition is not annoying like many of the children’s songs. 

For now, J and I just listen to the songs in the car and while playing at home.  When he’s a little older and can speak a little better, I will use these CDs to help him memorize scripture.  To me, scripture holds the greatest lessons I could ever teach J.  Anything that will help me accomplish this is something I want to promote!

**Oh and one added benefit, the company sends TWO CDs for every one that you order!  You get one to keep for yourself and one to give away to friend or family.  I have already decided who is getting my 2 extra CDs! I can’t wait to give it to them!!

Music Time with Babies

J has ALWAYS loved music.  I swear he could kick on beat in the womb.  Daddy used to sing “Jesus Loves Me” to him when I was pregnant and he would dance around inside me.  After he was born, he was crying while the nurses worked on him and daddy started singing “Jesus Loves Me” and he stilled right away.  He knew the voice and likely he knew the song. 

We have always had some type of music time, whether singing to J, playing the guitar/piano for him, or playing a CD/Youtube song for him.  For the first few months, he mostly like acoustic music and lyrics really weren’t necessary.  Starting at 2 months, he began singing a long with us (his favorite was “Moon River”). 

Playing the guitar at 8 months

Stacking cups are definitely worth it!

Stacking cups are awesome.  Even now, at 21 months, J enjoys them. 

J first learned to tear down a tower that mom/dad created.  At first he was a very careful little boy, removing one cup at a time (starting around 8 or 9 months).  I also used the cups to help teach object permanence (the idea that an object doesn’t disappear simply because we can’t see it).  I would place a small toy under one of the cups and have him find it again.  Then I added two cups, hinding the small toy underneath one of them so that he had to find which cup help the surprise.  After working up to 3 and 4 cups and he was quick to find the surprise underneath, I started hiding the surprise while stacking,…  basically any way to make the game new and interesting. 

Of course eventually he learned to stack the cups himself, nest the cups (I use both activities to emphasize size – big/small), fill cups with the matching color pompoms, fill and spill in the bathtub,…  There are so many possibilities, long lasting possibilities!

A careful demolitionist at 10 months

Tug of War for Babies

Obviously you won’t be playing this game with a huge mud pit in front of your little one!

Just about the age when J started sitting up on his own, I started playing this game with him.  It helps them develop better balance and stronger back and stomach muscles so that they don’t teeter over at every gust of wind (or when you just walk by them!).

J and I sat next to each other and I would get him to grasp onto a scarf, towel, shirt, blanket (anything I had nearby!).  I would grab the other end and pull every so slightly.  My resistance was really really light at first.  I didn’t want him to let go of the scarf, but wanted to show him how fun it was when he kept his grasp.  It didn’t take him too long to realize it was a game and to hold on!  If I pulled too much, of course he would  teeter over.  The goal in this tug of war is not really to make them fall over.  You have to find that sweet spot where they keep playing but are also getting a work out and improving their balance.  As time went on I could  increase my resistance because he was getting stronger. 

Baby games are simple, but I found it was nice to “spice up” our day with things like this! 

Age attempted:  around 5 months