Category Archives: Toddlers

Books Worth Buying for Little Ones

[Note: This post was written by KFDC contributor Emily Moise, a local mom of two young children.]

 

Remember hanging out in libraries? Sigh… Once a weekly go-to, now a distant memory for my kids, and likely yours, too. In their absence, our book collection has grown. Acquiring books during the pandemic has been akin to stocking up on frozen vegetables. You’re gonna need those books — and they’re good for you.

Between our own book purchases (often an alternative to buying one more plastic toy), generous extended family — including a great-aunt that used to work at a children’s bookstore — and our neighborhood’s Little Free Libraries, we’ve been fortunate, and we’ve been reading.

Many of our books end up being read obsessively for a week, never to be child-selected again (ahh, the beauty of libraries!). But there are some that we keep going back to. The ones we’ve all memorized and have stolen phrases from for our everyday kid conversations. The ones that were totally worth buying…

 

The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss (Happy Birthday to the beloved author!)

We’ve ventured far into the wacky world of whosits and whatsits, but we always return to the gold standard. Every preschooler is exploring their autonomy and nothing illustrates the wild possibilities better. Plus, it’s so apropos for the times, Sally and boy with nothing to do.

Other Seuss/Seuss-inspired favorites: There’s a Wocket in My Pocket, Because a Bug Went Ka-choo! [KFDC Note: Someone just brought this to my attention about Dr. Seuss books.]

 

 

Freight Train, Donald Crews

This one is a must for the little train lover in your life. It’s short and simple, but will stop your busy toddlers in their tracks until it’s “going, going…gone!”. They won’t even realize they are learning their colors and prepositions, in addition to the trivial train lingo.

Another vehicle favorite: Good Night, Little Blue Truck

 

 

Nanette’s Baguette, Mo Willems

Reading is ten times more fun with the built-in theatrics that Mo Willems provides. This one is longer than his classics, but the plot is no more complex. Nanette must bring home a baguette before eating it all and being “beset with regret.” Show me a more clever rhyming book—I’ll wait!

Other Willems favorites: Waiting is Not Easy, The Pigeon Needs a Bath

 

 

The Good Egg, Jory John

From a young age we are taught to be “good,” which often leads to “perfect,” including everything around us. Relatable? Kids and adults alike will enjoy this one and the humorous way it teaches us to be kind to ourselves and accepting of others.

Also in the series: The Bad Seed, The Cool Bean, The Couch Potato

 

 

Mixed: A Colorful Story, Arree Chung

For preschoolers, the most powerful books on race use concepts and visuals from their own small worlds. This age-appropriate story about embracing our differences uses the whole color wheel and cartooned facial expressions to show how diversity makes a better place for all.

Other favorites that celebrate our differences: My Friend Maggie, Carrot & Pea

 

 

I Just Forgot, Mercer Mayer

There’s just something about Little Critter books—which were favorites of mine as a kid too. My youngest likes finding the hidden critters on each page. I assume my daughter can relate to the “I have more agency than you think” attitude mixed with the “mistakes are ok” messages.

Other Little Critter favorites: Just a Snowman, I Was So Mad

 

 

Tickle Time!, Sandra Boynton

Up your tickle time game with this simple board book by a classic author. Kids of all ages will enjoy the nonsensical strings of made up words, followed by being tickled high and low, and left and right. It’s a perfect almost-bedtime book when you need to reign the giggles into bed.

Another Boynton favorite: Dinosaur Dance

 

 

The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson

If I’ve learned anything from my countless hours of Paw Patrol viewing, it’s that kids love repetition and formulaic storytelling. The Gruffalo does this well, taking you on a journey through the woods and back again with masterful rhyming and humor.

Also in the series: The Gruffalo’s Child

 

 

Tuesday, David Wiesner

My daughter had me “read” her a word-less book for months, as if she was trying to memorize my ever-changing story. The almost word-less Tuesday will teach anyone the power of good illustration and storytelling. Bonus: you can make the story as short or as long as needed!

Another unconventional favorite: The Book with No Pictures

 

 

Benny and Penny in Just Pretend, Geoffrey Hayes

This comic style book depicts the love-hate relationship between young siblings better than I’ve seen anywhere else. Benny doesn’t want anything to do with his sister Penny, until he does. When he called her a dumb, bad little sister, well, that was just pretend.

Another favorite from the series: Benny and Penny in the Big No-No!

 

*What are your must-have children’s books? Share in the comments!

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Filed under 2021, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Educational, Preschoolers, Shop, Toddlers

Guest Post: My Favorite Preschool Age Toys for the Pandemic Age

[Note: This post was written by KFDC contributor Emily Moise, a local mom, writer, and navigator of pandemic life with two young children.]

 

It’s that point in the pandemic winter where I just want all the things that will keep my little ones busy. And I mean busy quickly, independently, and for extended periods of time. The allure of the @busytoddler DIY sensory and creative play has faded as pandemic-fatigue has left me with little set-up and clean-up energy to expend. My son is also in the “sudden burst of throwing everything” phase. He can have his rice sensory bin this summer, outdoors.

Over the past year, my almost 2 and 3.5 year-olds have gone through many play phases and explorations. My daughter’s puzzle obsession has left us with cabinets full of them for another day. Our crafts corner is fully stocked, waiting for the moment it will finally be utilized unprompted. A supply of Legos is ready for its heyday, and stronger hands. Only a short list of items have risen to the top for us, consistently used eagerly and unsolicited.    Here are my tried and true items for preschoolers.

 

Climbing Rope Swing

This rope swing may be my best purchase of 2020. I had seen them around my neighborhood hanging from large trees — which we don’t have. After some assurance from Pinterest that they could be used indoors, we installed one in our basement this past fall. My 3-year-old has sustained enthusiasm for it since then, and even sneaks off downstairs to use it unprompted. It has a long life ahead holding up to 120 lbs. 

 

Magnetic Tiles

Magnetic tiles have been a household favorite for awhile but made a big resurgence when my son was old enough to join in — aside from being the tower destroyer. Now, both kids will play with these together for up to an hour. We recently added a set with gears to our collection, plus some window and door tiles, and are on the lookout for more accessory sets like this

 

Melissa & Doug Activity Pads

This brand is a classic for a reason! Their activity pads are my favorites, giving us lots of extended and/or independent play. My kids can do these Scissor Skills activities (with assistance) for an oddly long time, and do these reusable Puffy Sticker books over and over again. These Seek & Find sticker pads are my go-to when I need some uninterrupted time, and this one has quiet time written all over it. The painting pads with built in watercolors like this are genius. 

 

Board & Card Games

We’ve tried a dozen games during the past year but only a few are in heavy rotation. The trick has been finding ones that don’t exclude my youngest child, and bonus points when it’s mildly entertaining for the grown-ups. Zingo is as good as you’ve heard. We’ve had success teaching our little ones to play Go Fish, even if they are playing with open hands. Disney’s Eye Found It! is a winner, and there is a board version.

 

Playdoh

I had an aha moment with Playdoh at the start of the pandemic but it went out of favor after I realized it had to be cleaned up and capped — quickly — to avoid drying out, and also monitored to make sure someone didn’t smush ten new colors into one brown blob. After trying the alternatives, I brought the ‘doh back into the rotation, and I get it again. It just works so well for all preschool ages, especially if you add the right tools to the mix. 

 

Bath Puzzles

At some point, every parent realizes that bath toys are no good. The mold is annoying at best and dangerous at worst. I recently discovered bath puzzles with foam pieces that stick to the tub and walls without holes to collect or squirt water. Perfect for a much-needed extended bath time! After a quick search, I have a few more on my wish list like this alphabet set and this numbers set. This one is cute too.

 

Honorable Mentions

Building toy alternatives like Flower Gardens and LeapBuilders products (more toddler-friendly than Duplo’s) have given us lots of independent play. My eldest preschooler enjoys workbooks, particularly the mazes which don’t require much assistance, and the dry erase ones where mistakes are welcome. 

 

*What are your go-to items? Share in the comments and help a mom out!

 

 

 

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Filed under Coronavirus, COVID-19, Educational, Guest Post, Indoor Play, Preschoolers, Social Distancing, Toddlers

Interviewing a Child Care Provider — 8 Questions to Ask to Keep Your Child Safe

[Note: This is a Sponsored Guest Post contributed by Bright Horizons Early Education and Preschool ahead of a new center opening at National Landing.]

 

You want to find the best child care option for your child while ensuring health and safety. Choosing a provider is a major decision under normal circumstances; finding child care during a pandemic means there are a whole host of additional things to consider and evaluate. Whether you’re interviewing a private nanny, occasional sitter, or child care center, ask these eight questions.

1. What COVID-19 protocols do you have in place?
If you’re looking at a child care center, be sure to ask questions that will make you feel more comfortable, such as:

  • Do you perform daily health screens — including temperature checks — on parents, children, and staff?
  • Are teachers and staff required to wear masks?
  • Are group sizes reduced and kept consistent?
  • Does the center have specific cleaning, sanitizing, and hand-washing practices throughout the day and after the center closes each night?

And if you’re considering a private provider, gauge their stance on all of the above, too.

2. Do you have current first aid and CPR training certifications?
When it comes to finding child care that you trust, you’ll want to double check that the provider holds first aid and CPR certifications, and that they’re renewed on a regular basis. Just in case the unthinkable happens, you want your child to be in good, capable hands.

3. How do you handle cleaning and sanitizing?
Today, these two practices are critical. Nannies and sitters don’t typically handle housekeeping duties, but they should be willing to clean up anything that happens under their watch (think: spilled liquids, any bodily fluids, or any meal-related mess). Plus, you’ll probably want them to disinfect surfaces that they come into contact with while they’re in your home. At a child care center, you’ll want to make sure strict cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting policies are followed for toys, cots, bedding, surfaces, diapering areas and bathrooms, and other things that everyone touches, like doorknobs and light switches. Ask about any additional protocols they’ve implemented in response to the pandemic, and make sure the provider you choose will help teach your child good hygiene practices in an effective and age-appropriate way.

4. What are your outdoor policies?
When it’s time to go outside, make sure the provider has weather-appropriate policies — your child should have sunscreen on, be dressed for the weather in appropriate clothing and footwear, and have access to shade and drinking water. Plus, you’ll want to make sure physical distancing guidelines are followed — if you’re looking at a center, do they restrict access to outdoor spaces to one group at a time?

5. What do you do when a child misbehaves?
Find out how the provider handles discipline. All children make mistakes, and you want to ensure the provider uses positive techniques — such as redirection, guidance, conflict resolution, and constructive discussions — that will help prevent problematic behavior in the future.

6. How do you address children’s unique needs?
Does your child have a severe food allergy? Allergic to bee stings? Your provider should be trained on how to use an EpiPen and other necessary medication, should feel comfortable acting in case of an emergency, and have a solid escalation plan, if necessary.

7. Have you ever had to deal with a child care emergency? What did you do?
The answer to this question will give you a feel for how the provider might act under pressure in a potentially scary situation. Listen for things like, “called 911,” “called poison control,” “called parents,” “performed the Heimlich maneuver,” and more.

8. What is the policy for sick or mildly ill children?
If your child spikes a fever or gets the stomach bug under the provider’s care, you want to make sure that he or she will be kept comfortable and tended to until you can come home or pick up. Ensure that the provider is willing to administer medication when necessary. What is the child care center’s exclusion policy, for both children and staff, should someone test positive for COVID-19?

 

Finding a child care provider who will keep your child healthy and safe is critical for your little one’s wellbeing, and your peace of mind. Ask these eight questions during the interview process to make sure you find a provider you can trust.

Enhanced Health & Safety Protocols at Bright Horizons
Learn about the enhanced measures we’ve put in place at our centers across the country. And for a full checklist of questions to ask as you evaluate child care, download our health and safety child care checklist for parents.

To learn about enrollment opportunities at our newest location, Bright Horizons at National Landing, call 703-647-1181 today!

Bright Horizons at National Landing
3550 South Clark Street
Suite 100 
Arlington VA 22202
[email protected]
www.facebook.com/BHatNationalLanding

 

This post is sponsored by Bright Horizons Early Education and Preschool, however, I only promote programs, places, and services that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

 

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Filed under Child Care, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Daycare, Preschoolers, Toddlers, Virginia

Social Distancing Survival Tips for Parents with Toddlers

[Note: These tips are from KFDC contributor, Emily Moise, mom of two little ones. Most of my strategies have been more for school age children, so Emily brings a fresh perspective to this new socially distanced world we’re all still figuring out how to navigate.]
 

If you’re like me, you’re seeing the plethora of virtual events, free online courses, streaming exercise classes, and binge-worthy TV recommendations, and thinking, “If only I didn’t have two toddlers!” Even though many of these offerings are geared towards preschoolers, a screen opens Pandora’s box for my nearly 3-year-old daughter and isn’t doable for my newly 1-year-old son.

Here are my social distancing survival tips for parents and caretakers of kids in the 1-3 range, using minimal or strategic screen time:

Change the scenery. Toddlers physically cannot stay in the house all day. It just ends badly. If it’s nice out and above 40 degrees we get outside (a nursery school rule), at least two times a day. Back yard, front yard, open field, tennis court, or “nature walk.” If stuck indoors, we change up the scenery there as well. Whether that’s making bath time a foam party, setting up a tent, or just moving playtime from room to room.  

FaceTime. This was always part of our little ones’ routine for family in NYC, but now we’ve added friends, more family, and even a whole nursery school class to the mix. Using a smartphone as a phone feels good! Kids get to converse or listen to conversation, see friends they miss, and then we can hang up without them wanting to scroll or watch videos. If your preschool class has yet to schedule a live group chat, encourage them to do it! We used Lifesize.

Hone in on the distraction-proof activities. My child can do puzzle after puzzle only looking up for you to hand her the next one, but give her an easel and paint and she’ll be done, paint spilled in about two minutes. We haven’t given up on painting, but we are really playing up the things that give her laser focus to kill an hour. Tip: Search the Facebook Marketplace for more puzzles, Play-Doh supplies, etc. You won’t have to wait for shipping…just be sure to sanitize well!

Choose your parent-DIY activities wisely. There are so many crafty ideas for toddler activities circulating out there now—but some can take way more time to create than use. I recently discovered @busytoddler on Instagram and her ideas using stickers (like this one) was an aha moment for me. My daughter loves stickers, as in she loves to just peel them off one by one until the sheet is done—five minutes max. With @busytoddler guidance, I’ve since created sheets of words and landscapes for her to match stickers to.

Aim for 45-minute intervals. The majority of those gym and music classes our children cannot attend at the moment are just 45 minutes long. For us, on non-school days we would have one or maybe two classes/open gyms on the schedule. If we can set up one of our social distancing activities and go for 45 minutes, I consider that a win and there is less pressure on the rest of the day. This is a good way to think about digital activities like Cosmic Kids Yoga. You can also try starting an activity with 20 minutes of your own “circle time” using music like this.

Love thy neighborhood walks. When the workday is over, we’re likely strolling through our neighborhood with the little ones in a wagon. We find neighbors out on every block willing to have a 6 foot-separated chat, or giving the kids a friendly wave and smile—much needed, real-life face time! The sidewalk chalk art movement is making these walks even more cheerful for everyone. Tip: Search your toddler’s favorite characters on this drawing tutorial site and be amazed at your sidewalk art skills.

Lastly, find your child’s TV obsession and milk it for all it’s worth. My daughter is fan-girling over Paw Patrol at the moment. Our routine is to watch two episodes in the morning and two in the afternoon (~40 minutes total). So now that’s all she asks for rather than an endless stream of requests. If she asks for more we say, “But you already watched four Paw Patrols today!” —which sounds like a lot. We have a stash of activity and reading books to support the fandom without the need for more TV.

What are some of your strategies for this social distancing with toddlers? If you have some good tips to share, please do so in the comments!

 

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Filed under 2020, Preschoolers, Toddlers, Weekdays, Weekend