• How to Survive (and Stay Well-Fed During) the Picky Eater Phase

    Head shakes. “No!” muttered through mouthfuls of food. Little hands raised from high chairs in obvious “stop” motions. These are all signs that you’re in the dreaded toddler picky eater phase.

    Don’t fret! We’ve scoured the web for the best tips and tricks for getting through the picky eater phase, and we’ve thrown in a few recipe ideas for good measure. Let’s take a bite.

    Give Them a Reality Check

    Parenting’s first tip is to remind your child that you’re not a short order cook. No parent has the time, resources, or patience to cook custom meals for everyone, so when it’s time to eat, tell them: “this is what’s for dinner. If you don’t want it, that’s fine.” Don’t force them to eat it, but by letting them know that what you’ve made is the only option, they’re forced to choose to wait or give in to the so-called “yucky meal.”

    Put Nutrition in New Packaging

    It’s the picky eater cliché: A little one frowning at a full plate of steamed broccoli. So, when you can’t convince them to eat it as-is, try repackaging it in something they like. If they like pasta but not vegetables, try zoodles! Here’s our favorite kiddo-friendly zoodles recipe.

    Eat Together—and Make it Fun

    Your child looks up to you, so if you’re eating and loving your meal, it’s more likely that they will, too! Add another layer of picky eater persuasion by making dinner super fun. Play fun music or invite their favorite relative or friend over once a week. If dinner is fun family time, you’re less likely to deal with cranky, whiny kids at meal times.

    Set Up a Rewards System

    It may feel a little icky, but parenting experts recommend trying “bribery” and reminding yourself to not feel guilty about it. When met with a picky eater’s grimace, say, “If you take five bites of this, you can have dessert!” or “If you finish your plate, we can play your favorite game tonight!”

    Want more down-to-earth, actionable parenting advice? Check out our blog for awesome posts like:

    BONUS: MOMables’ picks for best healthy meals for picky eaters.

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  • Daycare Drop-Off Tips: For the First Day and Beyond

    Our Favorite Daycare Drop-Off Tips from Real Moms and Dads

    It seems like just yesterday you and your baby were coming home from the hospital, but now, it’s Daycare Eve, that nerve-wracking day before their first big day at daycare. We’ve got a few quick tips for you and your little one to minimize stress on the first day—and for many days to come!

    Stay Positive

    The first of our daycare drop-off tips is one we hear from lots of experienced moms and dads. If you’re calm, cool, and collected, your child is much more likely to feel confident about their first daycare day, as kids often pick up on their parents’ emotional cues.

    Get Snazzy

    You know that confident, secure feeling you get when you find that perfect first day outfit for a new job? Your child will feel the same if they have a cool new pair of shoes or special shirt with their favorite character on it ready for their first day at daycare—it gives them something to look forward to!

    Do a Practice Round

    This tip is especially important for children who haven’t spent a lot of time away from mom or dad. Go through your routine the day before; drop them off for a playdate or at a friend’s house for short visit at the same time you’ll be dropping them off at daycare. This will help acclimate them to your new routine.

    Talk About It

    Change is scary. An easy way to mitigate this fear of newness is to talk to your child about where they’re going. Explain where daycare is on a map in relation to your home, or show them photos of the daycare facility online.

    Big Kiss (and Go!)

    Leaving your child on the first day at daycare is kind of like pulling off a band-aid—it hurts, but the quicker and more confident you are while it’s happening, the easier it will be for everyone. Make sure your child knows you’re leaving, give them a big hug and/or kiss, and go. Don’t dawdle!

    Be BFFs With the Staff

    Make a point to be friendly with your daycare’s employees. They will be with your child often, so if they know and like you, they’re more likely to understand and connect with your child. Tell the staff about your child’s communication style, and make sure to express gratitude for the staff’s dedication.

    Looking for more down-to-earth parenting advice like these first day daycare drop-off tips? Browse our blog for tips from busy moms and dads just like you!

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  • 7 Potty Training Tips for (and From) Busy Parents

    If your kiddo is going through fewer diapers and staying dry through nap time, it might be time to start potty training. Experts say many children are ready between the ages of 18 and 30 months, but others will need to wait until they’re three years old.

    Every kid is different, so here are a few signs to help you know when it’s time to start potty training:

    • Your child can walk to and sit on a toilet
    • Your child can pull down and pull up their pants
    • Your child can stay dry for up to two hours
    • Your child can follow easy directions
    • Your child can communicate when they need to go
    • Your child seems interested in the toilet
    So, is it time? If so, we have seven potty training tips to help you potty train your kiddo quickly—and with no tears and minimal stress.

    Tip #1: Make Potty Training Seem Cool

    When you talk to your little one about using the toilet, make it sound grown up and cool. Say things like, “wouldn’t it be awesome to potty like a big boy?” and “soon you’ll be pottying just like Mommy!”

    Tip #2: Establish Bathroom Talk

    What To Expect says it’s important to use technical words like “urinate” and “defecate,” but “potty” and “poop” work, too. Once you have the vocabulary straightened out with your child, they will know how to communicate with you to make the process easier.

    Tip #3: Turn Motivation Into Momentum

    Try rewarding your little one for each successful potty with something small, maybe a penny in their piggy bank or a cool sticker on their potty chart. Once your kid is getting the hang of it, slowly phase out the reward process and let their natural motivation take over.

    Tip #4: Try Going “Nakey”

    Parents’ potty training tips from real moms includes the concept of letting kiddos go naked for bathtime and then encourage them to use the toilet before or after their bath. No clothes means fewer barriers between them and the potty. Once they have a handle on naked potty time, clothed potty time will be an easier concept to grasp.

    Tip #5: Teach Them “Wet” and “Dry”

    Sometimes kids will worry about being wet, so it’s a great idea to teach them how to check whether or not they’re dry. This will give them a way to feel secure even when you’re not together—and when they tell you after work how they were dry at daycare, you’ll have another reason to give them a big hug!

    Tip #6: Dress For Success

    Time is of the essence in potty training, so you’ll want to start dressing your child in clothes that are easy for them to pull down, with no tricky snaps or buttons.

    Tip #7: Get Others Involved

    As it’s often said, it takes an army to raise a family. The same is true for the potty training process! Get your siblings, your friends, your child’s grandparents, and other caregivers involved. They’ll help establish a consistent experience for your child and your kiddo will love the extra praise and support.

    Want more parenting advice and answers like these easy-to-follow potty training tips? Browse our blog for real parenting advice for busy moms and dad.

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  • Quick & Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids

    Healthy and easy lunch ideas to get you through the busy school mornings.

    For most of us mornings are a blur, having to get ourselves ready for work and our our kids ready for school before anyone is late. Unfortunately, when it comes to putting together school lunches, the quickest and most convenient options aren’t always the healthiest—until now!

    We know that you want to feed your kids wholesome and healthy food, but that you need it to come together quickly so you fit it into your already crammed mornings. Because of this, we’ve put together a list of quick healthy recipes and snack ideas that your kids will love and will take you less than 20 minutes to prepare.

    The First Step: Meal Prep

    The trick to easy lunch assembly in the mornings is to have all the ingredients you need on hand and ready to go. Most of the ingredients in these recipes can be prepped days in advance to help you make packing your kids’ lunch bags a breeze. 

    Many of these recipes call for shredded chicken, thinly sliced veggies, hard-boiled eggs, cubed or shredded cheese, etc. On Sunday, cook the chicken, make the eggs, and prep the veggies and cheese, and store them in air tight containers in the fridge so you can just quickly grab your ingredients when you need them.

    Turkey & Cheese "Sushi" Roll

    turkey and cheese rolls
    Source: wearychef.com

    These fun turkey and cheese “sushi rolls” are fun to eat and easy to make. All you need is whole wheat or veggie wraps, shredded mozzarella cheese, shredded carrots, and thin turkey slices. Pair them up with your kid’s favorite veggies or fruits for a complete meal.

    Ready in: 5 minutes

    See the full recipe here.

    BBQ Chicken Sandwich

    Source: eatingwell.com

    You’ll want this delicious comfort food for yourself! Toss some shredded chicken in BBQ sauce, throw in shredded carrots for extra crunch, put them on a whole wheat bun, add some lettuce, and you’re done! The original recipe uses ranch dressing to add extra flavor, but you can skip this to cut back on some fat and calories. Make sure to use low sugar BBQ sauce!

    Ready in: 10 minutes

    See the full recipe here.

    Banana & PB Rolls

    Source: weelicious.com

    This easy and yummy recipe is quick to make and packs the nutrients and energy your kids will need to get through the day. All you need is a couple whole wheat wraps, two bananas, and some peanut butter or your favorite nut butter. Spread the peanut butter over the wraps and place the banana on top and roll it up. Once you’re done and your roll is tight, cut up 1/2 inch slices to make it bite size.

    Ready in: 5 minutes

    See the full recipe here.

    Lunch Kabobs

    Source: momontimeout.com

    Food on a stick! All you need is some grilled chicken, cubed cheese, and your kid’s favorite veggies, and you have a nutritious and fun lunch. Pair it up with some hard-boiled eggs, crackers, or fruit and you’re all set!

    Ready in: 5 minutes

    See the full recipe here.

    Bean Quesadillas

    Source: eatingwell.com

    Thanks to their cheesiness, quesadillas are a welcomed meal for most kids. You can make a healthy spin on this Tex-Mex classic by using part-skim or low fat cheddar cheese, whole wheat tortillas, and black beans for extra fiber and protein.

    Ready in: 20 minutes

    See the full recipe here.

    Strawberry Sandwich

    Source: eatingwell.com

    Brighten up your kid’s day with this fun and sweet sandwich. Combine cream cheese and honey in a bowl, then spread it over whole wheat bread generously. Finally, stack sliced strawberries on top and finish up your sandwich. Pack it with your kid’s favorite healthy snacks, such as pita and hummus or chips and salsa.

    Ready in: 5 minutes

    See the full recipe here.

    Breakfast For Lunch

    Source: eatingwell.com

    Who says that breakfast is just for the morning? This quick and easy recipe will make things fun for your kid as they enjoy some of their favorite breakfast foods. To assembly this quick lunch, simply make a sandwich with toasted whole wheat waffles, your favorite seed or nut butter, and apple slices. Then pack them with some of your kid’s favorite breakfast foods or snacks. For example, you can use grape tomatoes, cottage cheese with a sprinkle of cinnamon, grapefruit, an a hard-boiled egg.

    Ready in: 15 minutes

    See the full recipe here.

    These nutritious and easy healthy recipes will brighten up your kid’s lunchbox and get them excited about eating nutrient-packed foods! Once you get the hang of these recipes, experiment by changing up the fruits, nut butters, and veggies in the recipes to keep things exciting and fun.

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  • Fun Indoor Games for Kids

    Great ideas to try during your next snow day.

    Living in the Midwest means dealing with harsh weather during the winter months. What to do when you and your family are stuck inside and your kids are bored and grumpy? How about trying some indoor games! We’ve put together a list of some easy to replicate games to try with your kids the next time that you can’t go outside and play. These will keep your kids entertained and give you a chance to spend some quality family time.

    Build a Fort

    A classic indoor game! At a young age, there’s nothing more fun than building a fort inside and playing in it, reading books, or watching a movie. Set up some kitchen chairs on a wide open floor, drape blankets over them, and build it up with couch cushions. Alternatively, if you have an old appliance box sitting out in the garage, cut some holes in it for doors and windows. Draw some lines on it to look like stone blocks, and you have a castle.

    Build a City and Knock It Down!

    Collect some juice or milk cartons and paint windows and doors on them. Alternatively, make buildings out of Legos or other blocks, if your kids have enough. Set them up on the floor like a city and then let your kid rampage through it, kicking the buildings down, like Godzilla!

    Storytime

    If you like telling stories, then gather the kids around and read one of their favorite books. If you rather listen to stories instead, try looking for narrated stories online or try audio books. You can often find great audio books for free through your library’s website. To make your snowy day extra special, make some hot chocolate to warm you up while you read surrounded by pillows and blankets. 

    Paper Airplane Race

    Have your kids fold paper airplanes. Show them some different styles of paper airplane and use different color paper or have them draw designs on their planes. Stand at the end of a long hallway and see whose airplane can go farther. Alternatively, have them try to hit a target with their planes.

    Indoor Obstacle Course

    Set up a fun indoor obstacle course with ordinary household items. Put two chairs close together and place a broom stick across them, for something to crawl under. Put some masking tape on the floor to make a starting line, and a couch cushion a little way away, and have the kids jump over the “chasm” (unless, that is, you live in an upstairs apartment!). Set unbreakable Tupperware containers for the kids to run around. Mark out a path with some masking tape. Put coins on the kitchen tiles and have them make it across the kitchen without stepping on any square with a coin in it. You can make your obstacle course as short or as long as you want, and your kids will be entertained and get some exercise at the same time!

    There is, of course, one other thing you can do: drop them off with us, and let us keep your kids motivated, interested, and properly exercised throughout the day. We know a lot of fun indoor games for kids and many other activities for them to learn and enjoy. Browse our website to for information about our different child care programs, or give us a call at 216-481-6700.

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