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Daily Transitions

It's tough for toddlers to stop one activity and start another. Toddlers live in the moment. They usually don't have a concept of time. And they often think separations last forever.

Play time slide 2 2015Because they don't have many language skills, toddlers sometimes communicate with tears or tantrums.

Young children need to know what to expect each day. This helps them feel secure and self-confident. It also helps them learn how to handle stress.

You can help, using these transition tips:

  1. Give notice. Set a timer 5 or 10 minutes before it's time to get ready. Say something like, "When you hear the bell, I'll help you put on your shoes. We’ll put your toy away. Then we'll get into the car and go to Grandma's." When the bell goes off, say again that it's time to get ready.

  2. Create rituals. Routines are predictable, so they give children a sense of order -- especially with separations. When you say good-bye to your child, say you'll give him 3 kisses. Ask for 3 kisses in return. Then tell him that you'll give him 2 more kisses when you pick him up. This will let him know you will be back. Create other rituals, too, that help him prepare for what's happening next.

  3. Use simple words. Simple words cut down on power struggles. Try this: When it's time to eat, kneel down in front of your child and whisper a one-word description of what she'll be eating. All a child needs to hear is "soup" or "spaghetti." She will probably be happy to stop what she's doing and move on to her next activity.

  4. Offer choices. When toddlers have choices, they have lots of room to cooperate. Let them choose how to do the next activity -- not whether to do it. In other words, if "no" isn't a choice, don't ask a "yes" or "no" question. Ask: "Do you want to wear shoes or sandals?" Don't ask: "Do you want to put on your shoes?"

  5. Don't make threats. Toddlers need a sense of independence and boundaries. Threatening them can create a power struggle that isn't necessary. Avoid counting down ("If you're not on your feet by the time I count to 10... "). Also avoid threatening punishments like time-outs.

  6. Get on your child's level. Instead of arguing, changing your tone of voice can be effective. Get down on one knee and lower your voice to a whisper. Tell your child very softly what you would like him to do. He may be so surprised that he will gladly switch gears and move on to the next activity.

  7. Limit screen time. When toddlers are active -- instead of passively watching a TV or device -- it's easier for them to move onto the next thing. Children 0-2 years old should have ZERO screen time. Three-year-olds should have no more than 1 hour of screen time a day. (Visit the American Association of Pediatrics for more info on screen time.)

For more information on transitions, visit Child Care Aware.

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Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping cropped 2 2015 

Grocery shopping can be a fun, family time with these tips: 

  1. With babies: Talk constantly. Make eye contact.

  2. With older babies and toddlers: Before shopping, buy a quick snack like fruit, so they have something to eat while shopping. Play the color game; see how many things of one color you can spot.

  3. With preschoolers and kindergarteners: Play ongoing games like the letter game; how many things do you see that begin with a certain letter? For example: B – bread, broccoli, bananas.

  4. With elementary school kids: Play games like the price game; ask your child to help guess how much all of this is going to cost.Keep a tally and see how close you get to the total bill. This is also a great way to build math skills.

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Infant Feeding


How hungry is your baby? 

Babies give lots of cues about how hungry they are. At first, their cues can be tough to understand. But with practice, you're likely to learn exactly what your baby is telling you. 

cute baby 515112If your baby is saying, "I'm hungry," he may:

  • stir.
  • open his mouth.
  • turn his head.
  • seek and root for a nipple.

If your baby is saying, "I'm really hungry," she may:

  • stretch.
  • increase her movement.
  • put her hand to her mouth.

If your baby is saying, "Look out. I need to be calmed -- and then fed," he may:

  • cry.
  • show agitation in his body movements.
  • turn the color red.

To calm your baby:

  • cuddle her.
  • talk to her.
  • stroke her.
  • give her skin-to-skin contact on your chest.

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Breastfeeding Schedules


Breastfeeding is important for both mother and baby. It gives your infant all the nutrition he needs. And it helps you bond.

Scheduled breastfeeding is highly recommended. It helps your baby get a sense of life's rhythm. And it gives you some freedom. Here are some tips for making a breastfeeding schedule: breastfeeding 2015

  1. Follow the routine of feeding...awake...nap.This way, your baby can get used to the rhythm.

  2. In the first 2 months, your baby will probably have a hard time staying awake during an entire feeding. When this happens, help her wake up enough so she can finish. Here are some gentle ways to wake your infant during feedings:

    • Change his diaper.

    • Rub her back and underarm.

    • Trace his lips with the nipple.

    • Blow gently on her face.

    • Pat a damp washcloth on his forehead.

  3. Know that breast milk digests more easily than formula.

  4. At birth, your infant may nurse for about 20 minutes per side (40 minutes total per feeding) or more. He will take in an average of 2-3 ounces of breast milk.

  5. Soon, your milk production and let down of milk will become more efficient, and your baby will become more comfortable with feeding. Then feeding time will probably decrease per side. Also, your child’s milk-intake will gradually increase to 3-4 ounces and so on.

  6. After 1-2 months, your infant will probably take in more milk per feeding. This means not as many feedings per day. Then you can move to the next feeding schedule.

  7. Learn about the three phases of infant breastfeeding schedules and needs: Phase OnePhase Two, and Phase Three.

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Starting Solid Food


Here are a few tips for helping your baby start solid foods:Eating cropped 2015

  1. Start introducing solids to your baby at 6 months old.

  2. Consider starting with baby rice cereal, a great first solid food.

  3. Feed your baby on a schedule.

  4. Focus on nutritious, healthy foods that are made for babies and not adults.

  5. Give your baby 2-3 days between introducing a new food. This will give time to watch for food allergies.

  6. Don’t give up on the foods your baby doesn’t like right away. Try new foods many times to give your baby a chance to learn to like them.

  7. Skip desserts and sugary treats. Babies do not need them.

  8. Learn what the American Academy of Pediatrics says about Switching to Solid Foods.

  9. Learn the Heimlich Maneuver.

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Baby-Led Weaning


Baby-led weaning means letting your child feed herself (with supervision!) when she starts reaching for food, at about 6 months old.

baby led weaning 2015Most babies reach for food at around 6 months. This is the time that the World Health Organization suggests that parents start to wean their babies. 

At 6 months, babies are usually physically able to feed themselves proper food. Just hand him the food in a baby-sized piece. If he likes it, he will eat it. If he doesn’t eat it, don’t force it. Try again another day. 

It can take up to 15 tries before a child develops a taste for certain foods.

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Helping Picky Eaters Try New Foods


It's not easy dealing with a child who resists certain foods, but these tips can be a big help:helping picky eaters try new foods 2015

  1. Make meal times planned and regular.

  2. Offer choices. Children need a sense of personal power. When they have a say in what they're going to eat, they don’t need to say "no" to what you offer.

  3. Involve children in making the meal.

  4. Limit snacks. Snacks can be great, but make sure your child is hungry when she gets to the table. Don't give too many snacks before meal times.

  5. Make meal time fun! Toddlers thrive on attention. When you make meal time about sharing stories, jokes, and interaction, it will become something your whole family enjoys and looks forward to.

  6. Try new foods many times. It can take children, and even adults, up to 15 times of trying a food before they like it! Keep offering, but don't force.

  7. Serve items in small portions. Sometimes large amounts can be too much for little eyes. Give small quantities and refill the plate as needed. Put small portions in an ice cube tray.

  8. Serve the most important foods first.

  9. Find new and fun ways to make meal time fun. Read a book about a certain food and then make that food together.

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Proper Nutrition

nutrition 2015


Coming soon.

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Toilet Training/Teaching

Is Your Child Ready?


Wait until your child is truly ready, so the teaching time is faster and more pleasant for all.

Changing baby sisters diaper 2015For toddlers to learn how to use the toilet, they need to be able to:

  • Feel the urge to go.

  • Understand what the feeling means.

  • Say that they need your help to make it to the toilet and actually go.

Here are some of the signs that your child may be read to start potty training (toilet teaching):

  1. Your child is dry at least 2 hours at a time during the day -- or is dry after naps.

  2. You can tell when your child is about to urinate or have a bowel movement.

  3. Your child can follow simple instructions.

  4. Your child can walk to and from the bathroom and help undress.

  5. Your child does not like wet diapers and wants to be changed.

  6. Your child asks to use the toilet or potty chair.

  7. Your child asks to wear "big-kid" underwear.

(If your child has issues with constipation, talk with your child's healthcare provider.)


Toilet Training/Teaching Tips


Here are many tips for toilet teaching. Use what works for your family!

  1. Decide which words to use: pee-pee, poop, BM, urinate, etc.

  2. Pick a potty chair, and have your child help.

  3. Be a role model, and talk with your child about how to use the toilet. (“Everyone poops!”)

  4. Know the signs: Your child may grunt, make other noises, squat, or stop playing for a moment. When pushing, his face may turn red. Explain briefly to your child that these signs mean a bowel movement is about to come. If your child waits to tell you about a wet diaper, praise her for telling you. Suggest that "next time" he let you know in advance. It may take longer for a child to notice the need to urinate than the need to move bowels.

  5. Make trips to the potty a routine, after meals and drinks.toilet teaching with panda pic

  6. Teach your child proper hygiene habits, wiping front to back and hand washing.

  7. Praise your child for attempts.

  8. Wait to try training pants.

  9. Avoid a power struggle: Children at toilet training ages are becoming aware of their individuality. They look for ways to test their limits. Some children may do this by holding back bowel movements. Try to stay calm about toilet training. Remember that no one can control when and where a child urinates or has a bowel movement except the child.

  10. Understand their fear: Some children believe that their bowel movements and urine are part of their bodies. They may be scared of the toilet flushing parts of them away. Some also fear they will be sucked into the toilet if it is flushed while they are sitting on it. To give your child a feeling of control, let him flush the toilet.

  11. Use Cheerios to improve your son’s aim.

  12. To stop your child from becoming scared when a public toilet flushes, put a Post-It over the sensor.

  13. Get a potty training kit together before you start, with a sticker chart, juice boxes, their big kid underwear, and a potty training movie.

  14. Make a progress chart of times they’re successful, and let them put a sticker up when they use the toilet.

  15. Set a “pee-pee timer” for every 30 minutes to help remind your little boy or girl to try to go.

  16. Use rewards if necessary. When your child sits on the potty on her own, start out with big rewards and gradually decrease to small rewards. Let him have one or two for every time he goes "one" or "two." Hugs and songs can work, too.

  17. Make up a song containing all the steps of using the bathroom to any melody to help her remember all the steps.

  18. If he has an accident, have him help with clean up.

  19. Panty liners can be a cheap alternative to Pull-Ups or potty training pants if your child is still having occasional accidents or has been potty trained but is leaking once in a while.

  20. Stick a disposable changing pad on the car seat to avoid constant cleaning up while accidents are still happening.

  21. For kids who are resisting wearing underwear, they’ll be extra excited to wear a pair custom-made for them with iron-on paper.

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amazing cat sleep 2677499


Everyone needs sleep -- even cats (pictured to the left).

For babies, sleep is the main activity of the brain. Sleep cycles are based on the cycle of light and dark. And they take time to develop. This is why newborns don't have regular sleep patterns.

The sleep-wake cycle starts to develop at about 6 weeks.

By 3 to 6 months, most infants have a regular cycle.

It is very important to place babies on their backs to sleep! This dramatically reduces the risk of death from Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS).


Safe Sleep Practices


  1. Babies should be put to sleep on their backs for every sleep! Sleeping baby 2015

  2. Place babies on a firm sleeping surface.

  3. Never put soft objects, bumper pads, loose bedding (sheets or blankets), or other loose objects in the baby's sleep area! This could cause suffocation or strangulation. (Use sleepers, sleep sacks, or wearable blankets instead.)

  4. Sleep only 1 baby per crib.

  5. Keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult wearing light clothes.

  6. Do not use wedges or infant positioners.

  7. Never smoke or allow smoking in a room where babies sleep. (Second-hand smoke has been linked to SUIDS -- Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome.)

  8. Have supervised daily tummy time for babies who are awake.

  9. Teach everyone who cares for your baby how to use safe-sleep practices.

To learn more about healthy sleep, visit Born Learning. 

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Sleep Schedule


sleep cheat sheetHow much sleep does a newborn need? How about a 3-month old? A 1-year old?

Check out the Sleep Cheat Sheet from Dr. Jodi Mindell. (Click on the image to the left for a full-screen view.)


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Sleep and Newborns


Here's what you most need to know about sleep and newborns (age birth through 4 months):sleep one week old 2015

  1. Newborns sleep around the clock.

  2. The sleep-wake cycle is connected to the need to be fed, changed, and nurtured.

  3. During sleep, infants may be active-- twitching their arms and legs, smiling, sucking, and seeming restless.

  4. Newborns express their need to sleep in different ways -- fussing, crying, or rubbing eyes.

  5. Watch your baby's sleep patterns and notice signs of sleepiness.

  6. Put babies to bed when they are sleepy, but not asleep. They are more likely to fall asleep quickly and, later, learn how to get themselves to sleep.

  7. To help your baby sleep more during the night than day: Expose him to light and gentle noise during the day. Play with her in the daytime. By evening, make the environment quieter, dimmer, and less active.

  8. Always place babies to sleep on their backs! This reduces the risk of death from SUIDS.

  9. Cribs should be clear of blankets and other items that could cause suffocation.

  10. Make sure your baby sleeps safely during every sleep!

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Sleep and Infants


Here's what you most need to know about sleep and infants (ages 4-11 months):sleep infant 2015

  1. Encourage babies to fall asleep independently. Put babies to bed when they are sleepy, but not asleep. This way, they can become self-soothers who fall asleep without help. When babies get used to help falling asleep, they often cry for help so they can return to sleep during the night.

  2. Infants may experience separation anxiety, which can make sleeping difficult. Illness or motor development may also disrupt sleep.

  3. Infants sleep better with regular daytime and bedtime sleep schedules.

  4. Make a regular and fun bedtime routine.

  5. Create a regular "sleep friendly" environment -- dim the lights, turn off and put away any electronics, etc.

  6. By 6 months, many infants sleep through the night, because nighttime feedings aren't usually necessary.

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Sleep and Toddlers


Here's what's most important to know about sleep and toddlers (ages 1-2 years):

  1. Toddlers need about 11-14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.sleep toddler 2015

  2. At 18 months, toddlers will need less nap time. They usually need one nap a day, lasting 1-3 hours.

  3. Make sure naps aren't too close to bedtime. Toddlers may have trouble falling asleep at night.

  4. Unlike infants and newborns, toddlers can safely sleep with a blanket or safe comfort object.

  5. Many toddlers have sleep problems like resisting going to bed and waking up in the night.

  6. Because toddlers are developing imagination, they may have nightmares, nighttime fears, and separation anxiety. At this age, they are able to imagine all kinds of frightening things; they may be afraid that something terrible will happen to you or themselves when they can't see you.

  7. Many things can lead to sleep problems. Toddlers have a drive for independence, so they may not want to be told to go to sleep. They are building more motor skills, as well as intellectual and social abilities; these can make toddlers active, even at night. Also, as toddlers, they now have the ability just to get out of bed when they wish.

  8. Daytime sleepiness and behavior problems may be signs of poor sleep or a sleep problem or sleep deprivation. Talk with your healthcare provider, home visitor, or other supporter to get ideas. A developmental screening could also help.

  9. To help with sleep problems, give toddlers a security object like a blanket or stuffed animal. Have a daily sleep schedule and regular bedtime routine. Also, make the bedroom environment the same every night and throughout the night.

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Sleep Resources


Pacifier 2015


We are building this section. Meanwhile, enjoy these resources:

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Sleep Deprivation


Sleep is very important to all of us, especially children! Know how much sleep your child needs.

over stimulation 2015Here are signs of possible sleep deprivation:

  1. Very emotional-- extreme temper tantrums, feelings that are easily hurt, no patience or very little patience.

  2. Trouble waking up in the morning.

  3. Trouble falling asleep at night.

  4. Falling asleep as soon as they hit the pillow. It should take about 20 minutes for a healthy sleeper to fall asleep.

  5. Trouble concentrating or focusing -- even when playing.

  6. Taking naps that are too long or happen too often.

  7. Hyperactivity.

  8. Defiant or contrary behavior.

  9. Increased appetite.

  10. Accident prone or clumsy.

  11. Talking too much -- asking too many questions or seeming in a frenzy when talking.

Here are a few ways to deal with sleep deprivation:

  1. Know your child’s sleep cues. Watch for tired cues -- eye rubbing, yawning, lack of focus, or general crankiness.

  2. Know that children can become suddenly wired, jumpy, and frantic when they need more sleep then they're getting.

  3. Understand your child’s wakefulness window -- that'sthe period of time when your child can stay awake without needing sleep. Infants have very short wakefulness windows. Toddlers and preschoolers have wakefulness windows that are a little longer.

  4. When your child is awake past her wakefulness window, she may have a hard time settling and relaxing; she may also fight sleep later in the day.

  5. Know the best bedtimes and wake times for your child. For most children, a bedtime between 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. is appropriate. A later bedtime can cause your child to fight sleep. This can lead to nap resistance and sleep deprivation.

  6. Limit the things that interrupt sleep. Schedule your errands or outings around your child’s nap times. When possible, don’t agree to activities that conflict with bedtimes.

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Co-Sleeping and Room Sharing


Co-sleeping (sleeping or sharing a bed with your baby) is considered very unsafe. There is a strong link between co-sleeping and infant death from SUIDS.

You can be close to your new baby without bed sharing. Sharing a room is a great solution.

Room-sharing gives you a chance to respond to your baby's needs quickly.

Room-sharing also gives you and your baby close contact and communication. Check back soon for more info.

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Physical activity is important for people of all ages, including children. It may seem like toddlers get all the exercise they need, since they are constantly on the move. By 2 to 3 years, though, children are developing more coordination and need many physical activities.exercise aligned

You can help your child become more physically active:

  1. Toddlers need supervised free-play that is unstructured. This play time should let them explore many safe environments.

  2. Celebrate as your child learns to walk, run, swing, tumble, and swim.

  3. Talk with your healthcare provider about activities that would be best for your child.

  4. Find a fun activity! The more your child enjoys the activity, the more likely she is to keep it up. Get the whole family involved. It is a great way to spend time together.

  5. Choose an activity that is appropriate for your child's development. Don't expect toddlers to be great soccer players yet!

  6. Plan ahead. Make sure your child has a convenient time and place to exercise.

  7. Provide a safe environment. Make sure your child's equipment and site are safe and secure. Make sure your child's clothing is comfortable and appropriate.

  8. Provide active toys. Young children especially need easy access to balls, jump ropes, and other active toys.

  9. Be a role model. Children who see beloved adults enjoying physical activity are more likely to do so themselves.

  10. Play with your child. Engage in new activities and sports together.

  11. Turn off the TV and other devices. The American Academy of Pediatrics says children under 2 should have ZERO screen time. Over age 2, children should have no more than 1 hour of total daily screen time -- including TV, videos, computers, and video games. Use the free time for more physical activities. Young children need people time, not screen time!

  12. Make time for exercise. Some children are so over-scheduled, they don't have time for exercise.

  13. Don't overdo it. When your child is exercising, tell him to listen to his body. Exercise and physical activity should not hurt. If your child is hurting, he should slow down or try a less challenging activity.

Fun activities to do inside:

  1. Put tape on the floor and have your child walk the line. ("Don’t touch the floor! There’s hot lava down there!")

  2. Do mazes on the floor.

  3. Go on a scavenger hunt.

  4. Play basketball with newspapers.

  5. Make an obstacle course. (Hot lava!)

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Screen Time (Screen Free Zones)

How much screen time do children need? Not much!

Children from birth to age 2 years should have ZERO exposure to screens. They need screen free zones. The TV should not be on, even when young children are just in the room. Other devices should be turned off as well.

Three to 5 year olds should have no more than ONE hour per day.

Six to 18 year olds should have no more than TWO hours per day.

how much technology

Here's why screen time should be banned for young children:

  1. Rapid Brain Growth

    • Between 0 and 2 years, an infant's brain triples in size. In fact, children's brains grow and develop until at least 21 years of age.

    • The environment makes a big difference in brain development. Too much stimulation -- or not enough -- can hurt a child's brain. Screen time -- cell phones, internet, iPads, TV, and more -- causes over-stimulation.

  2. Delayed Development

    • When children move around, they have better attention and ability to learn. When children are looking at screens, they aren't moving around much. This can delay a child's development.

  3. Sleep Deprivation & Aggression

    • There are many reasons NOT to have TVs or other screens in children's bedrooms. Screen time can lead to sleep deprivation. Also, children who watch violent media are more likely to become aggressive.

  4. Behavioral Health Issues

    • Too much screen time can lead to many concerns: child depression, anxiety, attachment disorder, attention deficit, tantrums, and other issues.

Visit the American Academy of Pediatrics for more information on screen free zones.

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Tummy Time

"Tummy time" means placing a baby on her stomach while she's awake and supervised. Tummy time can help your baby develop strong head, neck, and shoulder muscles. It also promotes certain motor skills and can keep the back of your baby's head from becoming flat.

Provide tummy time for 1-2 minutes after every nap, diaper change, and feeding -- and other times, too.

There is never too much supervised tummy time! Continue to work it into other parts of the day.

Enjoy these tummy time tips:

Tummy Time 2

  1. Start early. Even right after your baby is born, you can place her on your stomach or chest while you lie on a chair, bed, or the floor. This is great for socializing with your baby and encouraging eye contact.

  2. Start slowly. Your baby may only like 15 seconds of tummy time on the first try. That's OK. Add 15 to 30 seconds each tummy time session. Eventually, the goal is 30 minutes or more. But it doesn't have to happen all at once.

  3. Bolster time. Make tummy time easier for your baby by making a small bolster: Roll up a thin towel or blanket. Place it under your baby's chest. Position her arms over the roll, with her hands reaching out in front of the roll. If her chin drops, place her chin slightly in front of the roll; her mouth and nose should get plenty of air.

  4. Lap time. Place your baby across your lap the long way, while giving him head support.

  5. Distract baby. This helps if the baby dislikes being on her stomach.

  6. Face to face time. Lie down on the floor facing your baby during tummy time. Stay on her eye level, talk to him, or read to him. Make sure your voice and expressions are expressive!

  7. Have a tummy time schedule. This makes it easier to remember tummy time. Also, your baby will come to anticipate the routine.

  8. Remember: never leave your baby unattended during tummy time.

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